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Thread: Pullibng 400 ISO film to 50 ISO, will it work?

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    Default Pullibng 400 ISO film to 50 ISO, will it work?

    I am doing 35mm B&W photography, and I am using Ilford HP5 Plus 400 ISO B&W film. I live in Tucson, where its very bright during the day (Its bright enough to get 1/250, and sometimes 1/500 @F11). I don't currently have any 50 ISO b&w film, so I was wondering: Can you pull the 400 ISO Ilford HP5 Plus film to 50, or will I just end up throwing out a roll of film, because it cant be pulled down to 50 ISO?

    If nobody knows, I'll just test that later.

    I havent checked google yet, because I am currently on my cellphone, so I apologize, if the answer is on google.

    ~Brian

  2. #2

    Arrow Re: Pullibng 400 ISO film to 50 ISO, will it work?

    Quote Originally Posted by bstrickler View Post
    I am doing 35mm B&W photography, and I am using Ilford HP5 Plus 400 ISO B&W film. I live in Tucson, where its very bright during the day (Its bright enough to get 1/250, and sometimes 1/500 @F11). I don't currently have any 50 ISO b&w film, so I was wondering: Can you pull the 400 ISO Ilford HP5 Plus film to 50, or will I just end up throwing out a roll of film, because it cant be pulled down to 50 ISO?
    Ilford themselves on their pdf HP5 Plus fact sheet give times for pulling to ISO250 only.

    On first blush pulling to ISO50 seems a bit drastic (the development times might be too short).

    However many b&w shooters actually rate their films at one-stop slower
    ie: ISO400 would be ISO200 - and that's their normal shooting -
    so rating at ISO100 and pull process would seem to be OK.

    When you're back on a computer take a look at this thread and the post by throughthelens1125 about 1/3 the way down the page.

    Another alternative is just to use neutral density filters, if they are on hand.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Pullibng 400 ISO film to 50 ISO, will it work?

    So happens I've set up a couple commercial B&W darkrooms. However, been about 10 years since I've answered a question like this

    Conventional B&W films, especially highly dynamic ones like HP5 can be pushed/pulled to extreme degrees. Matter of fact, you actually want to over-expose / pull a stop under high contrast conditions to get better shadow and highlight detail. Zone system 101; Expose for the shadows - develop for the highlights.

    ISO 50 is certainly possible, but will result in extremely flat, low contrast negs. Developer time being 1/3-1/4 standard process time.

    Also, if you aren't doing your own processing everything is out the window. Matter of fact, if you aren't doing your own processing you shouldn't be using conventional B&W film - period. If you just want B&W prints you should just use 100 speed print film and tell the lab to print greyscale prints. 95% of commercial labs can do this because they are all digital.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Pullibng 400 ISO film to 50 ISO, will it work?

    Another (and IMHO maybe better) option would be to get yourself some neutral density filter.
    I guess that they arenít used much these days so you may find them for a good price
    at the bay or in shops for used equipment.

    BTW, nice to see some people still shooting with B&W film.

    Regards Thomas

  5. #5

    Default Re: Pullibng 400 ISO film to 50 ISO, will it work?

    It's cool their shooting it. Not cool if they're shooting it and having it commercially processed.

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    *Flashaholic* Burgess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pullibng 400 ISO film to 50 ISO, will it work?

    Yep !


    I souped a LOT of Plus-X and Tri-X and FP-4 in my younger days.


    Kodak D-76 (1:1) was my favorite developer.


    Still remember the "magical excitement" of the Darkroom.



    _

  7. #7

    Default Re: Pullibng 400 ISO film to 50 ISO, will it work?

    Boy, you got some good advice here and I second it. The darkroom certainly is "magical excitement" ...!

    I've been getting back into B+W, digital is a skill, not a craft. I have a Hasselblad and the negs are nothing short of spectacular. My $3000 Nikon digital doesn't even come remotely close. I just developed 16 rolls of 120 mm film 3 weeks ago in a 12 hour push.

    I concur with what's been said above: pull back 1 stop [to bring-out shadow detail] and develop as per normal. I always use tri-x-pan 400, so I shoot it at ISO 200 and develop normally [i.e. as if it's 400]. Tri-x has great latitude this way: you can shoot +/- one stop and the results are perfect. You can certainly tweak and I usually do. If ISO 200 isn't enough, then use neutral density filters or a red filter [to enhance contrast] which could give you 1-3 more stops. I know nothing about HP5, but you'd be fine at 200.

    Have fun ...

  8. #8

    Default Re: Pullibng 400 ISO film to 50 ISO, will it work?

