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Thread: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

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    Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Having just re-entered the film world a question I'm asking myself is whether shooting B+W (negative) is REALLY better than shooting colour slide and converting.

    It seems to me foolish as with the latter option you've at least got both color and B+W in one shot.

    BUT, the tonality thing comes to mind.

    However, slides are sharper, crisper and less "finnicky" to scan.

    What are the real benefits of shooting B+W film?

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    I always get b and white positives, man you cant get digital to look like that...

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Tonality, grain, different developers no conversion can approach the variety B&W film can give you...

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Quote Originally Posted by ReeRay View Post
    Having just re-entered the film world a question I'm asking myself is whether shooting B+W (negative) is REALLY better than shooting colour slide and converting.

    It seems to me foolish as with the latter option you've at least got both color and B+W in one shot.

    BUT, the tonality thing comes to mind.

    However, slides are sharper, crisper and less "finnicky" to scan.

    What are the real benefits of shooting B+W film?
    BW films are sharper, have nicer grain structure, and have much more latitude than slide film. They can be processed many different ways for different rendering possibilities. I find them easier to scan.

    Only thing you lose from shooting color is the ability to do filters in software ... but if I want that, I shoot color neg, not color slides.

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Thanks for the input which is very informative.

    I'll give B+W a try.

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Oh yes, MUCH better than shooting slides if you intend to use them as black and white. All the reasons people mentioned -- far more flexibility (in film choice, ISO range, developer characteristics etc), much more dynamic range (something like 9 or 10 stops instead of 4), they are easier to scan, they are more archival (last 100s of years rather than 10s of years), they are cheaper to shoot (both film and processing), easier to process, they allow you to print in a real darkroom. Finally, they just look better.
    If you want to have color and black and white from one shot, you are better off shooting digital.
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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    In my limited experience: YES is the answer.

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    Oh yes, MUCH better than shooting slides if you intend to use them as black and white. All the reasons people mentioned -- far more flexibility (in film choice, ISO range, developer characteristics etc), much more dynamic range (something like 9 or 10 stops instead of 4), they are easier to scan, they are more archival (last 100s of years rather than 10s of years), they are cheaper to shoot (both film and processing), easier to process, they allow you to print in a real darkroom. Finally, they just look better.
    If you want to have color and black and white from one shot, you are better off shooting digital.
    1. Doesn't the higher DR and (at least) the lack of ICE capability make B/W harder to scan? That's my experience.

    2. Processing (unless you do it yourself) is actually more expensive, in my experience, than C-41. Maybe the same as E-6.

    I see too much grain when I shoot B/W, but maybe that's because I don't appreciate the medium. But I'll keep trying...occasionally.

    Greg

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    1. I don't find that the case. You just scan with the histogram black and white points at the edge of recoverable information (that is, scan it very flat), and then take it into photoshop and apply a curves adjustment such that it has the look you desire. It is much easier to throw away information (clipping blacks or whites) than it is to create it from nothing (if your slide is already contrastier than it should be). As for ICE, I don't really miss it as I process myself and my negs are always clean.
    2. See above -- I process myself, but it is something that anyone can do. If you can follow a recipe in a kitchen, you will have no problem developing a roll of film.

    If you see too much grain, it is probably a combination of your choice of film, combined with the processing of your lab, along with your scanner. Scanners can exacerbate the grain in black and white film if they are not set up right.

    If you don't want to hassle with any of this, but still want a very nice black and white film, try Ilford XP2 -- it processes in C41 chemicals, but it is a black and white film with extremely fine grain and excellent tonality.
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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    1. I don't find that the case. You just scan with the histogram black and white points at the edge of recoverable information (that is, scan it very flat), and then take it into photoshop and apply a curves adjustment such that it has the look you desire. It is much easier to throw away information (clipping blacks or whites) than it is to create it from nothing (if your slide is already contrastier than it should be). As for ICE, I don't really miss it as I process myself and my negs are always clean.
    .
    But I didn't think most scanners could grab all that DR. I presume you need a good scanner?

    I'm having trouble with K-14 as it is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    2. See above -- I process myself, but it is something that anyone can do. If you can follow a recipe in a kitchen, you will have no problem developing a roll of film.

    If you see too much grain, it is probably a combination of your choice of film, combined with the processing of your lab, along with your scanner. Scanners can exacerbate the grain in black and white film if they are not set up right. .
    Wait, I thought you said it was easy. What is this magic setting?


