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photo:film

photographic film in a digital age

  • see also:
    • scanner software:
    • B&W film-developer combinations tests by Erwin Puts, in general:
      • E6 colour reversal Fujichrome films:
        • Velvia 50, 100F & the new Velvia 100 (introduced 2005):
          • vivid colour & intense saturation
          • New Velvia 100 additionally provides a more useful ISO 100 speed, finer grain, improved neutral tones and better push/pull characteristics.
          • Velvia 50 will probably be discontinued in 2006.
        • Astia 100F:
          • beautiful skin tones, natural and faithful color reproduction, and smooth textures.
        • Provia 100F, 400F:
          • the finest grain in their class, with superb sharpness that captures details with unprecedented clarity, while providing rich gradation, vivid and faithful color reproduction, well-controlled gradation balance, and outstanding extended-exposure characteristics.
          • ideal choices for a wide range of subject matter, including product and outdoor photography, fashion work, portraiture, and high-speed, fast-action sporting events.
        • 64T type II tungsten:
          • highly suited for product photography, interior, and architectural work.
      • C41 colour negative Fujicolor portrait films:
        • see also:
        • Superia Reala 100:
          • extremely sharp, fine grained film with high saturation & lower contrast with 4th layer tech for skin tones 
          • although a consumer film, many pros use it for much of their photography including weddings and portraits as it scans well.
          • some rate it at 64-80ASA instead of 100ASA as it tends to lose contrast and get washed out if underexposed and can tolerate over-exposure by 1-2 stops quite well.
        • NPS160 Professional:
          • smooth, pleasing skin tones and natural color images with exceptional detail reproduction.
        • NPC160 Professional:
          • enhanced contrast; “ideal for portrait, wedding, fashion, and other commercial photography”
        • NPH400 Professional:
          • “ideal for wedding photography, portraits, industrial, and other commercial uses.”
        • NPZ800 Professional:
          • enhanced contrast & colour saturation. 
          • ensures faithful color and skin tone reproduction under a wide range of light sources, including fluorescent and mixed lighting.
          • ideal for available light wedding and portrait photography.
      • C41 colour negative Fujicolor press films:
        • Superia 100, 200
        • Press 400, 800
      • B&W silver halide films:
        • Neopan 100 Acros, 400, 1600
          • similar to Kodak's TMax films but the Acros 100 has extremely low reciprocity failure of only 0.5 stops for 120-1000sec exposures!
      • E6 colour reversal Ektachrome films:
        • E100G - neutral tones - The new G(X) generation has the fine grain of the Fuji films, a lower Dmin and very natural colors.
        • E100GX - warmer tones
        • E100VS - vivid saturation
        • E200 - ideal for pushing
      • C41 colour negative films:
        • Portra (portrait films): 160NC, 160VC (vivid), 400NC, 400NV, 800, 100T (tungsten) 
        • Supra (fashion, sport): 200, 400, 800 - push processible, scan well.
      • B&W silver halide film:
        • Plus-X 125:
          • nice grain structure
          • a 'long toe' film that emphasizes mid-tone and highlight separation at the expense of shadow separation, often used for portraiture.
        • Tri-X 320, 400:
          • uses 3 emulsion layers to capture different regions of tone & thus a favourite by many for its tonal range, especially in large format photography. Its tonal range can be helped by developing with gentle agitation in Rodinal.
          • plus 3 stops reciprocity compensation for 100sec exposures;
          • very tolerant of adverse storage and handling, processing variation, and exposure.
          • the film to which all other films are compared.
        • T-Max 100, 400, P3200:
          • very fine Tabular-shaped grain but loss of acutance, enlarge 8-12x; good for smooth grain in white/grey areas;
          •  +1 to 1.5 stops reciprocity compensation for 100sec exposures;
          • 100 is a very fine grained film with a very short toe, giving a very realistic rendition of tones but poor tolerance for underexposure.
          • uses a print-like emulsion and the latent image tends to deteriorate rapidly, thus best to develop as soon as possible.
          • the new Spur SD 2525 is a two-part developer that brings outstanding smoothness of grain and sharpness.
        • High speed infra-red (HSI)
      • B&W chromogenic C41 film:
        • BW400CN:
          • no reciprocity compensation needed up to 120sec exposures, longer exposures not recommended.
          • much less UV and red sensitivity than Kodak's silver halide films
      • B&W silver halide film:
        • Pan F Plus
        • FP4 Plus
        • HP5 Plus 
        • Pan 100, 400 
        • Delta 100, 400, 3200:
          • fine grain using core shell grain technology similar to Kodak's T-max but has sharper & larger grain and maintains acutance & thus better in images of high detail; enlarge 8-12x;
          • the new Spur SD 2525 is a two-part developer that brings outstanding smoothness of grain and sharpness.
          • for extreme sharpness, use Rodinal.
        • Ortho Plus - orthochromatic
        • SFX 200 - extended red
      • B&W chromogenic film:
        • XP2 Super 400 - wide latitude allows exposures at 50-800ISO; 
    • Agfa films (film datasheet here):
      • RSX II 50/100/200 colour reversal film - for architecture, still life
      • Optima 100/200/400 colour negative film
      • Agfacolor Portrait 160 colour negative film
      • Agfapan APX 100/400 silver halide B&W film
      • Agfa Scala 200 - the only B&W reversal film available 
        • requires special processing, in Australia, only in Sydney at Icon Communications
        • can push/pull from 100-1600ISO; costs almost twice that of colour reversal for film & processing, ie. for 120 film, costs $A16.50 for film and $A15.40 to process.

