Film Cheap B&W film?

TraamisVOS

Hall of Famer
Nov 29, 2010
124
Melbourne, Australia
Most of y'all know I bought two film cameras and am shooting film for the first time. I've shot 8 rolls so far.

With this forum's help I purchased a film scanner.

And as of last week, I finally found a place in another state where I can send the film to be developed. I hope to receive the developed film back later this week or next week. Until then, I have no idea whether anything worked, but surely there's got to be a couple of decent ones in 8 rolls.

While I'm learning, I've been using regular ole Kodak Ultramax 400 film which I can buy from the local supermarket, 3 rolls of 24 colour exposures for $20. There's also 3 rolls of 36 Fujifilm Superia 400 for $28. I know there's better colour film out there but while I'm learning I want to take a gazillion shots, make a gazillion mistakes, and hopefully learn one or two things along the way.

I want to try some B&W and have been looking but can't find the equivalent cheap film. Does the equivalent ISO 400 exist? I'm seeing high praise for the Ilford HP5 but that's high quality expensive film. I'm not ready for that yet.
 

agentlossing

Veteran
Mar 23, 2015
104
Andrew Lossing
Fuji Superia 400 is a fine color film, it's one of my favorite and probably the color film I've used the most. Kodak Ektar 100 is my other favorite, but between those two films you can get some awesome color shots.

On to B&W. For ISO 400, Kodak Tri-X and Ilford HP5+ are the two go-to 400 speed films. They are not cheap but they're not exactly expensive, at just under $6 per 36 exposures on places like Adorama. I've shot and developed almost a half dozen HP5+ and it's my favorite. Very easy to develop. Now, for cheaper options - note that most of the cheaper prices you will find are for 24 instead of 36 exposure rolls. that's why I mentioned Tri-X and HP5+ first, because for 36 exposures they're actually still decent. But for pure cheapness, Foma Pan 400 is $3.89 right now on Adorama for 24 exp, I've used Foma 200 ($4.49 for 36 exp) and found it to be okay. It's a bit grungy looking when developed with DF96 monobath, but it's cool. I just shot and developed a roll of Holga 400 ($4.49, it only comes in 24 exp) and really liked the look of it. Super contrasty and nice grain structure. The cheapest would be Foma 200 24 exp at $3.89, or Kentmere or Arista rebranded stuff.

One pro tip: never buy film in 3-pack or 5-pack units without comparing the price, for some absurd reason it tends to cost more than getting rolls one at a time.

I'd recommend just grabbing a couple rolls of HP5+ (get the 24 exp if you want a tad cheaper) to start out with. It makes a good baseline, then get more experimental from there.
 

TraamisVOS

Hall of Famer
Nov 29, 2010
124
Melbourne, Australia
I'll see if I can find the others you suggested, thanks very much again for your help!

I live in a part of Australia where film-related options are limited. The Aus dollar is very low too, ordering from Adorama plus their postage costs would significantly bump up the price after conversion.
 

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
124

For the lowest price on B&W- 100ft rolls of bulk film is the way to go.


Single rolls- Freestylephoto.com in the US.

I searched for bulk film "australia",


Found this place. Bulk film loaders are available used for much less money.
 

MoonMind

Hall of Famer
Dec 29, 2013
124
Switzerland
Matt
Just to name a few things that are readily available here in Switzerland (and we're not to most blessed when it comes to niche options, usually): Apart from Fomapan (of which I prefer the 100 and 400 ISO versions over the 200 - the latter I find a bit muddy, but it can work well for people), there's Agfa APX 100 and 400 and Kentmere 100 and 400. The Agfa films are nothing special - but that's kind of a strength if you just develop for the grain; they scan quite well. The Kentmere 100 and 400 films are made by Ilford and are both well worth their modest price. I think the 100 is really quite versatile, the 400 is actually a bit coarser and contrastier than HP5+ (which, btw., still is my favourite ISO 400 film - I just like the rendering, even though more modern option offer "more"; it's not about "more" in film photography IMO). If it hasn't come across, I quite like the Kentmere films and prefer them over the basically solid Agfa APX and somewhat less convincing Fomapan films (tonality is nice, reliability/predictability less so).

YMMV, though - as choice of film stock is always highly subjective, and my advice is to be taken with a grain of salt because I am a traditionalist when it comes to b&w film photography. High contrast b&w is easy to achieve with digital files (*really* easy), but nice grading is much harder to do. HP5+ isn't Acros, but its tonality is very pleasing. Kentmere 100 has similar genes in a way - remarkable for such an inexpensive stock. FP4+ is technically superior, but not when it comes to looks in my view ... However, the market is evolving fast, so by all means, do your research. May I suggest browsing emulsive.org's archives? They put together an overview over all available film stocks a short while back, so most of it is still valid.

M.
 

agentlossing

Veteran
Mar 23, 2015
104
Andrew Lossing
Sorry, I should have noticed the Australia tag on your profile! I am guessing Foma might be easier to find inexpensively than some others, since it comes from Europe and is distributed all over the place. It's a pity HP5+ is expensive there, though keep in mind that film prices can vary widely from retailer to retailer - probably due to volume and the fact that it has an expiration date.

@MoonMind I have a couple rolls of Foma Pan 100 waiting to be shot, I'll have to see what I think of it. Foma 200 did indeed seem muddy to me, I wasn't sure if it was just the developer I'm using.
 