    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    If you don't want to hassle with any of this, but still want a very nice black and white film, try Ilford XP2 -- it processes in C41 chemicals, but it is a black and white film with extremely fine grain and excellent tonality.
    But better, in your opinion, than color C-41 turned B/W? I've used Acros with mediocre results, but I recall finding Pan-X appealing. I have an old roll of Pan-atomic ISO32 120 that I'm saving like a bottle of fine wine for a special occasion.

    I tend to shoot portraits with shallow DOF and flash...which (in my opinion) is a recipe for disaster with B/W. You want contrast and detail, both of which you lose shooting wide open with fill light and underexposed ambient. Neutral gray faces with blurry black backgrounds ain't too exciting.

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Quote Originally Posted by gsking View Post
    But I didn't think most scanners could grab all that DR. I presume you need a good scanner?

    I'm having trouble with K-14 as it is.
    Of course you need a good scanner. K-14 is a pretty contrasty film, makes it harder for scanners.

    Because there is inevitable contrast gain in printing from negatives (b+w or color), negative films tend to be less contrasty and easier to scan.

    ... But better, in your opinion, than color C-41 turned B/W? I've used Acros with mediocre results, but I recall finding Pan-X appealing. ...
    The key to getting good results with B&W film are to learn how to expose and process it specific to the scene conditions and the output you need. The best scannable negatives are thin but detailed and have no blocked up highlights ... soft developer, proper exposure is essential when using hard flash.

    An APS camera exposure on Fuji F100, rather underexposed overall but a nice scene, rendered to both color and B&W:




    Better or worse ... depends on what you have to start with, how you scan it, how you process it. :-)

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Nice example...I like both. And I see what you did to pump the contrast on the B/W version.

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Quote Originally Posted by gsking View Post
    But I didn't think most scanners could grab all that DR. I presume you need a good scanner?
    Not really. The problem with scanners is being able to scan through the densest area of the negative. Slide film will have a very thick black that is of a higher dmax than a black and white negative. The scanner might choke on a bullet-proof negative (caused by over-exposure and/or over-developing), but you don't need super-thick negatives to have a full tonal range.

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy View Post
    Not really. The problem with scanners is being able to scan through the densest area of the negative. Slide film will have a very thick black that is of a higher dmax than a black and white negative. The scanner might choke on a bullet-proof negative (caused by over-exposure and/or over-developing), but you don't need super-thick negatives to have a full tonal range.
    That is my problem. I "properly" underexposed the K-14 slides and they look great to the eye, but the scanner can't seem to punch through them. I'll work on it some more.

    Ironically, the last time I scanned K-14 was on some 40 year old slides, with a cheap $99 PrimeFilm scanner. I don't recall the same problems I'm getting with my (at least slightly better?) Epson V-500.

    But maybe I'm more picky now.

    I'm going to grab the slide projector in a couple weeks and try it out. First time it'll have been used in 30 years. Should be fun.

    Makes me want to try the $50 camera adapters to take a digital photo of them, but I'm sure that'll be worse than the scanner.

    Sorry for the OT talk...

    Greg

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    REERAY
    Just SHOOT that D**n Contax ALREADY....
    I'm waitin to SEE some Pixs
    personally I PREFER B&W 98% of the Time
    but the Zeiss Glass for the G1/contax is ASTOUNDING
    in both Color and B&W



    Best to YOU- H

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Quote Originally Posted by gsking View Post
    1. Doesn't the higher DR and (at least) the lack of ICE capability make B/W harder to scan? That's my experience.

    2. Processing (unless you do it yourself) is actually more expensive, in my experience, than C-41. Maybe the same as E-6.

    I see too much grain when I shoot B/W, but maybe that's because I don't appreciate the medium. But I'll keep trying...occasionally.

    Greg
    only if you are scanning negatives

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Slides and black and white negatives have very different approaches to their dynamic range. As Godfrey said, the scanner will have a much harder time getting good detail from the darkest areas of a slide, but it will not have the same difficulty with a properly exposed negative. The dynamic range that a black and white negative RECORDS is much greater than a slide, but the dynamic range of a slide ITSELF is higher than a black and white negative. So a scanner can easily get several more stops out of a black and white neg, while it will struggle to get the full dynamic range of a slide, which only records 4 or 5 stops. I hope that makes sense, but it is kind of hard to explain.

