My mom was always taking pictures of us as we grew up. It was standard procedure to grab a snapshot before we could scurry about and enjoy vacations. Eye rolls were aplenty, but I quickly picked up her fascination for photography. My mom didn’t trust an eight-year-old with her prized Vivitar. Instead, she stocked up on disposable cameras for me whenever they were on sale. The Kodak 400TX single-use camera bridges my childhood and the nostalgia of learning black and white photography in college.Continue reading…
Black and white film is such a beautiful, fun thing to work with.
There are lots of black and white film emulsions on the photography market. And quite honestly, it’s hard to find a bad one. Instead, you just have to understand them and expose each one according to what you want. But some brands have been making Black and White Film longer than others. And a few have a very iconic look to them. So how do you choose? Well, we dove into our Reviews Index to help pick out some of our favorites.Continue reading…
Kodak film lovers will love this new Capture One Style Pack from Mastin Labs.
We have made it pretty well known that we really enjoy using Capture One here at the Phoblographer. All of the staff use it due to its great design, and its superior editing abilities over its rivals. One thing that has been lacking though is third party support when it comes to Style Packs. This all changed with the update to Capture One 12, and now Style Packs are coming out thick and fast. The latest one to hit the market is a doozy. Mastin Labs have created a Kodak Film Style Pack called Kodak Everyday Original that emulates some of the company’s most iconic films. Join us after the break for more details. Continue reading…
Given all the options we have with film photography today, why would it matter to master just one emulsion?
It took me a little over seven years of shooting film to come across an unusual idea about the medium: mastering just one emulsion. I say it’s unusual because part of film photographers’ mission these days is to try as many films as possible (especially the rare ones), before they all get killed off (yes, I’m looking at you, Fujifilm). Also, a big chunk of its appeal these days is the experimental nature, and it’s easy to see why. Ask anyone who shoots film about all the crazy stuff they’ve done (or plan to do) with their rolls and you’ll hear about stuff like multiple exposures, redscaling, cross-processing, film souping, and caffenol developing. For anyone who feels this much excitement over film photography, sticking to one emulsion even for a short while sounds a little boring.
If you still have a Holga camera lying around, we spotted a set of stunning black and white photos that will make you want to pick that Holga up and take it on a road trip. Through his snaps of the American West, California-based documentary photographer Troyce Hoffman shows us exactly how the iconic toy camera works wonders in capable hands.
Feeling stuck with your photography? Try stripping your gear down to the basics and doing some film photography instead.
Many of today’s photographers are starting to do hybrid photography; shooting with both digital and film cameras. The former is for work, the latter for personal projects. With this setup, photographers often find it helpful for shaking up their routines, doing photography differently, and overcoming creative fatigue. If this is something you haven’t tried yet, here’s a video by Ben Kepka that shows how he does it.
There is a whole generation of photographers who still haven’t experienced film photography
At a time where photography has evolved in leaps and bounds in digital advancements, why do some people still choose to shoot with film? Why does this obsolete technology persist? There are a hundred reasons a film photographer today will tell you, but Ian Wong of Digital Darkroom has a rather interesting view to it: film photography matters because black and white still matters.
Ian dropped this thought against the equally interesting shopping scene of Tokyo’s Ginza and Akihabara districts in the latest episode of Digital Darkroom. To document his explorations, he loaded his Contax T3 with two special rolls of black and white films: Kodak Tri-X 400 and JCH Street Pan 400. He shared many other thoughts that analog lovers can definitely relate to, so I’ll let you hear them from him straight in this video.
All images and words by William Kerr. Used with permission.
We’ve received well over 1,000 submissions for our analog photography zine; and while you all know that the best of the best (no more than 20) photographers are getting into the zine there are a number of photographers that still have very good work surely worthy of being profiled on our website. One of those photographers is William Kerr–who loves food photography and Kodak Tri-X in the 6×7 format. Crazy, right? You’d typically see food in color, but William does it in shades of light, blacks, whites, and shadows.
I genuinely think that you’re about to fall in love with his submission.
Kodak Tri-x 400 has for years been very popular with street photographers. In fact, some street photographers commit to only using black and white films like Tri-X although others have no problems with color images these days. Either way, know this: it’s all about aesthetics. If you personally do like the look of Kodak Tri-x 400, then I’ll be the first person to encourage you to go out there and shoot it. In fact, shoot lots of it. You’re bound to love it. Others on the other hand are okay with working with digital photos and applying some sort of Tri-X preset. However, you’re not going to get the same look or even the same experience as shooting with Tri-X film. So here’s what you need to know to shoot Kodak Tri-x for street photography.
If you’re interested in more of the historical and traditional parts of it, be sure to check out our other article here.
A Film for Photographing People and Urban Geometry
Kodak Tri-x has evolved over the years and in order to understand how Kodak Tri-x 400 is wonderful for street photography, we first need to understand Kodak Tri-X. The film was originally developed and invented for photojournalism. Seeing how people loved 35mm film and there was a need to use the film to tell stories such as the tragedies that happened in many of the wars, Kodak developed the film to be forgiving yet versatile. It brought with it its token grain, grit and feel. Depending on which developer you use, the film can take on a number of looks. Photographers these days tend to embrace the look of the film when being used with Rodinal due to the more high contrast and grainy look that they get.
