Good films for shooting live shows / low light?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by viridari, Jan 4, 2009.

  1. viridari

    viridari Member

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    I'm weaning myself from the d****al teat and using film more and more. I'd like to start shooting some of the live music shows with my Canon EOS Rebel G and 50mm f/1.8 "nifty fifty" lens. Wondering which color and B&W films are especially good for this use. And please do share some relevant examples of your favorite film being used for live music!

    Note I am talking about small local venues, not big name concerts or anything like that.
     
  2. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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  3. viridari

    viridari Member

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  4. Excalibur2

    Excalibur2 Member

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    Well I got reasonable shots using Fuji superior color 1600 asa..... zoom set at 150mm f4.5 at about 1/30 sec (no support).

    A lot of camera shake even using a sigma 24mm f2.8 with 1600 asa inside a church.......using a f1.8 lens would certainly be useful.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Try push processing XP2 for B&W, it gives superb results.

    Ian
     
  6. mawz

    mawz Member

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    If your Rebel supports manual ISO setting, it's hard to beat HP5+ or TX400 pushed to 1600-3200. If not I'd go for Delta or TMax 3200 at box speed.

    I've tried Superia 1600, but I'm severely unimpressed with it. Awful grain, awful colour.
     
  7. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Ian Can you expand on this? I note in the Ilford info sheet that XP2+ can be exposed at EI 800 but Ilford recommends the same dev time whatever EI is used and EI 800 is the highest speed mentioned. All of this of course refers to C41 development.

    Are there ways of pushing XP2+ satisfactorily to beyond 800?

    Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Yes, I have the C41 dev times for push processing XP2 in the UK, unfortunately I only have the XP1 times with me here in Turkey.

    Ilford published times for pushing XP1, but a big problem with XP1 was the normal dev time was longer than conventional C41 colour films which caused problems with many labs. So XP2 was introduced and is more compatible needing normal C41 times, however Ilford dropped the push process times and no longer recommended it because they were trying to sell the film as being 100% C41 compatible.

    But XP2 can be push processed very easily as long as you do your own C41 processing, I used increased dev times for 800 EI & 1600 EI, I preferred not to push more than that. I may have some notes here - I look tomorrow, I'm 2 hours ahead of you :D

    Ian
     
  9. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Thanks Ian. This would certainly be helpful. I have tried D3200 at 1600 and it looks OK but I have some concerns beyond 1600 so a speed of 1600 would meet most of my requirements. A selling point of XP2+ that reviewers and Ilford alike "sell" is the ability to expose at different speeds on the same roll and this is clearly a plus point in its favour. In effect anything between 50 and 800 is said to be possible which covers a large range of lighting conditions. While the range of 50 to 1600 may be beyond a realistic goal when push processing is involved, it may be that 400 to 1600 is possible. It might be that 200 is finer grain than 400 in a chromogenic and 100 finer still but as the film is designed for exposure at 400 with very acceptable prints then I for one wouldn't have any real interest in lower speeds than this.

    Have you been able to compare negs and prints of XP2+ at 1600 with those of say D3200 at 1600?

    pentaxuser
     
  10. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    B/W: Ilford HP5, Delta 400, Delta 3200 or Kodak equivalents. XP-2 as well, though I don't like it's look as much as a standard b/w film, and it offers nothing that I can't get with a b/w emulsion. If you come into some cheap or free, though, I would have no qualms about shooting it. As far as 400 films go, for high contrast light, I like HP5. For very dead light, prefer Delta 400 or T-Max 400.

    Color Neg: Fuji Superia 800, or Kodak equivalent. Pro 800Z or Porta 800 work, but are more expensive and provide no practical advantages over the consumer films. Also, they are not as sharp as a consumer 800 film due to having softer grain. The only "Pro" film that I feel is worth using in these situations is Fuji Pro 400H. It has a very unique look and is quite different looking in low light than any film I've used. Very saturated, yet fine grained even with pushing. If you can get away with a 400 film in your lighting situation, I'd try some.

    Transparency: Kodak 320T - Best color film for this *by far*, but no longer made. Its only drawback is that you should use a spot meter with it so you can figure out your development instructions. Now, Provia 400x is the best option for a transparency film, though it is daylight balanced and will require major color adjustment to print, *if* you want white light to look like white light, which you may or may not want.

    For small local venues, I would start with the "3200" films, based on experience. If they actually have decent stage lights, you can do OK with a 400 film. The great thing about the "3200" films is that you can also get shots off stage that would be impossible with 400.

    I would not use Fuji Superia 1600 unless you need to. It is a useful film, but Superia 800 pushed is far sharper and less grainy.

    Do not use flash. Your pictures will suck, people will hate you, and good photographers will make fun of you.