Why film?

  • although use of film is declining at a rapid rate and quickly becoming a niche product, it still has some significant advantages over digital such as:
    • greater dynamic range, especially with B&W film (most digitals are similar to slide film - only 5-6 f stops)
    • traditional film artefacts such as grain can give an image a special type of softness & mood.
    • when using medium or large format film, they can be either printed or scanned to much higher degrees than current digital:
      • B&W 35mm film can be printed onto photographic paper up to 30x40cm or perhaps 40x50cm (ie. 10-15x), but bigger enlargements are possible using a high-end scanner & a digital printer (see Erwin Puts)
      • the new colour slide films such as Kodak's 100G or Fuji's Provia & Velvia 100 can be enlarged up to 40x without grain being an issue!
      • for versatility:
        • sharp, fine grained lower contrast colour negative films such as Fuji's Reala 100 ASA may be the way to go for digital scanning as you get good dynamic range and in PS you can increase contrast if needed or simulate B&W filters when converting to monochrome.
        • transparency film may have the edge in sharpness over negative film but this is perhaps only significant in scanning 35mm film - the dynamic range benefits of negative film outweigh the resolution issue in medium format.
        • color negative film requires more PS work to get the colors correct.
      • max. size digital prints for very high quality (see here):
        • prosumer 6mpixel digitals: 8“x11” 
        • 6-8 mpixel digital SLRs can be printed to about the same as 35mm Provia & Velvia film: 12.5“x18” 
        • high end medium format 645 digital backs 22mpixel
        • 645 Provia film: 24“x30”
      • when scanning 6×6 film (actually 56x56mm):
        • at 1200dpi = 7 megapixels (ie. (56*1200/25.4)2 )
        • at 2400×1200 dpi = 14 megapixels
        • at 2400dpi = 28 megapixels 
        • at 4800dpi = 112 megapixels
      • thus in a sense, medium format film can be used in effect as a high resolution, high dynamic range digital sensor, but you just have to wait until you get it developed and scanned and these costs are about $A1-2 per image plus scanning depending on resolution, but this may be offset by the much lower cost of the camera.
  • one can thus combine digital with film in a synergistic manner, particularly when one can use a digital camera to simulate the traditional Polaroid back, as well as acting as a special reflective light meter.

B&W films:

  • B&W films can be categorised as follows:
    • very fine grain film capable of enlargements > 20x: Agfa Copex, Kodak TechPan, Kodak ImageLink HQ
    • fine grain high tech films capable of enlargements up to 20x: Ilford Delta 100, Kodak TMax 100, Fuji Acros 100
    • classical acutance films with quite fine grain & very good clarity of fine detail: Plus-X, FP4 Plus, Pan F Plus, APX 100
    • classical thin film emulsions with very good sharpness & very irregular grain pattern: Maco Ortho25, UP25
    • high speed films without acutance but with good sharpness & moderate grain patterns: Neopan 400/1600, Tri-X, HP5 Plus
    • high tech, high speed films with fine grain, good resolution with grain visible at enlargements > 12x: D400, TMax 400;
    • very high speed films with visible grain patterns & good sharpness: D3200, TMax 3200
    • chromogenic B&W film developed in C-41 process: Kodak BW400CN, Ilford XP2 400
    • extended red or infrared films: ilford SFX 200; Kodak HSI; see infrared photography
    • reversal film: Agfa Scala
  • for astrophotography, consider Fuji Acros 100 with its incredibly low reciprocity failure for long exposures
  • for landscape work for digital scanning, consider Efke-25 - see Enough Already.