This high contrast that the film is capable of delivering is valued by photographers who want to put an emphasis on specific parts of the images in the same way that digital photographers tend to use black levels. Deeper blacks in a scene make the photo appear sharper by tricking the brain into focusing on other parts and tones in the photo.
Due to the ease of use of the film, photographers have mostly shot with it and tried to focus instead just on what they’re photographing–fully knowing that they’ll be able to fix it in the darkroom by pushing or pulling, burning or dodging, or even just using a high end scanner that is capable of scanning DNG files.
F8 and Be There (Designed for Photojournalism)
The idea of “F8 and be there” has been one that has stayed not only with photojournalism but also with street photography since a little after its inception. Kodak Tri-x lends itself well to this belief because of how versatile it is. This is a film really designed for the photographer that will commit to shooting with it and creating a print that yields them more details in the shadows when they’ve underexposed the scene they were really trying to capture. If you’re a photographer that wants to shoot Tri-X and then get your images back only to scan the photos, you’re not getting the most from the film.
But when shooting Kodak Tri-X, f8 at ISO 400 can mean that you get a lot of really great images. When you’re in bright sunlight, you may want to switch to f16 and 1/500th to ensure that you get all the details in the highlights. But as you walk about your everyday scenes otherwise, you’ll find that shooting at f8 during the day time and any myriad of shutter speeds will help you get great photos.
What I was just describing above has to do with the Sunny 16 rule, which is easy enough to find in most places on the web but basically dictates that when shooting a scene with lots of bright sunlight and little to no shadows, you can expose at f16, your ISO and your shutter speed can be the reciprocal of that. So F16 with ISO 100 film will give you a shutter speed of 1/100th.
Combine this with zone focusing. At f8 and with 35mm film at least, you’re going to get quite a bit of a scene in focus. The further away you focus your lens, the more will be sharply and clearly visible in the final photo. But if you’re shooting street photography with something like a 35mm or 50mm lens, then it’s a good idea to focus anywhere from four feet to six feet away at f8 and just shoot.
To at least start experimenting, I recommend trying this with a digital camera set to high contrast black and white. But also keep in mind that you may not need to.
Aperture Priority is Your Friend
Expanding on what was said earlier on both the versatility of the film and using f8 when going around shooting scenes in life, I also recommend using Aperture priority to make it even easier to work with overall. Kodak Tri-x, again, is pretty damn versatile of a film. When you’re just using Aperture Priority mode on your camera, you can focus more on just finding and shooting better scenes. Combine that with both zone focusing and the F8 philosophy and you’re most likely bound to never miss a shot.
Seriously, it’s that simple. Of course, this idea caters best to shooting at ISO 400 and above.
35mm: Much Easier than 120
Kodak Tri-x 400 comes in both 35mm and 120 emulsion sizes. Generally speaking, 35mm is much easier to work with because it’s a small format. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, that format was designed for capturing everyday life. There are cameras out there that will make using the film in 120 easier though: two of the best are the Lomography LCA 120 and the Fujifilm GW690 III rangefinder. Of course, there is also the Mamiya 7 II. But even so, because of the larger focusing area, it’s tougher to get a moving subject perfectly in focus. Indeed, when it comes to street photography 35mm is a great place to start no matter what your experience levels. When you’re comfortable with the film, you can try 120 and have a higher success rate.
How to Rate Kodak Tri-X for Street Photography
The last thing that we’re going to quickly cover is rating the film for everyday street photography use. In truth, that really depends on your camera. If your film camera doesn’t go beyond 1/1000th of a second’s shutter speed, then I recommend shooting at a lower ISO if possible. For example, the Hexar AF maxes out at 1/250th. So if you’re shooting with Kodak Tri-x at the beach or in a brightly lit area then you’ll surely be at ISO 400, 1/250th and F22 most of the time. That is of course unless you rate the film for ISO 100. Then you’ll be at f16, 1/100th and ISO 100. In general, I really commend that you be able to use your camera’s highest shutter speed and max out at f16. You can go to f22 if you wish, but why bother when using the the 35mm format?
Screenshot taken from the video.
Some of the biggest questions on the mind of every film photographer has to be how different black and white films perform in a similar setting. So with that in mind, the crew over at Brooklyn Shooters Channel have done a comparison of some of most popular 400 speed Black and white films out there. The films mentioned are Ilford Hp5, Ilford Delta 400, Kodak Tmax 400, Kodak Tri-x 400, and Rollei RPX 400. They’re all shot in medium format; which means that for lots of photographers out there who create vs capture this will be very interesting.
Arguably the most famous black and white film of our time has to be Kodak Tri-x 400; it’s been with photojournalists for years and years. These days though, most folks can’t tell the difference between Kodak Tri-x 400 and so many other emulsions on the market. Despite this, it’s still the most popular black and white film currently available with the highest possibility of never going discontinued.
