Slides vs Negatives

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Nicole, Aug 25, 2005.

  1. Nicole

    Nicole Member

    Messages:
    2,548
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm at crossroads at the moment.

    The pro labs around here now create digital files of colour slides and negatives for printing. Since they create digital files anyway I was thinking I could use slide film for my colour portraits that I do rather than film. I love my Blad and using slide film (NPH400) 120mm with my own children I'm happy to say I love the results I'm getting.

    What are your thoughts on colour slides vs film?
    What are your thoughts on scanned prints rather than machine prints?

    Thanks and kind regards, Nicole
     
  2. FrankB

    FrankB Member

    Messages:
    2,147
    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2003
    Location:
    Northwest UK
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I've done a little colour portrait photography and found Fuji Astia slide film to be very nice material indeed. The colours were punchy enough and it still did an outstanding job on the skin tones. I'd prefer it to a C41 emulsion like Reala.

    As far as obtaining prints from transparencies, I'm not the best person to advise you there...
     
  3. noseoil

    noseoil Member

    Messages:
    2,898
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2003
    Location:
    Tucson
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Nicole, I think you have an interesting decision to make here. If it is mostly portraits, there are some wonderful print films out there for skin tones. Fuji NPS 160 (I think that's right) is very nice for color and tonality when you want an honest rendering of skin and surroundings. For landscapes, I still like a saturated slide film (E100vs, Velvia, etc.), but color here in the desert can be very muted at times, so the extra punch isn't too garish.

    Digital prints are here to stay. Use the best your lab has to offer and find a good printer who understands and is sympathetic to your method of work. tim

    P.S. If it aint broke, don't fix it?
     
  4. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,102
    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2003
    Location:
    Århus, Denma
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    This will be interesting. I use mostly slides as I like to throw my photos up on the screen in the studio and watch them BIG.
    I don't know if negatives scan better than slides. I get nice scans with slides at home and use slides for all work where I need to digitalize as scanning is great. But whether negatives holds more or less info than slides I don't know, but I look forward to learn more about it.

    The main thing to me is that the end result satisfies you. Try shoot a roll of your favourite slide film and a roll of your favorite negative film shooting the same things on both films and get prints from both film for evaluation.

    Thanks for yet another good question here.

    Morten
     
  5. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

    Messages:
    4,518
    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2002
    Location:
    Ipswich, Mas
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Transparency vs. Negative ...

    Each has its own particular flavor. Transparencies TEND (not always) to be a little too intense for portraiture in my opinion... but as far as digital prints go, there is enough modification ability to minimize any such differences.
    "Wet" prints from transparencies CAN be VERY good - certainly equal to those from negative film, but that DOES take more care - either from an internegative (there is a GREAT difference between Internegative film and the run of the mill "standard Daylight CN) or a direct positive.

    "Wet" vs, "Digital" prints? Again, I've seen some truly worthy "Fine Art Prints" produced digitally... but none that did not take a LOT of time, effort, and skill.
    "Equal to wet prints?". Some come close, but I really don't think so.
    At the top of the scale, after all the dust has settled, I think the wet print STILL holds a definite edge, in terms of quality and aesthetic "feel".

    Again, it depends on the end experiencer. Most "Professional Portraiture" is NOT "at the top of the scale", and the end users are perfectly satisfied with the results.
     
  6. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    20,107
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    hi nicole -

    i think slides are great but my exposure + processing is not always "right on" so i tend to use a film that is more forgiving.
     
  7. Helen B

    Helen B Member

    Messages:
    1,557
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    Location:
    Hell's Kitch
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Colour negative film has a much wider exposure latitude than colour slide film - it has a very long straight section of the H&D curve. This means that some films have thirteen stops of usable range, most of it above the midtones. If I dare say it here, digital can utilise the full range of film more easily than wet printing because of the ease with which contrast can be varied, and your digital printer may be capable of a producing a greater density range and colour gamut than your wet printer - it all depends...

    You may have very few situations in which there is that kind of scene brightness range, but it is there when you need it.

