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05-28-2007, 03:31 PM   #1
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Pushing Kodak BW400CN - questions.

Hello!

I have very little experience with shooting film - a few rolls of Ilford HP5 and a couple of rolls of Ilford Delta 3200 (at concerts.) In all cases I had the film developed by a lab. (I would like to learn the process and be able to rent a darkroom but as of now I don't know how to develop B&W film.) With my limited knowledge of film developing and the characteristics of those particular films, I thought they did a decent job. I typically post-processed the images (< 2MB scans) in Photoshop.

I've recently found a lab close to home that has really quick turn-around on true B&W processing (deliver anytime before 5pm, collect between 6pm and 7pm!) and C-41 processing. They also provide a CD with 20MB scans! The results with a Delta 3200 roll were better than at the other lab and the best part is that they're slightly cheaper (developing + CD of scans = $20)

So, I've been inspired to shoot some film again and I decided to try out a roll of Kodak BW400CN just for kicks. It's rated at EI400 but I set the camera (Pentax ME) at ISO 800. Most of the photographs were taken in late-afternoon light and I did not add any exposure compensation.

My questions are:

1. Do I ask the guys at the lab to push the film by one stop?
2. What have your experiences been with pushing this film?
3. Could you provide some samples?
4. How far can I push this film - Kodak BW400CN - before the results get sketchy
5. How does the Ilford C-41 offering differ from the Kodak?

I would love to shoot Ilford HP5 on a regular basis and still might for certain shoots... but it would be great if I could find the sweet spot for BW400CN and shoot some rolls when I just want to get out into the city streets with a small, quiet camera!

Thanks!

05-28-2007, 06:15 PM   #2
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Chromogenic (C41) B&W films

Check this link:

Welcome to ILFORD PHOTO

Click on XP2 Super and download a PDF brochure (Fact Sheets -> XP2 Super Fact Sheet).

The whole fact sheet interesting, but see the section "Push Processing" on page 3 if you want answer on that one. All should apply to any chromogenic B&W film (Kodak T400CN or similar).

Also, as with any other B&W chromogenic film underexposing it leads to loss of resolution. For high resolution and good negative density exposing over ISO 400 is not recommended. For best results (higher resolution and negative density) expose at LESS than nominal ISO rating. Although I recommend ISO 200 consensus on the net is that ISO 320 gives the best results. To my eyes negative density at ISO 200 looks similar to density of HP5 or FP4 with regular processing. (At ISO 400 XP2 appears to be a bit "light", but it prints well.)

I currently have a roll of XP2 in my MX: I have not used it since 1995 or so and I can't wait to see the result! (I'll rate it ISO 400 to see how it scans.)
05-28-2007, 07:32 PM   #3
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Thank you very much for the pointer to the Fact Sheet, Ivan. [ BTW, Some very nice photographs in your gallery! ]

From the sheet:
"Push processing is not recommended as, unlike conventional ISO 400/27 films, no practical increase in film speed is achieved when XP2 SUPER film is push processed. But XP2 SUPER film can be exposed at EI 800/30 and given standard processing."

I set the ASA dial on my Pentax ME to 800 and made no compensation for the speed difference in my exposures. Assuming for the sake of this argument that XP2 super and BW400CN behave pretty much the same, should I just have the lab process it as they normally would (i.e. without any special "push" instructions?)
05-29-2007, 05:35 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nixarma Quote
I set the ASA dial on my Pentax ME to 800 and made no compensation for the speed difference in my exposures. Assuming for the sake of this argument that XP2 super and BW400CN behave pretty much the same, should I just have the lab process it as they normally would (i.e. without any special "push" instructions?)
Exactly. In fact, you can vary ISO from shot to shot. How it really works has nothing to do with ISO and processing: chromogenic B&W films have such a wide exposure latitude (~10 stops) that over/under exposing 2 or 3 stops still gives acceptable results and under/over exposing each individual frame works well too. The consequence is that if you wish you may change ISO with the same roll of film, but the only real benefit of "variable" ISO is that you can achieve consistent negative density for a few frames taken at the same ISO, then change ISO and move to a different subject. The actual ISO 400 is just a recommendation based on experiments (I believe there is something about that in the XP2 fact sheet) and not the actual sensitivity which is vague category for chromogenic B&W films.

I'd say set ISO 400 and simply under/over expose by a full stop or two if conditions dictate that, knowing that you have some reserve left (more towards the overexposure though). So you don't really have to dial a new ISO.

05-29-2007, 09:19 PM   #5
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Thanks for your detailed replies, Ivan!

I got the developed film and matte prints back this afternoon. The exposure is spot on a couple of frames but is largely underexposed. I'm going to try out one more roll of this film and a roll of XP2 Super, both at 400, just for kicks.

Here's an exposure that I liked: Zenfolio | Nikhil Sarma | Mono

Nikhil

Last edited by Nixarma; 05-30-2007 at 11:38 AM.
05-30-2007, 05:15 AM   #6
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Great shots! ("Silence" is my favorite). Apart from the linked one (two guys and a gate) what other photographs from the "Mono" folder are from T400CN? (I see HP5 Plus there as well.) How did you scan BTW?
05-30-2007, 10:29 AM   #7
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Thanks, Ivan! The linked photograph is currently the only one up there that was shot on T400CN. I shot a few rolls of HP5+ last year and a couple of rolls of Delta 3200... very little experience with film (but I'm going to change that!)