    From the sounds of it, theres some great advice here. I would give some more input but I haven't shot black and white film, or even film for that matter, since I left high school. I should pick it up again. I did some really amazing work with my black and white and I really enjoyed it too. The digital scene really makes it so easy and the film really pushes your capability to do something incredible on the first try rather than having 1k+ shots on a digital piece of micromemory to do over and over if you so want.
    Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven. - 3 Nephi 12:16

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    Default Re: Pullibng 400 ISO film to 50 ISO, will it work?

    Quote Originally Posted by UnknownVT View Post
    Ilford themselves on their pdf HP5 Plus fact sheet give times for pulling to ISO250 only.
    I have a cheat sheet explaining how to push/pull the HP5 Plus. I can toss a copy on the net if you like.

    Quote Originally Posted by UnknownVT View Post
    On first blush pulling to ISO50 seems a bit drastic (the development times might be too short).
    That's what I'm afraid of. Maybe when I get some extra time between assignments, I'll play with the 50 speed, and see if it works. Worst case, its $3 down the drain, and a lesson learned.


    [QUOTE=UnknownVT;3111459]
    However many b&w shooters actually rate their films at one-stop slower
    ie: ISO400 would be ISO200 - and that's their normal shooting -
    so rating at ISO100 and pull process would seem to be OK.

    Quote Originally Posted by UnknownVT View Post
    When you're back on a computer take a look at this thread and the post by throughthelens1125 about 1/3 the way down the page.

    Another alternative is just to use neutral density filters, if they are on hand.
    I'll check that link out, and see if I can get my hands on the filters.


    Quote Originally Posted by blasterman View Post
    So happens I've set up a couple commercial B&W darkrooms. However, been about 10 years since I've answered a question like this
    Okay


    Quote Originally Posted by blasterman View Post
    Conventional B&W films, especially highly dynamic ones like HP5 can be pushed/pulled to extreme degrees. Matter of fact, you actually want to over-expose / pull a stop under high contrast conditions to get better shadow and highlight detail. Zone system 101; Expose for the shadows - develop for the highlights.

    Quote Originally Posted by blasterman View Post
    ISO 50 is certainly possible, but will result in extremely flat, low contrast negs. Developer time being 1/3-1/4 standard process time.
    I guess I'll go on a hunt for some 50, or 25 ISO, then, and take the "easy" way out.


    Quote Originally Posted by blasterman View Post
    Also, if you aren't doing your own processing everything is out the window. Matter of fact, if you aren't doing your own processing you shouldn't be using conventional B&W film - period. If you just want B&W prints you should just use 100 speed print film and tell the lab to print greyscale prints. 95% of commercial labs can do this because they are all digital.
    I'm doing all the processing (from film to paper). I take pride in doing as much work as I can myself. I'm taking photography classes, so I have the facilities for everything I need (minus filters and the like)

    Quote Originally Posted by blasterman View Post
    It's cool their shooting it. Not cool if they're shooting it and having it commercially processed.
    Some people don't have the money and/or space for all the equipment, so they don't really have any other choice. Plus, if they're doing it as a hobby, or in their spare time, it makes sense to get it commercially done.



    I'll take your guys' word on dropping the speed down 1 notch, too.

    Is there any specific red filters, or ND filters you guys recommend for a student with a low budget?

    ~Brian

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    Default Re: Pullibng 400 ISO film to 50 ISO, will it work?

    If you guys were wondering what all equipment I am using, here it is:

    Canon AE-1 Program
    Canon 50mm lens
    Focal MC Auto Zoom 28-80mm lens (takes 62mm filters)
    Focal MC Auto Zoom 80-200mm lens (52mm filters)
    Focal MC Auto 28mm lens (52mm filters)
    Focal MC 2X Converter lens

    Filters:
    HOYA 62mm Skylight (1B) Filter
    HOYA 52mm Diffuser
    ROLEV M.G. 52mm Skylight
    If you can give me more details on what the filters do, please do! (other than the diffuser, of course)

    (all bought for $75)


    I found a craigslist listing for another AE-1 with 2 lenses, and a " ZOOM 6300 lens" for $100. I've emailed the person already, in hopes that they still have the camera and lens, because it looks to be a 400mm lens (its like 3x taller than the camera)

    I figure it can't hurt to have an extra camera, and a nice telephoto (up to 800mm equivalent, with the 2x converter)

    I was looking on the internet earlier for a 400mm lens for my camera, and most started at $300+ Talk about a hell of a deal for the camera!

    ~Brian

  11. #11

    Default Re: Pullibng 400 ISO film to 50 ISO, will it work?

