35mm Slide Film vs Print Film

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Jeffrey S. Winn, Aug 23, 2008.

  1. Jeffrey S. Winn

    Jeffrey S. Winn Member

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    Greetings!

    I've been shooting print film forever. My go to film is usually Fuji 160 pro if I know that I'll be doing people shots, or Fuji Reala for just messing around. I shoot other print film, but this is the stuff that I mainly buy. I usually use either my Canon T-70 and other Canon FD gear, or Nikon N-70 with a few zooms. I usually print to just the usual 4x6 for most photos, but I make 5x7's, 8x10's and 12-18's. Lately, I'm amking more 8x10's and the larger 12x18's.

    Anyway, I'm not that familiar with slide film. I use about one roll a year in a Kodak Stereo camera for fun. But, I'd like to learn more about it's capability, especially about it's printing capabilities. Can you get good prints from slide film, or should I stick to print film? I want to play around with some large prints, and try to get the best quality that I can. Will slide film produce better prints at say 16x20 or 20x30 then print film, or will the limiting factor be the small 35mm format? I understand that you have a lot more latitude with print film, but at the end of the day can you produce a better large prints with slide film, assuming that it is properly exposed etc.?

    I also want to mess around a bit with balck and white film. I've never really used it much as I prefer color photos. But, I think it has it's place and I'd like to give it a try. Should I go the C-41 black and white route, or try "real" black and white film. For a novice, will I see a difference.

    Lastly, I'm not a pro. But, I do enjoy producing good photos. I would like to expand my understanding of these different films. Any advie will be appreciated.

    Jeff
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    There's not much choice now with reversal print materials only Ilfochrome (formrly Cibachrome) is left. However any Digital Minilab can make prints from 35mm slides and a few from 120.

    There's a significant difference in trad B&W films over C41, which is why thev C41 films are a very small segment of the market.

    Ian
     
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  3. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    At this day and time, the answer would be a guarded YES! You can get good prints from slide film IF you scan and print digitally. While this is not the forum to discuss digital things...I can tell you that my commercial clients prefer 4x5 transparencies for their product shots. Excellent images can be made with modern transparency films, and you don't need proof sheets to view your initial results.

    In the past, making RA-4 prints optically from transparencies involved making an internegative. Both Kodak and Fuji made excellent materials for this purpose, but I don't know if they still do. Mini-labs, of course print on RA-4 materials, but they scan the film and expose the paper with a laser, so it is not optical printing.
     
  4. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    It used to be a work flow issue/final desired product issue that would determine print vs. transparency film. Shooting for publication, or for the quickest proofing possible, transparencies were the way to go, eliminating the required printing step with print film, and giving printers an original positive which could be reproduced more directly, hence faster and with less generation loss. Journalism, editorial, and commercial work were shot almost entirely on transparency film. Look at the enormous number of slightly different transparency films that used to be available. It's sickening how many wonderful tools photographers had before digital that are simply gone forever for the next generations of film shooters.

    However, digital has pretty much destroyed these reasons. Anyone who needs a quick turnaround is using digital, and you have probably got to be doing quite high end work to get actual traditional analog printing done. Most printers will have the film scanned these days.

    Nowadays, the big advantage of transparencies is the tweaking you can do in development vs. print films, and how well they scan. Print films scan mighty well these days as well, so that advantage is almost gone.

    You can push and pull transparencies almost to the same degree you can push and pull black and white film. With print film, you lose significant pulling ability.

    Ilfochrome is alive. Please go to Freestyle and buy some stuff to help keep it that way!

    It is the way to go if you want shiny, saturated, contrasty color prints by default. No RA paper looks the same. The art in Ilfochrome really comes from masking, which is what you use to control contrast.

    The matte papers are now gone, but Ilfochrome labs will coat the glossy material to make it matte.

    Personally, I consider the final product and the quickness with which I need to realize it when making the decision. Also, film selections are an issue, with the fastest transparency film being ISO 400:

    - If I want to make prints relatively quickly, and RA will give me the look I want, I will use C-41 films.

    - If I need to have the option of pulling, I will use transparency film.

    - If the film will be turned over to someone else, I will use transparencies.

