How fast?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by BetterSense, Dec 25, 2008.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    How fast can 35mm get?

    On my Christmas vacation to visit family I only took one camera, my Canon AT-1 with 50mm f/1.8 lens. I don't have a flash for it but I bought some Fuji Superia 800 film. So far it lets me take pictures indoors in most situations without dipping below 60 shutter speed but not always, plus at the lowest end the metering kind of fizzles out. The walmart 1-hour prints aren't excessively grainy if I expose properly.

    I'm starting to get interested in ability to shoot in very low light with no flash. If I could just gain a couple more stops it seems like I could shoot just about anything without a big and annoying flash. I know Kodak's website says Tri-x 400 can be pushed to 800 and 1600 with 'special techniques'; I'm not sure what that means. Is there such a thing as 3200 speed film? Even faster?

    The fastest lens I have is my Nikon f/1.4 which I calculated is about .6 stops faster than my 1.8, so there's not much room to get faster with lenses. How slow can you shoot rangefinder cameras hand-held? I can sometimes get away with 1/30 with my SLRs but that's the rock-bottom.
     
  2. Kvistgaard

    Kvistgaard Member

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    Tmax 3200, Ilford Delta 3200, Fuji Pan 1600.....
     
  3. mawz

    mawz Member

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    Tri-X can be pushed as far as EI 25,600 with the right processing. I've shot it to EI 6400 (10.5 minutes in TMax Dev at 24C) with good success. ISO3200 films are available as Kvistgaard notes

    The fastest SLR lenses are generally f1.2, 1/2 stop faster than f1.4, although there is the rare Canon 50mm f1.0L for EOS cameras. In Rangefinder land you've got lenses as fast as f0.95 and several f1.2 and f1.4 options (Including wides, Leica makes a 21mm f1.4). And you should be able to shoot at least a stop slower with an RF than a SLR.
     
  4. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Let's talk about fast lenses first, then we'll continue on to films.

    Generally speaking, the most affordable and fast SLR lenses fall between f/2 and f/1.4. Lenses with maximum apertures of f/1.8 are very common, very good, and usually fast enough. Lenses faster than f/1.4 command outrageous prices, and not all of them are good. Often the trade-off between speed and image quality balances in favor of speed and against high image quality. Do not go off half cocked thinking that a super fast lens is going to be your savior. It won't be. At maximum aperture, depth of field will be very, very shallow; often too shallow to be of much use. And that does not even begin to address the issue of the appallingly poor image quality some of these super fast lenses deliver at wide open apertures.

    There are a few B&W films faster than the common ISO 400 offerings. Among them are Kodak's TMZ (TMax P3200), Ilford's Delta 3200, and Fuji's Neopan 1600. None of them are truly box speed. Kodak's TMZ and Ilford's Delta 3200 films have nominal speeds at around 800 to 1000 depending on the developer used. Fuji does not publish these numbers at all for their Neopan 1600 offering. ISO 400 films like Tri-X, HP5+, and others can be push processed (the special procedures you read about) to make the most of low light situations, but this is no panacea either. Push processing itself is fairly straight forward and involves no more than extending the development time. There are some developers that will deliver a bit more shadow speed than others, but the gain is pretty small, usually no more than 1/3 and hardly ever more than 1/2 stop of extra speed. All pushing does is to bump the medium and high density values up the curve. It does nothing to little for the shadow areas, and what you wind up with are high contrast negatives that deliver fairly normal looking mid to high value tones with no detail in the dark places. The super speed films also reach these high exposure value numbers by push processing. The difference is that these films are very low contrast media if used and processed at their natural speeds. Pushing boosts the contrast to a more "normal" level, but still doesn't do much for the deep shadow areas of the picture.

