160speed colour neg-- all the same?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by jpberger, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. jpberger

    jpberger Member

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    Hello all,

    I've been attempting some haphazard testing of the 4 current iso 160 colour negative films (portra 160nc, vc fuji 160s, c)

    My conclusion is that it's nearly impossible to tell these films apart without a program-- at box speed the vc is noticeably more saturated than the nc, and the c lightly more than the s, but as soon as I overexpose the neutral films slightly they look nearly identical to the higher saturation versions. Also noted that the kodak nc is very slightly finer grained but the fuji s seems very slightly sharper. All and all its a wash.

    Am I out to lunch or are these films basically completely interchangeable once you get to know them? nb I haven't had a chance to make a lot of optical prints with these, so I'm going by scan results.
     
  2. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    You are not far wrong. I've used them all extensively, other than the Fujicolor 160C, which I find has an unappealing tendency to look sickly green in any light; they can look very similar to one another depending on the light.

    If I could use only one, it would probably be the Fujicolor 160S. With the right exposure and, er, adjustment later, it can be either saturated or not as you need. They aren't interchangeable, but the differences don't seem to me as large as I once thought.
     
  3. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    are you going to be shooting under mixed lighting? I've found the 160s to be much more satisfactory for mixed-lighting situations. Even under tungsten illumination, it renders very neutral. The 160NC and 400NC's render tungsten lighting quite accurately(too warm :smile:), with a nasty reddish cast from what I've found.

    I generally shoot 160/400vc/800 films for pretty much anything, but when I need to shoot something with mixed-lighting(interior portrait in window, with tungsten room illumination), I would reach for the 160s from Fuji. Otherwise, I generally prefer the Kodak palette of colors for outside.

    are you scanning only, or wet-printing as well? All do well in both situations, I find the Kodak films to be more easily corrected in scanning software, even though I try to shoot them like I would chromes, CC filters and all.

    to pass on some valuable info though, I've gotten it from several great people on here: STICK TO ONE(OR TWO) FILMS, AND GET TO KNOW THEM. that way, if you get results that you know are wrong, its easier to assess what is wrong because you know how that film(s) react in those situations.

    besides, testing ain't any fun, making/creating great photographs is!

    -Dan
     
  4. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    You've just saved me some money. Thank you. Next is to compare Ektar versus 160VC.
     
  5. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    The Ektar is a wonderful film. Be prepare for radioactively saturated reds, oranges, and greens. Grain is invisible, sharpness is razor-like. An absolutely excellent film. I find it brighter, more saturated, and more contrasty than Portra VC, especially affecting the above mentioned colors; whereas VC's saturation boost seems more pan-spectral. These are my unscientific observations.
     
  6. jpberger

    jpberger Member

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    I'm leaning to the 160s as my go to colour film-- it seems to be the most flexible of the four. If nothing else it's slightly cheaper than the kodak :smile:.
    @DanielStone, I agree for most things I've found the kodak stuff easier to scan, at least with my equipment. I had a really hard time with reala and 400h for reasons I haven't been able to nail down but I found the 160 fuji easy to scan. I'm preparing for a documentary project that's going to be scanned negs for web/blurb book and a handful of 8x12ish wet prints too. Also agree that cc filters are always a good idea even on colour neg and d****l-- just makes things a little easier to print. I must say I really like this class of film, at least in 35mm with faster lenses. (the shutter speeds end up about the same as using the 400 speeds with medium format)

    EKtar is a lot of fun, but a little finicky-- It has a more limited exposure latitude than most other negative film. It has a very distinctive look, which is just right for some pictures.
     
  7. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    The 160 films have the same contrast as we are used to seeing in a normal B&W scale. Hardly soft !
    But much softer than the common color films.

    The only way you would be able to judge the 'portrait' films would be if you were printing them... if you were a pro printer !
    Run through a contemporary scanner/printer, the films won't be making a difference. If you compared them printed, say, at Costco and at a first rate portrait/wedding lab, which will use a different contrast paper...well.
    The normal paper is like printing on #3... portrait lab on #2.

    Never seen the 160c, but it isn't meant as a portrait film.
     
  8. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    Ektar is very pleasing printed on Supra Endura at room temp. Very sharp. Surprisingly good fairly neutral skin tones with great saturation, particularly in reds.

    And did I say sharp. I printed at 35mm at 16x20 and the grain was ultrafine and very pleasing. It looked like a typical 4x5 b+w grain.
     
  9. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    Dont forget Ektarcolor 160... or is that just rebadged portra?
     
  10. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    160 films will look remarkably similar if scanned and output digitally. In my experience when using an enlarger NC has a distinct earthy palette and the greatest latitude. I believe it was built to produce good skin tones whilst holding the highlight detail as it built shadow detail -- think wedding gown and tux -- it is also almost impossible to over expose this film. VC (the old version) was cooler and generally fell short of being much of anything in my opinion. Both fuji's are better under florescent lighting, but I don't recall them being better under tungstun (I use filters in most instances). 160s has the same palette as 160c (a little on the plastic side opposed to the earthier side), but has wider latitude. 160c has the appearance of more punch as it tends to be more contrasty -- I don't believe it produces bluer blues or reder reds, etc... than 160s. I have never seen 160c go green or at least not in the print. There is a chance that I dial out more Magenta when using it, but not that I've noticed. Neither fuji has the tonal range or the exposure latitude of kodak 160nc.

    I generally rate the films at 1/2 box speed and adjust exposure according to the scene requirements.

    YMMV
     
  11. naugastyle

    naugastyle Member

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    Since I do not have the capability to print my own, and have had too many disappointments with optical lab prints (er, back when optical was the normal way of lab printing), I prefer scanning and minimally color-correcting (and sending out the files, if I want prints). I will agree that there can be quite an overlap, although in most cases I still think Reala stands out as different than the 160 films (I haven't tried 160C...haven't seen a compelling reason to). However, I will also say that I believe (and may be wrong) that I know what these films SHOULD look like, and try to bias any corrections toward that.

    Unfortunately, I have had surprisingly better results from 400H than 160S (strange, because I assumed they would be similar and slower is usually nicer), and I have much more 160S lying around than 400H.

    Oh, and I think I bias things in exposure as well, because I've had good luck with both 160/400VC slightly underexposed but the NCs (and S/H) I like at box speed or slightly overexposed. Maybe they really are all the same :smile:.