Beginner's question: 35mm colour film pictures turn out very dull

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by rookie, Mar 4, 2013.

  1. rookie

    rookie Member

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    Hiya,

    I'm very new to film photography and have only developed a few 35mm colour film rolls shot with an Olympus XA. The first two roles turned out lovely, I had them developed at Jessops. With Jessops closing down I brought another colour roll to some Kodak Express shop (£12 a roll, geez!!) but they all turned out very grey-ish and dull.

    34880026.JPG

    I know there are probably dozens of reasons how this can happen, but is there maybe a common mistake that causes this dullness? I had a look on google but couldn't really find anything about it. Or can this come from developing the pictures wrongly? I could more or less fix them in photoshop but then that's not really the point of analog photography...

    Also, are there any shops you can recommend for developing films in the UK?

    Cheers!
     
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  2. F/1.4

    F/1.4 Member

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    You need a new lab. Quality = cost. I'd find whatever your country's equivalent to Richard Photo Lab is.

    I don't know who scanned this for you, but it is just abysmal. God knows what the chemistry looked like.
     
  3. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Member

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    Are you showing us scans of the prints they made, or are these scans the lab made? I ask because bad scanning can cause the muddy look. It can also be caused by underexposure (your fault) or underdevelopment, or bad chemicals (lab's fault). The dust is a matter of the lab keeping things clean, which they didn't do well!
     
  4. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    My bet is they are scans, and the scanner operator is clueless. Not only is the film dirty, the black-point is set completely inappropriately. The film may or may not be fine, but you need to get it scanned elsewhere to know.

    As to UK recommendations, Ag Photographic is an APUG advertiser and they reportedly do quite good work.
     
  5. Ricardo Miranda

    Ricardo Miranda Member

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    As you are in the UK, how far are you from a Poundland shop? They sell Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200 for, you guess it, a £1.
    For development I recommend Snaps Photo services: http://www.snapsphotoservices.com/
    For buying films other than Agfaphoto, google Ag Photographic, Silverprint, RK Photographic, Mathers of Lancashire, Discount films Direct, Mailshots, Morco, Firstcall Photographic.
     
  6. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    I always use photo-express in Hull. http://www.photo-express.co.uk/

    Their prices are competitive, and their quality has always been good. If you get 35mm developed and scanned it's £4.50 and you get 6Mp scans. Films come back very quickly. As others have said AG also have a new developing service. Haven't used it yet. For buying films, AG, Silverprint, Mathers, and keep an eye on 7dayshop for deals, although they aren't as competitive as they used to be due to the VAT changes.

    Don't get disillusioned - buy good film . I'm not too sure about the poundland stuff, might be really good, or might not. If I was starting out I would be using top quality to begin with to make sure bad film wasn't a factor in my photos, and to set a benchmark. Ektar or Portra are suggestions. get the lab to scan - you will never do it yourself as well as they can, and try and get 3000x2000 scans.

    here is Ektar 100 developed and scanned at photo-express

    helford_850.jpg
     
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  7. Ricardo Miranda

    Ricardo Miranda Member

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    Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200 is Fuji C200 repacked. Cheap, but good!
     
  8. rookie

    rookie Member

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    Thanks a lot for all the help and tips! I'll try out a new lab see how that goes.

    @chriscrawfordphoto: No these were scans the lab made onto a CD...
     
  9. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    Probably fine, but C200 was a budget alternative to even Superia 200 (which I use, and is definitely a good film). It's no longer manufactured, nor is Agfa Vista+ 200 listed anywhere. It's fine to use end-of-line budget films from discount stores, but I still suggest spending a little more on premium brands initially. That way you know that bad images are not the result of bad film or bad film storage. Once you have a baseline, use any budget film and if it turns out good, it's good!

    For me, I would rather load known-good film bought from a mainstream outlet, which I know has been stored properly, than save £3-4 and risk taking all the time and trouble shooting a whole film on a budget roll, only to regret it when the images come back.

    @Rookie. the XA is a great camera - one of the best small cameras, but as a compact you don't really have the scope to be creative with depth of field, and camera shake on a compact is always a greater risk than on a larger camera. I suggest complementing the XA with an SLR. Check out completed listings on fleabay for Minolta X300's (IMO one of the best cheap SLRs out there) and you'll see many get sold for <£20, One kit sold for £1.36 plus postage!! Try and find one with the 50mm F1.7 lens and you won't be disappointed!
     
