Help choosing 35mm color film roll: Quality of Fuji Superia?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by staphkills, Jul 19, 2010.

  1. staphkills

    staphkills Member

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    Hi all,

    I've just recently jumped into film photography, and I need some advice on which 35mm color film I can use on my Nikon F100.

    I've recently been looking into the fuji Superia 400, and it seems pretty cheap for my first batch of film I will be shooting. Has anyone used it before? How was the quality? If it's horrible, could you please suggest a economical (but decent) film?

    Thanks!

    -Jeff
     
  2. Galah

    Galah Member

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    Well, I'm no expert, but I use it a lot and have always been satisfied (6"x4" prints only) :smile:
     
  3. andrewkirkby

    andrewkirkby Member

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    It's all relative for what you want to do.

    Superia 400 is a decent film and i have used it a fair bit for general purpose photography.

    I use colour slide films (Kodachrome, Fuji Provia 100F, Velvia 50, Kodak E100VS/E100G) for most things though. I prefer the colour but they are not as forgiving as negative films (like Superia).

    I like Kodak Ektar 100. It's cheap and provides excellent colour - maybe give that a try too! :smile:

    Best of luck Jeff,


    Andrew
     
  4. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Fuji Superia (especially Superia Reala) is excellent film at all speeds, except maybe the 1600. In my opinion, the 800 underexposed looks better than the 1600 properly exposed. Superia is also very affordable.

    One suggestion I would make if you are doing "serious" photography (meaning shooting for high-quality prints that are likely series oriented, as opposed to tiny, automatic-printed, perhaps-scanned, random shots) is to buy the professional version of Superia, which comes in 20-roll packs. (It used to be called a "Superia Press," but I believe they recently did away with that name, and now call it "Superia X-Tra in Press Package.") This ensures matching color balance roll to roll, and the film comes ready to shoot at the proper color balance. The qualities of the grain, sharpness, contrast, etc. is the same between the pro and consumer versions, but these things help with your roll-to-roll consistency.

    I assume you know that all professional color films should be frozen or refrigerated when not being shot or transported. This maintains their color balance much better than if they were stored at room temperature, thus this helps you to acheive matching color balance roll to roll and maximum shelf life from your film.

    Superia is available as 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1600, though the last two may be getting trimmed. (I am not sure, but they have been disappearing from major retailers' online catalogs.) I would start by picking one slow one (100 or 200) and one fast one (400 or 800), and reserving the 1600 for special circumstances in which really need to speed above all else (in other words, for cases in which it would look better than pushed 800), and you like (or can deal with) lots of grain and not a lot of sharpness. I'd pick the 100 and 400 if I generally shot in strong light, and never strayed that far into "dark" territory. I'd pick the 200 and 800 if I shot in and out of the shade during daylight hours or in dark conditions more often than not. (If I used a tripod all the time, I'd just pick one film; probably Reala.) The quality of the 800 constantly astounds me. The 400 is a tad cleaner, but not by much, and I find myself missing the extra shutter speed I get with the 800 more often than not, so the 800 is my standard 35mm color neg film. I don't often use medium speed 35mm films, because if I really want something to be extremely sharp and extremely grainless above all else, I usually just use a larger film format.

    IMHO, Superia Reala is really at the level of a pro emulsion, but for some reason it is not marketed as such. I think that it is the best medium-speed color negative film I have ever used, as far as all-around quality goes. However, it is expensive, and Superia 100 is not that far behind it in quality.
     
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  5. jpberger

    jpberger Member

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    Superia is pretty good--Good enough for Ralph Gipson anyway. imho better than kodak's consumer films. For a good time, try it overexposed by a stop or even two. The one thing I don't like about it are the often very ruddy skin tones-- it varies roll to roll. It's also much more contrasty than the pro films which can be a problem when you print depending on the look you want.

    Generally I think choosing a film is a bit like blind dating-- If you try a bunch of different emulsions you'll find one or two you like. Then you need to pick one and really figure out how to make it work. People can give advice based on the kind of things you shoot and how you want to print, but only you can figure out what you really like.
     
  6. alexmacphee

    alexmacphee Member

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    Superia is good film, and most of my colour negative freezer stocks are Superia. As someone else has mentioned, Superia 1600 is the least satisfactory, and is no better than Superia 800 pushed. I use a lot of Superia 800, for example at ice rinks or fencing salles, where flash is frowned on, and get very good results, bright, lively, and remarkably controlled in grain. The only thing to remember about the 800 is that it is not very forgiving of under-exposure, so a rating of about 640 is often more apt.
     
  7. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I use Superia 400 a lot and have no complaint, my last buy was a 100 rolls, great stuff.
     
  8. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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  9. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    A 400 ISO film wouldn't be my first choice for a general purpose film, but it may be that your preferences and intended use would make such a high ISO a good idea.

    If I were in your shoes, I would first determine what films are easily, conveniently and inexpensively available to me. Then I would decide on what lab would be processing my film. Finally, I would buy a small selection (2 or 3 different ones) of the likely candidates, shoot them all, and have them developed at my lab.

    If you are lucky, and the lab has people available who both know what they are doing and are available to talk with you, then you can talk to them about the examples you like and the examples you don't like, with an eye toward getting feedback about which films will suit you best.

    In 35mm colour print, I shoot Kodak Gold 200 mostly (plus some 800). I like the results.

    In medium format colour print, I shoot Portra 160NC and Portra 400NC mostly. I really like the results.

    For 35mm slide, I will shoot Kodachrome 64 until it is gone.

    For medium format slide, I shoot Kodak E100GX (while I still have it) and after that, Kodak E100G.

