1st shot slide film ever...considerations

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by hoakin1981, Apr 28, 2014.

  1. hoakin1981

    hoakin1981 Member

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    I just got back from the lab my very 1st slide film ever, a Provia 100F. The result is disappointing to say the least, of the 15 frames (Mamiya 645 Pro) most are almost completely black, one is overexposed beyond saving and the rest are very dark with not enough detail.

    Now, a couple of considerations first. Number one, It was my very 1st slide film so I had no experience and I might have messed up exposure-wise. Number 2 the Mamiya 645 I used is a new camera for me and I had only shot a B&W negative film with it before the Provia (which came out OK).

    All shots were sunset ones so I guess it was a high contrast scene, perhaps outside the films DR especially since no GND filters were used.

    So, possible reasons for the catastrophe:

    1. I messed up the exposure
    2. The scene was outside the DR of the film so using Provia was a bad idea.
    3. I had to use GND filters (because of No.2)
    4. The Lab messed up during the processing

    I am mostly concerned with No.4 because it Is something I cannot check easily. What is strange is that by using the Average metering I got really acceptable results with the B&W film. I clearly remember the last 2 shots with the Provia, I had it on Average and I shot 1 with normal exposure and 1 with +1 full stop of exposure compensation. The latter one is indeed just a little bit brighter but still too dark. I keep having the feeling that they might have overcooked the film during processing...

    Would appreciate some advice from any old-timers of slide film shooting out there since such film is very expensive and as we all know a lost shot is lost forever.
     
  2. splash_fr

    splash_fr Subscriber

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    Did you set the camera to the correct ISO? Thats the number one reason for me to mess up with slide films...
     
  3. hoakin1981

    hoakin1981 Member

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    Well yes, I have 2 backs one with TMAX and one with Provia, both 100 ISO and both set correctly.

    I wish it was that simple...

    :wink:
     
  4. Daire Quinlan

    Daire Quinlan Member

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    The metering on medium format bodies is not, for the most part, particularly sophisticated. My guess is you ended up metering for the sun or something and underexposed everything by several stops. That'd yield really dark or black results on most slide films. B&W film has a lot more latitude. Go out and shoot another roll of nice well behaved low contrast scenes and check the results.
     
  5. fotch

    fotch Member

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    I would suspect the lab was not the problem, messing up with the exposure is the most likely. Did you bracket any exposures?
     
  6. hoakin1981

    hoakin1981 Member

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    Well as said it was my 1st slide ever shot so I tried various methods of metering using both the Average and Spot metering settings of the prism. I can confirm that I mostly tried the "meter for dark/light/mid tones values and average them" way. Also I am positive that I bracketed the last 2 exposures made with 1 full stop apart but they still came out too dark. I believe that my anxiety to keep the highlights in control has cost me the most, that is why I am not sure whether such film is good for sunsets.
     
  7. Hatchetman

    Hatchetman Subscriber

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    Your exposure would have to be waaay off for it to be almost black. 4 or more stops? Something is amiss. Provia does sunsets just fine.
     
  8. Trail Images

    Trail Images Subscriber

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    When I first got my RB67 with a metered prism I setup in the backyard a test site. A basic test was using a neutral grey card and f16 test to see if things were even close on ISO/ASA setting as well as actual meter reading. Then I ran one roll of Velvia 50 film through it making changes and writing each down to verify how the film handled the results. Now if I have any wasted shots I know it was me and not the camera or meter. It does not hurt to verify the meter every once in awhile against the grey card as a double check.
    Just an idea.
     
  9. trythis

    trythis Subscriber

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    If you have light meter, test the two against each other with the gray card. Dont expect identical readings, but if they are off by 3 stops, somethings wrong with the camera.

    Also make sure your lens is set to A, not M and check that the lens aperture prongs are linked with the prisms meter pin. I don't have a 645 pro, just an old 645; I just assume they link up the same way.
     
  10. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Test the exposures by using the Sunny 16 rule on a sunny day.

    If something is wrong with your camera, it will be blatantly obvious. Just do one roll like this and send it in for processing. If that works OK, you know you have to work on your metering skills.
     
  11. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    Slide film is a pig you need to be within 1/3 of a stop for projection.
    Forget about sunsets, instead try front lit simple portrait or family group, and dome incident meter on their nose cine leading lady style.
    When you are expert think about sunset again... sweep exposure 1/3 stop intervals.
    C41 is easy (easier when you are familiar with the kit)...
    Mono is easier if you are not doing reversal.

    Noel
     
  12. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    You didn't mention the edge markings, which would be a good way to check if the lab were at least doing approximately the right thing.

    Everything you say sounds like exposure errors, but it would take a pretty severe metering mistake to achieve "nothing there at all". Even if you spot-metered off the disc of the sun, that disc should have ended up in the image at 18% density. I've shot quite a bit of slide film in Mamiya 645 bodies at this point, and in my experience the metering is pretty good in practice.

    How'd the TMX come out? Were you keeping enough of an eye on the exposures to know if they were roughly similar between the two films? Of course the b&w film has more latitude, but they're both ISO 100 and at least it would provide some basis for comparison.

    -NT
     
  13. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Sunsets and slide film - together they make for a challenging test for an in-camera meter.

    When I first started using slide film in my 645 Pro I had a tendency to under-expose slides if there were areas of misleading highlights in the scene. Once I became more familiar with how the meter reads the scenes, I became much better.

    What really helped was becoming much more familiar with the area read by the "spot" function, and then using that.

    I'd suggest trying the camera out on some more evenly lit scenes, to see if the metering is functioning correctly.
     
