Reasons to shoot colour neg film part I ;-)

Everything to do with colour negative shooting, developing and printing
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bfitzgerald
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Re: Reasons to shoot colour neg film part I ;-)

Unread post by bfitzgerald »

Javelin, sorry to hear it did not work out for you.
Just to point out, whilst I am a film fan, I am not a film die hard..100% use it and nothing else. Some are, no problem with that..same as 100% digital folks.
I do like digital too, it's a potent tool for some types of work. Low light, action, when you need results now. I use digital a fair bit. But for specific tasks, for me..film appears to be more to my tastes.

For scenic work, and general/travel shots. I am not getting the tonality that I am satisfied with on digital. I will of course still take some, I have to try out the A200 more as well. But I think film has something to offer here. And it's really no different from using a digital for scenic type shots. You just have to bear in mind the medium differences. I am very ultra cautious with film usage, in no way am I bashing out half a dozen rolls a week or more. Don't get me wrong, if there is something appealing, I will take the frames. But I spend some time now wandering about..thinking, looking..and not taking exposures until I am really satisfied. I have got so mean with frames shot, I struggle to even finish a single roll with a day out, sometimes I cannot even do half a roll!

Film has forced me to pay more attention to composition, light, and not taking shots for the sake of it. I think the discipline can be a great help. Yes you can take less shots on digital, and I do that as well. There is also something final about film shooting, and the element of not seeing the results for some time adds to the excitement, for want of a better word.

I have never stopped using film, but I didn't do a lot when I got back into photography. I was sold on digital, it seemed like heaven sent. I have learnt a whole lot, and digital has helped in that, instant feedback..you can see your mistakes quickly, and learn from them. Have to say, digital has made me a better film photographer. For landscapes etc, I am much more satisfied with the tonality of film, than with digital, a more organic and rustic look for want of a better word.

My own goal is to get good shots, and I would much prefer a dozen really nice ones a year, than a hard drive filled with thousands of not bad, but not great photos.By shooting less, I am forcing myself to think more, and to see more. Ok you can delete the bad ones on digital..but it's not the same really! The other element is most folks are doing digital shots, so by using film, I am doing something different..the look will not be the same. Photographers are always trying to set themselves apart from others, film helps me do that.

It's not for everyone, film does cost money, but I get a kick out of it..big time.
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Re: Reasons to shoot colour neg film part I ;-)

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Actually ll those shots that didn't turn out were done in the 90's. the film I shot 2 years ago came out fine.. fantastic in fact. One roll had doubles a the end because the winder ripped through the pin holes when I was shooting horses
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bfitzgerald
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Re: Reasons to shoot colour neg film part I ;-)

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Ok here is a sample of Ektar 100, I would add..nothing too special DR wise as far as neg film goes.
Rather nasty scenario, lots of shadow areas, and a bright sky, this is a def white out sky digital shot.

Cork City Court House.jpg
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In situations like this, it's just easier for me to shoot film. If you are on digital, you will either have to do a HDR series of shots, or underexpose to try to hold onto the highlights. I would again suggest, the expose for shadows, don't worry about highlights is more preferable to me, than watching the review shots to see if just how far blown out it is!
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Re: Reasons to shoot colour neg film part I ;-)

Unread post by David Kilpatrick »

Barry, that is a nice blue sky. Any respectable digital camera would deal with that shot perfectly and give extra shadow detail too.

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bfitzgerald
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Re: Reasons to shoot colour neg film part I ;-)

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Sorry David but I have to disagree. I've been using both formats for some time now, and I can tell very easily when a shot would cause problems. This one would as the shadow areas are in stark contrast to the bright sky. 100% white out would happen on the A200 or the 5d, others might do a bit better, but were talking about stops of missing highlight DR. Your only choice is to underexpose to hold onto the highlights the best you can, raw obviously the sensible choice here.

Bottom line it's more convenient to have an expose for shadows not worry about highlights system, film offers that (neg film)

An example of digital is here. Using the 5d I exposed for highlight areas, and pulled it up in raw..however the ist shot was pure white out, re-take and do some pp to get there, neg film would have just nailed it. Surprised that anyone would even debate the DR of neg film is superior, it's very notable in these situations, you can get near ish with some work (and some hue shifts as well), but it's never as good, and can disturb your concentration. Maybe time to shoot some film, all due respect..some folks are a bit out of the loop with the stuff :mrgreen: Really the highlight range on digital is pretty pathetic at the best of times. But I am also aware nobody likes to think new tech can be outdone with old stuff..