    - If I know I will never under any circumstances print the pix optically, but will be scanning, I will use transparencies (unless I need a high-speed film).

    - If I am working on a long term project that will probably be more publication oriented instead of gallery oriented, I will use transparencies.

    - If I want the unique Ilfochrome look, I shoot transparencies.

    - If I want to make an analog slideshow, I will use transparencies.
     
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  5. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    Ian, C-41 color negative films are the largest segment of the film market, followed by b/w and in last place E-6 transparency products. Are you sure you meant "c41 films are a very small segment of the market"? You can still get disposable cameras literally everywhere loaded with C-41 films.
     
  6. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Phototone, I believe from context that Ian meant that C-41 B&W films are a very small part of the B&W market.

    As to the rest: As Ian and others have said, Ilfochrome is the only "official" way left to make traditional direct optical prints from slide film. Other alternatives are digital prints, prints using internegatives, prints using a reversal process on RA-4 paper, and perhaps other oddball methods. What hasn't been mentioned is that Ilfochrome is now very hard to come by and is ridiculously expensive. A 25-sheet box of 8x10-inch paper at B&H costs $77.50. That much money will buy about eight times as much RA-4 paper. Thus, if you want to do it yourself, you should have deep pockets. The RA-4 reversal process is of course much more affordable, but you tend to get somewhat odd colors. It's best reserved for if you want a somewhat surreal look or if you happen to have an image with colors that work well with this process.

    More broadly speaking, negative and positive films just have different looks. You might or might not like the look of prints made from positive films, by whatever method. It's impossible for somebody else to predict your preferences, so if you want to know whether you'll like it, you'll just have to try it.
     
  7. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Oh yes, concerning B&W: It sounds to me, Jeffrey, as if you're doing your own C-41 processing. If so, you'll simplify your life if you start with a C-41 B&W film, since you'll be able to process it just like the C-41 films you're processing now. Ilford XP-2 Super is intended for printing onto conventional B&W paper, whereas Kodak's BW400CN is intended for printing onto RA-4 color paper. Either can be printed on the other type of paper, but they're a bit less than optimal that way -- the Ilford might be harder to get a good neutral color balance on RA-4 paper, and the Kodak will require longer exposure times and higher contrast grades on B&W paper.

    There are a lot more options for conventional B&W films than there are for C-41 B&W films, so in the long run, if you do more than a little B&W shooting, you'll probably want to at least try some of the conventional options.
     
  8. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    Even when Kodak made a reversal paper, it was never very good, so the MAIN way to get optical prints that look professional (other than Cibachrome) was with an internegative. The Kodak and Fuji internegative film was very very fine and capable of top quality results, particularly if one made an enlarged 4x5 internegative from smaller format original transparency, alas those products seem to be gone.
     
  9. Jeffrey S. Winn

    Jeffrey S. Winn Member

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    Thanks for all of the good advice. There seems to be a lot more to printing with slides then I expected. For now I think I'll stick with print film.

    Thanks again for al lof the good information!!!!

    Jeff
     
  10. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    If you have your printing done "out". Then printing from slides and/or negatives should be seamless to you. All mini-labs can print from 35mm slides. If you want to print your own, then you either have to use Ilfochrome print material and chemicals, or scan and print.

    The beauty of slides is that you don't have to print to view your film. The film you shoot in the camera is the final product. You can just pick the image you want to print.
     
  11. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    My belief is that the more competent and sophisticated the printing of a slide is in terms of making contast control masks, highlight masks and color correction masks etc. the more the print begins to look as if it were done on print film. Making and registering such masks requires much skill and equipment that can be hard to find these days. Making first rate internegatives is very demanding of a high degree of skill.

    To shoot transparency film is fun. Projecting transparencies is a nifty way to view your work. It opens an entirely different means of photographic presentation. Typically I believe that buying and having processed transparency film is more expensive that buying and having developed your print film without prints...negatives only.

    When it comes to making prints my opinion is that print film is the way to go.

    C41 is not overly hard to process yourself and should you choose to do so you could use the same chemicals to process your c41 b&w film. The problem will be cost effectiveness of using the chemicals before they croak on you.

    The results of using C41 B&W print film can be quite nice. It also offers quick and easy development at many locations. My preference for b&w is to use the conventional black & white film for printing. I too very much like the Fuji 160 print films.