    As far as shooting handheld at speeds lower than 1/30 of a second goes, yes it can be done and it is easier to do with a rangefinder camera than it is with an SLR. The rangefinder camera has fewer moving parts, so there is less moving mass inside the camera to shake things up. But again, it's all very dependent upon a lot of things. Sometimes it comes down to how much coffee you've had that day. Too much caffeine will make your hands shake. Sometimes it comes down to the camera itself Some cameras naturally have more recoil than others. I can shoot my F2, N90s and my F100 at 1/15 sec. I don't get nearly as many keepers at that shutter speed with the FM2n. I've a couple of medium format Mamiya TLR cameras that I can use at 1/15 sec with the 80 mm. lens. The only moving parts are in the shutter and the action is very light. Same is true for the Hasselblad 503. Even though it has a moving mirror and two shutters, the whole this is so well balanced it doesn't matter. I've successfully used a Leica M6 at 1/15 sec., but not my Konica S2. The Leica has more moving mass with its focal plane shutter, but the release is smooth as silk, and the shutter movement is well damped. The Konica has no need for shutter damping because it has only a leaf shutter, but the force needed to release it is too high for shake free performance at lower speeds.

    Finally, flash is not always bad. There are plenty of ways to use it creatively so that you don't get that hard, flash in the face look. Use a diffuser or a bounce card and learn how to balance flash with ambient light. You need far less light if you employ some of these techniques, and you'll be far less annoying to your subjects as well.

    Go here for some ideas about using flash creatively: http://www.strobist.com.

    Good luck.
     
  5. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I've already noticed that my F8001 with f/1.4 lens has a rather severe DOF wide-open compared to my Pentax f/1.7. Not only that, AF doesn't work well at all when it's that dark, and there is no split-prism focusing aid. Manual focusing in such low light is pretty hard sometimes too.

    The AT-1 seems easier to shoot at low shutter speeds; I think it's because of the horizontal curtain shutter.

    Do you know of any Flickrs or anything that show photos shot at these highspeed/pushed films?
     
  6. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I've had excellent results with my Nikon F100 handheld at speeds as slow as 1/15. I see no evidence of mirror slap. When I first got the F100 I thought I would miss MLU, but after testing it, I found no reason for MLU on that camera.

    The Nikon 50/1.2 is not expensive and is well made; it's soft wide open but in a sort of nice way for faces. Try something like that and ~1/15 exposures, you'd be amazed what you can get on 800 or 1600 speed film. Isn't the neopan 1600 still available in 35mm? I'd try that if b&w is okay. Fuji pro z shot at 1600 and developed for 3200 has worked well for me in 645, I dunno how it'd fare in 35mm, probably fine.

    My suggestion is first to experiment with your current kit and try the following (sorry if this sounds pedantic):

    (1) use the timer instead of pressing the button with your finger.
    (2) try bracing... this easily doubles or triples the length of exposure you can get without blur.
    (3) AF? What's that?
     
  7. Katier

    Katier Member

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    http://flickr.com/groups/push/

    Seems to be a push/pull process group.

    As for hand holding, I was amazed I managed to hand hold my DSLR to 1/15th on a trip to Nottingham. (yeah I know - DSLR tsk tsk - but I ran out of fast film and took the wrong body, should have taken the one loaded with tungsten but took my kodchrome loaded body so at night was DSLR time ).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 25, 2008
  8. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    What do you mean by bracing, is this some kind of technique or do you just mean jamming the camera against a light pole or something for stability?

    autofocus.

    Does it have any form of anti-shake or vibration reduction? It's the one technology that I'm jealous of DSLRs. I really wish you could use Nikon VR lenses on the F6 or SOME film camera.
     
  9. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Yes, looking for any sort of indirect support is what I mean. Any kind of bracing can make a huge difference.

    ...which I never use for (low) available light shooting.

    You can use the VR lenses on the F100 and many other nikon film cameras.
     
  10. Katier

    Katier Member

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    Nope it's the basic pentax K110D so no foibles at all. Most of the pictures I took where braced, but I hand held some down to 1/15th which surprised the heck outa me.

    Next test is to see how slow I can hand hold my Me Supers.
     
