New to the world of color. Help.

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by siorai, Oct 18, 2006.

  1. siorai

    siorai Member

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    I got into shooting film just about a year ago. I've only been shooting black and white up to this point. But I've been thinking more and more about grabbing a few rolls of color film and seeing how it goes. I had been shooting digitally with color previously for a year or so. But since then, my shooting style has changed quite dramatically and I'm curious as to how that style will translate over to color.

    Here's my problem: I know nothing about color film. The last time I bought color film, I was about 10 years-old and shooting with a point and shoot. Are there any reccomendations for a specific film? I'm shooting 35mm and my preferred subject matter is urban/industrial. Not much nature stuff and no people whatsoever.

    Also, any basic pointers on the differences between shooting black and white versus shooting color? I seem to remember reading that color is nowhere near as forgiving when it comes to exposure? <--- See, that's the level of my color knowledge. :tongue:

    Thanks for any help anyone can throw my way.
     
  2. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Hi Richard,

    If you will be shooting color it will be less forgiving than B&W. If you are going to shoot color transparency film it will be far less forgiving. Most color transparency films can only be expected to comfortably (or almost comfortably) record 3 1/2 to 4 stops. Let us know if you plan on shooting color negative of color transparency film so that we can provide more guidance.

    Rich
     
  3. siorai

    siorai Member

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    Ahh yes, forgot about that. I won't be developing or printing the color work myself, so I would think that slides would be easier? At least from the point of taking them to a lab to be printed in that I would only need to take the exact slides I want instead of whole strips of negs?
     
  4. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Prints from slides, in general, are a lot less satisfactory than those made from negatives. Negatives were designed for printing, but slides were not. That is the short answer to a long technical description.

    So, if you want prints, use negative film for the best results.

    PE
     
  5. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Hi Richard:

    I like your Black and White work and expect I'll like your colour print work as well.

    I don't know that I would necessarily recommend starting with slides, if your goal is to make prints. If you intend to project the slides, my advice would change.

    What I would recommend is being sure that you deal with a good lab.

    I have had good success, over many years, with ABC Photocolour, on 4th.

    G King Photo (no relation) off Cambie also has served the professional photographer market well over the years.

    I would suggest you try some colour print film first, because I think you will find that your Black and White experience with issues like metering will more easily transfer. If you deal with a good lab, they will be able to provide both good work, and technical feedback.

    Once you have some colour negative experience, you may decide to try transparency film too, but I think you will find it requires a significantly different approach. OTOH, you may also find that your experience with colour digital may help you somewhat, given the similarities between digital capture and transparency film (narrow latitude). I guarantee, however, that if you have never shot and then projected a colour transparency, the first time you do, you will be blown away by the result.

    The handling of negatives is much the same for colour and for Black and White - your lab will happily tell you how best to deal with them.

    Hope this helps. If you have any questions that my local knowledge (or any other knowledge I might have) might assist with, don't hesitate to ask.

    Matt
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 18, 2006
  6. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Test test test

    No one can tell you what will work with your vision.

    You simple need to buy a selection of color films and try them out.

    You're the ultimate critic of what works.
     
  7. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Hi,

    I am in somewhat of an opposite position as you in that for many years I only shot color and much more recently have been adding B&W to the mix. More on that in a bit.

    I started years ago with slide (chrome) film and, as PE notes, it is NOT the preferred format if you ultimately want prints. To my way of thinking, chrome film should be reserved mainly when you prefer to view your work in a "projected" mode. And, while I still once in a while pull out the old Kodak Carousel Slide Projector - it's less and less often.

    If you want prints, then print film is the way to go. Now, if like me you're willing to sell your soul and be a "hybrid" then you can scan your negs to identify which ones are "worthy" of being printed and bring that negative in for printing (or, DIY). But, if after doing this for a year or so your spouse starts to complain "Where are the pictures!" then you also have the option of having the developing lab make a set of prints etc.

    Now, as Pinholemaster so aptly puts it - you have to try different films and in different circumstances. There's a reason for the wide array of choices out there. And of course, some film will work better in some circumstances than others and vice versa etc.

    Now as to training your "eye", I think that shooting color is very different from shooting B&W. Partly because color is a "dazzling" experience to the eye - so you have to discipline yourself to pay attention a lot of attention to framing and composition and not just let the "colorfulness" overwhelm your shot.

