Ultimate Black and White Film Comparison Guide

I went through a couple months in 2016 trying out a lot of black and white (B&W) emulsions before I finally settled on Ilford HP5. I dug up these image examples and give my take on what I enjoyed and disliked about the films. Hopefully you'll find this helpful and links to purchase the films are in the titles. 

Fomapan 400

It's a little bit muddy and dull. I pushed 2 rolls to 1600 and really didn't like what came back, it could be that I underexposed some images but even properly exposed images didn't have any punch or character either. Not a fan. 

Ilford FP4

At ISO 125 FP4 is a great film for landscapes and still life subjects. It is perfectly fine but never really captured me. It's classic and simple but lacks the punch in contrast that I'm going for. 

Ilford Delta 400

I had one roll come out spectacularly and another come back a dud. Delta 400 is a step up from HP5 with a finer grain and possibly more dynamic range. Is it $2 better than HP5? I'll have to try a couple more rolls to be sure. 

Ilford HP5

My favorite and I've covered it in depth before. It gives my images a look I really like and I rarely have to do any adjustments in post. For me that's enough. 

Ilford XP2

It may sound like blasphemy to have a C-41 B&W film in this list but I liked the look of what I got back. Images were extremely contrasty with a quick gradation from black to white. It looks and feels a bit noir. Disadvantage is that you really can't push it easily. 

Kentmere 400

Made by Ilford this is the cheaper version of HP5. Looking at these images now make me want to go back and give it another try, the images have a similar character as HP5 with nice contrast and tone but one issue is a little less dynamic range.

Kodak Double X 5222

Kodak Double X is a motion picture stock that was given to me by David Hancock. I've had a great time with Double X, and the images have a flat overall look but show great detail and character. One of the more subtle films I've tried and it would be great for still life images and portraits. This has also been rebranded by Cinestill as bwxx. 

Kodak P3200

The roll I had was super expired, 10 years, and I should of shot it at 800 rather than 1600. These aren't the best examples but do show what expired high speed film looks like. 

Kodak Tmax 100

I had purchased 20ish rolls of this for $2 a roll when I left Kansas. Being the first B&W film I used I really loved the smooth gradations and classic tones it produced. It's a versatile and forgiving film as well, it looks pretty good pushed at 400 and handled all sorts of weird photo assignments I did very well. 

Kodak Tmax 400

While I loved Tmax 100, I never fell for Tmax 400. The images came out fine in terms of detail and sharpness but I felt there were a bit lifeless in impact and contrast. Even when pushed it felt a bit too restrained for me. 

Kodak Tri-X

While I didn't like Tmax at 400 I really like Tri-x. It's a classic look that borders on being too contrasty but I prefer a B&W film to have a bit of punch. It pushes really well too and is incredibly sharp. The only reason it doesn't beat HP5 is because I like the tonal range of Ilford slightly more. 

Ultrafine 400

It could of been the day but my images with Ultrafine 400 were a bit flat and muddy. I prefer a bit of tension in the negative and this didn't deliver. 

Thanks for making it this far. If you have any other B&W films you'd like to see me try please put it in the comments. Also what's your favorite and why? 

Minolta X-370 Video Manual

Minolta's answer to the Canon AE-1. This classic camera was originally sold in 1984 and was a hit for Minolta. This aperture priority camera is a good option for those just starting out in film photography and don't want to break the bank. 

This video covers

  • The camera features and how to use them 
    • Changing ISO 
    • Changing Aperture 
    • Changing Film Speed 
    • Understanding the meter 
  • How to remove the lens and place it back on 
  • How to load film 

I wouldn't pay more than 25$ for this camera and the lenses should cost about that much as well. Minolta lenses are great though and should get you some awesome images. 


LR-44 Batteries

If you are interested in buying this camera on Ebay feel free to use this link. Even if you plan on purchasing something else like... Hot Pockets it helps support this page. 

How I Got a Cheap Leica

So how do you get a cheap Leica? Well you have to do two things: be patient and get lucky. 

