Kodachrome and other quality films - which to use for portraiture and weddings

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by ted_smith, May 16, 2009.

  1. ted_smith

    ted_smith Member

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    Hi

    Quick question about quality colour film.

    1) Kodachrome - I read that this is a superb film for portraiture, weddings etc. I note though that is has to be sent to the US for development, and art of the purchase cost includes the cost of developing using the rather unique method. Is it worth using.

    2) A fellow APUGer (RJ) has told me the following about quality film
    a) Fuji 160NPC - a contrasty film with high saturation - similar to Velvia but better latitude saturation.
    b) Fuji 160NPS - Soft film, really smooth skin tones (does that mean it gives that 'out-of-focus' look or does it just mean its a dreamy looking film.
    c) Fuji Reala - midway between 160NPC and 160NPS
    d) Fuji NPH400 - a fine grained fast (ISO400) film that is more neatural than Reala

    So my question this - of the 4 above, which is best for general portraiture of family, babies etc and which is best for traditional weddings with white wedding dresses etc.

    Thanks

    Ted
     
  2. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    I would use Fuji 160S. Kodachromes may be hard to get printed, but you will be able to get very nice results with that film. I love using kodachrome for fun but I would stick with a good negative film to make prints.
     
  3. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    Agree with @tiberiustibz; Fuji 160S (=160NPS) and 400H (=NPH400) are your best bets for the indicated purpose.
     
  4. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    I would use some Kodachrome and some print film. I would try some of the Portra family of films.
     
  5. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    You can always bring two cameras, one with Kodachrome and one with 160S.
     
  6. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    I have only done two weddings (for friends). I used Fuji NPS160 which seemed to give very accurate colour for skin tones.


    Steve.
     
  7. tim elder

    tim elder Member

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    Kodak Portra NC is a great film for your purposes and used by many wedding and portrait photographers in the States. It is great for skin tones. I don't have as much familiarity with Fuji films but I am sure their low-contrast films work great as well.

    Tim
     
  8. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    Portra NC - 160 and 400 are great. 800 is pretty good as well.
     
  9. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    K-64? Not for a wedding. It's too slow. The Portra 160 and 400 NC films are popular with event (weddings, bar-mitzvah, christenings, etc.) photographers. So are the Fuji equivalents. I'd probably go for the Kodak Portra myself. The color palettes of the 160 and 400 NC films are as close to identical as you can get, and are very nice. I don't know if that's true for the Fuji films. It might be.
     
  10. ted_smith

    ted_smith Member

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    I actually intended to start my post with a 'moan' about Kodak Portra 160NC so it's funny several f you mention it when I forgot to. I shot a roll of it recently for the first time as everything I read about portraiture film seems to rave about Kodak Portra, just as many of you chaps have here today.

    However, I found my prints to lack saturation and contrast. Maybe I was expecting something that I shouldn't, but the prints just looked a bit flat for my liking. The light on the day was OK - shot at about 14:00 on a Janurary day, so the light was quite low and warm, thus my higher expectations. If you're interested in having a look at the 'standard' scans (done by a pro lab, but their options are standard or pro and I chose standard for the website gallery), the results are here http://www.tedsmithphotography.com/clients/08-derbypolice/gallery/index.html What do you think of them? Are they what you would epxect from Kodak Portra or have I done something wrong? They were shot at EI160, same as the ISO rating.

    Ted
     
  11. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    Those look very natural and realistic, but I think the scans might be a bit blown. I would suggest that you try overexposing by a stop because those clearly show high contrast. If you overexposed that film you'd probably find that you liked it better.
     
  12. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    Maybe you should shoot a roll of Portra 160VC instead of 160NC
     
  13. airgunr

    airgunr Subscriber

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    I would use the Kodak Portra 160 or 400. I recently shot a couple of rolls of Ektar 100. Nice crisp film but I'm not sure it would be good for weddings.

    I love Kodachrome more for landscapes, macros of flowers, etc.
     
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  15. Thomas Wilson

    Thomas Wilson Member

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    Ted, I recommend that you give the Portra NC another try. You mentioned that you found it lacking in saturation and contrast. This is precisely why I shoot this film (under certain conditions).

