Good Fine-Grained Film for Portraits

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by hughitb, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. hughitb

    hughitb Member

    Messages:
    230
    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2007
    Location:
    Dublin, Irel
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Folks,

    I am about to start doing a portraiture project. I will be using colour 6x6 film and getting the negatives scanned and then printed. I want to make reasonably large prints - maybe 12x12 but possibly larger e.g. 16x16 depending on cost.

    They will be indoor portraits, lit with a combination of flash and fixed light(s). I'll be shooting them with a Rolleiflex. I have little clue really what I am doing and I have little or no experience with colour film.

    Can someone suggest a good film to use? I'm looking for fine grain, lots of detail and so on. I imagine more or less anything would do but thought I would consult the wisdom of APUG in case there are obvious ones to go for ...
     
  2. arigram

    arigram Member

    Messages:
    5,474
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2004
    Location:
    Crete, Greec
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
  3. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Sounds like a good question for HybridPhoto.com.
     
  4. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,961
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    Location:
    Melbourne, V
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    No its not a question for Hybrid Photo, fine grained and sharp film is fine grained and sharp film, which is the subject of the question, ie: he's asking about film.

    I really dislike the automatic responses going on here as of late soon as someone mentions their scanning even as an aside, its not helpful.

    OP:
    Fuji Pro 160S cannot be beaten imho.

    However you may want faster film for your lighting conditions, Pro 400H is good, as is the Portra 400 speed, and Kodak Ektacolor 160 ("Pro 160" printed on the emulsion) which I've recently tried, is the second cheapest 120 C41 film on ebay I've found, and is excellent (apart from trying to load it yourself for your own processing onto a plastic film.. need to wash/wet the film in the dark in water first, otherwise it jams and one side crinkles).

    If you dont need fast speed film, and if youre going to be scanning on a high end scanner (CoolScan 8000/9000, imacon/flextight etc) then use Astia 100f, it is gorgeous, you could also try the new Ektar 100, though I wouldnt go Reala 100 except for its low cost, as Pro 160S has the same resolution with slightly finger grain, according to Fuji, which I seem to agree with so far from my limited examination of the films.


    Even Pro 800Z will do you.
     
  5. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,608
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2004
    Location:
    DFW, Texas
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Perhaps 2F/2F was ,indeed, trying to be helpful; in that the folks at hybrid photo would have better answers. I know that I am certainly not the only apug member who simply has no idea what film would scan well.
     
  6. Mark Antony

    Mark Antony Member

    Messages:
    790
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2007
    Location:
    East Anglia,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    12x12 shouldn't be a stretch for 160 Portra /Fuji NPS 160 I like Fuji NPH 400 even though it will have a slight grain at the upper limit of your print size but as you're using flash I'd recommend the 160.
     
  7. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What a nonsensical statement that it is "not a question for Hybrid Photo". It is absolutely, 100%, no doubt a question for Hybrid Photo dot com, with no room for debate. It is perhaps and perhaps not a question for APUG, with plenty of room for debate.

    If you want to ask a question about a film solely for scanning purposes, it best belongs there. The final output always tempers the responses to film questions...always. The entire process must be considered to give an appropriate response. The answers may or may not be different due to the intended printing techniques.

    At any rate, the specifics do not matter all that much. I view it as a general matter of principle. Having the question in the right spot will benefit both Websites. It will clean up this analog retreat, and provide better answers to the OP, without these types of exchanges ever having to take place. This is not to mention the fact that it will increase traffic on that site, and add appropriate and valuable material to its archive. These are exactly why Hybrid Photo dot com is there in the first place. My initial statement was made to promote that Website as much as anything.

    This is not about judgment and persecution of hybrid technology...not at all. It is simply about proper categorization and archival for both APUG and HybridPhoto. Isn't it annoying when you go to look for something in a filing cabinet, and you keep coming across a bunch of stuff that is misfiled and in your way, because the bozo who worked there before you didn't know how to follow the most basic, simple filing protocol?

