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Large Format Viable?
Q. In 2000 or so I acquired an Epson flat-bed scanner that could handle a 4x5 negative and realized that I could potentially use Polaroid Type 55 film to get the negatives, scan them in using the Epson scanner, and play with them on the computer. Subsequently, I learned that Polaroid quit making Type 55 film and my dream of using the large format cameras started to fade. My question for you is simply: what options are there today for occasional (completely non-professional) film-based large format photography (color or, preferably, black and white) these days? I would like to be able to use the Epson scanner on the 4x5 negatives if possible. Our house has a septic system and I have read that is probably not suitable for a traditional wet darkroom. I should mention that affordability is, of course, always a concern.
A. Kodak used to offer a Readyload 4x5 film holder that accepted single sheets of preloaded Kodak films so no darkroom loading was needed. Fujifilm had a similar system called Quick Load for some of their sheet films. Unfortunately, both systems have been discontinued. It’s also true that Polaroid Type 55 4x5 Instant Print film has been discontinued, but while recently researching another Polaroid film question I became aware of an instant 4x5 film called Fujifilm FP-3000B. It is listed at both www.bhphotovideo.com and www.freestylephoto.biz for under $26 for a 10 pack. However, in a call to B+H customer service (800-221-5743) I found the FP-3000B is only compatible with a Fuji 4x5 pack film holder and is not usable with the Polaroid Model 550 4x5 pack film holder. And, with this film you can get an instant print, but there is no recoverable negative.
For what it’s worth, my home has been on a septic system for 33 years and I used to use my basement darkroom extensively for both black-and-white film processing and printing and also quite a bit of color printing and never had any problems with photo chemical contamination that I’m aware of. So it looks like you will have to simply load your 4x5 film into conventional sheet film holders to begin using your old cameras once again. If you want to try black-and-white film processing again, there are daylight processing tanks for sheet film that are moderate in cost. A Yankee Adjustable 4x5 developing tank lists for under $30 at Freestyle Photographic Supplies. You would also need either a changing bag or a bathroom or closet that you could completely black out for loading the tank. Chemicals are not particularly costly either. There are some labs that still process sheet films in both black and white and various color emulsion types, so you could just shoot on 4x5 and have the film processed elsewhere prior to scanning it yourself for digital printing. I sincerely hope you will be able to start using some of the 4x5 cameras you still have at your disposal.
Film And Fluorescents
Q. I have recently acquired a medium format film camera and would like to take some indoor photographs using 5300˚K fluorescent lighting. Could you suggest to a novice, only used to digital cameras, a suitable 120 film type? Would a filter be required and how would this affect the exposure?
Reginald S. Milborrow
A. Unfortunately, fluorescent lighting is one of the more difficult types of light to balance properly when using color film of any type. Although artificial in origin, it most closely resembles daylight in Kelvin temperature. But when used as the dominant light with daylight-balanced color slide films you generally obtain a sickly blue-green cast. There is an FL-D (Fluorescent Daylight) filter made by most of the major filter firms such as B+W, Cokin, Hoya, and Tiffen. If your camera has TTL metering, the exposure factor will be compensated for, otherwise simply refer to the instruction sheet with the filter or film. If you want 120 film for color prints, you will need a color negative film such as Fujicolor Pro 400H or Kodak Portra 400 or 400VC (Vivid Color), which produces brighter colors. If you need color transparencies (slides), then choose a film such as Kodak Ektachrome E100VS or Fujifilm Velvia RVP 100. These firms don’t offer the faster ISO 400 speed in 120 slide films. You can purchase these films by single roll or in a five pack, which will save you a bit of money. Of course, if you shoot with black-and-white film you would not need any correction for fluorescent lighting. Films you might want to use include Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros, Kodak Tri-X Pan 400, or Kodak T-Max 400TMY.