Do any of the main manufacturers do a side by side image comparison of their films?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by ted_smith, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. ted_smith

    ted_smith Member

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    There's a lot of films to choose from for any given purpose. To see how it works for any of us, we have to buy a roll, shoot it and see what results we get.

    My question is do any of the major manufacturers (Fuji, Kodak and Ilford I am thinking of) make available some kind of "Image taken with Film A, same Image taken with Film B" side by side comparisons? I realise of course a screen display is entirely different to a real print, but it would help give a photographer a clue before they buy. Or do any of them even send small sample prints for registered members?

    For example, before PORTRA 160NC and 160VC were replaced by the new versions, how could a photographer tell what to expect from either before they buy? "More vibrant colours", as a description, is difficult to visualise sometimes.

    Ted
     
  2. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Yes, tests are run at Kodak comparing all films (B&W and color).

    I personally ran tests comparing Fuji neg and reversal, Agfa neg and reversal and Kodak neg and reversal color films (E6 and C41). I still have parts of the test here and use them from time to time as tests.

    They use up to 3 models and a MacBeth chart (Red fair skin, medium complexion and African American), usually all Kodak Girls that are unseen and unknown by the public.

    Exposures ranged from -2 to +2 stops and the processing was blind, Kodak did not know it was for internal use and the competition processed the films with no knowledge that it was Kodak. Of course, after the fact, I suppose everyone knew due to the nature of the pictures!

    The negatives were printed and evaluated by a panel and the slides were projected and evaluated. Some were also printed on Type C and R materials and on Ektaflex. I even had a set done on Ciba/Ilfochrome.

    Does this help?

    PE
     
  3. ted_smith

    ted_smith Member

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    PE - it definately does help. Are you able to provide links or something like that? Are these tests publically available somewhere, is my point.

    Ted
     
  4. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    The tests are not published. They are in internal reports only. I have no release to show any of the photos, but I could probably show "faceless" snips of parts of the pictures. This is pretty hard and labor intensive, so I have not done it so far.

    I can add that this kind of test using 3 manufactures color negative allowed us to test the printability on Kodak color papers and it helped us adjust spectral sensitivity to give optimum results. The use of a broad spectrum of racial types allowed us to adjust the films for these types. You see, at about that time, one of my technicians was African American and complained to me about the skin tones in prints of his family. We went over them and then took them to the right people for "adjustment" of the skin tones.

    PE
     
  5. ted_smith

    ted_smith Member

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    OK PE - well thanks for the information anyway. IanC has also replied by private message saying much the same and that such comparison in magazines are not really in demand due to the ris of digital. A pitty.

    Thanks anyway guys

    Ted
     
  6. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Once something gets in magazine or brochure print, or onto the web, most of the valuable nuances
    regarding hue and contrast are largely lost anyway. I always to my own comparison testing,
    under exactly the same standarized conditions, using a MacBeath chart, color temp meter, etc.
    Then once the standardized transparencies of color negs are made, this allows comparison tests on
    different papers, with and without masking etc. But if you know how to read between the lines,
    Kodaks marketing comparisons are pretty valid regarding saturation, contrast, and application. Better
    still, compare characteristic and dye curves if you're accustomed to that. The trouble nowadays is
    that you can wade thru all kinds of web nonsense like Flikr or quickie products reviews that only
    tell you how incompetent the photographer is, or what kind of scanner errors he was good at. Another reason I prefer to print direct optical. One less piece of nonsense to worry about.
     
  7. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Side-by-side comparisons are usually the preserve of fanatical editors and contributors of amateur photography magazines. Nowadays we have to think for ourselves, but that's OK; we learn a lot experimenting. Long ago, I think in the 1980s, Kodak had a publication comparing several films, among them Kodachrome vs Ektachrome, and something with Vericolour (which I used occasionally). Maybe PE has more info about this?
     
  8. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I know nothing about such a book. Sorry.

    All comparison tests between manufacturers were kept confidential as someone would inevitably "prove" we were dong something wrong either accidentally or on purpose.

    Our photos were often taken either with the same camera from the same tripod or using one of our dual or triple mount systems with matched cameras. The photographer was an outstanding man who died recently. He had used his daughter as model in one set of tests that I had kept. I was very happy to be able to return them to him before his death. He went out west to visit her and died a month after he returned.

    Brings back old memories! Sorry.

    But, the tests, even though not released, were done in good faith and with good methodology and had markers in the scenes to tell us what was what. It was very challenging to do and very rewarding.