Image1.jpg
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This is normal shot metered -1 stop...LR showing clipped areas and non recoverable.

Image2.jpg
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We're looking at roughly film's highlight range being 2.5 to 3 stops better
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Re: Reasons to shoot colour neg film part I ;-)

Unread post by bakubo »

The meter isn't God. It is just a tool. Don't live by it, don't die by it. It is up to me to decide what exposure to give. Not a problem for me.
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bfitzgerald
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Re: Reasons to shoot colour neg film part I ;-)

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Not really a metering issue, if you meter for the subject (the shop/petrol station) your highlights are gone. No camera meter would give you that underexposure (nor should it)

My point remains, expose for shadows is more useful in many situations. I am sure we will get there, might take a while.
Anyone has any doubts, just shoot a roll of 24 neg film, and you'll see the difference.
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Re: Reasons to shoot colour neg film part I ;-)

Unread post by David Kilpatrick »

I am not saying film (negative stock, C-41) doesn't have the ability to cope with massive overexposure and work well - it does. But the example you showed (the columns on the building and the sky) would have been perfectly OK on digital. The other examples you show, with the skylight windows, need special handling when shooting digital.

Personally, I prefer digital for many reasons. I have just been processing a set of pix taken in caves lit entirely by sodium light. I've run a hand printing darkroom and have been using C-41 since the process was introduced, and I know the limitations encountered by film in this kind of lighting. A900 raw enables close to daylight quality to be pulled from the shots, with very good saturation and neutrals. C-41 stock requires three stops of overexposure to recover sodium lighting, resulting in a neg which is very dense and difficult to print. Reversal stock requires very specific filtration. I used to work with a colour meter and use Singh-Ray filters matched to common industrial light sources, in addition to a full pack of CC/LB camera filters (which I still have).

All that is no longer needed. Colour negative can not simply be machine printed to recover extreme cases either, unless you have a very good machine print operator. We had such an operator when we used neg film, most small pro-am labs had expert staff, but that situation is changing. If you've got a good printer to rely on, you can use colour neg and get the results you want. When that's gone, you can do what we did in the 1980s for hand prints - install deep tank low replenishment rate colour print processing and do your own.

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bfitzgerald
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Re: Reasons to shoot colour neg film part I ;-)

Unread post by bfitzgerald »

Next time I'll be sure to take both a digital and film body, and take indentical shots, so that nobody can have any doubts about what's going on :P

The reason the court house would blow out on digital, is that the metering is obviously working in a shadow region, will base it's exposure for that, with so little headroom in the highlights...ta ta on that one. But you don't have to take my word for it, simply ebay a film camera and have a play. HL blowouts are my pet digital hate..and it's a consistent annoyance to have to deal with it, esp as more often than not, I do difficult lighting situations. All the latitude on digital is in the shadows, which is great at times, not at others.
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Re: Reasons to shoot colour neg film part I ;-)

Unread post by David Kilpatrick »

Digital is actually very capable of handling highlights and shadows, much as colour negative film is. Both far exceed the capabilities of colour slide film, but digital needs to be exposed like slide film. What screws up your view of digital is the in-camera JPEG or the RAW preview embedded, and the use of fairly powerful tone and saturation curves before you even get to see what the raw file contains. Here is an example of the real content of a digital capture, shown using Linear export with zero contrast, neutral gain adjustment, and maximum shadow and highlight range:
assoscastle-flatraw.jpg
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This looks pretty horrible, but it contains all the information needed to handle an extreme of contrast. A straight conversion (like in-camera JPEG) from this has blown out pathways outside the gatehouse, and dense shadows, with a slight hint of blue in the sky (not very strong) and some good detail in the midtones where reflected light has lifted the values.
assoscastle4-hdrmanual.jpg
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This is a careful manual conversion using two different raw exports, approximately 2.5 stops apart (-1.55 for the exterior, +1 for the interior). There is no real equivalent in colour neg practice; it would be necessary to hand print and do some burning-in of the outside view. Scanning does not work well, in my experience. While a good neg can scan perfectly, trying to recover highlight and shadow detail from a contrasty neg via a scan produces some odd results.