    If you are getting mediocre results from Acros, there is something wrong with either your lab, your scanner or your technique. Acros has finer grain than any slide film, and has an exceedingly long tonal range.
    This would be an example of a properly processed and scanned acros neg:


    And an unsharpened crop at 100% at 3200 dpi. It is from a very small area directly over the head of the figure at left:


    This scan yields a grainless 30x30 inch print.

    As for a magic recipe, I don't really know what to say. I cannot say what is going on with your processing since you have it done by a lab, nor do I know how you scan. All I can say is that when it is done correctly, black and white negatives yield better black and white images than do scanned slides converted to black and white. If you can't get the same results, then you either need to change something, or just go with what works for you.

    Finally, I would say that, yes, XP2 is better than most color negative films that I have tried as black and white. It has very very fine grain, particularly for its speed (400), and it has a beautiful tonality. Another film to look at if you are shooting C-41 would be the new Ektar 100, which by all accounts is the finest grained color negative film in history. I am not sure how it compares to XP2, as I have not shot it.
    I do not shoot XP2 often, but this is an example:


    As is this I believe:
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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Quote Originally Posted by helenhill View Post
    REERAY
    Just SHOOT that D**n Contax ALREADY....
    I'm waitin to SEE some Pixs
    personally I PREFER B&W 98% of the Time
    but the Zeiss Glass for the G1/contax is ASTOUNDING
    in both Color and B&W



    Best to YOU- H
    We're in our rainy (monsoon really) season. Very frustrating. BUT, the suns out today, the annual 3 day "jazz on the beach" festival starts this afternoon and I'll be there

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Stuart, the first and last shots are genius ---- and I think quite clearly prove the point about whether to process in B&W...

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Quote Originally Posted by viablex1 View Post
    only if you are scanning negatives
    Aren't all B/W shots negatives? I googled B/W positives and slides, and didn't get much that looked promising.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    Slides and black and white negatives have very different approaches to their dynamic range. As Godfrey said, the scanner will have a much harder time getting good detail from the darkest areas of a slide, but it will not have the same difficulty with a properly exposed negative. The dynamic range that a black and white negative RECORDS is much greater than a slide, but the dynamic range of a slide ITSELF is higher than a black and white negative. So a scanner can easily get several more stops out of a black and white neg, while it will struggle to get the full dynamic range of a slide, which only records 4 or 5 stops. I hope that makes sense, but it is kind of hard to explain.

    If you are getting mediocre results from Acros, there is something wrong with either your lab, your scanner or your technique. Acros has finer grain than any slide film, and has an exceedingly long tonal range.
    That makes sense, and I bet all three were/are screwed up. Nice shots, and I'll give it another try. Once in a while I get something interesting, even if it's flawed. I think this one was Acros


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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Thanks Scott, glad you liked them!

    Greg -- Well, this is good news in a way. Your film should not look like this, so if things are fixed, you should be able to get good results. I am not sure exactly what is wrong here, but part of it may be sharpening in the scanner. When scanning, you want to make sure that all the sharpening in the scanner program is turned off. Scanners do not sharpen well, certainly not as well as photoshop. So it is best to turn off all processing tools that the scanner software may have.

    Try to scan as flat as possible, while still setting the black and white points at the edge of usable information. (i.e. don't set the black and white points at 0 and 255 if the information only starts at 25 and stops at 215, but don't clip black and whites yet...you can do that in photoshop). Make sure that all dust and scratches programs and ICE are off with black and white film -- the silver clumps can interfere with the IR beam, and lead to weird effects.

    Another possibility here is that your films have been reticulated. This can occur when there are large temperature changes during processing. It has the effect of exaggerated grain in subtle cases and an actual cracked appearance in extreme cases. What happens is the emulsion of the film swells and becomes very delicate when it is wet. If the temperature changes a lot (say 10 degrees or more) rapidly, it can rapidly shrink the film base, thereby cracking the emulsion. An easy way to do this would be to process your film at a normal temperature (or even a warmer than normal temperature) and then wash it straight from the cold water tap. Depending on where you live, this can be much colder. For example, I process at 68 degrees, but the cold water from my tap is around 50 degrees. If I were to wash my film in the cold water, direct from processing, it would result in reticulation.

    http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/p...ingerrors.html
    This page is a good reference of black and white processing problems.

