Many photographers who like to use analog film, often use those negatives for digital scanning, rather than printing real prints in the darkroom. With that, you do have a set of tools, which can (for the most time) beautifully cope with the silver grain, that can be excessive when you scan traditional negatives. It means; the grain often looks a bit harsher than it really is.

Plus - there are now film versions where the cheaper ones often show grainer results, such as Agfa, Foma and similar brands, while the finer ones that use T-grain, such as Fuji Acros II 100, T-MAX 100, and Delta 100.

Now that price is a big issue for many - what about one of the cheapest brands, the Hungarian factory FORTE, with films like Forte 100 ? They cost a lot less than the Kodak / Delta or Fuji version.

So, if you scan your analog BW negatives, turning them into digital version, but get annoyed by the grain - you can in fact many times get some ease in that department.

I use Topaz Photo AI, (or sometimes) Topaz DeNoise AI as my primary tools to reduce graininess / "Noise" from traditional film negatives. But I don't do that to 100% ; i blend the result between 60-80% (blending): which sort of mixes the original grain structure with that of the digital, smoother result - in order to achieve a natural look of the silver grain / noise.


Foma Pan 100 film: without vs with Topaz Photo AI

I took from the internet the Foma 100 film, and here are the results between normal scanning - and then by using Topaz Photo AI, blending the results by 65% - and voila - the grain suddenly is pleasantly coped with



Pleasant results

Come on - you got to admit - that the second photo looks much better ? Balanced and pleasant with a finer grain - without looking digital or manipulated. Fine details like letters, remain unaffected.

The excessive grain is reduced in a natural way, by blending the Topaz Photo AI result (of noise reduction) with the original photo by about 65% (instead of 100%). Therefore the original grain structure still remains, but is now finer, as well natural looking without the noise being totally removed (which would look pretty unnatural and "digital" so to speak).

This way, you can use the much the affordable FOMA 100 film, and still enjoy the fruits of your photography, without getting bankrupt. Especially if you buy the 30.5 meter roll, loading films yourself, resulting into 19 rolls of film - for a price of around 60 euro = 3.15 Euro per roll !

Kodak T-MAX 100, Fuji Acros II 100, cost around 13 € per roll over the internet in Germany, while Ilford Delta 100 costs around 9 €., All of them even more expensive if you buy then directly a photo store.

So, you see - it makes a large difference in price. I am not saying it is all about price. I am just pointing out that if you feel Foma Pan 100 is a too grainy film - then I point you towards the fact that there are tools, with which you can control the grain, without looking too strange or artificial.


About Film Characteristics
(the inherent contrast character within shadows or highlights - Short vs long toe)

There of course other things, which decide what black & white film to use. You may like the characteristics of a more expensive film better - such as the characteristics in the separation of tones: locally within the highlights, vs local contrast within the shadows - both which are less defined by development times, but are an inherent characteristic of the film itself.


Type I films

There are "shadow separating films", Type I for example, with have a short toe in the shadows, with Tri-X 400 being the most famous. Many ISO 400 are of this category. The give good local details in the shadows, but tend to show muddy local highlight contrast (snow landscapes). If you know what you want to achieve, then you can choose the (inherent anchored) character of a film. I would rather use a type III film for snow landscapes and high key motives, than a type I film.


Type III films

The opposite of it, if any, are films with good highlight separation (but have low local contrast in the shadows), such as T-MAX 400, which is type III, and Tri-X 320 pro in 4x5 format (long toe; low local shadow contrast, good highlight contrast). I am not sure if this film still is sold in 120 format - but i know it isn't cold as 35mm film.

Type I films are best for pushing !!

Type II films are not that good, because the already weak local shadow contrast, then gets even worse due to that you underexpose a film, when you push it (by compensating with longer development)

While the classic Tri-X 400 for example is a strong short-toe film: which means high local shadow contrast, and low local highlight contrast, e.g. a typical representation of a type I / short-toe film.


Type II films

Type II, is a mix of both ends, medium local contrast in both shadow regions as well highlight regions; such as Fuji Acros II 100, Delta 100, and T-MAX 100 are all of Type II films, as well even T-MAX 3200 is a type II film !

And remember - I am not speaking about the middle tones here. I am only speaking about the toe and shoulder areas, the LOCAL shadow area, vs the local HIGHLIGHT characteristics.


Scanned negatives ALWAYS look grainier !

Scanning images, whether with a film scanner or via a digital camera - always results into grainier / more excessive looking grain, doesn't matter if ISO 100 film or ISO 400 film. I often have the feeling that a ISO 100 film with modern tabular T-Grain, in prints always looked so much smoother and fine. But scanning always make those modern films look like ISO 400.

While many ISO 400 films look more like ISO 1600 film images.

It wasn't until Topaz software filter algorithms came along getting better and better, resulting into fair, natural looking grain. With the result that ISO 100 films now looks like ISO 100 film, you know.

That, I absolutely LOVE !

Boy, imagine that would take over two decades to get there (here)... is incredible. Albeit the interests and audience has shifted. 20 years ago, people where interested and paid attention.

Today: not so much. Or... barely at all.


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