    I just now linked to your samples and think maybe you should give them another look. I think they look great! To me, they have a very good balance between color saturation and overall contrast.

    If you prefer a little more saturation and snap, try shooting a roll of the Portra VC under the same conditions.

    I should mention that I shot Fuji 160S & 160C for years before I switched to the Kodak Portra. I expose both Fuji & Kodak at around 100-125 ASA. I prefer printing a thicker negative and I like a little boost in the color saturation.

    I don't scan my film, I print it, and have found the Portra much easier to balance than the Fuji. I print on Fuji Chrystal Archive.
     
  16. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    If you allow another lab to scan your negs, you may not be getting all that your negs can achieve. Just the same as allowing a lab to make your proof prints. The only way to extract full quality from a given negative is to get a very expensive "custom" scan, or learn to do it yourself, or make your own prints. Only YOU know exactly what you saw when you made your photos. Only you can extract the vision you saw. (My humble opinion).
     
  17. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    My choices when covering weddings on medium format back during the 90's were:
    b) Fuji 160NPS - Soft film, really smooth skin tones (does that mean it gives that 'out-of-focus' look or does it just mean its a dreamy looking film.
    d) Fuji NPH400 - a fine grained fast (ISO400) film that is more neatural than Reala


    Why even think about using a color slide film for wedding coverage, when prints are the desired output?!
     
  18. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    90% of all the photos I take, prints are the desired output. I shoot slides with prining in mind. Slides are pretty much all I shoot.
     
  19. StorminMatt

    StorminMatt Member

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    Given the fact that virtually NO lab on the planet does optical prints by traditional methods these days, there is little reason why negative film MUST be chosen over slide film if prints are your desired output. Unless, of course, you plan to DIY. If you prefer the look of Kodachrome to negative films, there is absolutely no reason not to shoot it, given the fact that 99.99999% of labs will scan and print.
     
  20. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    There certainly "IS" a valid reason for choosing negatives, and that is latitude. Evn though modern digi-print labs can produce good prints from slides, the negative films can resolve more detail in shadows and highlights at the same time. Even with digi-printing this extra detail in both the lightest and darkest parts of an image can greatly enhance the photo.
     
  21. CGross

    CGross Guest

    I use Porta 160NC and Fuji Pro 400H with a couple of rolls of Porta 160VC in the bag for any shots that would require nice saturated colors. These have rendered superb skin tones.
     
  22. StorminMatt

    StorminMatt Member

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    It all boils down to how badly you need extra latitude, how well you can compensate for poor lighting situations, and how well C41 is going to be able to handle it anyway. In other words, if the Kodachrome look is something you REALLY like, you can probably make it work. On the other hand, C41 will NOT give you the look and feel of Kodachrome no matter how hard you try.
     
  23. eddym

    eddym Member

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    Kodachrome is wonderful film, but I can't imagine why anyone would want to shoot a wedding with it. Portra is designed to be a "people" film, and it would be my recommendation. If the light is flat, you might prefer the extra contrast and saturation of VC; if contrasty, you can control it with NC. Use 160 for mid-day outdoor work, and 400 for indoors with flash or outdoors in the evening light.
     
  24. Alan Macoustra

    Alan Macoustra Member

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    I used NPH 400, when shooting weddings, great for indoors, window light etc., in 35mm and MF. I would suggest you use one type of film when shooting weddings, you will be under enough pressure without trying to remember which camera has which film.
     
  25. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Almost all the weddings I've shot in my life have been on 120 - initially using the various flavours of Vericolour, and progressing to the Portra NC emulsions. One could always (in the past) get as much colour punch as one needed by giving appropriate instructions to one's lab - they used to adjust the paper choice, while nowadays they might have to resort to digital solutions.

    Even today I have a number of choices available to me among analogue printing options. Not nearly as many as before, but there are still some available.

    I must admit, however, that it would have been neat to carry along a Kodachrome loaded 35mm camera to some of the weddings I shot - a wedding "slide show" in Kodachrome might have been a great addition!

    Matt
     
  26. Excalibur2

    Excalibur2 Member

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    ***Kodachrome is wonderful film, but I can't imagine why anyone would want to shoot a wedding with it***

    In 50 plus years time, the wedding shots would look the same as the day taken?