New to analog photography - Under exposed problems (See my photos)

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by photosJL, May 29, 2010.

  1. photosJL

    photosJL Member

    Messages:
    4
    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Hello guys !!!

    I'm new to analog photography.

    I bought a 1984 Minolta X-570 on eBay with some fast lens (35mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.4, etc).

    Unfortunately, I received my first scans this morning : All under Exposed :confused:

    My settings were : Aperture priority, auto shutter speed.

    1 roll of Neopan 1600 : WAY TOO DARK.

    1 roll of Velvia 100 : JUST A BIT TOO DARK.

    * * * See : http://photosjl.viewbook.com/firstrolls

    So I guess, my meter is not working properly. (It's not the lab, I deal with the very best one in my city)

    What do you guys suggest to correct this problem ?

    I thought of these :

    1) Overexposed manually by a stop or 2 or 3 .. ??

    2) Change the ASA value to trick the meter ? (ex : set to 200 for a 400film?) .. or is it the other way around ?

    3) Have the meter repaired. (It it possible in 2010 to have a 25y-o camera repaired?)

    I'm lost! Please help! I want to shoot film!!

    ps : Is Slide films more accurate ? (I mean, I got a better result with my Velvia)...

    THANK YOU SO MUCH IN ADVANCE !

    - Jean
     
  2. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

    Messages:
    2,258
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2008
    Location:
    Warwickshire
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Hello Jean,

    I don't think you've got a problem with your camera. The issue is probably your metering technique. The neopan shots are at night time and I think the meter has been fooled by the highlights. Likewise the Velvia shots are probably only slightly underexposed and probably on account of the bright parts fooling the meter.
     
  3. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

    Messages:
    7,114
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2005
    Location:
    In a darkroo
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Your meter is probably fine. It's just stupid. Have you ever used manual mode before with any success? If not it might help to bulk up on the basics and then to learn how your light meter works.

    Your light meter measures the light in your subject area and averages it out so that you get an average exposure. It does not know that you want that shadow to be black or the highlight to not quite be washed out. It does what it's supposed to do. Give average exposures for those who don't quite understand the settings or those who don't know how to take FULL advantage of them.

    If you meter a lump of coal and photograph it by the meter reading, it will print as 18% grey. If you meter a snow scene and expose it according to the reading the snow will print out as 18% grey. You need to be able to adjust the exposure settings in order to PUT the shades of grey where you WANT them to go.

    And an aside, slide films are easy to get off if you are not careful as their exposure latitude is narrower than other films. They are great, but VERY unforgiving.
     
  4. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    First of all, Neopan 1600 is not a 1600 film. Fuji does not state what it actually is, but it is more like 640-800 according to many independent tests (probably using a Zone I test to determine film speed).

    So, yes. Your slide film was bound to give better exposures, because it was rated at the actual ISO film speed.

    Your Neopan 1600 shots don't look underexposed to me. They just look like they were shot in the dark, and are very high-contrast compositions. If something is dark in reality, and it ends up dark on a normal print from the film, then your exposure is pretty good.

    However, despite all this, it all comes down to metering. In-camera meters will almost never give you the ideal exposure for a shot. They will just give you an OK exposure that will be printable and/or good enough for most people. All they do is to read the composition and tell you how to expose to make everything in the composition that is being metered average out to a tone that is 1/2 stop below middle grey when normally printed.

    Aside from using an EI that is not the same as the ISO film speed with the Neopan, the issue has nothing to with whether you are shooting film or digital. It has to do with light meters and light metering.
     
  5. Alex1994

    Alex1994 Member

    Messages:
    131
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm
    They look fine to me! Remember colour print film gives more room for error or 'latitude'.
     
  6. stillsilver

    stillsilver Member

    Messages:
    261
    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2006
    Location:
    Oakdale, CA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Your meter looks like it works. When you put use the Velvia 100 set your film speed (asa dial) on your camera for 80. When you are looking through your viewfinder, be aware of very bright areas or very dark areas. Both of this will give you a different meter reading then what you are looking for.

    When I don’t use a light meter, I shoot in manual mode and use the meter as a guide.

    As for the Neopan, set your asa dial to 1000 and make an exposure. Then set it to 800 and make an exposure of the same thing. Do this down to 250. Which ever print you like the best, use that as your Exposure Index (E.I.) for this film.

    Mike
     
  7. photosJL

    photosJL Member

    Messages:
    4
    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Guys!! You are amazing !!! I love APUG !!! What a great community !!!

    I was not aware of the « Exposure Index E.I. »

    That's definitely it !!!!

    Is there a chart somewhere on APUG or on the web with the CORRECT « E.I. » for EVERY film out there ?!!!

    These are the films I have in my refrigerator, if someone could tell me the E.I. for everyone of them, that would make my day !!!!! As a matter of fact, I will frame this post and hang it on my wall !!! (Really)!!