    I have a feeling it is probably more the scanning technique than the negative though. If you have a microscope or strong loupe, you might be able to verify if the negative is finely grained. A better thing to do would be to find a friend or lab that you know does good black and white scans, and see if when they scan your neg, that the results are good.

    Finally, the easiest thing to do is probably just to go to your lab and say and tell them you are concerned that the negs might be processed improperly, and would like them to tell you how they process (what chemicals etc) and if they have a scanner or system where they can verify that they are done correctly. If you are using a professional lab, they should have no problem doing this. Just don't make it accusatory and they shouldn't have a problem with it.
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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Stu,

    Thanks for the advice. I can't recall if this shot was done by Dwayne's or by my local lab...but it may be moot. My local lab shut down. Or at least the closer B&M store...the lab and main store (farther away) are still open I think.

    I know I didn't use ICE, and setting the end points is pretty simple. So I guess I'll just blame it on the scanner. I still think my shooting style doesn't lend itself to B/W, at least to my eye.

    Thanks for the advice, though. Any tips on how to get the most out of the one roll of Panatomic? Sell it to a pro?

    Greg

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    That's some great advice there Stuart.

    Just moving on a little; would you advocate exposing for a flatter neg. i.e. say 1/3rd or so overexposure to keep the contrast down?

    I seem to remember reading something like this years ago in the darkroom age.

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Thanks ReeRay. Well, I tend to try to get exposure spot on and then control things in processing. A lot of people try to overexpose and then underdevelop, as the less time film is in the developer, the finer the grain. But overall I think you have the nicest negatives if you expose properly and give a full development using the right chemical. If you are worried about contrast, I find using a semi-compensating or compensating developer to be a good choice. If you are not careful, they can compress the tonal range, but in scanning this can actually be useful in getting a full dynamic range that the scanner can use.

    Examples of compensating developers would be highly diluted rodinal (1:50 or greater, but seeing more of an effect at 1:100), diafine, diluted FX-39 or Xtol and so on. Basically you just want fairly low quantities of developer and fairly low agitation -- this allows the developer to exhaust at the highlights...highlights develop more quickly than the shadows, so a compensating developer evens things out by making the highlights slow down (they run out of "juice") while the shadows keep developing. This gives you good shadow detail without blowing your highlights.
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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    The timing for this thread couldn't have been better as far as I'm concerned. I am very slowly returning to film and have just received my first rolls of 120 back from a lab. I sent them two rolls of Portra 160 NC to process and scan at their "large" file size (which is the mid-range of their scan-quality offering). So I am encountering a whole range of new stuff all at once. New camera (40 y.o. Rollei) does it function properly? Not to mention the confluence of analog and digital when I popped the CD of scans into the MAC.

    I was surprised to see the scan's histogram was always centered with a fair amount of space on either side of the image info. Is it possible that the Lab simply errs on the safe side by setting up their scanner that way?

    I have a lot to learn and really appreciate this thread and others here with posts by folks who have made the analog-to-digital combination work.

    This is from my first roll of 120 in about 30 years, with a camera that predates even that.

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Here is one observation I have regarding B&W film photography.

    While my first impressions are somewhat comparable when confronted with B&W film vs. B&W from digital, for some reason, it's almost invariably the film photos that stay with me, for whatever reason.

    For example, I can bring back to memory so many of the photos from two fun threads in the analogue section, while many of the digital conversions that I was very impressed at first with are not so readily available. Of course this is not a rule, as there are exceptions, but I don't mean this in any passionate or political manner , it just honestly seems to be the case.

    On the other hand, e.g. Stuarts posts above exemplify the amount of experience and work both scanning and developing (and an order of magnitude more for analogue printing), that one needs to have in order start feeling in control. But one step at a time...

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Hey Tim -- nice shot. I think one reason labs tend to give you scans like you have experienced is so that they don't have to do any work. If they just set up the scanner to scan with the widest possible histogram, they don't have to go in and adjust it for individual scans. They figure that the person can adjust it at home. This has the downside of compressing the overall tones, but the upside would be that they are not clipping you shadows and highlights for you.

