Color films today

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Donald Miller, Jun 10, 2006.

  1. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I have found that some subject matter here in Arizona just cries for the use of color. It has been well over twenty years since I last shot and printed color.

    Considering todays materials, what film would you recommend if you were shooting for prints only in 4X5 and 6X4.5? Is there a definite advantage to shooting transparency with todays materials? It seemed from what I remember that contrast on prints was a real problem when I last shot Kodachrome. I understand that Chris Burkett still masks most of his stuff today.

    Who beyond West Coast Imaging does a really top notch job of printing today? Do they do film or just printing? Is their process digital output or still traditional?

    Thanks for any insight that you can offer.
     
  2. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Hi Donald,

    I only use Velvia these days (big surprise), because I can't find any other film that has the capability of capturing the nuances of color that I can get with it. But, you have to work with its saturation - which I find pleasing, but some do not. The other choice of film, that I occasionally use is Provia 100F. It isn't as saturated, the colors are quite good and it is a very sharp film.

    I use West Coast Imaging primarily, and they are a top notch printer - used by people like Jack Dykinga - but not cheap. Others I could recommend would be Calypso Imaging. However, I was really blown away with the work that I have seen Bob Carnie and his Elevator Gallery on Toronto do on Ilfochrome - I would like to use him more in the future. BTW, West Coast Imaging does not develop film, it only prints them. I have heard of one printer in Flagstaff that prints Ilfochrome optically, but now days most color work is printed digitally.

    Christoper Burkett does extensive masking for his images, that is the nature of optically printing Ilfochrome. By going the Chromira, LightJet or Lambda contrast is controlled a different way.

    I hope this helps,
     
  3. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Donald I would certainly recommend that you try Kodak Ultra 100 or Fuji 160s or 160c befiore making a choice. The built in masks are very helpful in color correction and making high subject contrast variations easier to live with.

    Of course in the end it comes down to what you like and what you feel works well for you.
     
  4. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Donald,

    My own feeling is that colour works best when used as a blunt instrument, at which point Elite Chrome EBX ISO 100 is pretty good. But I have to confess that nowadays I scan slides rather than making Cibas.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  5. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

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    Weldon Color Labs is another place in LA area. There is also Chrome in San Diego. However, I think they are largely Chromira, LightJet, or Durst Lambda. When going with those types of printers, the advantage of shooting a transparency is that the colour is there for the lab to see.

    You can reduce contrast by having pull processing done, though you also lose a little of the saturation. The most saturated transparency films are Fuji Velvia and Kodak E100VS, with the Kodak being slightly higher contrast. Personally, I like what I get from E100VS, but it can be too much for some people. Kodak E200 is medium to low contrast, and medium saturation, though not available in 4x5. Fuji Astia 100F is more natural rendition, though medium to high contrast.

    Colour negative is another direction. If you want enlarger prints, rather than the others I mentioned, that is the only way to go. I think Toronto Color Works (name? anyone?) that Edward Burtynsky owns is one place that does very high quality enlarger prints, though they too seem to be moving more towards other chemical print methods and equipment. In film choices, the newer Fuji ISO 160 films seem to have impressed many people, and some other people like Kodak UC films. I rarely use colour negative films, but I though Kodak 100UC worked nicely at roll film sizes (I have not tried it in 4x5).

    I guess a lower cost way of finding out would be to try some films in your 6x4.5 camera. Some of the 4x5 colour films are a little pricey, though I did manage to get some short dated Astia 100F in Quickloads for about 1/3 the new cost quite recently.

    Ciao!

    Gordon
     
  6. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    If you can get exact exposures and want exaggerated color use slide film, but if you want exact color and wide exposure latitude use negative film.

    The Kodak Portra negative films are best in their class IMHO, but I agree that the Fuji reversal flims seem to have an edge. The Kodak G series reversal films are quite good though.

    The new 800 film just introduced by EK may be among the best for grain at 800 speed with good color and latitude, but I have not tried it yet.

    PE
     
  7. Petzi

    Petzi Member

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    I shoot mostly Fuji NPS (now Pro 160S) and NPH (now Pro 400H). Both have very good color rendition.

    If your final result is going to be a print, use should use negative film imho.

    If you even think of shooting anything handheld, you should use the ASA 400 film. You will get better results.
     
  8. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I agree

    I agree with Claire, I'm a big fan of Fuji Pro 160S and 160C and would recomend you try them Donald, I think you will be surprised how much colour films have improved in twenty years, and how well particularly 160S handles contrast.
     