    I have much less experience in printing in color than "forever". It will be a couple of years before I start my forth decade of doing so.
     
  12. vic vic

    vic vic Member

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    black&white is balck&film .. real one, not c-41 .. sorry , this is colorless picture to me... black&white is languege - it has its art side and its craft side ...

    about slides vs print ...
    if u wanna go from 35 to big prints (bigger than 30x40cm / 12x16 ) ... i think it is absolutly neccessary to use the best techniques. a optical enlarging can take it with negative film too, but if u r about scanning, then it should be the highest quality (imacon, creo and alike pro services).. here, a slide film (correctly exposed etc) is preferred, simply because it scans better rite from the beginning. but if u use the camera in more freely reportage manner, i think the negative has a bit more advantage even here, cause it is more flexible ...
    slide films that are very flexible (but still not as much as a good negative like fuji pro 160s for example) = fuji astia 100 and fuji provia 400X, the provia 100 and even velvia 100F are ok too ... but again, some accuracy is still required to make them shine and printable to that magnification
     
  13. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    The contrast control and any (usually optional) colour correction filtration is the hallmark of the Ilfochrome Classic (Cibachrome) process, founded in 1963. Contrast masking is necessary for high contrast films such as RVP (Velvia); it is also used to negate scratches on the slide i.e. in clear sky area. True, the process requires a lot of skill and experience: my printer has been doing it since working at Ilford UK in 1970!

    Contrary to an earlier thread that prints can be made from trannies by scanning them, the Ciba process has absolutely no scanning anywhere, so the resulting print is as close as physically and colourimetrically accurate to the transparency as can be. The Ciba process has no K (black, hence the contrast masking) only C/M/Y channels so the result is very very different if the tranny is scanned and then imported into a computer: at a basic level, the colour space does not match as trannies (e.g. Velvia) has quite an extended gamut while RGB monitors do not.

    I believe Ciba media (traditional mylar-based media) when framed to a museum-grade conservation standard, has a mean storage life of 700 years (that is, matted with cotton rag mat, UV-retardant glass and vac-sealed). None of us are going to be around then, but hey! There's nothing wrong with leaving a lasting impression! :smile:
     
  14. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    My references to the skill level required were intended to be cautionary for the person wishing to do their own printing.

    If someone else is doing the work for you the I believe that the investment shifts from the learning curve to wallet.
     
  15. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    They're not doing all of my work. I have 7 years' hands-on experience with Cibas working with the printer, and have made at least 17 / 30x45cm cibas at material cost only (usually $180 for 30x45cm, then add another $152 for matting+framing...). Unfortunately, I cannot be in two distant places at once and often the studio or location keeps me grounded; but the printer still has 4 pages of technics and instructions to work through! :smile: It took 4 months to get my last 30x45cm print done; the printer beavered away alone as I was overseas as an artist-in-residence.

    I don't know of anybody who does their own Ciba printing in this day and age. My old camera club in 1991 (long since folded) often exhibited home-spun cibas that caught my eye. The trouble is they were almost always let down badly by imprudent trimming, or shoddy matting; times have changed! My personal mantra is to treat the imaging holistically from conception, then start to finish and don't ever cut corners (that suggests avoid using digital and/or inkjet stuff). In my study I have 3 early RA-4 prints produced from RVP trannies in the mid- to late-1990s; nostalgic and scenically attractive as they are, they look positively bland besides Cibas from a later generation.

    I can only wildly imagine the cost of setting up for home ciba printing. What would that be??
     
  16. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    Slide film is much less forgiving than negative film, especially in exposure. It has higher contrast, and, the Fuji films especially, stronger saturation. It is also more subject to color casts (except Kodachrome). That means that you really have to have an excellent transparency to get an excellent print. The careful work that takes comes with practice, so your early adventures may be disappointing. For traditional prints, Ilfochrome (Cibachrome) is now the only possibility (unless you want to do alternative processes). I've used a little of it, and it is excellent material, and it is very easy to use. But it is expensive. You can scan slides and make digital prints. You still need a very good transparency to get very good results, but the process works well. I prefer negative film for prints, either traditional or digital. You have a greater variety of products to choose from to get the effects you want, and the contrast is not a problem. You also have a bit more flexibility in traditional printing. I find that digital printing is also easier with negative films.
     