    Perhaps a less obvious use for this range is the ability to cope with different colour temperatures of light without using a filter. Just 'overexpose' a stop or two and all three layers can contain the normal scene brightness range within the straight line section. If you expose daylight slide film in tungsten illumination, for example, you often have the choice of losing blue shadow detail or red highlight detail.

    Best,
    Helen

    PS Doesn't the 'digital or traditional' part of this question belong in the Gray Area? It seems inappropriate to discuss that fully here.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2005
  8. Robert Brummitt

    Robert Brummitt Member

    Messages:
    1,043
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2004
    Location:
    Portland, Or
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I was always told that neg film has greater latitude verses Chrome film. Fir my abstracts and nature work I use trans and for people its negs. But, I also like to switch them and get interesting results as well ie Fuji Velvia on a model who is in deep shadows. The warmth of the film contasts nicely with the coolness of the shadows.
    I would also suggest you read Charles Cramers article in latest issue of "View Camera" magazine.
    Best thing to do is explore and then stick with what you prefer.
     
  9. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,769
    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2003
    Location:
    NH
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    My opinion is that for a wet print it is easier to get a decent portrait with negative films. I find I have a much easier time scanning slides however. Astia (buy Sensia in 35mm to save $) is a great slide film for portraits. But, I think your choice will come down to what works best with the lab's equipment. Or you could setup a color darkroom for not much money and print them yourself (my choice). A used enlarger and Printo processor and won't set you back more than $500 if you shop around (in the US).
     
  10. Baxter Bradford

    Baxter Bradford Member

    Messages:
    772
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Location:
    Lymington, S
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Colour neg would seem to have a lot to offer over transparency. I am looking at using it more commonly when Velvia 50 finally beomes unavailable; due to the poor results Velvia 100 produced in my tests. I am not enamoured with the palette of Velvia 100f which is almost opposite to that of Velvia 100 when shooting Dawn/Dusk skies. The former omits the red/magenta, the latter producing images seemingly from another planet.

    There are several reasons why I am looking at moving in this direction (please keep off your A vs D Soapboxes, I am aiming to discuss the merits of film!):

    1. It should have a lower grain than the transparency from the RMS figures, but I haven't yet managed to set the scanner up in a way which produces these results. It must be possible because the bulk of the Imacon presets are for colour neg emulsions and the since film type is widely used.

    2. The better exposure latitude offered by colour neg should mean that for static scenes only one sheet of film is needed. The extended range offers the ability to shoot scenes where contrast cannot be controlled through the use of ND grad filters. This has proved to be a great get out of jail card and offers ability to shoot scenes that previously I would have had to leave unphotographed. Once I have sorted the scanning, then they will become avialable to me. I am determined to crack this!

    3. The colour palette is very flexible and indeed tonal range can be carefully controlled as can Saturation and Hue. The problem for me here is the lack of a benchmark which a vibrant tranny on a lightbox neatly provides.

    4. I am looking to start doing my own processing and do not relish having to do 1/3 and 1/2 stop push processing!

    5. The other benefit would be conversion to B+W once scanned and digitised. Although I really love Acros in PMK.

    Currently I have no ability to 'read' a colour neg on the lightbox, other than check focus and basic composition, but am aiming to improve on this. I have been using Quickload Fuji NPS but am going to try the replacement when it becomes available which has been designed to offer lower grain and better scanning characteristics.
     
  11. bjorke

    bjorke Member

    Messages:
    2,032
    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2003
    Location:
    SF & Surroun
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    THere is more information in a neg, and its range can be compressed to emulate slide film (which is contrastier). This doesn't change when going digital, though you should scan at 16 bits or better for such manipulations. But the telling remark should really be that you're already happy with the results — so why the belief that there's something "better" lurking 'round the corner?
     
  12. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,443
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2002
    Location:
    Calgary AB,
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I quite using slide film when I stopped doing stock photography. Back then you had to shoot everything on K25 or K64. It was a big deal when they accepted Fuji chromes!