    I actually think that since you are first and foremost a B&W shooter this will be less of a problem than going the other way. I am now paying much more attention to texture and grey scale tonality - literally training my mind's eye to "see" in B&W rather than be "distracted" or "dazzled" by the color.

    But most of all, rememer, this is supposed to be fun. Grab some inexpensive color film this weekend and just shoot to get "used" to how to "see". Then, as Pinholemaster says, "test, test, test" to see which films "work" for you under what circumstances.

    Good luck and have fun!
     
  8. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I'm out of the mainstream again...

    I really do not see a great difference in the *exposure* latitude of transparency film, compared to color negative. From my experience, the exposure error is more noticeable when projected than when printed. I have had fairly ... make that DAMN good results printing transparencies to "direct positive" color papers .. Cibachrome (later, Ilfochrome) as well as Kodak's and Fuji.

    I have seen truly *outstanding* work on Cibachrome.

    Another method is to make an "internegative" from the transparency. *IF* this is done properly, that is, exposing the transparency to INTERNEGATIVE film, the results *can* come close to Cibachrome. The trouble is that many labs use off-the shelf color negative film, either "daylight" or "tungsten" balanced in place of the internegative film... and I've never seen acceptable results from that shortcut.

    BTW ... Internegatives, even the crappy ones, are *expensive*!! ... usually on the order of $10 to $15 EACH.
     
  9. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I agree with Copake ham. Ed, having designed color negative films, I can show how reversal films lose detail when printed and it is the same reason that reversal films are not used in motion picture production. They do not dupe well due to the physics and math of the system (reversal - reversal). The work on Cibachrome may be outstanding, but does it match the original color? Detail across the tone scale? No, it does not due to 'image compression'.

    Negative films have huge latitude. A 160 film makes good prints from 25 - 400 or beyond. See my posts on that on APUG and Photo Net.

    PE
     
  10. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Another point to consider: It sounds like you're relying on others to make prints for you at the moment. Most commercial photofinishers have gone digital, so they'll make digital prints from scans of your slides or negatives. This means that prints should cost exactly the same for either type of medium, but of course a retailer might try to gouge for one (probably slides) just because they can.

    If and when you start making your own prints in a traditional darkroom, or if you go to a shop that does traditional (non-digital) prints, you'll find that prints from negatives are less expensive than prints from slides. Ilfochrome is the only remaining official method of making color prints from slides, and Ilfochrome materials are expensive compared to the RA-4 materials used to make prints from negatives. Of course, if you've got money to burn this isn't an issue, but if you're anything short of independently wealthy it should at least go into the equation.

    If you rely on commercial photofinishers to develop your film, you'll find that most photofinishers will have to send out slide film, which can take several days (even over a week), whereas negative film will be done in between an hour and a couple of days. Pro labs are likely to be quicker with slides, and they're also likely to produce better results with both types of film, but they'll also be more expensive than corner drugstores.

    As to film products, Kodak and Fuji are both active in the color arena. Agfa has gone under but some of their products are still for sale. Konica-Minolta is pulling out of the film market but you may still be able to find some of their products available. Both used to sell a lot of film as store brands. Ferrania is the third remaining player in color film. In the US (and I presume also Canada), they sell mostly under store brand labels. Check where the film was made if you buy a store brand: Italy means Ferrania, Germany means Agfa, and Japan means either Fuji or Konica-Minolta. IMHO, Ferrania film is a few years behind Kodak and Fuji film in most technical respects. It tends to be grainier and have less saturated colors. (Some people prefer the more subdued colors, though.) Beyond this, you'll just need to try a few products to see what you prefer.
     
  11. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Interesting. Can you be specific about WHERE this "exhibit" - and the following information about "160" film making "good" prints is located?

    Frankly, Scarlet ... If I get an *outstanding* image, I don't give a damn about the "tone scale", "compression" or even the "original" color.

    *Outstanding* would, and WILL be good enough for me.
     
  12. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    siorai,

    As you can see, we are a wonderfully harmonious group.

    And as soon as the brawl ends we will get back to your original query. :wink:
     
  13. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Gee George,

    This is nothing compared to the confrontations and disagreements that we sometimes have here at APUG. :wink: But our disagreements are mild compared to some on other websites. Things usually settle down from our disagreements however.

    Rich
     
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  15. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Ed;

    I really can't understand the first comment regarding "exhibit" and "160". I made no comments about that.