TraamisVOS

Hall of Famer
Nov 29, 2010
124
Melbourne, Australia
For the lowest price on B&W- 100ft rolls of bulk film is the way to go.
You know what this is - this is the equivalent of buying those roll-your-own tobacco-cigarette packs.

1570611256705.png


And this:

1570611290236.png


I know it's going to be a lot cheaper, I'll have to keep this in mind once I get more comfortable with film photography.

I have a genuine question - is it possible to cut undeveloped film in the middle of the night in the bathroom while using nightvision goggles so I can see what the hell I'm doing?
 

TraamisVOS

Hall of Famer
Nov 29, 2010
124
Melbourne, Australia
Just to name a few things that are readily available here in Switzerland (and we're not to most blessed when it comes to niche options, usually): Apart from Fomapan (of which I prefer the 100 and 400 ISO versions over the 200 - the latter I find a bit muddy, but it can work well for people), there's Agfa APX 100 and 400 and Kentmere 100 and 400. The Agfa films are nothing special - but that's kind of a strength if you just develop for the grain; they scan quite well. The Kentmere 100 and 400 films are made by Ilford and are both well worth their modest price. I think the 100 is really quite versatile, the 400 is actually a bit coarser and contrastier than HP5+ (which, btw., still is my favourite ISO 400 film - I just like the rendering, even though more modern option offer "more"; it's not about "more" in film photography IMO). If it hasn't come across, I quite like the Kentmere films and prefer them over the basically solid Agfa APX and somewhat less convincing Fomapan films (tonality is nice, reliability/predictability less so).

YMMV, though - as choice of film stock is always highly subjective, and my advice is to be taken with a grain of salt because I am a traditionalist when it comes to b&w film photography. High contrast b&w is easy to achieve with digital files (*really* easy), but nice grading is much harder to do. HP5+ isn't Acros, but its tonality is very pleasing. Kentmere 100 has similar genes in a way - remarkable for such an inexpensive stock. FP4+ is technically superior, but not when it comes to looks in my view ... However, the market is evolving fast, so by all means, do your research. May I suggest browsing emulsive.org's archives? They put together an overview over all available film stocks a short while back, so most of it is still valid.

M.
I'm concerned that I have to stick with ISO 400 or above because the Xpan's lens is limited to f/4, and the Horizon Perfekt is limited to f/2.8 at 5 meters, if I I need to shoot closer, I'd have to stop down a heap.

I have another genuine question - I am very comfortable with digital post-processing, so I was wondering whether I could just use the cheapest film and then post-process them as per what I do with my digital photos now that I have a scanner? I get the impression that that is a sacrilegious act when it comes to film.

I'll have a look at emulsive.org.

At the moment, while I'm trying to wrap my brain around the film experience, I'm trying to stick with cheap film until I'm more comfortable with it.
 

TraamisVOS

Hall of Famer
Nov 29, 2010
124
Melbourne, Australia
Sorry, I should have noticed the Australia tag on your profile! I am guessing Foma might be easier to find inexpensively than some others, since it comes from Europe and is distributed all over the place. It's a pity HP5+ is expensive there, though keep in mind that film prices can vary widely from retailer to retailer - probably due to volume and the fact that it has an expiration date.

@MoonMind I have a couple rolls of Foma Pan 100 waiting to be shot, I'll have to see what I think of it. Foma 200 did indeed seem muddy to me, I wasn't sure if it was just the developer I'm using.
No Foma at the local camera shop. :( Not surprised. On eBay, the cheapest I can find is about AUD$22 smackeroos:




:(
 

TraamisVOS

Hall of Famer
Nov 29, 2010
124
Melbourne, Australia
FWIW I'm in NZ and have bought stuff online from Walkens in AU - looks like Fomo stuff is the cheapest B&W followed by Kentmere. I got a couple of bricks of Arista stored in the fridge from Freestyle in the US a few years back but they don't seem to do that anymore (rumour had it that it was pretty much the same as Tri-X).

Anywho - Buy 35mm Camera Film online - WALKENS House of Film
I know of Walkens, I previously bought Cinestill film from them but the postage was an additional $6.50. Not tremendously high but it adds up. I'll have a look at their Foma(?) and Kentmere. Foma is $8 a roll according to their website.

 

agentlossing

Veteran
Mar 23, 2015
104
Andrew Lossing
I have another genuine question - I am very comfortable with digital post-processing, so I was wondering whether I could just use the cheapest film and then post-process them as per what I do with my digital photos now that I have a scanner? I get the impression that that is a sacrilegious act when it comes to film
I don't think you'll find that very necessary, at least I don't. B&W film produces a result that's not like a RAW file from a camera, at all - it's more of a whole package, with grain structure, highlight rolloff, and keep in mind that underexposure of dark areas can result in unrecoverable shadows... But it's not really a bad thing. Even cheap B&W film looks good to my eye, it's all about what you want to do with it.

I went to an analogue camera store in Portland Oregon last week, and the clerk who helped me kind of sneered a little bit at the DF96 monobath I was buying. He acted like it wasn't "real" film development. But what he didn't realize is that I like a grainy, grungy look, and I'm not looking for tons of tone and super fine acuity. That's what some of the more expensive films give you, if you really know what you're doing and it's professionally developed. This, for me, is for enjoyment of the process, and I really like the gritty look I am getting. Cost or relative quality of the film stock means very little to me. But different films have different character, so for you I think it'll be mostly about finding a stock with character that you like.
 

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