best grain in 400 speed? : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Film & Processing : One Thread

I'm about to start a huge senior project, and I'm trying to decide whether to use Fortepan film (upside is that it's cheap) or spend a more and bust out the TMax (downside is that I'm a poor college student!) I'm looking for a good sharp grain in a 400 speed. What other films could I be looking into, while keeping costs down? Help!!!

-- Sonya Green (, February 20, 2001


Freestyle Sales sells a 400 speed film generally believed to be private labelled Ilford HP5+ at reasonable prices. An internet search on Freestyle Sales should turn them up.

-- Charlie Strack (, February 20, 2001.

I bought Forte 400 in 135 for testing and I can NOT recommend it, unless you are looking for grain. Speed in daylight is rather like 200 and resolution is poor. ( Calbe A49 seems to give the least worse result or Tetenla Emofin)

As a cheap but good film I use Maco UP 400 +, which could be the same film as Freestyle, as it is Ilford HP5+ with a different label. The Maco even comes with a reloadable canister, which gets me to the next point. Do you have access to a filmloader? Because bulkfilm is still the cheapest way, you can get Tmax or Tri-X at USD 25 from B&H, which will give around 17-18 films.

Me? I've bought 20 Maco 400+ and now using the canisters for reloading.



( Maco is a company based in Hamburg/germany and not all products might be available in North America)

-- Wolfram Kollig (, February 21, 2001.

Experiment also with the developer, I would compare Rodinal 1:50 with XTOL 1:2

BTW Maco products are distributed as Cachet products, see link

-- Marc Leest (, February 21, 2001.

New Ilford Delta 400 Professional is supposed to have sharper grain than any other conventional 400 ISO film, although it is only just coming onto the UK market, and as yet i haven't had an opportunity to test it. If you can get hold of some shoot a few test rolls and see how you get on Best Wishes Andrew

-- Andrew Buckley (, February 21, 2001.

Hi Sonya. Your question doesn't really make it clear whether you're looking for grain, or the lack of it.
Tmax and Delta 400 films will both minimise the grain effect, and 'old technology' films like Tri-x will make it more obvious.
I haven't tried Fortepan, but it has a reputation for giving grain the size of footballs.

-- Pete Andrews (, February 21, 2001.

Consider the new Delta 400 professional with Xtol diluted 1:2. I think in the long run you are better off to stick with a proven quality film even if it does cost a little more.

-- matt veld (, February 21, 2001.

I strongly agree with Wolfram. Use bulk film, if you can. Your school should have a bulk loader. I also take it that you are using school chemistry - so just go with that. Freestyle [if you really compare prices] sometimes has some real bargains on bulk film. Usually in their Arista or the Ilford line.


-- Christian Harkness (, February 21, 2001.

Hi, my two cents worth is putting in a word for neopan 400. I just finished printing a show for a photojournalist who used it in Nairobi (black skin in bright sunlight), and even when they were a bit underexposed, I could get beautiful rich tones and wonderfully fine grain. One of my grad school comrades used it in Mexico with equally wonderful results. Standard d76 1:1 for 10 minutes at 68 degrees, agitate for the first minute, then 10 seconds each minute for the remaining time. This is just a starting point...I would test first. Good luck.

-- paige critcher (, February 26, 2001.

I'm going to recommend the "roll your own film idea." I do this and it's very cheap. In the end I pay $1.39 per roll of TMAX 400 (TMY) plus an initial cost of ~$30 for the film loader and ~$0.50 for each film canister.

-- PJTaylor (, March 05, 2001.

Here in Vancouver Agfa 400 is about usd 1.70 a roll...add another 6 cents (thats right) a roll for Rodinal developer (at 1+100) and you'll see why bulk loading and ALL of it's problems is just not worth while...problems you bulkloaders may ask? Let me list them; scratched negs, blank leaders and tails (how many of you took the perfect shot using the 35th frame only to develop it and find only 3/4's of the frame is there), cassettes exploding open when dropped two inches, just is not worth bulkloading. At least a dozen people I know went out and bought all the bulkloading stuff. After 6 months NONE of them are still bulkloading...jim

-- jim (, March 13, 2001.

Yes, Fortepan films generally have more visible grain than other films, BUT their emulsion is rich in silver, thus giving beautiful separtion and a superior grayscale compared to many of the modified crystal films, suchas Delta or TMAX. They respond very well to different developers and that way they can be finetuned towards high accutance or (relatively) low grain. Calbe A49 (previously mentioned) is the best developer for fine grain and speed output. It is based on good old AGFA Atomal F and achieves its fine grain effect by using an agent also used in colour developers. You can order this excellent developer from Fotoimpex Berlin ( They mail to the US for little money, since they send parcels in a container to the US and US customers basically only pay domestic postage. Still Forte is not my favourite film and I would not recommend it, since there are better alternatives. Forte papers are excellent, their line of film could be improved. Try Fomapan T200 /Paterson Acupan 200 (it is the same film) if you can sacrifice a little film speed. It has phantastic grayscale and high accutance (which the TMAX or Deltas do not have) and it does not compress the midtones as many modern films do. I get the best results in Calbe R09 (which is "old style" Rodinal and very different to the recent stuff AGFA sells under this name). If you need true ISO 400 (basically no film really gives you the speed you find on the box, mostly it is about half of that) use HP5 developed in Tetenal Emofin (which you can also get at Fotoimpex, also Fomapan T200) or Calbe A49. The grain is very moderate and the "looks" are very pleasing. In overal quality there still is no alternative to classic emulsions. Many modern films may have very fine grain, but they sacrifice other qualities.

-- Volker Schier (, May 02, 2001.

regarding the bulk loading... here in Australia my film costs using bulk loading are less than 1/3rd the cost of buying 'factory' loads. The cost of the loader and cassettes are swallowed in the first 30m roll. However, as Jim highlights they have their down sides. You can load your cassettes in the dark to avoid the last frame 1/2 fogged problem but I don't bother, it's never really worried me. I don't have any problems with the start of the roll, so I'm not sure what that refers to. I don't have any problems with scratches, and in fact my negs are much cleaner than any commercially processed stuff I use (C-41 B&W/Colour, E6)

I guess, what works for some doesn't for others.

-- Nigel Smith (, May 02, 2001.

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