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04-18-2011, 08:42 AM   #1
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Complete n00b Requests Advice

I just bought a Pentax P3 on Fleabay, and am assured it will arrive via USPS within the week. So "yay" for that. So now I turn to all of you for a bit of advice:

Film. Apparently, the P3 has ISO setting, but reads the DX coding from the film to know what to do. Is all / most / some 35mm film DX coded? How do I know if it is or not -- will it say on the box?

I looked at a local Walgreens to see what film they carry. There is a B&W from Kodak that says it must be processed as C-41, *not* as B&W. Say what? Is this film good quality, or should I avoid it?

Cost. As a humble beginner, I expect there to be quite a bit of a learning curve. Learning means doing. Any advice on how to keep costs down on film processing?

Thanks for any tips / advice you can share.

04-18-2011, 09:08 AM   #2
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I'm unfamiliar with the P3. However, some basic answers here would still apply. If the camera reads the DX encoding on film, great. You will need to read the manual if there is one or if not get one from here:
Pentax P3 instruction manual, user manual, PDF manual, free manuals There must be some way to set / check the film's ISO once loaded. Usually film will say it on the box if it's DX encoded (actually that's the odd shaped bars on the outside of the can).

I suggest that you start using that Kodak B&W film at Walgreens a bit. C-41 is actually a color process and that Kodak film is really a color film that develops in B&W. I didn't know that at first and started off with it to first check the operation of my camera and also do some no hassle b&w work. The good thing about it is that you can get it developed / printed at the same Walgreens quickly. I usually get is scanned too. This year I've moved to my own developing of other true b&w films but start with the Kodak B&W film.
04-18-2011, 09:20 AM   #3
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Pretty much all film these days is DX coded, you'd only need to override if you want, or possibly if you end up loading your own cartridges.

The low cost way to do this is to buy whatever is cheapest at the local CVS/Walgreens, and keep an eye out for the regular sales these drugstores run. Regular color film, ISO 100-200-400 is cheapest and produces good results - don't shy away from the store brand either!

Then take it to the drugstore minilab, and have them do 'CD Only' - no prints. The prints usually aren't much to look at anyway and cost you money. Take the CD home and work on it with photoshop or equivalent - usually the scans are pale, I find, though there have been minilabs that produced over-saturated scans. Get the tones to where you want, and PRESTO! post em here!

The Kodak BW400CN is also processed by the drug store minilab - but the film itself costs more than regular color... and you can do your own B&W conversions if you like. But certainly, it is fun to try.

Good luck, and show us your results!
04-18-2011, 09:59 AM   #4
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Nester - good follow up to my post. I'm in agreement with what you added, thanks.

04-18-2011, 10:06 AM   #5
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Congrats on the new camera. I haven't used a P3 yet but I have heard they are great little cameras.

Film I'm not 100% sure but I believe all 35mm film manufactured these days is DX coded. Certainly everything I've tried is. I think the only time you might run across non DX coded film is if you buy bulk film and re-loadable canisters.
Kodak's C41 B&W film if fine film. I think it acts more like a color print film than a true B&W film, underexpose a bit for more contrast, overexpose a bit for finer grain.

CostDepending on how much your planning on shooting and if you are planning to shoot a lot of B&W, you can easily develop at home. All you need are th right chemicals, a developing tank, and a dark place (closet) to load the film in the tank. Once the film is in the tank you can develop in a bathroom or the kitchen. This will be much cheaper overall than sending it out for developing.
If you're only planning on shooting 1 or 2 rolls a month, I would stick to C41 and get scans done by the developer.
Also, depending on how much you shoot, a scanner will save you money in the long run. On the low end, flatbed scanners that will do 35mm film cost around $100-$150 and go up from there. I have a $150 Epson V500 and have been very happy with it.
The place where I get my film developed will do develop only for $3.50 and develop and scan for $10, so I save $6.50 a roll by scanning my own. After 100+ rolls it has save be a bundle.
04-18-2011, 03:27 PM   #6
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Have a P3n,pretty much the same as P3,meter is set by DX coding on film.
Non-coded can be used,just sets to 100 iso,regardless of speed.Had it for a while
and its held up pretty good.Has a distinct sound to it when shutter fires,
never caused any problems for me though.Never put any B/W cn thru it,
would'nt expect results to different from any other body.
Coltan has good point,if your only going to shoot 1 or 2 rolls a month,might be
worth your while to have processing done at mini-lab.Walgreens for example,
will process and scan to CD a 24 exposure roll of CN for around $6.50(no prints)
Recently picked up a v500 at local store for less than $150,have a ton of old film
both negs and slides,so its worked out well.
Agree about exposure with B/W cn,especially with underexposure and contrast
bright mid-day sun will wash things out.
This example is B/W cn thru ZX-L & A70-210/4,added 1/3 stop exposure comp (plus EV)
to try and preserve grey mottleing on feathers of immature birds,white on white
was kind of challenge too.
Attached Images
 
04-18-2011, 03:46 PM   #7
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From someone that used to shoot a lot of B&W film, back in the day, Try the C41 B&W film but don't expect real quality (B&W) from it. Get some T-Max 100 a developing tank, some chemicals, a thermometer and an instruction book. Black and White is a silver gelatin process. C41 (color) film process is a dye process. Real B&W will be crisper and give you real quality negatives. Developing (B&W) film is easy. Once you've got real negatives, scan them at the highest resolution that you can and go from there. If you really start to like it, then go back and try to get some Tri X 400 and push process it at 800 (or 1600) and learn about grain. It's fun, old school photography. (who knows, maybe you'll end up building a real darkroom and getting an enlarger and really going old school).