    ...and P.S. If you are going to make attitudinous statements about what you feel belongs and does not belong here, which we all should feel entitled to do to some degree, at least send in your bucks! It is only right. It is pretty low class of you, IMHO.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2009
  8. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,742
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Athiril,

    When the question specifically specifies scanning as part of the process it is off topic at APUG.

    A good film and exposure for use in an enlarger may not be worth a darn in a scanner. I don't know and don't care to know.

    Why in the world would somebody want an opinion on picking a film for scanning from a group that doesn't have that as a core strength?
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    20,252
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    most color films scan OK ...
    it seems that your lab might be scanning the film for you ..
    can you ask then what their suggestion would be for a good neutral
    color print film ? then shoot a test roll to see how it looks
    after they scan it for you and make your decisions from there ...
    your local lab/service bureau would be your local "hybrid photo dot com"
    and may be able to supply you with better answers.


    have fun!

    john
     
  10. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,070
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Fuji pro s... pro h if you need the speed. The fujis will handle the slightly mixed light quite well. 12x12 and 16x16 are not the slightest challenge for them or any other recent colour print film; pro h can handle that well too and you may actually prefer the contrast.

    In general, scanned colour print films will appear grainy in the shadows if you don't expose sufficiently. So... as usual, err on the side of slight overexposure.
     
  11. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    18,005
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Leaving aside the scanning aspects, I like Portra 160NC.

    Mixed lighting is asking for headaches (and if you think you can fix it in post, that's even more headaches), if you're in a controlled situation and don't need to shoot with mixed lighting, and if as you say you're new to this kind of photography.

    First you've got the issue of balancing flash and ambient light levels--aperture and/or power setting on the flash will control the flash level, and shutter speed will control the ambient level. You can think of whichever is greater as the main light and whichever is less as the fill light. A meter that reads ambient and flash makes this much easier. The alternative is a lot of testing and note taking, from which you'll learn quite a bit.

    Then you've got to match the colors of the lighting sources, and ideally gel the flash to the same color as the ambient, and then you might need a filter on the lens to match them to the film. If you've got three or more colors of light, it gets more complicated. You can use a color temperature meter, but it's expensive, particularly if it reads flash. You can also approximate based on generally accepted values for flash and tungsten, and if there are fluorescents in the mix, you can look most of them up in tables. You can also test, but if you want to see how the specific film responds to the light, this takes time, and if the exposure time is particularly long, there may be reciprocity related color shifts.

    Do you need an aspirin yet?

    Better to go with the available light to start with, if it's all of the same type and you feel you can use it in an interesting way, or use strobes with modeling lights so you can concentrate on the main issue of how to light the subject without worrying about the fussy details of mixed lighting.
     
  12. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

    Messages:
    3,107
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    OP,

    I've found the Fuji 160s better suited to mixed-lighting conditions than their Kodak counterparts.

    both are terrific films, with either my choice of 160nc(Kodak) or Fuji 160s. both are negative films. just remember though, that reversal(chrome) films generally have a slightly higher resolution, but less in the way of usable dynamic range.

    in the end though, you might want to ask this same question over at www.hybridphoto.com.

    blessings!

    Dan
     
  13. wclark5179

    wclark5179 Member

    Messages:
    503
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Color Negative: Fuji Reala

    When I was using slide film many a moon ago for wedding I made pics with Kodak Ektachrome X.

    B&W: Kodak TMX or Ilford Pan F Plus
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. fschifano

    fschifano Member

    Messages:
    3,216
    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    Location:
    Valley Strea
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Like David said, mixed lighting is going to be a pain in the ass. For the best color balance it is better to use strobes or continuous lighting, but not both. The exception would be to balance flash and ambient daylight, since flash is daylight balanced. I'm partial to Kodak Portra 160 NC, Portra 400 NC if I need the extra stop, for this sort of thing. Nothing at all wrong with the Fuji counterparts. It' a question of taste.
     
  16. wclark5179

    wclark5179 Member

    Messages:
    503
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    David is spot on.

    As I wedding photographer I'm always challenged by light temperatures because conditions vary as well as different temperatures of light. Even daylight temperature changes depending time of day and what's up in the sky. People give me weird looks when I have some lights turned off during certain times!