  11. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Actually, you can. The F5, the F6, and maybe the F4 (can't swear to that) will support VR lenses. You just can't use lenses designed only for DX sensor digital cameras because they don't cast a large enough image circle to cover the entire frame. There are VR lenses designed for the 24 x 36 mm. full frame format that can also be used on DX and FX sensor cameras.
     
  12. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    The mass of those moving things is so small, the vibrations they can cause so insignificant, that the effect is completely lost in the huge movement your 'steady' hand will set and keep the entrire thing in.

    If you want to worry about a moving mirror, use a sturdy tripod first (not one of those carry-easy lightweight overly-expensive-carbon excuses for a tripod - though even such a thing is better than no tripod at all).
    Else, stop kidding yourself, believing that the type of camera - with or without mirror - makes any kind of difference at all.

    Lets put this myth to rest.
     
  13. SilverGlow

    SilverGlow Member

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    QG, are you suggesting that MLU is a gimmick?
     
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  15. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    f1.2 canon FD

    First, in response to a previous reply.. the canon FD f1.2 lens is quite a bargain. Sales on ebay recently have been between $150-$200. And the FD f1.4 is downright dirt cheap. The difference between the two is only half a stop, so if the price is too much dont sweat it and at least get the f1.4 lens.

    Second, hand holding the camera down to slow speeds is possible if the subjects are stationary.. but people rarely are, even when posing.

    Third, stay away from the consumer fast speed films.. Kodak MAX and Fuji Superia. Get the pro Fuji 800 film (for color, i forget the name thouigh).

    Last, consider a flash. A shoe-mounted flash wont cause red-eye as much (or at all) as a on-camera flash. With some experementation you can get good results using it for fill. One of the issues with shooting color film indoors or in low light is the color balance. Incadescent bulbs produce an orange color and flourescent bulbs give a greenish cast. Flash will produce nice daylight balanced color even when used just for fill.
     
  16. Katier

    Katier Member

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    Tungsten film goes some way to removing the orange caste though I believe. So that helps in that respect.
     
  17. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Hmmmm.... I've used way too many different cameras and have noticed even major differences between their ability to get slow hand-held shots.

    But then, that might have just been a placebo effect...
    ;-)


    BTW, there is a simple test you can do:

    Attach a laser pointer to your camera and your camera solidly to your best non-carbon tripod. Aim the pointer at a wall a few meters away so that you can clearly see it.
    Fire the shutter...
    In many cases, you'd be surprised at just how much force those "small & insignificant" parts can exert.

    P.S. It can be useful to also use a very slow speed or "B" when doing this test, in order to differentiate between the mirror rising and returning (if present) and the shutter opening and closing.
    If your tripod really is good, then attaching the camera somewhat loosely can approximate hand-holding.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2008
  18. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Press 800 is a great film. So is Pro 800Z, although I find the Superia to be sharper and have better grain (meaning more visible grain). You can get a lot out of these films, but you need to overdevelop them, and you need to print them with an actual enlarger to get the best results. You can easily underexpose Press 800 by 2 stops and get a printable picture if you push the film. There is also a Press 1600, though it is notably grainier than Press 800.

    For b/w, Delta and T-Max 1000 can be used at very high EIs, as they handle underexposure quite well due to their inherent low contrast. I routinely do what would be the equivalent of using Delta 1000 at 4000 and 2000, and fairly often at 8000. What I mean by "equivalent" is that in low light (and I mean LOW), I simply use the camera settings that I feel I need to use, and meter later in order to know how to develop the film. If I decide I need to be shooting at '250, I will open my lens up all the way, and shoot. Then, when I have the time, I will check with my meter (set at 1000) to see where certain tones will fall will that exposure. If they are falling too low, I will overdevelop the film.

    In dimly lit bars, I usually get EV 1 or 2 on a performer's face, if I can get anything. I try to use at least '250 when shooting moving musicians, but will often use '125 or '60, and sometimes will try a few at '30 or '15 if they are holding still for a spell. Pretty ugly EV if you want those shutter speeds, but the Delta gets printable shots anyhow. Thin, of course, but printable. In better lit venues, a 400 film will usually suffice for the stage, but I still use Delta 1000, as it handles high contrast better, and lets me shoot other things off stage that I would have a hard time getting with a 400 film.