This photograph (Zenfolio | Nikhil Sarma | Embrace The Hate) and the next one in that gallery were both shot on Ilford Delta 3200.

I will be shooting a roll of either Delta 3200 / TMax 3200 / Neopan 1600 this Friday at a jazz concert. I'm looking forward to those results!

I've just had the lab scan the negatives in for me. They scanned the Delta 3200 in at approx 20MB per pic ($5 for the CD!) One of their employees goofed up and scanned the T400CN at 6MB per neg. This wasn't a big deal because I had very few keepers due to the above mentioned underexposure issue, but they said they would scan future rolls at 20MB per neg.

I know that this is a sub-optimal way of processing B&W film. I plan on learning how to develop my own film at a lab or a community college and then rent their darkroom facilities so I can fine-tune the prints. Soon...
05-30-2007, 11:42 AM   #8
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If you scan them all in, why not shoot color? I've been shooting Fuji NPZ800. This is a commercial potrait film but does a good job. For every picture scanned, I get several photos. The first is the color image, the rest, are B&W images created by each color channel and by mixing them. I've also taken the film into a college lab on to a B&W enlarger. Pictures are OK but exposure time is way up because the film is a deep orange. The film seems to me to be harder to scratch too. There's a half-circle cut into the top of the film that makes it easy for me to get it right side up in the enlarger. I don't know what the cut is really for. The local camera shop sells it to me for 1/2 price after the expiration date. Seems fine.
Dave...

05-30-2007, 01:58 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by dgmaley Quote
If you scan them all in, why not shoot color? I've been shooting Fuji NPZ800. This is a commercial potrait film but does a good job. For every picture scanned, I get several photos. The first is the color image, the rest, are B&W images created by each color channel and by mixing them.

Dave...
Hi Dave, I read a similar suggestion on the photo.net fora and was considering it. In your experience is there much difference in overall tonality between photographs shot on C-41 B&W and those shot on color film and then converted to B&W in Photoshop?

Could you post some examples of B&W photographs converted from the NPZ800 scans?

Thanks!
Nikhil
05-31-2007, 11:45 AM   #10
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I haven't got anything to upload right now. I will in the future. The C41 B&W films will always look different than scanned color prints or true B&W film. To me, they always have more contrast, less detail in the lo and hilights. The Kodak version is worse. If you like this type of shooting, suggest you try Ilford XP2 Super. It's Ilford's version of C41 B&W. Except for a slight pink cast to the film, its hard to tell from regular B&W, but still a little more contrasty. Not as bad as Kodak. I have a 100' roll of XP2 in my fridge. It has a LOT of latitude. Try shooting, on the same roll, at 800 down to 200. I usuially shoot around 400-500. Pick the film speed that give you the shots you want. Fun stuff to shoot in a K-1000. I can get away with a lot.
Dave...
05-31-2007, 02:49 PM   #11
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You're absolutely right about the lack of detail in the lows and highs. I got back a second roll of BW400CN today... exposed at ISO 400. I deliberately overexposed some of the shots (2x on the Pentax ME exposure compensation dial.)

All the frames are well exposed. Yet, the tonality and the "feel" is very flat. I'll try a roll of XP2 Super but I think I'll just go back to HP5+ or Tri-X.

Thanks for your help!
Nikhil
05-31-2007, 03:59 PM   #12
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XP2 and contrast

QuoteOriginally posted by dgmaley Quote
I usuially shoot around 400-500.
Check this link out, it's interesting:

Film and Processing Forum: Ilford XP2 Super - pulling the exposure value - photo.net

This matches my experience with ILFORD XP2: for lower contrast and finer grain rate XP2 at less than ISO 400. ISO 200 is a safe choice and to my eyes looks the best and similar to regular B&W films (did I say this already?). ISO 400 is OK, while ISO 800 is often not acceptable IMO.
06-01-2007, 12:54 AM   #13
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Here are two photographs I shot on BW400CN.

1. From roll 1, camera ISO set at 800. This was the only well exposed shot. Desaturation of scanned negative, level adjustment and sharpening in Photoshop.



2. From roll 2, camera ISO set at 400. Post-processing in Photoshop as above.



Nikhil
06-01-2007, 08:01 AM   #14
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Ilford HP5+ is like a film class standard. I think it gets used beause if you can get good shots from it, you can get good shots from anything. You might want to check out a newer film from Fuji, called Across. I hope I spelled it right. They list it as a professional film but the cost isn't that bad. It's a true ASA-100 speed film. I've used it in 35mm and 120. The 120 does the nicest night scenes from just a Holga Camera. The film backing develops to just about completely clear and makes the nicest velvet blacks. Another student shot it in a Pantex 6X7 and got the sharpest prints I have ever seen. Only camera that looks like a 35mm with a growth problem and sounds like it.
Dave..
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