I do still use colour neg film from time to time. Sadly, the results have no commercial value; I'd need to work with rollfilm, not 35mm, to get the quality needed. This year for the MPA's annual awards I proposed a new Silver Imaging category and prize, and they took it up with Fuji, who sponsored it. The entry was much lower than we hoped. I am in touch with labs who process film, still a major part of their business, and have an idea about the trends involved. You've got about five years before it begins to be a very expensive alternative to digital.

At that point, I think I literally dust off the enlarger and rebuild the darkroom, get back to making a bit of money doing hand printing.

David
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bfitzgerald
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Re: Reasons to shoot colour neg film part I ;-)

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With work, yes I agree you can get decent results with digital. But it's a great concentration killer to me, take shot..oops blown out, dial in- EV compensation..oops try a bit more..in the end I might have taken 3 or 4 shots to get an acceptable retention of highlight details in difficult situations. It's one less problem for me to worry about, hence I am near enough 100% film based for scenic shots now, I still do a bit of digital, but a lot less. I was never a fan of slide film (I admit I am in a minority on this), it's certainly taken some work to get the scanning side up to par. B&W is even more a boon, I am still taken aback at how tolerant some emulsions are in that respect, FP4 and HP5 are firm fav's of mine.

Onto labs, I am in contact with a lab manager, who did say that they were getting a fair/reasonable degree of film to process, but it's mostly from throwaway film jobs, rather than enthusiasts. My turnaround is about half an hour for colour neg, so that's really not too bad at all. But the scanning side might be enough to put many off, and there would be little point in getting the lab to scan them, as the results are often pretty poor to put it mildly. He did say one problem was not film or digital, but the fact most folks are not even printing their photos, so their trade levels are really not that amazing.

I have a copy of your magazine you sent me, with some horse shots in it, I think that just about sums it up for me. "Digital still lacks some of the charm of film" was a phrase I read..and with this work, it's not about volume, but end results..less hoops to jump through at capture, more afterwards, but probably worth it for me. I can like the look of digital, but I never have loved it as much as film.
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Greg Beetham
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Re: Reasons to shoot colour neg film part I ;-)

Unread post by Greg Beetham »

I tend too agree with Barry, if you have a bright sunny day EV17+ with digital you can easily blow the highlights (sky and clouds as well) even if you bias the exposure towards them, I think the best you can do is such circumstances is aim the camera at some concrete (if there is some handy) or grass is sometimes ok and AEL lock it then take the shot anywhere in the scene, that's usually the best compromise I've found. There is another way that works not too bad, you can expose for the sky (then compensate less up too a stop, stop and half) then you still get to keep most of your sky but you'll most likely have some heavy shadows to deal with later.
I feel for sure film (not positive film) has more latitude than digital any day of the week, it would be interesting to do that actually with both, using the AEL lock on some grey non reflective whatever, unpainted concrete will do, and then take the same contrasty scene with both, with both at 100 ISO (or 200 ISO) and then scan the negitave to compare with the digital camera results.
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Re: Reasons to shoot colour neg film part I ;-)

Unread post by Greg Beetham »

DK that shot is not one shot, it's two shots, what if I were too take two negitave film shots, one exposed for the outside and another for the inside (from a tripod), develop the film and then overlay the two negs carefully lined up in the enlarger? at a guess I'd end up with something at least as good, I'd say you'd have to quadruple the exposure time on the enlarger though, and there might be some diffraction issues between the two layers of film maybe, but if you put the inside shot on the bottom layer it should work....I think. Then again you could just scan the two negs into the computi-pute and combine the two there.
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Re: Reasons to shoot colour neg film part I ;-)

Unread post by David Kilpatrick »

It's not two shots and the same effect can now be achieved with a single export using ACR 6.2 dodging. It is more or less equivalent to using a compensated film development and an unsharp mask (the real meaning of the word - a contrast mask). There used to be a type of photochromic glass made into a bottom half of the negative carrier (actually, slide carrier - this process is not so good with negs as they lack contrast to start with). The slide was 'exposed' in contact with the photochromic layer, which darkened like a negative mask. Then a Cibachrome print was made.

All of that is no longer needed.

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Re: Reasons to shoot colour neg film part I ;-)

Unread post by Greg Beetham »

Ah sorry I read in haste, I saw expor..... and sortof converted it into expos somehow...I'm going to be quiet now. :oops:
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