  9. Helen B

    Helen B Member

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    I use mostly Fuji Pro 160S (which is not the same as NPS) and 100UC for landscapes because I like plenty of shadow and highlight detail, and natural colours. The Pro 160S is available in 220 and 4x5, so I tend to use that more than 100UC which is not available in 220 or 4x5. Porta 160NC isn't bad either, and it might suit optical printing more than the newer films.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  10. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Thanks everyone for your insights and direction. Certainly gives me something to work with.
     
  11. Eric Leppanen

    Eric Leppanen Member

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    Hey Donald,

    If you decide to work with WCI: when I last spoke to Rich Seiling, he was very much in favor of using transparency film versus print film where possible (scans better IIRC), and Provia versus Velvia due to the increased shadow detail ("we can make Provia look like Velvia, but not vice versa"). Rich does carry some Portra 160 with him for his own shooting, but uses it only when contrast exceeds what chrome film can handle.

    I shoot Velvia when I can, Provia when I must, and print film when I have no choice, and this seems to mesh well with WCI's workflow.

    Best regards,
    Eric
     
  12. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Eric,

    It is good to see someone else here that uses WCI. I've used them for the past couple of years and really like their work, and the workflow works perfectly for me. I've had them make prints for me as large as 30x40, and was very satisfied with quality.

    FWIW, I only shoot Velvia or Provia. I never shoot color negative film.
     
  13. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Another attraction of shooting slide film, if you want to work with WCI and treat them like a regular lab, is that it's self proofing. I just tell them "match the slide" or give the same kinds of instructions I would give to a conventional lab (dodging/burning, color correction in CC units, "this detail has to be sharp," etc.), and they do it.

    I like Provia 100F and Astia myself. Velvia 50 was usually too saturated for my taste. I haven't tried Velvia 100F yet.
     
  14. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I'll set some (Velvia 100) aside for you when you come over here, so you can try it out.
     
  15. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Thanks, Robert.
     
  16. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

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    OH MY GAWD, Donald. You can't be serious! You'll be just another calendar photographer out there shooting pretty photos with absolutely no artistic content in them!!

    :^))

    Welcome to the colorfull side of the Force, young Master Miller...

    Anyway, I suggest getting a box each of Fuji Velvia 100, Provia 100F, and Astia 100F and compare. I use Provia almost exclusively, but do carry some Velvia for flat lighting situations, like cloudy days. I like the look of Fuji transparencies better than Kodak when I did comparisions in the past, and it seemed like Kodak would constantly change their 4x5 film offerings more than Fuji did, so there was much less learning new film stocks with the Fuji route...

    Good luck and better break out that spot meter.
     
  17. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Personally I don't like Velvia - it tends to oversaturate the greens so that everything looks the same. Since summer in Norway is a million different shades of (quite saturated) green, I prefer films with mid- to low saturation. Then later in the year I go to more saturated films like E100VC to emphasise the reds and yellows.
     
  18. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Think "warm polarizer" ... and see what you get. I live on a tropical island, and everything is green year round, and it works for me.
     
  19. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    For sheet film, I've been using Ektachrome Plus (EPP) with pretty decent results. EPN is just about as good. My choice is mostly been based on what is available or on hand. For medium format I like Kodak 100UC the best with 400UC falling slightly behind. I like these films very much, but 100UC is not available in sheet sizes or 220 (400UC is available in sheets and is a possibility). Kodak 160NC has excellent color, but Western scenics need a bit more punch than it gives. I disliked the old Velvia 50, but the newer Velvia 100 (_not_ 100F) may be a good film for this use.
     
  20. davetravis

    davetravis Member

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    I suggest you shoot some neg and some slide. Have both drum scanned to print at 300 ppi, print each on Fuji Crystal Archive, and each on Ciba.
    Compare and choose what you like.
    On the show circuit guys sell a gazillon of the Fuji as "more natural" color. My Ciba's tend to be "expressive," and highly saturated.
    Good luck.
     
  21. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    The only film made that I like more than 400TMax is EPY, aka Ektachrome 64T. Just something else for you to consider. They make it in 4x5 Readyloads, BTW.
     
  22. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

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    Good afternoon,

    I have been curious about 64T in Readyloads, since I mostly shoot Readyload (or Fuji Quickloads). My question to you is if you have used this for night exposures, especially urban (city) night exposures? Currently, I am using E100VS for those. I have considered Tungsten films since reading about the new low grain Fuji emulsion, though Kodak 64T would be an option for me. Thanks ahead for any insight.

    Ciao!

    Gordon