    However, some compensating can be done with the enlarger. But if you have two or more different temps. of light one is going to look different if you're after good color with the faces of your subjects. In my mind, I would use flash as the temperature is fairly consistent and once you have everything set up then you can rock & roll with each negative the same if you keep the lights as they are as color can vary from a lot to just a little as you increase or decrease power.

    That's where digital has an advantage as processing the RAW files has a pretty wide latitude with color correction. That's why constant lighting using fluorescent and now LED is getting some use as the temp can be adjusted in post if shooting RAW. Color correction can be worked on during making the image but I usually fine tune during process.

    Hope this helps you.
     
  17. hughitb

    hughitb Member

    Messages:
    230
    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2007
    Location:
    Dublin, Irel
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Because I am kind of dumb sometimes. Sorry about that.

    Look, I'm not trying to stir up a whole hornet's nest here. It may well be a better question for hybirdphoto.com but since I tend to post here rather than there, my immediate thought was to seek the, usually excellent, advice that I tend to get here. Apologies if some feel that was inappropriate. Maybe we can just forget I mentioned s******g which I only mentioned in order to try and provide as much information as possible.

    Thanks for all the tips about films. I have used Portra 160 before (for outdoor photography) and really liked the results I got so I would very much lean now towards using that if it is regarded as good for portraits as well.

    Thanks also for the information and thoughts about lighting. I'm going to have a think about that stuff in order to digest it a bit, and then will probably be back here with some more questions ....
     
  18. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,070
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hugh, the issue that is a hybrid question is how the scanner renders the grain. You will find a reference to how dye clumps and such are rendered... in short, the grain you see from a normal scanner is not the actual film grain but rather something a bit more clumpy. So there is a real reason why when people compare digital files to film scans, they are not doing the film justice.... most of these films were simply not engineered to be scanned (if they were they'd have no mask, for starters). Having said all that, again, your enlargement factor is quite small so I don't think it'll be an issue. If you flatbed scan and it is an issue then oversample (2x or 3x) at 16 bit per channel, do a quick grain treatment, then downsize and *poof* the grain will be gone. The film image contains waaay more info than you need for your enlargements. if you do a drum scan then the operator should know how to diminish the appearance of the grain via aperture selection. You can help him/her or yourself out by erring on the side of overexposure.

    Concerning mixed lighting, I do not agree that digital post processing fixes the issue... at least not entirely. There is a big difference between doing auto white-balance on a raw file (which has r,g, and b info stored separately) and doing the same thing on an image where the colour channels have already been combined and thus their colour renditions are already mixed. This issue is the heart of why raw processing has become de rigueur in the digiworld. Anyway this discussion can be had elsewhere, as noted....

    Anyway, my experience is that the fuji pro handles the mixed light like a champ.
     
  19. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,196
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Given the way the industry works now, I'd be very surprised if there is anyone on APUG who shoots colour, and who hasn't had at least some of their negatives scanned and printed.

    I get optical prints when I can, but from 120 if something is proofed for me, it will almost certainly have been proofed using scanning technology.

    For that reason, I think I can give a reasonably informed opinion on films and the question originally posed, because I've seen how the films I use respond to both workflows.

    If I had started this thread here, I'd probably have mentioned in my post that I would be checking at hybridphoto as well, but I wanted to get an answer from those who were more into optical printing as well.

    The Portra NC films perform well both ways, and give excellent results with skin tones, and wedding dresses :smile:.

    (By that, I mean they hold both shadow and highlight details well, and have natural colour).

    With respect to the question of mixed light sources, my advice would be to use the flash and/or light from the outside as your main light source(s), and try to make sure that any other source is both warm (tungsten) and considerably less bright than your flash and/or outside source.

    I would also suggest that you speak to your lab and ask them what they would recommend. When you do, be sure that you specify the character of what you are looking for. In my case, I'd be looking for the subtle colour and contrast that the Portra films and optical printing excel at providing.