    Anyway so much for the grey haired trip down memory lane (have to get it out now while I can still remember it ya know).

    I shoot either NPS 160 (or whatever they call it these days) or Kodak (while holding my nose) NC 160 (35mm, 120 and 4x5). Both have wonderful latitude, sharpness and color balance. They outperform chromes hands down, especially for portraits.

    I do both wet printing and digital file work from scanned negs. The scanner used is a Nikon LS2000. Do your own scanning as I find the local labs really mess up the files. Way to much saturation and over sharpening.
     
  13. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

    Messages:
    696
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2004
    Location:
    Fremantle, W
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Use neg film for your situation Nicole. If you were shooting subjects other than people, I'd change my opinion, but stick with negs for now.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

    Messages:
    726
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'd agree with those who prefer col neg. It's greater latitude makes it more forgiving and more versatile and you can retain detail over the whole image in moodier lighting. That said, go with what looks best to you and you can always hybidise: I get surprisingly good results re-photographing prints onto Velvia 50. As for scanning, you can get good results from either, but negs have flatter contrast and so tend be easier to fit into the dynamic range of even good film scanners.

    David.
     
  16. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,341
    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2005
    Location:
    Dearborn,Mic
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Here's another way to express the notion of latitude.

    Transparency film has a range ( or scale ) of about 8 stops; color neg has a range of about 12 stops.

    How you spend that latitude is up to you !

    An eight stop range is like printing a normal black and white negative on #4 paper.

    The 12 stops of a color negative is like printing normal black and white on #2, and having a two stop margin of error.

    If we shoot 'chromes in studio lighting, we can light for the short scale. But if we shoot outside, we have to use flat light or we can easily blow out the highs, or the lows, or both.

    The twisty part of this is that while chromes have a 8 stop scale, there are only 4 stops that hold detail. A color negative's 12 stop scale has 8 stops that hold detail.

    This isn't to suggest that one can't do perfectly fine work on 'chromes. But it is a bit like juggling chainsaws.

    If you are happy with shooting 'chromes, however, and your vision supports the technique, go for it !
     
  17. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,769
    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2003
    Location:
    NH
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    bjorke, I don't understand what in my post indicates I am looking for something better around the corner. I have actaully come from shooting slides and scaning to trying to print the slides on Ilfochrome. I have so far not come close to mastering Ilfochrome so I tried color negatives. I have been quickly able to get nice prints this way. It also takes about half of the time of scanning/inkjet to get a good first print. So far however my best landscpae results are from drum scanned slides on a lightjet or chromira. But I haven't really used 4x5 negatives yet for landscapes, so who knows. The reason for me to switch in this case is I am not happy doing all my color landscapes on a computer or with Ilfochrome.
     
  18. Helen B

    Helen B Member

    Messages:
    1,557
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    Location:
    Hell's Kitch
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    "A color negative's 12 stop scale has 8 stops that hold detail."

    I'd suggest that the neg holds more than that, but eight stops is what you might get from it by printing it straight. Though it doesn't show very well in a small jpg, this snap has detail in at least ten stops. Making the paper so that it can hold detail over the full density range of a colour neg (without masking or dodging or whatever) would result in horribly flat prints most of the time. Scanning gives more options.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  19. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,341
    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2005
    Location:
    Dearborn,Mic
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    HELEN !

    Brilliant example !

    cool pic, too
     
  20. nexus

    nexus Member

    Messages:
    80
    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    Shooter:
    35mm
    OT doens't that just piss you off? I'm so sick of the film companies going on about how their 100iso film has finer grain and will do what the 25 and 50 ISO films do. THEY DONT! I will cry the day ilford get rid of my 50iso b&w because i really don't trust 100 to have as much fine grain. I hate that we can't get slow film
     
  21. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

    Messages:
    3,242
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Location:
    Milwaukee, W
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Color negative films all the way. I would only use a transparency to allow greater flexibility in making a b&w negative that allowed more tone control thru masking in the production of a b&w negative from the slide beyond what could be accomplished thru the use of a filter when taking on b&w film.
     