 

Professional vs Consumer films:

  • professional films are manufactured to more demanding specifications and for good results should be developed within hours or days of the photo being taken as the latent image alters with time, particularly the detail in the shadow regions.
  • colour professional films are normally stored refrigerated and allowed to thaw at room temperature for at least 3 hours prior to use. However, once at room temperature, most can tolerate days or weeks at room temperature before being used as long as there are no extreme temperature fluctuations. 
  • chromogenic B&W films are processed in the usual C41 colour negative processing and compared to silver halide B&W, have very wide exposure latitude allowing exposures to be taken at 50-800ISO settings and still getting good results, although the lower the ISO used, the finer the grain and the smoother the skin tones will be.
  • high temperatures & high humidity can impair the photographic characteristics of film material, especially speed and colour balance, consider storing below 10degC.
  • avoid fumes harmful to film such as formalin, glues & cosmetics.

People photography with film:

  • black and white film:
    • good skin tones using silver halide film and print can be achieved with either Kodak Tri-X Pan Professional and Ilford FP4+, but the grain in these films does not scan as well as chromogenic films. Kodak's TMax has extended red sensitivity which may be problematic with skin tones which may be rendered “pastey” and thus require a yellow or yellow-green filter. Ilford Delta 100 is a favourite of many for skin tones & seems to scan well.
    • for scanning, a chromogenic B&W film may be better.
    • traditionally for B&W of skin tones a yellow-green filter is used to render the skin as sun-tanned in daylight (esp. needed for Tmax), but the loss of light may outweigh its benefit.
    • extended red & infra-red film, or a B&W film used with an orange or red filter can be used to create a milky skin tone with minimal blemishes and freckles.
    • a blue filter may be needed in tungsten light to prevent skin looking too pale.
  • colour film:
    • if your intention is to scan the film, then a E-6 reversal film such as FUJICHROME ASTIA 100F produces the best skin tones.
    • if your intention is to create conventional prints or you need extended dynamic range, then a negative C-41 film such as KODAK PORTRA 160 NC (Neutral) or VC (Vivid) are good choices, as are KODAK 400UC, FUJIFILM NPS 160 (Neutral) and NPC (Enhanced Contrast).
    • although traditionally, a warming filter such as a 81A is used for swimwear/lingerie, it may not be needed if you are scanning the image as then it can be warmed in Photoshop.
  • as this is a rather new technology - film + scan + digital printing, it will require a bit of experimenting to get the best results, which is lucky for me as it gives me a good excuse to get out there and start taking some pics with my new 6×6 film cameras.

 

Film scanners:

  • see how to copy your film negatives and slides using your camera for how to do this with a camera rather than a film scanner
  • written in 2007
  • although I currently use a non-dedicated scanner (Canon 9900F) to scan film which does an OK job, you really need a scanner with good dynamic range (DMax) to pick up detail in the darkest regions and one that will reliably hold 120 film flat.
  • some suggested scanners:
    • Minolta Dual Scan IV (cheap, only does 35mm, iffy reviews)
    • Nikon Coolscan V or Minolta 5400 II (more expensive, only 35mm, apparently good quality)
    • Epson Perfection 4490 or 4990 (cheaper, good for 120 according to reviews, but maybe questionable for 35mm)
    • Epson 3200 - Barely OK for 4×5, very ordinary for 120s and awful for 35mm. Tonal range is not good compared to “real” film scanners.
    • Nikon 8000 (9000?) and there are serious 120 issues with holding the film flat and banding. It is also crazy that despite the size of the carrier it will only scan up to 6×9 even though the carrier and aperture would permit up to a 6×17.
    • For 120mm, consider a second hand LS8000 for around US$1000, a new LS9000 or a new Minolta Scan Multi Pro

For a different look, then try some analog darkroom techniques:

vintage bromoil effect:

  • essentially:
    • first go to your darkroom (remember what that is?) and make the best possible print you can do. Use developers and fix with no hardening additives in it.
    • after the final rinse - let the image dry.
    • then you bleach the image with a special bleach, containing potassium dichromate which will harden the gelatine on which all images are done. the darker the area is, the more it hardens.. then re-fix - rinse a lot and let it dry.
    • you now have a piece of paper with only a hint of the original image left. All silver is gone.
    • put the image in tap water. the gelatine will then soak up water, but of couras not, where the gelatine is hardened…
      after a while you'll see a faint photography in water! as a relief…
    • then you take the wet image - take off the surplus water on the surface, and using a brush - or a sponge you add lithographic colour, made very stiff with an additive..
    • the principle is, that oil and water doesn't go together, so in the areas where the gelatine is hardened, the paint will stick. Where there is lots of water in the gelatine, the colour is easy to remove..
    • So tapping away, the photograph slowly emerges in oil paint.

 

photo/film.txt · Last modified: 2019/09/04 23:02 by gary1