Just remember that the C41 B&W film was only developed to make it easy for people to get there b&W film developed and printed. It was not a step towards higher quality.
04-18-2011, 04:52 PM   #8
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Many, many thanks to those who have offered information and advice. I appreciate all of you for taking the time to answer my silly questions. Thanks!

BTW, I went to Walgreens at lunch and noticed some specials on film -- $2.49 for 24 exposures of their house brand color 200. No idea if that is a good purchase or not, but I was / am a bit excited to get started.

One more question -- how do I extract the EXIF data from the negatives? Kidding!

Seriously though, thanks again for the advice.

-rob

04-18-2011, 09:35 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by calicojack Quote

Just remember that the C41 B&W film was only developed to make it easy for people to get there b&W film developed and printed. It was not a step towards higher quality.
I have to disagree strongly. Chromogenic black and white films are capable of excellent quality, and are a good learning tool for beginning film users. They allow beginners to explore black and white without having to take on processing.

I've been using these films since 1981, and they continue have an important role in my black and white work. Ilford XP2 Super in particular offers excellent sharpness. beautiful tonal rendition, and great exposture latitude.

I enjoy playing with conventional black and white films (I've shot 42 rolls so far this year, 35mm and medium format), but when looking for sheer quality I usually choose XP2.

In my view the keys to successful film photography these days are learning to scan, "post process", and print properly. Proper develpment of conventional black and white films is also a useful skill. Film choice is of lesser importance, becoming meaningful only after you have mastered the key skills.

Most mini labs and many so-called pro labs produce crap scans, making individual film characteristics largely irrelevant. A beginning film user will find the learning process extremely frustrating unless he or she takes control of scan quality early in the game.

John
04-18-2011, 11:49 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Swift1 Quote
I think the only time you might run across non DX coded film is if you buy bulk film and re-loadable canisters.
And certain products from the EU (Rollei Retro 80s for example).


Steve
04-19-2011, 05:59 AM   #11
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keeping costs down, means doing your own developing. if you don't mind learning, and spending to buy the basic necessities for home developing, you can get 'short date' 10x10 packs from freestyle photographic for 30 bucks. a really good deal compares to buying from the drugstore.
04-19-2011, 06:54 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by calicojack Quote
Just remember that the C41 B&W film was only developed to make it easy for people to get there b&W film developed and printed. It was not a step towards higher quality.
I'll have to echo John on this one. Ilford XP1 was the first widely available C41 black and white film, and I started using it in the '80s. It was advertised (rightly) as having superior grain and a wide exposure latitude. Ilford recommended its own chemistry, and I never sent a roll of it to a minilab. It did teach me that C41 is not all that difficult.
04-20-2011, 08:49 PM   #13
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The package arrived in the mail today, so I loaded the P3 with deathrow color 200 from the drugstore. There wasn't much daylight left, but I managed to get three exposures. BillM -- you are so right -- a very distinctive shutter sound. I wanted to hear it again, but I had to remind myself -- the shutter may sound like music, but it's also money.

Anyhow, I feel like a kid on Xmas morning. Thanks to all for the advice. I'll post the best, er, least awful prints once I get them processed.
04-20-2011, 11:58 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by rbryant Quote
the shutter may sound like music, but it's also money
Great to hear it showed up Rob,wish I could exercise same self-control regarding above.
Wouldnt sell that 200 short either,in looking inward,always been whats in me,
rather than the camera.
Just couple thoughts...
Mr.P-body there(yours&mine) has no EV comp,half stop indents on apeture ring
are going to be heaven sent.Way alot of us 'old dawgs' learned. just a little reminder those things are there to help.
Have some 100 legacy in mine currently,pretty much same stuff seamuis mentions.
Stand processing mentioned by many here is very easy,economical means of expanding the interest.
Your easy going,one step at a time approach is best way to go,no doudt.
B/W cn does fine by me,perhaps down the road somewhat,might have a look at the other stuff.
04-22-2011, 02:46 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
I'll have to echo John on this one. Ilford XP1 was the first widely available C41 black and white film, and I started using it in the '80s. It was advertised (rightly) as having superior grain and a wide exposure latitude. Ilford recommended its own chemistry, and I never sent a roll of it to a minilab. It did teach me that C41 is not all that difficult.
I use various BW films including Kodak BW400CN and personally find it excellent. Different, sure, but still excellent.

I find it particularly useful in with cameras which do not have a built in meter. I can use my hand held for the first shot and then go with it from there.

I would recommend it as a good film for beginners.

I do find, however, that drug store processing can give it a nasty green cast and poor quality scans. I'm afraid I bite the bullet and send mine to a good quality lab. One day, when I have access to better facilities, I'll do my own.

K.
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