    Basically it is a matter of multiplying two curves together which in themselves are cubic splines. In negative films, one curve is really a straight line, but in reversal films they are both true splines with a toe and shoulder. Therefore you are multiplying the slopes of the two curves.

    The result is as follows:

    Lets take a red flower with small black detail in it. A poppy would be a good subject. Taken on a negative film and printed, you see the red with black detail, but taken on a slide film and you see what is called "cyan undercut" which lowers the richness of the black detail while making the red richer. Good and bad.

    Now, print that onto Ciba/Ilfochrome and the black detail almost entirely vanishes. The undercut is multiplied (or the data is compressed depending on viewpoint) and the reds become even richer.

    So, it is, as you point out, a matter of opinion. Do you want an accurate rendering, or do you want an overdone rendering. This is the typical question with reversal-reversal reproduction and results in the fact that motion picture producers will not use this system for production. They use neg-pos to prevent the 'dupey' look of multigeneration prints.

    Now, if you disagree, here is an offer. I will give you and 8 hour free course in color system engineering if you should ever drop by Rochester! You need it. I should probably do the 40 hour course, but your head might explode! I don't mean anything bad by that. Mine almost did the first time I got into this too.

    PE
     
  16. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Rich,

    I know, but the poor OP was just asking for some basic color film advice and now, OMG....:wink:

    Do you think he can handle this? I mean, it's getting near to Halloween and all of us Crazy Aunts are coming out of the attic! :surprised: :D :surprised: :D
     
  17. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Nah, its April Fool!

    And watch out for the funny uncle named Foley.

    PE
     
  18. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Well, he's not my type.

    But actually, PE, maybe a basic "primer" PM (i.e. "off line") from you to the OP would help?

    Heck, he just wants to know whether to start with 'chromes or print negatives. And I think you're about the best qualified here to do that!
     
  19. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Hi PE,

    For those of us that shoot with transparencies regularly, we are quite aware of the limited exposure range to record our images. That is why we shoot accordingly for composition, subject matter, and use Grad ND filters (1-3 stop) when needed (and possible). We realize that we can usually only safely record 3 1/2 to 4 stops and we critically expose to hold highlights (frequently using a spot meter) and let the dark areas go black.

    Rich
     
  20. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Ok, I see where Ed is coming from with the 160 comment. The context threw me a bit as did the 'exhibit' comment. I posted these a few weeks back Ed. They are here on APUG and also on PN. The thread on PN has "armchair" in the title and was started by a moderator, James Dainis. I forget the title here on APUG. I hate to waste space re-posting these.

    With the latitude of negative film, there is about 2 stops under and 2 stops overexposure latitude, minimum. Prints made from these negatives clearly show this.

    But, when you get right down to it, it is a matter of opinion. The interesting thing is that no motion picture would ever be filmed using a reversal film, and that is due to both latitude and accuracy of tone and color. I say, use what works.

    Now, as to the OP, if he wants prints, then a negative film is best for him, but if he wants to project them, then slides are best. Again though, a discriminating eye, developed by testing various films will be the only way to come up with a useful answer for any individual.

    PE
     
  21. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    There is key comment, thanks PE.

    OP, you need to tell folks "WHY" you want to shoot color before you ask which film to use.

    A good "rough" division is b/w negative print film and positive "chromes". Nuances of either begin after that "threshold" question.

    One is NOT better than the other - but what you want to achieve will inform which direction you go.

    This is not to say that your decision is absolute. Although I've mainly "migrated" from my prior emphasis on chromes to shooting print negatives - I still have a bunch of Fuji 50 Velvia chrome sitting in the freezer, as well as some Kodak Ektacrhome Extra Color 100.

    These rolls "roughly" match the number of remaining prepaid "mailers" for each that I have.

    If I were to start now, though, I would probably just do print negative film. It's a changing world out there with all kinds of film. But I would not nowadays go as "long" in my freezer with chromes as I would with print negatives.
     
  22. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Richard:

    On the subject of what labs will do for you, both of the labs I mentioned (ABC & G King) give you a choice - either traditional optical printing, or digital. You can even get both - optically printed proofs (individually colour corrected) and digital scans. They also do E6, and B & W, including optical B & W prints. A Google search will reveal both of their websites, and they are full of info.

    If you would like a film recommendation, be warned, I am a Kodak "brat", and therefore somewhat biased.