    I really think doing your own developing and scanning is akin to shooting RAW in digital. It is the same basic premise and even has some similar workflow choices to be made. Just dropping your stuff off at a lab is like shooting JPEG -- depending on the lab (or the camera) it can be a very good option, but it is rarely AS good as shooting RAW (or doing it yourself in the case of film).

    Sizifo -- I think your statement is also pretty applicable to digital. While it does take some experience to get the most out of your film, I think it takes as much or more to get results out of digital (particularly out of digital BW). Of course, you can just do auto everything and get decent results in certain cases, but that is basically the same thing as dropping your film off with a lab.

    But I definitely think there is something about film -- it does not matter so much to me what exactly that something is, but there is a charm in it that persists even as it is translated into 1's and 0's for viewing on the web. It is even more obvious in person when holding a silver gelatin print.
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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post

    Sizifo -- I think your statement is also pretty applicable to digital. While it does take some experience to get the most out of your film, I think it takes as much or more to get results out of digital (particularly out of digital BW). Of course, you can just do auto everything and get decent results in certain cases, but that is basically the same thing as dropping your film off with a lab.
    It was just from my perspective, as I've spent some time with digital, and film is completely new to me. Of course, I agree with this sensible statement. I'd most love to do set up a proper darkroom, and do analogue printing. Did it for a short while, and enjoyed it a lot, but moved in the meantime, and setting the stuff up again is too difficult, and will be for a while. The convenience of digital is an unfortunate thing.

    On a different note, do you worry about the arsenal of tools decreasing? Starting from films being discontinued. E.g. it's already much more difficult to get graded paper, as opposed to variable grade - and the former was apparently preferable (I could be wrong here). Many of the chemicals I've read about in old books on printing (e.g. Ansel Adams books), I'd have no idea if equivalents still exist, or how to go about getting them

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    I am not particularly worried about it disappearing altogether, but I certainly do think it will become increasingly difficult to find certain things. The market will shrink a great deal (it already has), and a lot of the variety of options we have now will disappear. But what I think will happen is that as the large players exit the business, we will be left with smaller, boutique manufacturers. You will see things happen like what happened with Agfa -- they will exit the film business and a smaller company will buy some or all of their machinery and engage in low-volume production. Instead of offering a huge range of films and chemicals, they will offer just a few.

    The chemicals are pretty easy to make even yourself, so that is not really the problem. Films and papers are the things that are harder to deal with. At the most basic level, it is possible to make your own papers -- people do it all the time in alternative processes. Making them consistent and readily available is another story. But I think Ilford will be in the game for a long time -- they are pretty much the world standard at this point, and they don't have much competition. As long as there are people shooting black and white, they will probably be in the game.

    The area where you will see the most dramatic contraction is in things that are difficult to make and low volume sellers -- things like the highest end enlargers (particularly larger than 4x5 enlargers), scanners, professional processing equipment, large easels, specialty darkroom equipment (large color processors, film washers, etc etc) and so on. You will have to look for this stuff used.

    I think it is fairly similar to vinyl records -- with the advent of the CD, vinyl made a very dramatic contraction. It never quite died, and in the last 5 years or so, sales are increasing. There are still musicians releasing on vinyl, new turntables and cartridges being made, and a legion of devotees. It's never going to be the standard that it once was, but there are people who prefer it in the same way there are people who prefer black and white film.
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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Making your own photographic paper sounds cool. I can imagine doing it when I'm 80 while b******g about the youth of today.

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    Hey Tim -- nice shot. I think one reason labs tend to give you scans like you have experienced is so that they don't have to do any work. If they just set up the scanner to scan with the widest possible histogram, they don't have to go in and adjust it for individual scans. They figure that the person can adjust it at home. This has the downside of compressing the overall tones, but the upside would be that they are not clipping you shadows and highlights for you.

    I really think doing your own developing and scanning is akin to shooting RAW in digital. It is the same basic premise and even has some similar workflow choices to be made. Just dropping your stuff off at a lab is like shooting JPEG -- depending on the lab (or the camera) it can be a very good option, but it is rarely AS good as shooting RAW (or doing it yourself in the case of film).
    Thanks Stuart. First roll on a new (old) camera and all that. But I agree and after this experiment with C-41 (The scans were indeed like working with jpegs), my plan is to stick with B&W and develop/scan myself. Unfortunately that means a two hour drive to a rental darkroom space. So there's a time gap after shooting before I can see the results. For which I am willing to wait. I can already see stuff in the Rollei negs that gets me salivating. It will be slower but I'm not opposed to that.