So, let’s start this review, shall we?
I’ve been playing with more Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400 film and shot a scene that I always photograph just to compare what this film and Kodak Tri-X do when rendering a specific scene. Kodak Tri-X has been around for a while and is heavily loved by many photographers out there. But, it’s expensive and many photographers have looked for alternative options out there. One of the newer black and white films to hit the market is Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400 film.
So let’s take a quick look at Kodak Tri-X 400 vs Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400.
Before I begin this review of Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400 film, you should note that this is an addendum to my review on the Phoblographer. That initial review is free for everyone, but this one goes more in-depth and explores my relationship with the film over a period of nearly half a year. I’ve known about the film for a while now and Bellamy has been in constant contact with me about my results. The first time around that I had the development done, the scans weren’t so perfect. Bellamy recommends using Rodinal in its development process.
For that reason, this review is available only to subscribers of this website and can be had for as little as $15/year.
Now onto the review!
Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400 film is an exciting entry into the film photography world. It’s designed for street photography and is also designed to be nice and sharp. For the most part, it really is a sharp film. All of my testing has been with the Hexar AF–perhaps one of my favorite 35mm cameras of all time and perfect for capturing candid moments. So if you’re a street photographer looking to work with something different, then this is probably the film to get.
Street photographers will thoroughly enjoy this film in many situations though if you’re going to work with it, I recommend either:
- Shooting it then pushing and pulling prints in the darkroom
- Shooting it in manual mode and exposing your scene accordingly to the Sunny 16 laws of photography.
The big reason for this has to do with scanning. Higher end scanners can basically do what cameras did years ago to create an HDR photo: shoot a perfectly exposed photo, +1, -1, -2, +2 etc. Then it combines the image into a giant TIFF file for you to work with on a computer. but then in that case, you may as well be shooting digital in my personal opinion especially since these scanners use a small sensor typically.
But if you’re shooting Sunny 16 style, then you’re going to work to get it right in the camera in the first place which will result in scans that need little to no work at all.
This goes hand in hand with a few issues that I encountered with the film and using it. I shot a few rolls rated at ISO 400 like the film says. Then I shot one at ISO 800, one at ISO 1600, and one at ISO 200. If you know anything about films like Kodak Tri-X and T-Max, then you know that you can push it and pull it for forever because the film emulsion is just so incredibly forgiving when you work with it. In fact, many photographers that shoot black and white film tend to connote that with all black and white film to begin with. And they’re not wrong–but the best results still come in the darkroom with a solid print involving dodging and burning to get the results that you want.
In my tests, I’ve found that this film likes light–lots of it. In fact, if and when I reload it into my camera again I’m not going to rate it at ISO 400. I’m going to rate it at ISO 200 and perhaps develop for ISO 320. Part of this could be due to the fact that the Hexar AF’s metering system tends to take the highlights in mind knowing that you’ll be able to push the shadows.
As any street photographer knows though, lighting situations can change at a moment’s notice. So you can be shooting at ISO 200, 1/250th and f16 one second then when you walk into the shadow of a building you’ll need to greatly open up that aperture to probably around f4 or f2.8 depending on a number of variables in your scene and when trying to expose for your subject. This is honestly the best way that I’ve found one should use the film.
In all truthfulness, I don’t see this film as competition to Kodak Tri-X, Kodak T-Max, Fujifilm Acros, Fomapan 320, Delta 400, HP5, APX 400, etc. Instead, I see it as a film that can deliver a different look from all of them. Even down to the grain structure, this film looks different. Kodak Tri-X and HP5 tend to have the most pleasing film grain in my opinion but this film here embraces an even more raw and gritty look that a lot of street photographers tend to value. They find it romantic in a way.
There are other variables involved such as who is developing your film. It’s fairly common knowledge that labs tend to put their own subtle twist on how to develop film so that they can keep customers and find a way to stand out from all the rest of the film labs out there. Here in NYC I’ve used Lomography, Color Resource Center, Walgreens and Kubu’s Film Lab most notably and for black and white I tend to want to go to Kubu’s in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. But for Color, I tend to go to Lomography.
When you find a lab that you like, I recommend sticking with it.
Overall though, Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400 is a very nice film emulsion. Street photographers are surely going to love it if they enjoy the deep black and white look. For me personally though, I want even more contrast that I believe only chromogenic film can give me. Inky blacks are what I love and they also force me to get my exposures spot on–and that whole thought process is part of what makes shooting film a million times more enjoyable.
If you’re going to use the film, I strongly recommend rating it at ISO 200 and developing for ISO 320–which is a common method used when working with Kodak Portra 400. This film likes a lot of light. So with that said, I really don’t recommend using it for something like concert photography. However, street photography, landscape photography, portraiture, etc are more adequate because the lighting situations are much more predictable and the film is less forgiving than others out there. Ilford Delta 3200 may be what you’re looking for instead when shooting concerts.
Very personally speaking, I’d personally probably reach for this film when shooting street photography though I’m sure that I’d be happier with something like Ilford HP5.
Those are just my findings though.