  10. Ricardo Miranda

    Ricardo Miranda Member

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    Still manufactured, not end-of-line and sold in various retailers: http://www.silverprint.co.uk/ProductByGroup.asp?PrGrp=265
    http://www.discountfilmsdirect.co.u..._em____Plus_____em_____Colour_Print_Film.html
    It normally retails at £2.20-£2.45 in mainstream outlets. It is an older generation of Superia. Here you can see a comparison between the current Superia 200 and the Agfaphoto offering: http://keefmarshall.posterous.com/agfa-vista-plus-200-vs-fuji-superia-200-edge
    I agree that it is better to use a good quality film such as Ektar or the Portra range. But, today's films, even the budget ones, are the best we ever had.
     
  11. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Transpacolor and Peak Imaging are worth a try for processing.


    Steve.
     
  12. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Also, Tudorcolor film is thought to be Fujifilm.


    Steve.
     
  13. landscapepics

    landscapepics Member

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    Choice of film

    I read recently in a newsletter from Firstcall-photographic, that Fuji are ending deals to manufacture film for other suppliers. So when existing stocks run out, the only way to buy a Fuji film will be to buy a roll that actually says Fuji on the label.

    The way I use the cheaper films is just to use them when first testing out a new-to-me old camera. Once I can be sure there are no light leaks and the shutter, aperture, and wind-on mechanisms are working, better quality film will be used. I don't use film cameras to save money and increasingly believe that if an image is not worth using a first-tier film on, it probably isn't worth pressing the shutter.
     
  14. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    I stand corrected.

    I totally agree.
     
  15. rookie

    rookie Member

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    @mr rusty: Yeah, the first two rolls I shot with the XA were great, I really like that little camera. And I always thought there's no depth of field at all with compact cameras but I took this shot with it and thought maybe, with some practice, it is possible to some extent:

    garden.jpg

    (I actually wanted the flowers in the front to be sharp, that didn't work out haha, but on the top right you can see some blossoms that are nearly sharp. That is what you ment by playing with the depth of field, isn't it?)

    I do have a Minolta X-700 as well which was my dad's old camera! My boyfriend has used that one before and shot some awesome pictures with it. I tried it as well but firstly somehow managed to shoot on ISO800 which I think is the reason they were so awfully grainy... A bit embarrassing really, haha. Secondly I brought that film to Boots to develop and their machine broke down during the developing process so they only developed half of my pictures and their colours looked quite awful as well (I used the same film as my boyfriend did when he shot his ones that looked fine so it shouldn't have been the film).

    Thanks again for all the help! I'm definitely going to buy some proper film and see how that goes.
     
  16. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    There is always a "depth of field", but the smaller the camera the bigger it becomes for a given aperture - hence the reason why single use cameras can get away with no focussing system at all - at a small aperture on a very small camera the DOF is from a few feet to infinity.

    If you have an X700 you're good to go for any eventuality.

    If you shot 200 film on an 800 setting, the film lab would have still tried to get an image even though the negs were significantly underexposed. Flat, grainy images would definitely be the result!

    Lots of recommendations here for other labs. Not saying boots or whatever are bad, but I think you have more chance of consistent quality using one of the mail order companies. It does seem that high street labs are getting a bit variable depending on who is operating and how well they are maintaining the kit.
     
  17. Ricardo Miranda

    Ricardo Miranda Member

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    It seems so!

    Thanks for the info! I'll have a look at what actually Fuji Japan is saying.
    BTW, Fuji just announce new packaging design for its Pro products, or at least some of them!

    True! But, as I said, the old distinction between first-class and second-class films is getting blurry. We never had such good films and with the ongoing shrinking of the film choice, I am glad we still have that choice. Remember, different brushes, different strokes. And to get a particular effect, you might want to use a budget film. As an example, I use Lucky Colour 100 (discontinued last Sept.) as it has soft colours and a 60's feel. Others have found out that Rollei CN200 creates a look reminiscent of the Technicolor films of the 40s.
     
  18. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Here I go again... That X-700 is part of one of the best camera systems ever made. With a little more knowledge and practice, you could have used the manual controls, through-the-lens focusing and depth of field preview to get that shot just the way you wanted. The XA is one of the best pullitoutofyourpurseforaquickshot cameras ever, a forerunner to today's digisnappers, but if you're serious about getting real high-quality photos, start using that X-700. I have 3 X-xxx bodies and they are much better cameras than I am a photographer.
     
  19. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    I would check that the camera lens is clean - the first thing that came to my mind when viewing your example was 'fingerprint'. The design of the XA makes it very hard to keep fingers off the lens.

    The next cause of blah color prints is underexposed negatives. Compare the negatives from the blah roll to the good roll - if the blah negatives are thin then the camera may have been set for 400 speed while loaded with 100.

    Low contrast can be a result of the camera (or film) sitting in the hot sun or a car glove compartment.

    The very, very, very, very last things I would expect to be the cause are that the manufacturer can't produce film or that Kodak can't develop it. Switching labs or films won't fix the problem.