    Here are two examples - one is Kodak Gold 200:
    http://www.apug.org/gallery1/showimage.php?i=27297&catid=member&imageuser=6479
    the other is Portra 160NC:
    http://www.apug.org/gallery1/showimage.php?i=8463&catid=member&imageuser=6479
     
  10. I often use Fujicolor Pro 160-S or 160-C -- usually with an 812 filter -- and have been quite pleased with the results.
     
  11. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Fuji Superia is superb film, I tend to use the 200 rather than the 400 and it enlarges superbly, and is extremely sharp/fine grained.

    Ian
     
  12. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    I think the 200 and 800 are the nicest of the Superia films. Superia Reala is even better!
     
  13. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    As for buying film in general. It's really no fun to choose one and stick with it.... EXPERIMENT!

    If you start looking on eBay, local craigslist, and here on APUG, you can get quite a respectable stock of perhaps slightly outdated (but frozen/fridged) film and professional stock at that, usually cheaper than new consumer stock.

    It's fun to see the differences and eventually you'll find something that you like.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
  14. staphkills

    staphkills Member

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    Thanks for all the help!

    I'm a bit curious as to how the resolution works for film. From what I think I know, the resolution solely depends on the film and digital scaner. (is that correct?) So, if I decide I need to shoot with the superia, what is the max resolution I can scan without it getting blurry (assuming the film scanner is pretty good)? I was hoping that the quality of the shots would be comparable with a dslr. Would that be possible with the regular superia, or would I have to buy more pro films?

    Is there any difference in terms of resolution from the regular superia and the superia press?

    Again, thanks for the help!

    -Jeff
     
  15. jpberger

    jpberger Member

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    It's not a straight forward comparison. Film resolution peters out gradually, where as a cmos/ccd chip has however many pixels it has and that's it. It's also a question of colour etc.

    You really need to try it and find out whether or not it works for your purposes. If you are looking at scanned images at 25%-30% on screen gives you a reasonable aproximation of what a digital print will look like. This doesn't really predict what wet prints will look like in my experience.

    If you really care about resolution you'll save yourself a lot of trouble by shooting medium format, but If you want a colour negative film that easily out resolves the best in digital try ektar 100.


    The difference between the regular superia and the "press" superia is that the latter is cold stored for more consistent colour roll to roll. No difference in resolution as far as I know.
     
  16. staphkills

    staphkills Member

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    Thanks for the response jpberger.

    I guess what I mean by resolution size is that I want a film to be able to produce something more than postcard sized photos...I'm hoping that the superia 400 will allow me to enlarge some photos afterward (maybe to the dimensions of a printer paper or a small poster). Would that be possible?

    Is there any photos online of a photo shot with fuiji superia 400 scanned with a higher resolution film scanner? I'm hoping to get a idea of how my photos will look like after I scan the photos. I've tried to look on this forum, but I think I need to become a member to view the full size photos.

    Thanks for helping me out!

    -Jeff
     
  17. jpberger

    jpberger Member

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    8x10 is no problem. 11x14 if it's tripod sharp. I've done llx14 on fuji supergloss from 35mm superia 200 and it looks really good. But that is for my kind of photography to my standards-- your milage may, likely will, vary. You'd best inquire with the good folks at hybridphoto,com for all the scanner stuff. As I said before, you really have to try it yourself-- to many variables for anyone else to say what's going to work for your purposes.
     
  18. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I go up to 8x12 (and 6x9) with the Superia 800 routinely. I think it looks fine, but then again, I don't shoot it expecting it to be grainless. I am, however, always surprised at how well it holds up in an 8x enlargement. Pro 800Z will look much less grainy in the same size print, but the added smoothness also affects the sharpness to my eyes. It also has a very different rendering of color and contrast. It has a softer, subdued, painterly, almost "dream-or-fantasy-like" look, while the Superia 800 is more journalistic: gritty, and very realistic in terms of contrast and color.

    The great thing about Pro 800Z, at least to my eye, was that it was (no longer made, though still readily available) one of the few color films ever made that offered a combination of high-ish contrast and subdued/natural saturation. As I mentioned, this uniqueness combined with its soft grain make for an incredibly painterly image; especially once you start stretching the enlargements. It is one of my favorite films for "gentle" rendering of both landscapes and people. Superia 800 is the opposite to me: Crisp, gritty, and very plain ("straightforward," perhaps). I use the Superia 800 more than the Pro 800Z, just because of what I tend to shoot, but I still think that the Pro 800Z is one of the very most amazing films ever made, from an artistic standpoint and a technical one.

    Superia Reala enlarges to 8x12 without any visible grain at all. Just a little loss of sharpness if you stick your nose into the print, which goes away when you back up to a sensible viewing distance.

    Prints from Superia Reala in 120 format are a real thing of beauty. Boy, do I wish this film was made in sheet sizes.....
     
  19. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    Superia's good stuff and it's cheap. If you want to make the monster prints, though, Ektar 100 is what you want. It's probably the finest-grained film ever made.
     
  20. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    The problem with your question is that the answer is always "yes." It's possible to enlarge a 35mm negative, from any type of film, to the size of a billboard, or to project it against a skyscraper, for that matter. Whether you'd like the result is another question, and the answer to that is highly subjective.

    I've shot a fair amount of Superia in various speeds, and I've got a Minolta DiMAGE Scan Elite 5400 dpi scanner. I'd be happy to e-mail you a small number of 5400 dpi scans from Fuji Superia at various ISOs. (I normally scan at 2700 dpi, since higher resolutions are only useful when making pretty big enlargements.) Send me a PM with your e-mail address if you're interested. The scans are about 8-15MB apiece, in JPEG form.