    Plus, if they're doing it as a hobby, or in their spare time, it makes sense to get it commercially done.
    No, it doesn't, and I'll explain why. This question pops up from time to time, and I'm surprised how hostile some anti-digital people can be, but given I've set up commercial lines I feel qualified to to debunk it. You should be given course credit for reading this

    Conventional B&W films were at their peak about the early 90's when there was a revival in the B&W aethestic. This was also before film scanners were really hitting the mainstream, so commercial shooters couldn't just shoot color slide films and desaturate (cheat). If you wanted B&W film 'look', you had to shoot B&W film (or rely on a really good pre-press guy).

    At this this chemical film processing was pretty much at it's apex in terms of technology. Digital was still a concept, so all of Fuji and Kodak's R&D went into film/paper technology.

    Even so, conventional B&W processing 'sucked' to high heaven because there really is no standard when it comes to processing B&W film. E-6 and C-41 however are fixed standards. Commercial labs wants to use cheap, bulk chemicals with uber_replenishment and want to use a machine to process film. Read any fine art book on film processing and you'll be properly lectured that the *only* way to properly process B&W film is by hand with a good developer like D-76 or HC-110. D-76 being awesome for Tri-X while HC-110 is astounding for ILford films.

    Commercial labs use sucky, high volume systems to process B&W film, and that was 15years ago. God knows what they're using now, but I doubt it's some guy in the back using helical hand rotation with a stainless tanks and intermittent agitation cycles to maximize shadow detail.

    So in short, there is no option with conventional B&W film. If you shoot it, process it yourself. The film lines I set up were a custom hybrid I designed using a mix of machine and vertical hand rotation. Our printer did everything by hand and would hand tweak every print with dichro enlarger to get the best contrast. Side bar, but IMHO condensor enlargers and contrast filters should have been banned the second the color dichro enlarger was invented because the later is 1000x superior for printing B&W. Anyways, Kodak regional reps loved it and were constantly stopping by our labs and getting ideas. Then digital hit - lab closed.

    To be blunt, I've never quite bought into the 'B&W aethestic myth' because it's takes forever to get good enough with conventional B&W films and paper to really start making prints with enough rich graduation to be satisfying. It's also really tough with 35mm because your average dSLR will smoke 35mm B&W once you learn how to desaturate and tweak curves properly.

    However, if you have a knack for it, use good papers and have a good eye for tone and are patient you can make pretty darn good prints on fiber based papers that are tough to replicate with digital printers.

    Other advice is to stick with classic films like HP5, Tri-X (with reservations) and use Ilford FP4 over Plus-X or Tmax. The reason is that Kodak has castrated their remaining B&W films to lower production costs and hence they all have the sterile 'Tmax' look to them. Ilford HP5 and FP4 have remained pretty much unchanged over the years, and most people want to shoot B&W film because they want a classic look.

    Actually, now that I think about it, FP4 pulled a stop to EI 50 (reduce processing by 1/3 the time) would be your best option. Tmax 100 has better grain, but it lacks the depth of FP4. You can always get your film mail order from B&H - good people to buy film from.

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    Default Re: Pullibng 400 ISO film to 50 ISO, will it work?

    Wow, some good information here.... and it's making me take a trip down memory lane. I shot with Tri-X, Plus-X, HP5, FP4 and all of the T-Max films. I used to pull-process but only by a stop at most... More often than not, I would push-process Tri-X to EI 1600 or T-Max 3200 to EI 6400. D76 1:1 was a favourite but towards the end of my darkroom days, I found HC110 to be a lot easier to use (especially since I used to mix the D76 powder and it was painful).

    It does seem a little excessive to pull HP5 all the way to EI 50... Is FP4 still made? Or, how about just simply using T-Max 100? Tom_123's suggestion about using neutral density filters might be an easier solution.

    As an aside... bstrickler, that's a great deal for all that... I have a Canon New F1 with 3 prime lenses (35mm F2, 85mm F1.8, 200mm f2.8) that I still get the itch to use now and again...

    Quote Originally Posted by blasterman View Post
    Zone system 101; Expose for the shadows - develop for the highlights.
    Wow! I have forgotten about that one! I think I'll have to pull out my copies of the The Camera, The Negative and The Print and go over them again...
    Last edited by RGB_LED; 10-07-2009 at 07:57 PM.
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    Default Re: Pullibng 400 ISO film to 50 ISO, will it work?

    Quote Originally Posted by RGB_LED View Post
    It does seem a little excessive to pull HP5 all the way to EI 50... Is FP4 still made? Or, how about just simply using T-Max 100? Tom_123's suggestion about using neutral density filters might be an easier solution.
    You mean this stuff?
    http://freestylephoto.biz/649651-Ilf...xp.?cat_id=402

    I was just figuring I'd ask, since I have ~14 rolls of HP5 film for my photography class, and wanted to play some.

    I'll just buy some Ilford 50 ISO film when I place an order for some photopaper in the future. In the mean time, I'll have to think of places/things to photograph with it.