    I'd suggest Kodak Portra fim, either the NC or VC versions. The NC colours are more muted (NC is intended to mean Natural Colour). Many also like the Kodak Ultra film. The Portra films are, to a great extent, what the Kodak professional processing systems are calibrated to.

    I have had excellent results with the Kodak amateur films as well.

    If you are fortunate enough to find a one hour lab that has good staff and policies, you can get good work from them too, but that is more hit and miss, and almost certainly will involve a digital component.

    I agree with the recommendations above to shoot a lot of film, and go back to what you like. It is just that using a good lab will make that process more rewarding, because it will greatly reduce the variability that can be induced as a result of inconsistent processing.

    You have a lot of fun ahead of you - enjoy yourself.

    Matt
     
  23. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Thank you SO much for your kind offer, but I'll decline. I'm not really into fine grinding the "technical" information behind the construction of color - or any other - film.

    I "need" it? Oh, great one - I am so glad you enlightened me about what I need and what I don't need. I'll take the "head exploding" comment for what it is worth - nothing - and I'll ignore it.

    Tell you what ... I've been working with a *very* experienced Art Instructor now teaching at one of the prestigious Universities in Boston. A "killer" resume' in Art and Art Appreciation. I'll talk to him and I'm sure we can arrange an eight or even forty hour course in Aesthetics and Art Appreciation.
     
  24. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Ed; You are quite welcome. Sorry you declined my offer, as it does seem that you are not aware of some of the nuances between reversal and negative film. This is not strictly a technical matter either, it is a matter of appreciating the quality of ones images. But, quality is subjective - see below.

    It is a large subject to get ones head around, and I was not excluding myself from this difficulty when I first started work in this area, nor was I accusing you of having any lack of ability to understand. I'm sorry that you seem to have misunderstood my comment.

    The only thing I can say in return is that the people in the motion picture trade use negative film, and they do it for the technical and artistic reasons I described above. That is a recognized superiority which I point out. Long latitude and good color with excellent detail, all of which reversal film lacks in one way or another.

    A teacher of art is different than a teacher of photography in may respects although they also overlap. Their goals may differ. My goal in photography and system design was to reproduce the real world as closely as possible with minimal loss in detail and color accuracy. In art that may not be the case. Reversal film engineers had the same goal but were more limited by physics and chemistry. That is why there are some problems in reversal films.

    So, you are right, you choose the film to suit how you want to reproduce the subject and what the final viewing venue will be. If the 'defects' or 'deficiencies' of prints from reversal film give you the arty look you want, then it works. That is all that matters. If you want accurate tone scale in prints with accurate color, then negative film is what you want.

    In the final analysis, testing a broad range of films with the final conditions of your viewing the primary criterion is the best way to judge what you yourself want.

    PE
     
  25. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    There is nothing quite like "beating a dead horse."

    I'll contemplate two things, first your assumption that "I am not aware" - I'm not quite sure how I gave that impession. I *know* there are DIFFERENCES between transparency and color negative film - where the @#$ did I ever say anything different?

    That brings me to the second area for contemplation; How did I communicate my opinion so ineffectively that a person of your obvious intelligence could not understand what I was saying... I DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE TECHNICAL minutia. I have seen EXCELLENT, BEAUTIFUL, OUTSTANDING Cibachrome work ... however the hell it came into being.

    If I don't meet your (??? YOUR ???) criteria for expertise, I am sorr .... wait ... no, I am NOT sorry. I'll just keep on plodding along ...

    I am signing off ... this has really been pointless.

    -30-
     
  26. siorai

    siorai Member

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    Thanks for the info everyone. I'll definitely look into color neg film. I guess I've just seen lsides so much in the past that they were first in my mind.

    As for why I'm looking at shooting color, well, just for a change. Like I said, I've only been shooting b&w so I'm curious how my particular shooting style will translate over to color. For the most part, I find color to simply be a distraction, but I'd like to see how it goes nonetheless.

    At the moment, I do my own b&w printing. My developing I have done by ABC. I would do my own own developing as well, but I use my father's darkroom at his studio, so my time there is limited. I'd much rather spend what time I do have there printing as opposed to developing. I plan on moving into the same building sometime next year, so I'll have 24/7 access to the darkroom and will then do the developing myself as well.

    Now comes the toughest part: will the rain subside long enough to get out shooting?