    Kodak Portra 400 VC .......... Correct E.I. is : _______
    Kodak Portra 400 NC .......... Correct E.I. is : _______
    Fuji Reala 100 ................... Correct E.I. is : _______
    Fuji Velvia 100 .................. Correct E.I. is : 80 (thanks so much stillsilver!!!)
    Kodak Tri-X 400 TX ............ Correct E.I. is : _______
    Ilford HP5 Plus 400 ............ Correct E.I. is : _______
    Ilford Delta 100 ................. Correct E.I. is : _______
    Ilford Delta 400 ................. Correct E.I. is : _______
    Ilford Delta 3200 ............... Correct E.I. is : _______

    Thank you SO MUCH !!!
    - Jean
     
  8. fotch

    fotch Member

    Messages:
    4,820
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2005
    Location:
    SE WI- USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Welcome to APUG. Your photos look great to me.
     
  9. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

    Messages:
    7,483
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Welcome to analog photography.

    Understanding exposure and development is needed for success (as you are finding out).

    As a start toward good negatives, I'd recommend the "Zone I" calibration procedure for anyone using a reflected averaging metering technique.
     
  10. Chris Nielsen

    Chris Nielsen Member

    Messages:
    490
    Joined:
    May 11, 2008
    Location:
    Waikato, New
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think they look fine.

    I wouldn't be framing that and hanging it on your fridge - there isn't really a 'correct' EI for (most) films. You might decide to shoot Portra 160 at 125 or 100. That your choice and whatever works for you is the correct setting.

    And as to the b&w films - well HP5 can be shot at virtually any EI you want, just depends on how you intend to process it - I could say 200 and I'd be no less correct than if I said 6400.
     
  11. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

    Messages:
    4,275
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Location:
    Richmond/Geelong, AUS
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The results you have on Velvia 100 are not "too dark"; the result is characteristic of that particular film's taught contrast and hyperenhanced palette, with the red channel naturally very highly saturated, with greens not far behind and shadow blocks obvious. Rating RVP 100 at EI80 will get you slightly better results and reduce shadow blocks but the basic difficulty is the film's drenched palette. Maybe try Velvia 100F (which is neither Velvia 50 nor Velvia 100 in terms of palette) — with muted primaries, better contrast and very clear, crisp whites. It, too, can be taken to EI80 as needs dictate.

    All Velvia emulsions return the best results in diffuse (overcast to flat) light, not sunny (point) light.
     
  12. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Subscriber

    Messages:
    683
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    Location:
    Stockholm, S
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Well, I am afraid that there is no such things as "correct E.I." When you choose to expose the film you will have to take into account a number of things. Your equipment is just the first. However, judging from your the shots you showed your lightmeter and shutter times seem to be in the ballpark.

    Among the films you list Velvia is the trickiest one. If you are just slightly off, the shot is ruined. This is typical for slide films. I would advice you to start experiment with colour negative (portra and reala) or the black and white films, which are much more forgiving.

    The best way forward is to look at the light. Is the light flat, like at an overcast day? Is the light very contrasty, as on a bright sunny day? Then you will have to take that into account. Always look at the light and try to understand how it is rendered on the film. Then adjust your technique if necessary.

    You might enjoy a small excercise. Pick a film, for example tri-x. Choose a few scenes which are typical for what you want to photograph, and make a few exposures on each scene, each with a different rating. (200, 400, 800 for example). Make notes very carefully so that you can track everything afterwards. You could for example write the E.I. on a paper and include it in the photograph. Develop. Print. (If printed by someone else, ask them not to correct for "mistakes".) Look at the prints. What E.I. appeals to you the most?

    Or you might just as well just go ahead for a while with some of the colour negative or b/w films. These films are very versatile and can be used very differently. And the lab will adjust in printing (or scanning if that is what you do) and save a lot of poorly exposed pictures. Play around for a little while and get addicted to film.

    But always remember to look at the light.

    One more tip - try to choose only one or very few films to work with.
     
  13. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,997
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree!

    I agree. They all look good. I think you've been looking at those artificial digital HDR images. Refine your pallete by looking at other analog night shots.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,252
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    They all look FINE to me. Ones you labeled TOO DARK, I saw bright light from some kind of lamps in the picture. More than likely, your camera is metering the area that was lit by those lights. Also, you may have seen the scene to be much brighter but human eyes compensates quite a bit in scenes like this. The fact that those lights were ON tells me it was a dark scene, too and lights being spot lights, didn't travel very widely.
     
  16. lxdude

    lxdude Member

    Messages:
    6,942
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2009
    Location:
    Redlands, So
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think your pictures are very nice.

    Night shots don't really have any one perfect exposure. A range of exposures will work, each giving a different effect. I like the way yours look, because the highlights are not burned out. They look like night shots, and the strong contrast between light and dark makes them interesting. You can produce B+W prints with highlights and shadows however you want them, and there is a huge body of knowledge here to help you with that.

    The color images are very nice. The building with the bright sky above-any more exposure and the sky would have lost all detail.

    I've shot slides for over 35 years. When I started, I loved the results, except I always wanted all the shadow detail I saw in the scene. As I matured, I realized that many times a lot of shadow detail is unnecessary. The eye looks to bright areas, and often detail in shadows is adequate as portrayed by the film, i.e., less than what I saw at the time of exposure. If detail is carried from lighter areas into darker areas, your perception will "complete the picture" with less visual information. Usually, slides look best when highlights are well preserved, and for that to happen, darker areas sometimes lose some detail. It's part of the slide "look". One very useful tool to preserve detail in both bright sky and darker foreground is a graduated neutral density filter.
    Also, if you scan the slides with a good scanner you can usually bring up the darker areas a little to even things out. Go to www.hybridphoto.com which is a sister site to APUG, for more on that.