    Blasterman,

    Wow. TONS of info. I think it's kind of a shame that film is being replaced by digital, though digital has quite a few advantages over film now, but I find it less fun (you don't get to watch the magic happen in the darkroom).


    I am going to have to bookmark this page, and *try* process, and memorize it over time, lol. Soo much information. I definitely think I will take Photo II, and Photo III in the future.

    ~Brian

  14. #14

    Default Re: Pullibng 400 ISO film to 50 ISO, will it work?

    Quote Originally Posted by bstrickler View Post
    Yes, Ilford FP4 (Plus) is/was wonderful stuff.

    Used to use it before it became "Plus" developed it in Paterson Acuspecial and printed on Ilfobrom grade 3 (grade 2 was "normal" so grade 3 was just one step up in contrast) for extra punch - that combination gave somewhat "ridiculous" sharpness - but still had good tonal range and fine grain.....

    Here's exposing for the shadows and printing for the highlights (FP4/Acuspecial, Ilfobrom gr.3)......


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Pullibng 400 ISO film to 50 ISO, will it work?

    My goodness, this thread brings back Lotsa' Memories ! ! !



    _

  16. #16

    Default Re: Pullibng 400 ISO film to 50 ISO, will it work?

    Quote Originally Posted by RGB_LED View Post
    I think I'll have to pull out my copies of the The Camera, The Negative and The Print and go over them again...
    I just did the same ...

  17. #17

    Default Re: Pullibng 400 ISO film to 50 ISO, will it work?

    printed on Ilfobrom grade 3
    REAL MEN use graded fiber papers (Tim Allen grunt). Kodak polyfiber just lacked the depth of the graded papers. Never was a Seagull fan.

    Ilfobrom was awesome stuff, along with Agfa's Portiga. It's only been the past couple years that ink-jet paper makers have finally been able to replicate the look of classic fiber papers. One thing I'vfe never tried though is ink-jet contact printing, which I hear is a great process. I've screwed around with carbon and specialty B&W inks in my printer and found them a waste of time.

    I went through a lot of Kodak Microdol, which I found was actually awesome for pushing. Funny, but the classic Kodak developers like Microdol and HC-110 worked better with the Ilford films than Ilford developers.

    FP4 is still sold at B&H, so it looks like it's still in production. If I had a really good medium format scanner I'd play with it again.

  18. #18

    Arrow Re: Pullibng 400 ISO film to 50 ISO, will it work?

    Quote Originally Posted by blasterman View Post
    REAL MEN use graded fiber papers (Tim Allen grunt).
    LoL!

    Yeah well there wasn't much choice -
    as far as I was concerned Ilford was it when it came to b&w.

    Even though I loved the zone system - it was hard to do with 35mm and 36exp. I used an Olympus OM-4 which had multiple spot metering - so I could figure the optimum exposure for the developing I was doing.

    The zone system strangely enough actually came in when I was printing.

    I used an enlargement meter and spot metered parts of the projected (negative) image to figure out how much to dodge and burn in - I had cardboard cutout shapes to do this and remember having to shake them so as not to get hard edges (in some ways life is just so much simpler with digital....)

    The b&w print I posted above took all night and I mean from about 8:30pm when it got dark until 4:30am to do....

    I recall getting up the next morning and finding it hard to tell the difference between the second from last from the final print -
    but the difference was (barely) there,
    enough that I did do the final print........

    I actually cheated with that print -
    there was a very good reason why I can say for certain that the shot was exposed for the shadows -
    that's because it was a normal exposure shot
    - overall mid-gray stuff -
    nice, but nothing special in the contact print -
    but I decided I really wanted it to be a dark keyed print - and knew it'd look good because of the detail in the wood grain and the highlights of the reflections from the water.... post-visualization if you like -
    so it was printed a lot darker than "normal" -
    - it took three prints to get it right....

    Another that was exposed for the shadows and printed for the highlights -


    this time it was a normal exposure -
    but I still cheated -
    I had already taken a color slide shot of this scene and decided that it would look more dramatic in b&w -
    so I had more than pre-visualization and knew exactly how to meter it ....

    As was this shot -
    BUT this one was exposed for the highlights and printed for the (blacked out) shadows......

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Pullibng 400 ISO film to 50 ISO, will it work?

    I firmly believe that developer choice can help manage the side effects of pulling B&W film. I like Rodinol for punching up the contrast a bit.

    You've made the right film choice with the Ilford. If you're going to monkey around with drastic pushing/pulling, HP5 is a champ.

    Here's some HP5 pushed 5 stops:



    Shot in a dark club, handheld, no flash. Now that's a mighty forgiving film.
    -Winston

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