My day has been pretty good. I woke up, had a cup of coffee, took a few wedding photos, and then took the Leica with me to a birthday party. It was raining and dark; a gloomy f/2 day. In the Leica I stuffed a roll of Kodak P3200 Black and White I had in my bag. I was not unimpressed.
I have to admit that the camera above, while vurry purrty, is not so sharp wide-open. Well, I struggle to get a good sharp image at anything lower than f/4 on it, so having a film in it with such a high sensitivity allowed me to shoot it at a relatively small aperture (f/5.6) and a fast shutter speed (1/250). It was liberating to shoot indoors and in the gloom without having to push the film.
Well, I say it wasn’t pushed but what I’ve heard and read is that P3200 is actually an ISO 1000 film that can be metered for ISO 3200 without the need for extending development time to compensate. What happens with films that allow this is a characteristic high grain. A lot of grain. But Kodak grain is beautiful and gritty, and I am usually pleased with the results, even if I didn’t develop it in the right chemicals.
Right, the chemicals. I don’t shoot a lot of black and white, mostly because I see color so I like to record color. Ironic since I have 100ft of Kentmere 400. Also ironic since Kentmere 400 is my favorite black and white film. I’m also a huge evangelist of Rodinal. It’s the lazy photographer’s black and white developer. A 16oz bottle lasts a year, and the formula is a set-it-and-forget-it 1 hour stand development (one-shot) that produces nice grain and a signature glow around the shadow areas that helps separate the subject. However, with T-Grain films it produces and unruly grain that is way out of control (my opinion).
I actually knew this going in, but my Kodak D76 is old and I didn’t want to a) risk using really expired chemicals on this film and b) mixing new D76 to go flat because I don’t shoot enough monochrome to warrant a gallon of soup sitting unused. So I got what I got and that was a lot…of grain. The shots don’t look bad to me, but if I shot more black and white, I would certainly use a different developer for my T-grain films. Of course, if I shot more black and white it would be the 100ft roll of Kentmere 400 I have loaded into cassettes waiting to be used.
Now to figure out how to handle the Summicron at f/2 and get sharp images (while remembering my Leica M3 over-exposes by one stop, but that’s for another rant at a later date.