  14. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    The first thing to do is go over the camera thoroughly to ensure you have not set something that is contributing to such gross underexposure e.g. exposure compensation? ISO? Another problem is the use of ND filters: I have never ever been a fan or user of these, preferring to manage contrast variations by selective metering. All ND filters do is add an additional layer of complexity and are especially haphazard on cameras using evaluative/matrix/multipattern meters. That level of complexity isn't helped at all if the photographer is relying on a spot/incident meter.

    Sunsets and sunrises are best spot metered explicitly by hand, not with an in-camera meter. The camera's meter doesn't know what it is looking at and, furthermore, it doesn't care. Take control. There are various 'tweaks' that can be employed with the much more forgiving emulsion of Provia 100F for contrasty scenes, one of which is to re-rate the film at EI80 (0.3 overexposure). But Provia 100F delivers really pleasing results as it is, just that there is a bit of learning to be done with slide film.

    No metering anywhere should be done on or close to the sun as this will result in gross underexposure and that will be very, very visible even with the modicum of latitude that Provia 100F holds (for other slide films, like Velvia 50, underexposure is disastrous and unsalvageable). The reason you got better results with black and white is because it has a lot more latitude than slide film. With slide film a complete shift in thinking and methodology of exposure is required to bring out the best because your working area in terms of latitude is quite narrow. It's not the case to think that what is good for black and white will be just as good for slide film — there are two different skill sets to grapple with! It would be unlikely in my view that the lab has erred with the processing of the film. It is E6, they will have recognised this and away it goes. For all intents and purposes it sounds very much like your exposure is off with the camera at the crux of the problem. This is not to say it has or might have a fault, but what it is metering.

    One course to follow now is to repeat your shots. This time take a notebook and pen with you and record the exposure. If you foresee a long term involvement with slide film, consider purchasing a spot/incident meter and learnig the fundamentals of precise exposure measurement to get the very best out of colour transparency. Relying on in-camera meters is making things too easy to go wrong when you should be in full control. Once you have the results of your second shoot, have the film souped and then refer to your notes. This is a very valuable learning experience and one I emphasise very strongly, even for photographers with a lot of experience, but transparency films are where so many come to grief. As I said, it's not the same as the easy sailing affair of black and white. :wink:
     
  15. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Well, not really. 1/2 stop is fine - you'll see the difference and it's not optimal but it still can make a good looking projected slide.

    Slide film does have a much smaller range and thus is far more critical of exposure, but it isn't THAT hard, especially if you choose to bracket. I've never had a problem getting well exposed slides with my in camera meters. There can be a problem with too much range in the scene - you either let shadows go black or highlights blow out or, sometimes when exposing for midtones, both - but you certainly shouldn't be getting black film.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 29, 2014
  16. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    It's all in the metering.
    This is a sunrise instead of sunset, but same difference more or less, on Kodachrome, in camera meter.
    As I recall, I metered on the sky here, then reframed. If the sun will be in the frame then point the camera somewhere where it's not included, meter then go for it.
     

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  17. Richard Man

    Richard Man Member

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    First thing to do is as someone else suggested, check the edging of the slides. If you can read the film marking, then it's exposure issue for sure.
     
  18. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    I understand 1/2 of a stop but if it is a brides formal posed sequence and her dress is white you get the why is that dress darker then the other... Hated it when the clouds moved about and the needle of the Weston would not settle... they (the brides) used to go back and forwards between slides with the projectors remote.

    I needed to bracket in half stops and pick the best, eyes blinked was always on the wrong slide.

    All you could hope for is a weepy and loss of concentration.

    Cine people have worse problems for jump cuts...

    All I ever did was Kchrome 25 and weddings, today I'd use mono or C41.

    Noel
     
  19. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    You will note that none of the contributors seem to be agreeing that "such film" ( by this I assume you mean either Provia or slide film in general) is the problem.

    I'd ditch the idea that there are good and bad films for sunsets. Until you get rid of this feeling you may not be able to approach the problem with an open mind.

    A lot of good advice here. Just work through it slowly and try the suggestions and advice given

    pentaxuser
     
  20. pukalo

    pukalo Member

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    slide film is an excellent choice for sunsets,but in your case you did not meter correctly. Proper technique is to point your lens to an area of the sky close to, but not including the sun. Lock in this exposure,then recompose to include the sun, and fire.this will give you wonderful color in The sky, but any land or other objects will be black silhouettes. The result can be dramatic and beautiful. Take another shot with plus one stop exposure,and see which is best.
    Including the sun in the frame when you meter leads to massive under exposure like you got.
    Also, try a roll on regular subjects such as people In evenly lit daylight conditions, I think your results will be fine, and you will be impressed with what slide film can do.
     
  21. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    For the OPs information

    - this slide scan is a (under) side lit cloud scape & a nice shot
    - Kodachrome had a wider dynamic range than E6 eg it had a remjet backing layer like cine colour negative film

    but sunsets are like Chopin etudes not something you play in first music lesson.

    eg what you need is a lake or sea dead calm and underlit clouds and you might only have a few minutes time window... part of the shot will be silhouette...
     
  22. Daire Quinlan

    Daire Quinlan Member

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    Indeed, these were taken with Velvia, an even more unforgiving film than provia :-D On that same roll however I'm sure there are a few duds that I don't remember ...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  23. Trail Images

    Trail Images Subscriber

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    As already stated, slide film has an extremely narrow exposure latitude, however, if you control the light it can be very rewarding too.
    I used this image in a post with regard to using Neutral Density Filters in general. It can also be used here with regard to sunrise / sunset photos and slide film as others have shown. This was taken using a Hi Tech Reverse Grad Filter. They're specifically designed for shooting these type of shots.

    Flor0773_A_(APUG).jpg