Easy question

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Hope one of you experts can help with this. I am currently travelling and want to take a few rolls of B&W. I have a choice of buying TMAX or similar, or a C-41 developing method roll of B&W. After exposure, will these have to be developed quickly or can I wait a few months before developing them commercially at home? Also is there a noticeable difference between the two other than film price and developing cost and method? Hope you can help. Thanks, Tony

-- Tony Butler (tbutler00@hotmail.com), November 16, 2001


This is all theory from reading, not actual use nor tests.

The books say that film is most sensitive to light if it is developed right after exposure. Higher speed films seem more subject to this effect.

If you're looking to do fine art or other critical work, it might matter. For shapshot work, you probably would not notice the difference with normal speed films.

Negatives made on standard films probably have a longer life than C- 41 types, because the resulting images on C-41 are dyes rather than metal based.

People who frequently shoot B&W use standard films, I suspect. C-41 reportedly show grain to a lesser effect, as the dyes mask it. Prints from a commercial lab using C-41 B&W materials are likely to come back with a color cast, unless custom prints are made.

That said, TMax films require critical processing and fine tuning of your approach. They aren't the best for casual use. Traditional films like Tri-X, Plus-X, HP5+, FP4+, Agfapan, etc., are more tolerant of minor processing variations.

-- Charlie Strack (charlie_strack@sti.com), November 16, 2001.

Tony, I'm a big user of the C-41 B&W films, particularly Ilford XP2+. However, the only negative that I've ever found about it is that the images definitely deteriorate if they're not developed soon after they are made, unless the film is refrigerated. It's easy to get C-41 film developed on the road, and that way you won't have to expose it to the airport x-rays on the way home. Have a good, safe trip. W.

-- WILHELM (BMITCH@HOME.COM), November 16, 2001.

While traveling in Europe I shot many rolls of T Max, C-41 Kodak 400, and C-41 Ilford 400. The results were less than satisfactory when it came to the C-41 batch (developed by Kodak). Not awful but just a general muddiness to the negs and a definite lack of sharpness and latitude. The Ilford, more contrasty than the Kodak C-41, was closer to a 'silver film' when it came to a lab print on color paper. When I tried to print in my darkroom I found these C41 films a bit inflexable. The TMax was great as usual. I recommend sticking with the TMax or using the Ilford only if necessary. Good luck!

-- Ted Davis (teddavisphotography@hotmail.com), November 16, 2001.

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