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Is that some large format Rollei, I mean, since you need a darkroom? Or are you planning to do analogue prints?

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    One thing that works really well -- if you have a light table, you can put the negs on the light table, and use a macro lens to photograph the photos using your best digital camera. You can also do this for contact sheets. Just bring the file into photoshop, convert it to B&W and invert it. Voila, instant contact sheet or web resolution scan. When I was living in Japan, this is how I put photos on the web without a scanner.

    For example, this is just a shot of the negative using the DMR and 100mm macro lens:



    While the one I posted before is a real scan:


    The second is obviously better and has hugely more resolution in real life, but the difference is not large on the web. This is quite easy to do with black and white medium format negs. It does not work as well with slide film, which is very contrasty and hard to get exact color with.
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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Quote Originally Posted by sizifo View Post
    Is that some large format Rollei, I mean, since you need a darkroom? Or are you planning to do analogue prints?
    Technically I don't need a darkroom to do the negs. But it has been over 20 years since I developed film and I am (was) used to a water temp. controlled darkroom. I know it's not completely necessary, but for my first few rolls at least I want to go that route. Once I break the ice I will probably end up with a changing bag for loading and the kitchen sink for the processing. And yes, I also want to make some silver prints.

    Cool idea on the lightbox thing Stuart. Alas, the only macro I have is a lensbaby with magnification filters for the nikon! A scanner is on my list for sure.

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    The self processing v Lab is an interesting topic.

    Out of convenience I've elected to use a lab. I know this removes a lot from the process and mixing my own "soup" is lost but I remember years back spending hours/days/months experimenting with various mixes and still never felt totally happy that I'd hit the right formula.

    Now, coupled with a Thai wife who would be convinced I'm mixing magic potions for evil purposes leaves me no route to a darkroom or enlarger.

    So, extending this topic, may I ask what software process you adopt having scanned in a nice flat, fully toned neg.

    Currently I just work in CS3 and Lightroom but have read about silverFX (?) and the like.

    What do you find to be most appropriate?

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    It's probably already been stated, but negative film can capture more dynamic range, but the actual dynamic range of the negative is much less than slide film. Most scanners can easily get capture all the dynamic range.

    As far as not using ICE, as long as you get your developing down pretty clean, it's not a big deal. Just get it right so you don't have a lot of water marks and dust.

    B&W film is awesome. I'd give up color (even with B&W conversions) long before I gave up B&W negative film.

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    This is something I'm never 100% sure about, so maybe somebody can clarify.

    First, I'm utterly confused regarding your first sentence. I think I understand what you mean but am probably confused by the terminology.

    I also thought the following was true. Whereas analogue printing from B&W film can cover 10 stops, there is actual information in the negative highlights that goes beyond that, to 12 stops and beyond. Is this correct?

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    A negative can go up to 20 stops when using Pota developer and TMAX 100.

    "The market wants a Leica to be a Leica: the inheritor of tradition, the subject of lore, and indisputably a mark of status to own."
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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    To put it Simply...Can't SEE any other Way
    and for me
    Film Still Rules...

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Sapporo, Minami 1 Nishi 3, over the road of Mitsukoshi ??

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post



    While the one I posted before is a real scan:


    .
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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Yes, directly in front of the Starbucks, at the very corner of the building!
    My photos are here: http://www.stuartrichardson.com and more recent work here: http://stuartrichardson.tumblr.com/ Please have a look at my book!
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  42. #42
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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?



    i have only been processing b&w film myself for 6 weeks and i love it.
    i would never give my film to a lab again,my method is self taught slapdash,sometimes idiotic but always fun. you will find great stocks available even 15 year old ebay out of date film will work...shooting black and white is just so cheap as well.
    a couple of dollars for film,the chemicals i reuse all the time,you can even ue coffee and washing soda..

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    "That is my problem. I "properly" underexposed the K-14 slides and they look great to the eye, but the scanner can't seem to punch through them. I'll work on it some more."

    K14 Kodachromes can have a real d-max of up to 3.8 and your scanner only can capture about 2.8 d-max, so it's no wonder you're losing the bottom three or four stops of detail on your scans. The ONLY way to scan Kodachrome is with a sensor that can record all the way down to a 3.8 or higher d-max and that, of course, means a photomultiplier tube and a drum scanner. There simply is no CCD scanner, no matter what the claims, that can scan anything above about a 3.0 d-max, even the much applauded Imacon.