    For lenses, I would say that the move from 1.8 to 1.4 is definitely worthwhile, as 1.4 lenses are plentiful and cheap. You should be able to get one for WELL under $50. As for the jump from 1.4 to 1.2, I personally think it is worth it. However, the 1.2 lenses are more expensive. If you want a 1.2 lens, my suggestion for a budget one is the pre-Aspheric model 55mm S.S.C., or one of the FL ones. I believe for FL there was a 55 and a 58. You should double check me on that, however.

    My main FD lens is the 55mm f/1.2 S.S.C., and I have been plenty happy with it. Just shot with it tonight, as a matter of fact.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2008
  19. Excalibur2

    Excalibur2 Member

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    ***Third, stay away from the consumer fast speed films.. Kodak MAX and Fuji Superia***

    Well I got some nice results with Fuji colour 1600 asa, and it was 2 years out of date................if the subject is important (or just one chance) and you can't use flash, it is better to get something rather than nothing...and I would rather not have an underexposed negative.
     
  20. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Who said to stay away from those films? They don't have a clue what they are talking about.
     
  21. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    No.
    I'm suggesting, no telling, that you need to put a camera on a tripod, else it will do no good at all.

    Nobody - absolutely nobody - can handhold a camera and move it less than a moving mirror would.

    This entire no-moving-mirror-makes-better-handholding thingy is silly. Extremely silly. It's time it stops.
     
  22. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    It indeed is.


    Notice how you switched to "your best non-carbon tripod" for this test.

    Try it all again, handholding your cameras. (And don't waste your time 'approximating' hand-holding. What's the point???)
    Rid yourself of the false believes you opened your reply with!
     
  23. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Irony-impairment alert!

    Sigh! Some people believe that just because they say (or think) something, it *MUST* be true....

    BTW: I have taken one or two pictures hand-held in the past (irony alert on).
     
  24. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Subscriber

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    When I see something interesting I fire the camera, even on a shutter speed on half a second or the like. Sometimes I get away with it. With a few exposures the chance increases. But it is hit and miss on those speeds of course. Plus people may get blurry hands or heads etc.

    (Brace yourself or the camera against something and hold your breath while shooting.)
     
  25. SilverGlow

    SilverGlow Member

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    During Xmas, I shot about 6 rolls of family, nothing special, just snapshots. All B&W with my EOS SLR, ISO 400, F8, 1/15s shutter speed for everything, and flash...oh,and all handheld too. The images were exposed wonderfully, bright faces, no motion blur, no flash burn-in effect, fat depth-of-field to support a group of people, all natural looking comps. The point being, that flash can be used effectively, and to very good benefit and can allow one to (1) shoot with slow glass, and (2) shoot handheld resulting in no handheld nor mirror slap, nor subject movement blur. Granted these comps were nothing special, nothing artsy, but having the flash was great. Of course the way the flash head is postioned is very important too, as nearly all my shots were made with a bounced flash, and/or diffused flash, and except for one shot, never straight on naked head.

    The thing about available light is that when you shoot one person, you can get away with narrow DOF, and the fast shutter means your handheld and subhect motion can be frozen. However add a 2nd, 3rd, or more people and the required DOF means even a tripod will not save the day if the shutter speed is too slow. Lots of talk of the use of a tripod or ways to stead the camera, but how is that going to mitigate subject movement? It won't.
     
  26. SilverGlow

    SilverGlow Member

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    So the when would you use MLU? Macro only perhaps? I know that for digital shots, not using the MLU when the camera is on a steady tripod will show blur at 100% and for sure at 200% on the screen. If the torque of the Mirrior shows just one pixel's width of movement, that is enough to soften a 16" x 20" enlargement, but will not show any effect at 8" x 10" or smaller. This is just what I've seen in my experience...