    Also, do not overdevelop unless you need to. It can often be better to add contrast to a flat negative in printing than to try to tame it on pictures shot in contrasty stage lighting.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2009
  11. Excalibur2

    Excalibur2 Member

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    LOL As development of fast films has probably ceased, what other colour film would you suggest for low light.............If you set Kodak 800asa to 1600 asa would it be better?
    And the end result is what is important, something is always better than nothing and an extra stop (assuming fuji is a true 1600 asa film and not really a 800asa film) is always handy.

    BTW I disagree with you about awful grain, of course there is nothing worse than an underexposed fast film neg, but using the film with flash and there is no annoying grain on my 5X7" prints and would like to show a pic, but people in the pic would be recognised on the net, and don't think it proper I do so.
     
  12. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Just found the times for pushing XP2, I was using 8 mins @ 38°C in C41 developer for 1600 EI, I'd cut that for 800 EI to around 5½ - 6 minutes.

    I never used the Delta 3200 but did try Tmax 3200 & the Fuji 1600 but never liked them. I have Delta 3200 in my camera at the moment and used it in Athens to shoot some hand-held night shots over Christmas. You know where that roll came from as you were there too :D

    Ian
     
  13. eddym

    eddym Member

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    I use HP5+ at 1600, processed in Ilfotec HC, 1:31; or Delta 3200 at 3200 or 6400, processed in DD-X.
     
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  15. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    Apart from processing it yourself, it may be possible to get Ilford's processing service to push it.


    EDIT: Actually, their order form has a tick box for it: http://www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/20081114152130548.pdf



    Steve.
     
  16. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Thanks Ian. Can I take it that this was rotary processing? My guess is that trying to expose different frames at different EIs but using the push times for 1600 is probably self defeating in the sense that any benefit in a lower speed in terms of say better shadow detail is negated by what will turn out to be over contrasty negs at the lower speed? Or does it in fact work this way as it would in a trad B&W film? Ilford seems to suggest that anything from 50 to 800 is possible on the same film with standard 3mins 15 secs processing and this is a 4 stop range. So it prompts me to wonder whether using a 1600 push time wouldn't deliver better negs in those exposed at 400 where light conditions allowed as well as good negs at 1600. This would only be a two stop range.

    Have you tried this on the same roll or was your experience confined to exposing the full roll at the same 1600 speed.If it was the latter, what's your verdict on how much you lost in terms of a good neg compared to exposing at 400 or 200?

    I think I can safely take it that your verdict is that XP2+ pushed to 1600 wins over TMax 3200 or Fuji 1600. Are you able to describe the benefits compared to Fuji 1600 or TMax 3200?

    I'll have to wait until you have developed the D3200 to get your verdict on how it compares to pushed XP2+.

    I always think of processing at 38C as being a little more critical in terms of getting the temp correct than processing at 20C but it may be that XP2+ is slightly less critical than colour neg and push times means that timing to the the exact second is less critical.

    Another consideration in its favour is that XP2+ is available in bulk roll with all its advantages compared to single rolls of D3200.

    Many thanks for taking the trouble to answer these questions.

    A good day was the Ilford tour with fine companions in the group.

    Steve. I wonder if the push processing refers to XP2+ as well as trad B&W films. I might e-mail Ilford on this.

    pentaxuser
     
  17. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I always shot complete rolls when push processing and usually a few per session. I use inversion agitation for all film processing, and never had a problem with C41 or E6 at 38°C it's relatively easy to keep the temperature stable.

    To me the tones & grain of XP2 pushed were preferable to the Kodak 3200 & Fuji 1600 films,but I was using XP1/2 well before these fast films were launched so it was also a case of sticking with what I knew. I'll try & finish the Delta 3200 in the next day or so if the rains stop !!!

    Ian
     
  18. sidearm613

    sidearm613 Member

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    I would bring along a roll of Tmax 3200 (or Delta 3200) and a roll of 400 iso film. if the show is at a small club go with the Tmax 3200 and change the ISO around for what you need, it has great latitude and can be easily pushed or pulled. if the show is at a major venue you can go with the 400, assuming you can get close enough to not need to pull out canon's ef 1200mm....
     
  19. Excalibur2

    Excalibur2 Member

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    erm from the majority of postings, it looks like 35mm film cameras, without a tripod, are relegated to B/W for low light and then muck around with chemicals and a developing tank, what next? err well then scan the neg or print in a dark room.......Even the world's best salesman would have a job to convince Joe public on that one.....................hey I've a great idea for low light pics colour or b/w, why not get a DSLR with IS like the D700....(many a true word said in jest as I'm still a film user)
     
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  20. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    In most venues I use a tripod but not for still images only HD video, you need to be using a hand held stills camera for flexibility and it's the one time I prefer zoom lenses, they have to be fast with a maximum aperture of f2.8. I bought a Vivitar S1 70-210 early on and now use Tamron SP's on a Canon. Because I work directly for the bands record company I never need back-stage passes or permission to shoot/film etc and the venues know me anyway, but normally tripods aren't allowed, and often no video or SLR cameras.

