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Cheap B&W film for testing ebay cameras?
Old 09-10-2019   #1
Smaug
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Question Cheap B&W film for testing ebay cameras?

I'm looking for a cheap B&W film I can develop myself for testing cameras I've bought from ebay before I leave a feedback. Or to sell on ebay, so I can say "film tested" and know write a good description.

I know there's 24 exp. Tri-X and HP5+, but they're not cheap.

What's out there that's cheaper, and I only need maybe 12 exposures.

Am I pretty much locked into rolling my own at that point, or are there cheap generic B&W films out there?

I see Fomapan and Kentmere are ~$4/roll @ B&H. Are they OK?
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Old 09-10-2019   #2
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B&H Has Kentmere , Arista & Foma at $3.50-$3.99 a roll
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Old 09-10-2019   #3
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OP, where are you located? If in the US, (custom) bulk loaded Ultrafine Xtreme 400 is very affordable. Photo Warehouse also sells 12- and 24- exposure cassettes:
https://www.ultrafineonline.com/ulxtblwhfiis3.html
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Old 09-10-2019   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dourbalistar View Post
OP, where are you located? If in the US, (custom) bulk loaded Ultrafine Xtreme 400 is very affordable. Photo Warehouse also sells 12- and 24- exposure cassettes:
https://www.ultrafineonline.com/ulxtblwhfiis3.html
Chicago area. Thanks for the reminder, I'll update my profile.

They seem to be out of stock on the 12 exp.

I just placed an order for 13 rolls of 24 exp. Fomapan 100 @ B&H. We'll see how she goes. People generally seem to like it. it is rated 4.5 stars instead of 5 like Kodak and Ilford. One reviewer on B&H said it's great for scanning because it dries flat. I thought that was more a function of humidity than the film...
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Old 09-10-2019   #5
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I use bulk cine film (there’s plenty on ebay) and develop it as traditional b&w. It takes an extra step to remove the remjet, but basically it is as cheap as one can get.
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Old 09-10-2019   #6
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Exactly, once very cheap polypan F 50 was vanished; I switched on expired ECN2 film sold in short bulks.
It is actually nothing wrong film for bw development and scans, darkroom prints.
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Old 09-10-2019   #7
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I just use 36 exp. rolls of TMax 100. I know you said cheap, but consider: I wait until I have 5 or 6 cameras to test at once, and do test shots on the same roll, with all of the cameras... keeping track of how many frames to advance with the lens cap on (or, in a closet). I only need a handful of exposures to make sure a camera is acting properly. Cost per camera tested is now pretty low.

If one camera has particularly ugly light seals, I do that one first. Even with several cameras with suspect light seals -- for the time taken -- I have not spoiled any of my test frames.

Sometimes, I'll shoot some test frames, then move the roll of film over to a camera that I want to use more seriously.
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Old 09-10-2019   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smaug View Post
Chicago area. Thanks for the reminder, I'll update my profile.

They seem to be out of stock on the 12 exp.

I just placed an order for 13 rolls of 24 exp. Fomapan 100 @ B&H. We'll see how she goes. People generally seem to like it. it is rated 4.5 stars instead of 5 like Kodak and Ilford. One reviewer on B&H said it's great for scanning because it dries flat. I thought that was more a function of humidity than the film...
Photo Warehouse has a storefront on ebay, too, might be worth checking there.
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Old 09-10-2019   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dourbalistar View Post
Photo Warehouse has a storefront on ebay, too, might be worth checking there.

Agree. Ultrafine xtreme on 120 (either the 100 or 400) is actually pretty good).

I would say it is a very competent film. If something base (acetate?) is a bit on the thin side.

I wouldn't use expired film while testing cameras, since that wouldn't tell me how good/spot on is the lightmeter or if the shutter speed are at least close to accurate.


Marcelo
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Old 09-10-2019   #10
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Since you're developing yourself: load a 36-exp roll and shoot 8-10 test shots. Then, in the darkroom or changing bag, open the back, cut the film about a 1/2" or so from the cassette, and unspool the short end of exposed film from the takeup. After you remove the cassette, you can cut a new leader for the next camera test.

That should allow you to test three cameras from a single roll of film, which is going to be much less expensive than buying 12- or 24-exp rolls.
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Old 09-10-2019   #11
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What's your idea of cheap? The cheapest on freestyle.com for example is in the $4 range (including tri-x)
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Old 09-10-2019   #12
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If a camera were tested with slide film, I would have some faith in "film tested." However, most B&W film has too much exposure latitude to offer meaningful results, in my opinion.


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Old 09-10-2019   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CMur12 View Post
If a camera were tested with slide film, I would have some faith in "film tested." However, most B&W film has too much exposure latitude to offer meaningful results, in my opinion.


- Murray
A fellow can tell by how the negative looks.
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Old 09-10-2019   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valdas View Post
I use bulk cine film (thereís plenty on ebay) and develop it as traditional b&w. It takes an extra step to remove the remjet, but basically it is as cheap as one can get.
Would you describe the extra step?