    "But maybe I'm more picky now."

    Undoubtedly. That's a good thing.

  44. #44
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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Why are you scanning at all? Why not just large format film and contact print at the size of the negative? It is still viable and results in excellent prints and a controlled, inexpensive workflow.

    A few excellent prints are much nicer than bins of 'OK' work.

    Keep it simple and concentrate on the image rather than the process.

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Contact prints are not for everyone. In fact, they make very little sense for most people. You need large format cameras (and ULF if you want anything bigger than a postcard), which do not lend themselves to all types of shooting...they don't do street or documentary, sports or anything that requires you to be spontaneous. And if you want to do larger print sizes, the camera cost goes through the roof, you are bound to a car or a studio, and film becomes a very specialized and expensive product to obtain, process and even load.
    Contact printing also forces you to set the image size before you have taken the image -- there is not flexibility in that sense. Also, there is not nearly as much that you can do in a contact print workflow -- all contact prints are more or less straight prints. At the smaller sizes they are unpractical to dodge and burn with. And no scanner means no digital copy for the web and archival purposes, or any way to print it on an inkjet if that is the way you want to go.

    Contact prints do have a beautiful look, but they are a very specialized process that does not suit 99.9% of photographers.
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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    Contact prints are not for everyone. In fact, they make very little sense for most people. You need large format cameras (and ULF if you want anything bigger than a postcard), which do not lend themselves to all types of shooting...they don't do street or documentary, sports or anything that requires you to be spontaneous. And if you want to do larger print sizes, the camera cost goes through the roof, you are bound to a car or a studio, and film becomes a very specialized and expensive product to obtain, process and even load.
    Contact printing also forces you to set the image size before you have taken the image -- there is not flexibility in that sense. Also, there is not nearly as much that you can do in a contact print workflow -- all contact prints are more or less straight prints. At the smaller sizes they are unpractical to dodge and burn with. And no scanner means no digital copy for the web and archival purposes, or any way to print it on an inkjet if that is the way you want to go.

    Contact prints do have a beautiful look, but they are a very specialized process that does not suit 99.9% of photographers.
    Scanning an enlargement (or a contact print) made in the traditional darkroom is far less demanding from the scanner than scanning the negative. Even a cheap scanner would do the job. I have made 8x10 prints on an Epson 3800 from scanning 8x10 enlargements made from 4x5 neg; they are almost indistinguishable.

    Even a bigger print could be scanned in sections and then reassembled in Photoshop. To extract all the information from a negative without having to do much manipulation in the darkroom, contact prints (or enlargements) could be made at various densities, then scanned and put on separate layers in Photoshop for creative control, HDR, etc.

    With the use of RGB filters, colour photography is possible from exposing three B&W negatives, scanning the contact prints and importing the resulting images as RGB layers in Photoshop.

    The point I am trying to make is that not only to ULF produces beautiful images when contact printed (especially on chloride paper like Azo), but they can be used also in a digital workflow.

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    I know I'll be shooting black and white film for as long as I can still get it. Digital B&W still doesn't look as good to my eye, but then I've only had about forty years of looking at prints. Living in L.A. there are still several labs that do good black and white and my preference is Schulman Photo Lab, where Russell Adams really caters to fine art shooters but welcomes all. I could process in my darkroom by for me it's more a matter of convenience to have Schulman process and proof. Got a package from them today and spun up a couple from last year. Yeah, sometimes I take a while to get around to sending the film in. These are both T-Max100 processed in T-Max and drum scanned on a Howtek 8000 with Trident. Mamiya 7. Probably a 50 on the Highway 6 and definitely an 80mm for the Station Fire plume.

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Hmmm, maybe I forgot to really attach the files...

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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    Yes, TRI-X 400 is unbeatable.
    Hasselblad 500C, 500C/M, 503CX. Leica R4S. Hasselblad Xpan. Canon EOS 5. Bronica SQ-A. Contax T2. Yashica Mat 124g.

  50. #50
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    Re: Is it worth shooting in B+W?

    I scanned a couple of old RZ Plus-X frames of Utah Phillips this afternoon and was thinking just how sad it would be if we couldn't get film anymore.

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