    It's always important to take far more film than you plan to use as you never know what might happen. I shot a concert back in the 80's where Robert Plant was joined by an unannounced special guest Jimmy Page, Jason Bonham (john's son) was on drums and they let rip into a Medley of Led Zep numbers. Because I had spare film I managed t5o get some great images, I'd already shot 6 previous bands.

    Ian
     
  21. furcafe

    furcafe Member

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    My 2 cents.

    For B&W I like Fuji Neopan 1600 or Ilford Delta 3200. NP 1600 is my favorite B&W film, period, so I usually use Delta 3200 only for medium format, which I don't tend to use for shows. I shoot both as rated. It may be sacrilege here, but I don't develop my own film. I've had no problems w/local pro labs (now lab, singular) developing B&W here in DC or other major "photo" cities (NYC, London, Miami), but can't speak to the situation in Raleigh (NC?). Based on my experience, I assume they use Ilfotec, T-Max, or X-tol developers @ the standard times.

    For color, I would agree w/Excalbur2 that if you want color output, digital is clearly superior, but if you want to wear the hairshirt:

    C41: Fuji Pro 800Z @ 640 (but developed normal) or 1000 or 1250 (but pushed 1 stop) or Natura 1600 @ 1000 or 1250 (but developed normal). Natura 1600 is only sold in stores in Japan, but can be bought on the web via eBay or Japan Exposures. I think it's better than Super 1600 (finer grain, better color), but it may not be worth the expense for you.

    E6: Fuji Provia 400X pushed 1 or 2 stops, but per 2F/2F's warning in his post, it is a daylight film &, being a slide film, doesn't have multi-layered technology of Pro 800Z or Natura, so will be very, very red/yellow in your typical incandescent/halogen type lighting. If the club lighting is heavy on the stupid red gels (see below), forget it, unless you convert to B&W in post (which it does well, BTW).

    I wouldn't rule out flash, for fill, etc., if you know how to properly use it, as it may be your best option given the crappy lighting in most small venues, particularly if the club has a propensity for red gels, as most seem to do (red plays havoc w/both film & digital sensors).
     
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  22. viridari

    viridari Member

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    My first results are in!

    Last thursday night I went to the Black Flower in Raleigh. This is an intimate little joint, very easy to get close to the performers and nobody cares. The lighting is extremely dim, though, and aimed a bit weird (and of course gelled red). The musician brought his own white floor lights pointing up.

    I used a Canon EOS Rebel G with Canon 50mm f/1.8 "nifty fifty" lens. Film was Ilford Delta 3200 shot at EI 3200. I didn't want to process this film in Rodinal, the only developer that I have around right now, so I had the lab do these.

    Yes, I seem to have little hairy intruders on my flatbed scanner. Apologies.

    The Full Series

    Samples:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  23. nyoung

    nyoung Member

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    HP5 @ ISO 3200 in whatever push soup you or your processor likes. For color, lately, I've been getting very good results with Kodak Portra 400VC exposed @ ISO 1600 and given normal processing through the neighborhood mini lab. Shot two rolls of Portra and two rolls of Fuji Superia 1600 in the same venue at the same event, processed at the same lab and it was no contest. The Portra made better contrast, better grain, and better color than the Fuji. A long time ago - the 1980s - I had pretty good luck pushing 400 speed E6 Kodak and Fuji products to ISO 800 and 1250 or so. BUT I was hand processing small quantities in one shot chemistry. I tried commercial "push" processing through Kodak and others with indifferent results.
     
  24. viridari

    viridari Member

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    HP5 @ 3200? Wow... That I will have to try. Sounds like quite a push but I do love HP5 (and it is a bit cheaper than the Delta 3200).
     
  25. nyoung

    nyoung Member

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    Just a couple of caveats for HP5 3200.
    Know going in that you will eventually have to develop your own technique and the results will be dramatic.

    In the 1980s I shared a newspaper darkroom with a shooter who pushed hard in FG7 with added sulfite. I was an Acufine junkie in those days. We both routinely shot company provided Tri-X at 1600 and 3200. BUT curiously, neither of us could get useable results from processing the other's film at the high ISOs. Maybe differences in agitation patterns or some other subtle difference in our technique. Thus the caution that you will have to develop you own process.

    I switched to the HP5 when I left the company and started buying my own film because I think the highlights don't block as quickly in extended processing.

    It will give you much more contrast and "grit" than I see in your scans from your Delta 3200. You may or may not like it. Depending on harshness or flatness of the lighting it can get to be very dramatic - all highlight and very deep shadows - or (in flat light) just a grey/black mush. Its an all or nothing proposition.

    As I did more and more of this in the 1990s I came to favor very slow working developers - very dilute (2:1) or worn out D-76 - with long developing times - (20-25 minutes) - and very minimal agitation.

    Try it. If you experiment enough you'll come up with a look you like.
     
  26. Stock Dektol

    Stock Dektol Member

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    For low light in Black and White Ilford Delta ISO 3200 is great. The grain is big but, for some shots that's not a problem... as you can see buy those great shots above.