I had wanted a Leica for a long time. Doing this camera review/manual business for multiple years I was getting a little tired of buying cameras and constantly thinking about gear. Leica's since their inception have been cameras that people lusted after and copied. They've also been used by some of the greatest photographers on the planet to shoot some of the greastest photos of all time. For me getting a Leica was a way to turn off a silly question, "maybe new gear will make you better". By most standards, there isn't anything better than a Leica. There was only one issue, I didn't want to pay Leica prices, the $$$$ of cameras. 

Adorama camera has been a place that always have good camera deals and I'd noticed they had some really questionable prices on Leica cameras, see screenshot below. The catch with these cameras were they had some functional issues, maybe the shutter was jammed or the rangefinder needed adjustement. The deals would only last minutes though, so I needed a way to figure out a way to get there first and grab it. After some googling, I stumbled across website change monitoring programs that alerted you to when a website changed. Visualping was the service I used and after some tinkering the site was aimed at the used rangefinders section on Adorama. 

Like how is this possible?

Like how is this possible?

From there it was a waiting game. I would get an alert in my inbox and check to see what had changed. On one lucky day I saw my beloved M4-2 get listed for $200, the only thing wrong was it needed a rangefinder adjustment and a missing frame selector tab. I added it to my cart, threw in a pack of T-MAX 400 and fist pumped the air. To be alive. 

The Receipt of the Crime 

The Receipt of the Crime 

The camera came a few days later and it was in great condition. The only issue was that it had some missing parts and the bottom plate was silver instead of the matching black. I called Youxin Ye to solve the missing parts issue, he forwarded me to Leica represenative in NYC who shipped me the frame selector tab from Germany. Twenty-six dollars and a week later I installed it on my camera. I later took the camera to a friend to adjust the rangefinder. 

Next was lenses, getting a Leica is one thing but the lenses are where things really get expensive. I planned on using a Jupiter 8 lens or the Japanese Summicron, Canon 50mm F1.8 Rangefinder Lens, but thought it was a bit silly to get a Leica and then cheap out on the one thing that matters, lenses. Ideally I'd like to have a 50mm but those were out of my price range (sub $500) and I focused in a 40mm Minolta Rokkor Lens that was made in Japan. While not technically a Leica lens it was an M mount lens, highly regarded and affordable. I purchased one a little more conventionally by getting a copy from Japan via Ebay. 

So has it changed me? Yeah, it has. After shooting with it for a for almost a year now I'm glad I took the plunge. I have taken some of the best images I have ever taken in the past year and have purchased the least amount of cameras also. I think my improvement has more to do with the latter though, you get better at what you put your time into. If you put your time into buying cameras you'll become an expert at that. When I stopped trying to buy cameras I started reading more about photography and giving myself goals with photography. I shot a bunch more and got better at shooting. 

You may of noticed I'm not saying much about the camera making me better, because it hasn't. Gear helps but without having a vision and a goal I'd probably be in the same place. This doesn't mean I won't stop shooting the camera but now I know it isn't everything. I just had to prove it to myself. 

*Side note: The camera is really amazing, it's the most fun thing to use and everything is in the right place. Especially the film advance which is so buttery smooth you have to feel it in person to adequately describe it. It's got some issues like the inane film loading mechanism but it's the best camera I've ever used and handled. But still, it's just a tool. Just a really really nice tool. 

If you are interested in buying this camera and helping support this page please use this link. Even if you want to purchase something else like... Nick Van Excel Laker Jerseys it will help the page as well. 

Canon AE-1 Video Manual

The Canon AE-1 is one of the most classic vintage cameras you can buy. Readily available and easy to use it's a great choice for beginners. In this video I'll go over how to use the camera and it's components. 

I've purchased a bunch of Canon AE-1 cameras and they can be finicky. A lot of people complain about the squeaky shutter which you can repair by watching this video.  They also aren't the most durable of cameras and once the electronics go bad you're out of luck. 

If you're planning on buying this camera please use this Ebay link it helps support the page and if you buy something else like... Power Ranger Trading Cards it helps too!  


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