    PE
     
  9. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    I definitely owned a small booklet published by Kodak comparing colour between Ektachrome and Kodachrome which I picked up (free) from a Kodak kiosk that was at that time printing Cibachromes (!) from slides. The booklet was from memory purely a comparison for consumers, certainly nothing scientific or likely to spill the beans to competitors, who at that time I think were Agfa and the emergent Fuji. Personally I never thought of Kodak doing anything "wrong" with emulsions e.g. Kodachrome vs Ektachrome, just that both emulsions had entirely different characteristics, with Ekta I recall being too blue most of the time, and KC being au naturel in its palette. <sigh>, so many memories of the good old days remain faithfully stored on slides shot on Kodachrome, but virtually nothing remains of Ektachrome...
     
  10. ted_smith

    ted_smith Member

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    What a pity. Those kind of booklets are the kind of thing I mean.

    What I'd like is, for example : "Here is a model in controlled lighting. Exposure A was shot with Film A, Exposure B with Film B and Exposure C with Film C", so that the wanting photographer can say "Oh, I see - so with Film A it would look like that, and B and C like that. Mmm, I'll try Film A", and then he can do his tests, rather than poking about in the relative unknown (as I do because I don't have the technical substance yet to read numerical data sheets and equate that to a visual image) by purchasing and exposing all 3 "test films", developing all 3 to only then arriving at the decision of "Ah yes, I like Film A"

    I feel a project coming on ;-)
     
  11. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Cheer up! Nowadays there are a lot less color films you need to compare! But I must say that Kodak
    over the years did a remarkable job getting neg films to work with a range of complexions, even if
    non-skintones fell off the end of the world at times. What it important to the specific "look" or signature of a film or paper is what it does wrong just as much as what it does right. What is idiosycratic for one application might be pure magic for another. And to figure that out, you need
    to spend a lot of time in the trenches, long enough at least for the film to be withdrawn from the
    market just when you think you've finally mastered it!
     
  12. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    This is essentially what we did Ted. Except the lighting was optimum for the scene (as much as possible) and the variations were the films and exposures as noted above.

    It is quite revealing.

    BTW, some samples were sent out for image stability tests as well.

    PE
     
  13. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Drew;

    Think of Portra for skin tones and Ektar for scenic or landscape. Then think of Gold for extremes. Just a thought.

    PE
     
  14. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    That's the bind I'm in right now - stuffing the freezer with Ektar, esp 8X10, since they've already stopped cutting it in sheet film sizes. It's a niche that's not likely to reappear in color neg film, since
    more skintone-friendly Portras and Fujis are going to be more popular and more likely to have
    continued availability from someone. Too bad more folks didn't learn how to use Ektar correctly.
    Sometimes the web disseminates bad info or a bad rap very quickly. Now I've got only a limited amt
    of time to figure out which film whill make the best internegs from masked trannies, but my guess
    is that it will be Portra 160, since the previous 160VC was prone to exaggerate things a bit. Again,
    a valid nonadvertised application which we just have to figure out on our own.
     
  15. Photo Engineer

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    Portra, pulled 1/2 stop makes an excellent internegative film.

    PE
     
  16. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Thanks Ron. I'll have to keep that tip in mind. Most of the time I'd be masking the chrome anyway to
    have my cake and eat it too, in terms of both contrast range and hue saturation. Last time I took
    a couple of specially contrast-modified 8x10 dupes intended for Ciba printing and contacted the
    internegs from these, and it worked superbly. With 8x10 you can go a fourth-generation printing neg
    and still hold remarkable detail even in a large print. But that's particular workflow is unnecessarily
    complicated for routine internegs. Just hope the supply of Porta sheet film is healty long enough for
    me to stockpile some. I've already spent way more film money than I wanted to, just with the other
    Kodak discontinuations, not to mention catch-as-catch-can dye transfer supplies.
     
  17. Photo Engineer

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    Drew;

    I think that 1/2 stop is too much as an absolute, now that I think about it. In terms of time it is about 15" - 30" less in the developer than the normal time. You have to adjusts for your exposure time and light source as well.

    I got this direct from EK engineers when they discontinued the interneg film.

    The light source must be daylight balanced. I use 100C + 30M to get that.

    PE
     
  18. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Yes, I standardize on daylight balance for this kind of thing. But I can do it very precisely due to my
    additive colorhead and other specialized gear. I'm still in the stages of fine-tuning; but so far it seems Portra is even better for this than the old Interneg film itself. Too many projects going on at once right now.
     
  19. timparkin

    timparkin Member

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  20. Photo Engineer

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    Well, the old interneg film had an upswept shoulder that was there to "fix" the toe of the slide film during the duplication process. As a result, you lose highlight detail when duping onto Portra when compared to the old interneg film. A masking step will help fix this.

    PE
     
  21. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Yeah, the curve shape is pretty simple to reconfigure with basic masking procedure, plus the contrast issues and certain color correction problems can be factored in too. But mainly, masking
    is what I'm already comfortable with. Interg work with Velvia can be a bit dicey though, due to
    the short scale and dye intensity of the original. Fortunately, I didn't shoot it a great deal.