    Matt
     
  20. Blacknoise

    Blacknoise Member

    Messages:
    66
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2009
    Location:
    Sheffield, U
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I second this, lovely film, one of my faves.
     
  21. hughitb

    hughitb Member

    Messages:
    230
    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2007
    Location:
    Dublin, Irel
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I don't think that light from outside is going to be an option in the places I will be shooting this. There are likely to not be any windows at all as it is going to be done in band rehearsal rooms. Have you seen any of these places? I've spent a significant portion of my life in them and they are almost all windowless horrible dumps (or at least the ones my band practices in :smile:) So, I don't think the mixed lighting can be avoided completely. I'm going to do a bit of reading about this colour balance business. All your comments have made me a bit more aware of the issues involved in this.
     
  22. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    18,005
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Ah, yes. In that case, I'd just bring enough strobes that you can ignore the ambient lighting. The strobes will very easily be at least 4 stops brighter than those dreadful fluorescents, and the ambient lighting will become irrelevant as long as your shutter speed is faster than, say, 1/30 sec., and you could even get away with slower, but there wouldn't be any reason to. Depending on the look you're after, you might want an edgier film than Portra 160NC, which I originally suggested. Ektar 100 will give you more saturated color.
     
  23. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,070
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There is an apt dutch phrase that comes to mind: waarom makkelijk doen, als het ook moeilijk kan? Why do it the easy way when you can also do it the hard way?

    At this modest size, 400 speed Fuji Pro H will be great and will handle the mix.
     
  24. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,961
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    Location:
    Melbourne, V
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Firstly, get off your high horse, that is immature and a pathetic dig at my character, and is not relevant in the slightest, secondly, you do not have a clue of my financial situation, if I trust or use any kind of online money transfer services or even have anything more than a debit VISA, or if I live in a totally foreign country that rules out other forms, nor do you know if I am even of age to be able to do so on my own, nor do you have any clue about my needs and uses of this site, how I feel about that, and whether I find it worthwhile, or if I find that its only 1 or 2 people deserving of what little money I actually get.

    That's a lot of assumptions to be making, and thirdly, is absolutely judgemental indignant attitude to be taking to someone you dont know a thing about.

    On Topic:
    It is background information he provided on what he will be doing it, which may garner extra tips, the most relevant information in the OPs post is lighting condition/location, grain structure and resolution of the film, this is the perfect place for that, if you cant answer that, dont post such a useless reply.

    The answer would be the same regardless if he mentioned scanning or not, because, well I actually continued reading the OP's post after the s word, and actually read what he was asking about, which is indicative in the title:

    Fine grained and sharp film for portraits in x lighting condition.


    Just because he happens to be scanning, does not make it a topic for Hybrid Photo, that is his reproduction method, but he is asking about film itself, I think that should be painfully obvious, I'm sorry that it's inconvenient for you for the word "scanning" to be seen in your precious home.





    So, you dont know and you dont care to know?

    Right, lets make this clear.

    The OP wants suggestions for fine grained and sharp film for portraits, it doesn't matter how he's going to transfer that to a useable image, that is irrelevant, it happens to be useful to mention background info and intentions for people asking for help or advice, since he doesn't know that much about it.

    Fine grained and sharp film for portraits is going to be fine grained and sharp film for portraits, stay on topic with your answers.

    You don't know and don't care to know about scanning, so dont bother trying to argue that it makes any kind of difference at all, because you don't know.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 8, 2009
  25. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_stop

    Can you clarify how it is not a topic for Hybrid Photo dot com? It would certainly be right at home there, so I don't get this stance at all.

    Like I said, 100% OK at Hybrid Photo...and who knows how much OK at APUG...therefore it definitely belongs at Hybrid Photo, which is what my post said in the first place. Saying that it does not belong there makes no sense, because even if it belongs here (which is open for debate), it certainly belongs there as well...and it does so more so and more definitely.

    Try reading what I actually wrote in both of my previous posts, and calm the hell down.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 8, 2009
  26. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,742
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    So am I sometimes. Grumpy sometimes too, didn't mean to take it out on you.