  17. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    You could try Mr Robert Pace for someone who knows a bit about such printing and could advise you as to where else it may be done. Put on yoyr googles and go for it.

    Intriguing to me is the possibilty that PDJ can be at two nearby places simultaneously.
     
  18. marsbars

    marsbars Member

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    I have used all of the above mentioned printing methods. The Cibachrome is the way to go but expensive and harder to find. My local lab used to do inter-negative work for me and the results were very good. Almost as good as the Cibachrome. But as of late I have use the hybrid method. I scan them and upload them to an online printer. And for the most part I get really nice prints all the way up to 12X18. It is time consuming to scan at the highest resolution but it does work. I prefer slide for the tight grain and the usually more saturated colors. But the cost per roll has pushed me to print for the most part.
     
  19. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    What is needed to print slides.
    The first thing that is needed is to be realistic. Yeah, I know. It cost little to have verbal wet dreams about doing this or that. Sure it would be fun to modify a Hammerli single shot 22 freestyle pistol that is capable of extraordinary results and to turn it into a 45 auto. Sure been there and done that if one is asking if I ever had ideas of doing some wonderful and allowing it to run out of my mouth and down my chin and across my lap.

    Here is what I believe would be helpful...actually pretty damned necessary to approach the best that R printing offers. I am assuming that one already has a darkroom and enlarger with at the very least a filter drawer.

    A film punch to cover the required sizes. Condit mfg, prior to leaving the field of battles to the computer and scanner made these. I have one that will fit sizes from 35mm thru 4x5. Graphic supply houses mostlikey still offer some brand or the other of them. These will punch holes into film to register allow for aligning masks.

    Pin glasses in each film size being used. This is a set of small pins set into glass that will match the holes from film punch. A transparency that has been punched could be put upon these to produce masks when film is used with it in the dark and developed.

    A good manual so that you can get a small inkling of WHAT THE HELL YOU ARE UNDERTAKING. THIS IS NOT CHILD'S PLAY. Robert Pace's book Masking for Photographic Processes is a good starting point. 10 years ago he sold copies of this book which he has self published for $46.00. It is a goldmine of information that will not impress on first sight. Mr Pace is in his 6th decade of being an America Icon at doing this and an all round very nice man. Please do not waste his time. If you are in contact with him Please...MOUTH SHUT...EARS OPEN when he is talking. He had for years produced a newsletter that costs $4/ issue the last time I knew of its price. If you can, buy a full set. He has written a book on printing Cibachrome and printing it to a high order of quality indeed. Last I heard $100.00 for a copy, it too being self published.

    SIT DOWN WITH THE INFORMATION WHEN YOU HAVE ACQUIRED IT. READ IT OVER AND OVER DURING THE NEXT TWO YEARS UNTIL YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE EMBARKING UPON AND WITH WHAT VEHICLE ARE YOU GOING TO USE GET TO WHATEVER PORT YOU ARE GOING TO STORM.

    Not willing to do that? Hmmm? Want the 10 minute solution to becoming the new photographic lab hero? WELL THAT IS JUST TOO DAMNED BAD. AINNA GONNA HAPPEN.

    Want some good advice? Yeah? Stick with very high quality C printing.
     
  20. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Our own JD callow still does Ciba/Ilfo. He might have some good insights. There are a few labs, Elevator for one, that still print as well. If you have never seen a good ciba, well, you just have to see it to believe it. I have one Callow print that knocks the breath out of me, and has a similar "wow" effect on everyone who sees it. They ask "did you shoot that?" and I have to say no, it's from my carazy colour hero man.
     
  21. Thanasis

    Thanasis Member

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    Yep. If you have a transparencies that you love and want to see enlarged into prints, the Cibachrome process is unsurpassed and worth the extra money in my opinion. It will be a sad day if this process ever dies out.
     
  22. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Go to Freestyle and BUY BUY BUY! We are lucky they are offering the stuff, as it is a pain to get. I used to have to get a lab to get it for me, cuz BH won't ship it. It is quite a tragedy that it doesn't keep well either.