Replicating B&W film types using channel mixer in Photoshop

Many people, just like myself, started off with photography before digital was wide spread. I used to work in a camera shop and remember selling the first digital camera the shop ever sold. It had 1 MP and cost about £500. The 128MB memory card cost almost £100. These days it would only hold about 10 RAW images, 30 jpegs at a push. Back then it was the height of technology, people didn’t seem to care the quality was far worse than if using film, it went on like that for a long time.

Behind the counter were hundreds of rolls of film, Ilford FP4, kodak TRI-X, the super fine grain Agfa Pan 25, Fuji Velvia, etc etc. Those were the days when big decisions had to be made long before the shots would be taken. You couldn’t shoot in RAW like we can these days and change the colour balance to suit, any mistakes in the set-up were permanent.

I shot on Afga Pan 100 or 25, not because I thought it was any better than the others but I was able to get it in large rolls roughly 100 foot in length. I had to go into a pitch black room and manually fill refillable film canisters. I learned first by doing it with my eyes closed on already exposed film. I then had the odd habit of always closing my eyes when doing it for real in the blackened room. For the record I preferred to use Kodak Tri-X for general shooting and Agfa Pan 25 for very fine grained images.

I used a Nikon FE-2 and 50mm F1.8 type E lens. I loved that camera but regrettably sold it when I bought a Fuji S2Pro. I wish I knew where it was now but I’m delighted to see a trend by camera makers for more traditional style camera bodies. Some of the new Fujis are stunning.

As I’ve said before in this site I trained only in Black & White, everything had to be hand printed in a dark room using various red filters to increase contrast. Dark rooms are a lot darker than you see in the movies by the way, though we don’t see many these days. Film had to be hand developed which is an art in my opinion. Timings need to be perfect, unless you’re going for different affects such as pushing the grain.

After a bit of searching I’ve found these settings to best match what results film would have produced. In Adobe Photoshop select channel mixer, set to monochrome and enter the settings as be below. The results are okay and great for getting a starting point for your B&W conversions. If I come across any more I’ll update this list

Film Make / Type Channel Mixer Settings (R/G/B)
Agfa 200X: 18,41,41
Agfapan 25: 25,39,36
Agfapan 100: 21,40,39
Agfapan 400: 20,41,39
Ilford Delta 100: 21,42,37
Ilford Delta 400: 22,42,36
Ilford Delta 400 Pro: 31,36,33
Ilford FP4: 28,41,31
Ilford HP5: 23,37,40
Ilford Pan F: 33,36,31
Ilford SFX: 36,31,33
Ilford XP2 Super: 21,42,37
Kodak Tmax 100: 24,37,39
Kodak Tmax 400: 27,36,37
Kodak Tri-X: 25,35,40