  22. Quinten

    Quinten Member

    Messages:
    337
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    Amsterdam
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    without any intention to change the direction of the threat some replies raise a question.

    Where is the 18% gray on the 8 stops that contain detail on a negative, and where is this value on the 4 from the slide?

    Are the stops containing detail right in the middle or slightly towards one end of the curve?

    Cheers,
    Quinten
     
  23. Glenn Mathison

    Glenn Mathison Member

    Messages:
    474
    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2004
    Location:
    Brisbane, Au
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hey Nicole,

    Slides Vs Film?

    My comments are entirely related to cost/ease.

    I shoot NPS160 on my MAM645 for pics of my kids. Very happy with the results.

    My (limited) experience here in Sydney is that it is much easier and cheaper to get 120 negs made into prints than it is with slides. Most labs can scan 120 and print easily and cheaply, whereas it *appears* that if you want to go with slides to print you need a pro level lab and the prices are significantly higher.

    I have had some slides 35 & 120 made into prints at non-pro labs and the results were uniformly terrible. I have no doubt that more $$ for pro level labs would improve the output quality on paper but for me as a hobbyist I can't justify the 300%+ increase in costs.

    YMMV

    Regards
    Glenn
     
  24. rbarker

    rbarker Member

    Messages:
    2,222
    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2004
    Location:
    Rio Rancho,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think there are several factors involved here that are worth thinking about:

    1. the compression (or, truncation) of the luminance range of the scene onto what the selected film is capable of recording,

    2. the further compression (or truncation) of the image data on the film by the scanner, and

    3. the final compression (or truncation) of the image data by the nature of the presentation media (the print paper).

    While it is generally accepted (proven, really) that color negative film has greater range than slide film, whether that is important to the final print is a matter of style and/or taste. Some may prefer the ability of color negatives to show more subtle shadow detail that would be lost with a slide. Conversely, if one lights to a 4-stop range, as might be done for magazine or ad photography, the extra range of color negative film becomes moot.

    As noted, however, what works best with the lab's setup also needs to be considered. It's easier, for example, for the person doing the scan to visually compare the scan results to the original slide.

    As an aside, I'd argue that color negative film, just like other films, has NO "latitude". There is only one exposure value at which the film is properly exposed. It's just that minor errors in exposure can be masked by other elements in the total process to produce an acceptable print, even though it might not be the optimal print. :cool:
     
  25. Earl Dunbar

    Earl Dunbar Member

    Messages:
    558
    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2004
    Location:
    Rochester, N
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I would like to agree with Ralph. Most of the arguments in favour of negative films are valid, but they cannot be considered in a vacuum. The one huge advantage of chromes is the fact that it is a finished product on its own. As such, you can choose which film best suits the subject, the conditions and even your equipment.

    The luminance of a chrome original, being viewed by transillumination and being a unique medium, is what guides me in evaluating a final print. Not using colour neg film a lot in the last several years, I can't and won't make a definitive judgment, but I prefer chromes, especially Kodachrome. There is something about the combination of colour balance, tonality and sharpness that I feel can't be duplicated with negative film. I could be wrong, of course! :wink:

    Earl
     
  26. eumenius

    eumenius Member

    Messages:
    768
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    Location:
    Moscow, Russ
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    In my colour work, I prefer to shoot NPS 160 colour negative, mostly in 120 format. Well, the slides have for me their value, too - I love to look at them, that's just a passion :smile: I don't care much about film latitude etc., I just love the look of, say, still-lives shot on Fuji 64T slide film with hot lights. The slides scan well, but today's minilabs are made to scan the negs - they can't cope with big densities of slide, so one must use a pro lab and their specialized scanners. Maybe that's an offtopic, if the thread is dedicated to colour materials, but I love to make b/w slides from Ilford films (FP4+ and PanF+) by reversal processing. It gives me virtually no grain, enhanced sharpness and better "scanability" :smile: And these slides are fun to look to, and to project them.

    Cheers, Zhenya