This is one more push to get back into bulk loading. I'm kicking myself for selling that stuff a decade ago. I had a sweet Bakelite bulk loader, back in the day...

I'd I had that, is just shoot Tri-X all the time.
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Old 09-10-2019   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smaug View Post
Would you describe the extra step?

This is one more push to get back into bulk loading. I'm kicking myself for selling that stuff a decade ago. I had a sweet Bakelite bulk loader, back in the day...

I'd I had that, is just shoot Tri-X all the time.
There are several ways of removing the remjet (anti halation layer). Depending on the film in some cases it goes off easier, sometimes more effort is needed. It can be removed before the developer step or as a final step before the wash. There are special solutions sold online for remjet removal, but one can do with baking soda or just by extra wash. If some remjet remains it can be wiped out with the cotton cloth. Google "remjet removal" - you will find descriptions and videos.
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Old 09-11-2019   #16
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FWIW, if testing three cameras by moving a single cassette between them etc; it pays to take a picture of the other two cameras as no 1 for each test.


That way you know which of the three took the picture...


It's a variation on testing lenses one after the other. Just put the lenses down in a group and photograph the group each time the lens is changed. The missing one will be the taking lens.


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Old 09-11-2019   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CMur12 View Post
If a camera were tested with slide film, I would have some faith in "film tested." However, most B&W film has too much exposure latitude to offer meaningful results, in my opinion.


- Murray
Who is using slide films these days? 10+ Dollars per cassette. And it canít be developed often in any lab in entire, city, province or even country these days.
And I never understand why some of you so anal about slide.
I used nothing but S16 for slide in eighties, nineties and used it recently with expired Kodak slide film. Not a problem. Perhaps your experience is from much older days, then slide was something like ISO 24. But these days are gone long time ago.
Most of the checks for film cameras these days are for light leaks, focus and if shutter doesnít really screwed.
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Old 09-11-2019   #18
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For cheap film, bulk load a short roll.

To document a test, I create a "title slide" on my computer in large font. Camera, serial number, maybe the lens. Then photograph the computer screen as the first shot on the test roll.

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Old 09-11-2019   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EarlJam View Post
Since you're developing yourself: load a 36-exp roll and shoot 8-10 test shots. Then, in the darkroom or changing bag, open the back, cut the film about a 1/2" or so from the cassette, and unspool the short end of exposed film from the takeup. After you remove the cassette, you can cut a new leader for the next camera test.

That should allow you to test three cameras from a single roll of film, which is going to be much less expensive than buying 12- or 24-exp rolls.
This is a great idea, and I did think of it. But it requires meticulous record keeping and some extra work. I just don't realistically have the time for it. (or rather, I can't afford to make this a priority right now)
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Old 09-11-2019   #20
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Thanks for all the ideas, guys.

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In case you're curious about the thumbs-down icon:

I accidentally put a thumbs-down for this thread when I created it. With the dark background on my small laptop screen, it kind of looked like a '?'.

Then, I saw the correct '?' icon later and revised the first post emoji. But the thumbs-down stuck to the forum display of the main thread.
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Old 09-11-2019   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smaug View Post
...
In case you're curious about the thumbs-down icon:

I accidentally put a thumbs-down for this thread when I created it. With the dark background on my small laptop screen, it kind of looked like a '?'.

Then, I saw the correct '?' icon later and revised the first post emoji. But the thumbs-down stuck to the forum display of the main thread.

I did wonder. Even tried giving an up-vote to the thread, to see if the icon would change, or be neutralized.
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Old 09-11-2019   #22
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Kentmere 100 is cheap and comes in 24 exposure rolls. It's also very touchy about overexposure and gets very dense very fast. I have images shot one stop over and the negative is very dark. It would be a great film to test if a shutter is slow in a camera being that one stop is a very noticeable difference in the negative.
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Old 09-19-2019   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottboarding View Post
Kentmere 100 is cheap and comes in 24 exposure rolls. It's also very touchy about overexposure and gets very dense very fast. I have images shot one stop over and the negative is very dark. It would be a great film to test if a shutter is slow in a camera being that one stop is a very noticeable difference in the negative.
Not interested in touchy films, even if they are cheap. That big latitude is one thing that brought me back to film in the first place.

I'm enjoying the Fomapan so far. The only problem is that since I used it to test cameras, if the neg comes out badly, I don't always know if it is the film (too touchy) or the camera. (something wrong.)

Here are a few images. It helped me determine my Yashica Electro 35 CC was in need of a CLA. The negs were mostly too thin and the shutter speeds didn't quite sound right. Nevertheless, I got a couple keepers with it this past weekend, thanks to the magic of digital post-processing:

I really like the way the grain looks:


The top 12 images in my Flickr photostream were with this lens and the aforementioned Yashica:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

Thanks for the suggestions, fellas!
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