Color Negative film for B&W Hybrid Workflow

400 Film Tests
Portra 400 as B&W

Click on the audio play button to hear my thoughts.

Viva la Revolution- Stephen

The Fearless Leader Schaub 2014
The Fearless Leader
Schaub 2014

8 thoughts on “Color Negative film for B&W Hybrid Workflow

  1. Wow, this can’t come at a better time, especially since I buy bulk short ends of Fuji and Kodak motion picture films and I find myself converting about half of them to black and white, especially when pushed, and find the look quite pleasing.

    I’m on the same page as you why this is great to do because of the time savings not having to spend time with dust and scratches.

    I haven’t thought of just scanning straight gray scale (palm slap to forehead), but now that’s what I’ll investigate doing. However, I do like the flexibility of scanning in color and then delaying the decision to convert later on down the line.

  2. I was thinking about this a couple of weeks ago. Whilst I have a freezer full of silver B&W films, I discovered just how lovely and smooth XP2 @ 200 in Rodinal 1:100 is. From there I tried actual C-41 chemicals (all those years I thought it was too hard!) on Ektar 100, FujiPro400H and Portra 160 and 400. Just for fun I made some B&W conversions pushing the colour sliders in LR fairly hard just to see what was possible. It really is very flexible stuff! The only real drawback is that Unicolor presskits cost much, much more per film than Diafine or Rodinal.

    1. Chris,
      I’ve never worked with Diafine, but I’ve read it lasts next to forever. That being said, my c-41 Tetenal Press Kit is now on it’s twenty third roll of film, which has exceeded more than the rated capacity. The first eighteen were using the higher temperatures per the instructions. The rolls after that, I have been playing around with room temperature stand development. Not sure how that plays into the chemistry life, but thought it worth mentioning.

  3. Romeo,
    The 5litre Tetenal kit is said to do 60 rolls of film, but Freestyle won’t ship it to Canada (some hazardous chemical regulations), so I have to use the powder Unicolor 1litre kit claims a capacity of 8 rolls, which is about $2.50 per film. I don’t do much colour, so it’s probably best not to have too much mixed up at once in case it goes off.
    You’re right about Diafine: I mix up a new gallon of Diafine A and B (~$40) once a year and pay no attention whatsoever to however many films I run through it. It just works. The Rodinal knock-off available here in Canada is also cheap and used 1:100 for stand development costs a few cents per roll.
    But for people who don’t want the fuss of different developers, temperatures, times and methods of agitation, C-41 is truly the simplest since you can use the same chemicals, same times, temperatures and agitation for anything, even putting different films in the same tank

  4. Very interesting – I’ve been shooting TX 120 film @ box speed and doing it in Diafine, and I happened across this article while researching the best way to scan it. So far I have discovered that to really get it right, it can be expensive 😉

    I also happen to freakin’ LOVE Portra 400. Now you’ve really got me thinking…

    What would you recommend as a <$1,000.00 scanning solution for Portra 120 roll film?

    Thanks for the article!

  5. I still shoot a mix of Tri-X (Diafine) and Portra 400 (Cinestill CS41). I only scan, edit in Capture One, and make inkjet prints. After listening to this audio log, I’m thinking that Portra 400 really has way more exposure latitude than Tri-X (Diafine). If I tried to shoot the Tri-X at EI of 50 or 6400, would I have a vastly inferior negative to the one I could get with Portra? I also just listened to your “A Fear of Gray” audio log. Do you think they have comparable tonal range properties? Is there really any reason I should be choosing Tri-X (Diafine) over Portra 400 other than costs and archival properties? Can you think of a scenario where you’d prefer Tri-X?

    1. What scanner are you using. 400TX has more pop and micro contrast BUT Portra is easier to scan. I always love a BW scan but a lot has to do with the type of scanner and the skills of the operator—-

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