    Artistically, it is not necessary to record everything to have a good image, and I think images tend to be better when they lack non-essential detail. I often deliberately underexpose slides slightly to deepen colors and eliminate unnecessary detail.
    Sometimes though, an image needs detail in darker areas to look right, and that is where an ND grad can come in handy to bring down the sky intensity. Fill flash or a reflector can be used to fill shadows on nearby subjects. Sometimes the best solution is to compose the shot differently. Or choose different lighting such as an earlier or later time of day or overcast conditions.
     
  17. Lightproof

    Lightproof Member

    Messages:
    81
    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I too think your pictures are pretty good for auto exposure - in fact, my camera completely overexposed in dark scenes for the reasons that others have already mentioned here.
    The tricky thing now is to get proper prints of these contrasty scenes - this could be frustrating, because most labs also work with auto correction, resulting in a virtually no-contrast and very muddy looking print. As you said, your lab seems to be ok - just order some prints of your B/W images and see how they come out. Decide upon the results what to do in future.
     
  18. Alex1994

    Alex1994 Member

    Messages:
    131
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm
    So how to get more contrasty B&W when someone else is printing the film? Obviously ask for 'no mods' and underexpose a little to darken the shadows?
     
  19. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ask the printer for a contrasty print. If the work print is not contrasty enough, ask for an even more contrasty print.
     
  20. photosJL

    photosJL Member

    Messages:
    4
    Joined:
    May 29, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thank you guys for your amazing input !!!

    Big reality check for me : film photography is more complicated than I expected. (.. Been shooting Digital for a long time. Film is totally new to me).

    No, I wont sell my gear!
    I want to shoot film. I want to have fun shooting film! Film is making me think in a different way. I love the slower process. Taking the time..
    I know, it will be frustrating for the first few rolls..

    This guessing & testing for correct « EI » is truly truly silly .. (for me, a newbie).

    OK, A few facts :

    - I don't want to work with grey cards, Ever.

    - I don't want to use a dedicated lightmeter. I will only use the camera meter.

    - I don't mind all manual settings on my camera, but I'll have to trust the camera meter.

    - Since I don't develop my images myself, I will use these EI values on my Minolta X-570. I'll get better results this way. I hope so!

    Color
    Fuji Reala 100 ................... EI 80
    Kodak Portra 400 VC .......... EI 320
    Kodak Portra 400 NC .......... EI 320

    B&W
    Kodak Tri-X 400 TX ............ EI 320
    Ilford HP5 Plus 400 ............ EI 320
    Ilford Delta 400 ................. EI 320
    Ilford Delta 100 ................. EI 80
    Fuji Neopan 1600 ............... EI 1000 / 800 / 640 (must test these values)

    ps : No more Velvia (slide film) for me. Too tricky like Erik Petersson wrote.

    ps : I'll stick to just a few films. I will learn to know them. Great advice!

    ps : Long live film !

    Take care guys! you're amazing! what a great community!!!

    - Jean
     
  21. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,600
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Guessing is silly, testing isn't. What you are testing is "you". How "you" read your meter, how "you" like your prints, and how "your" lab processes.

    That's fine, but you'll need to truly understand what your meter is telling you. That takes testing/practice.

    Don't take anybody's word for how you should meter/rate your film and talk with your lab when something doesn't work.
     
  22. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

    Messages:
    7,114
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2005
    Location:
    In a darkroo
    Shooter:
    Multi Format


    More counter advice. Learn to use the grey card. Learn to use a handheld light meter. NEVER trust the camera's meter unless you learn why it does what it does. Stick to one or two films, why spread yourself out to thin (learn the river one stretch at a time). And, again, welcome to APUG.
     
  23. clayne

    clayne Member

    Messages:
    2,836
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2008
    Location:
    San Francisc
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    EI the film at what the conditions present you with. If you're shooting at night, you shouldn't be shooting Neopan 1600 at 800, you should be shooting it at 1600 or 3200. There's a point where shadow details matter less and getting an actual image matters more.

    As you'll learn, EI is a dynamic value one assigns themselves for a given roll or sheet. They then later make use of said EI during the development phase.

    I think I've used a grey card a grand total of around two times.
     
  24. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

    Messages:
    6,930
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2007
    Location:
    Richmond VA.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    They don't look too dark to me. BTW welcome to APUG!

    Jeff
     
  25. Andy K

    Andy K Member

    Messages:
    9,422
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2004
    Location:
    Sunny Southe
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Your photographs look fine to me. I really like the dark 'noir' look of them.
     
  26. Erik Petersson

    Erik Petersson Subscriber

    Messages:
    683
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    Location:
    Stockholm, S
    Shooter:
    35mm
    The values that you have chosen are safe starting points for these films. Now, go out and have fun with your camera! :smile: