understanding velvia; metering, contrast and color

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Puma, Jun 16, 2011.

  1. Puma

    Puma Member

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    Hello,

    I want to embark into the world of color velvia and I have some questions;

    What exactly is the range in stops of Velvia? Four, five, six? I searched all over and found lots of different answers. Specifically I want to know how many stops do I have in highlights and shadows from zone five?

    How do I control contrast? I've read several varying opinions. Some say I cannot control it at all. Some say I can get an e6 kit and use zone system techniques just like b&w. Some say just to meter two stops above zone v and let shadows fall where they may but not knowing exactly where the upper limit is with the film I don't know?

    Assuming I sent it to a lab for the first rolls do I have to use color balance filters or will the lab correct it for me? Until I find a color head for my enlarger I'm restricted to a CD of images but I'm actively looking for one now. If I don't color correct will the results be dissatisfying? Even correcting the CD of images?

    If I had more disposable income I'd just buy a bunch of Velvia, e6 chemistry, color head and paper and figure it out but I can't afford to do that so I really appreciate your help. Thank you.
     
  2. Ian C

    Ian C Member

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    With any color transparency film, what you see is what you get after the film is processed. If you meter carefully and shoot in brilliant sunlight with lots of difference between the sun and shadows, the scene will be faithfully recorded with the high contrast just as it was. The highlights are easily “blown out” by overexposure if you don’t meter carefully and take steps to prevent it.

    If, on the other hand, the scene was hazy, or overcast, or foggy, the scene will be low in contrast compared to more standard lighting. Too, dull lighting conditions like overcast or fog will also cool the color considerably because such lighting contains much less warm, reddish light.

    I believe that thinking in Zone System terms isn’t really appropriate when using transparency films. You won’t be able to adjust development to compensate for particular lighting and exposure as we might with with B&W negative films. The old adage, “with transparency film, expose for the highlights and let the shadows fall where they may” is pretty much the way it is.

    If you set the exposure for a darker part of the scene, the highlights will be overexposed and look like someone applied bleach to them. They’ll be too light and lack both detail and color. It’s a jarring effect that slide shooters learn to avoid.

    A transparency looks best if the brightest parts of the scene are more or less correctly exposed. The darker areas look darker than you remember. In this way, the overall scene looks natural, even if somewhat darker overall than you recall.

    The color you record is just how the slide will look—provided your scene is lit with the type of light the film was intended for. Most transparency films are daylight balanced. That means that colors are recorded accurately in 5500K daylight or electronic flash. Both sources provide about the same color of light.

    There is nothing that the lab (or you, if you do your own E6 processing) can do in the developing step to correct the color. For this reason, we use filters to match unusual light to expose the film to get natural looking color.

    For example, the blue 80A, 80B, or 80C will help balance overly red sources like tungsten lights. Light blue cooling filters like the 82A, 82B, 82C can compensate for the overly red light when the sun is near the horizon and overly red. This can be particularly useful for portraits where red, orange, or yellow tinged faces are not wanted.

    Likewise, the 81A, 81B, and 81C warming filters can greatly improve the color of transparency films when shot in cool light such as under overcast sky or in shade.
    The first 5 categories of filters listed here along with polarizers, UV, and skylight filters are the most useful filters for using with transparency films. There are brief descriptions of the use of each that help explain how they improve color and the situations that are most appropriate for their use.

    http://www.hoyafilter.com/products/hoya/hoya-04.html

    Transparency film exposures need to be carefully metered because, unlike negative films, there is no latitude. We can exploit this to lighten or darken a scene within reason by fine-tuning the exposure. Some folks used to underexpose a scene considerably to simulate nighttime or to create a darker, gloomy scene for creative effects. That’s easily done with transparency films.

    You’ll get the best results with an incident meter or a reflected-light meter referenced to a gray card. You need to expose and keep a record to learn how a particular film responds. It has long been a standard practice for transparency shooters to test a film at the box speed and then alter it as needed to fine-tune the results.

    For example, many transparency shooters find that the box speed gives them transparencies that are too light with unsatisfactory color saturation (not enough color intensity). By increasing the EI for the particular film, slightly darker, more saturated and satisfying transparencies result. It used to be common for users of Kodachrome 64 to expose the film at ASA 80, a 1/3rd-stop reduction from box speed, to give them the slightly darker, more saturated color they preferred. Of course, they still needed to mind the highlights so as not to overexpose them.

    Fuji Velvia is a good E6 transparency film. It’s subject to the same exposure constraints and color requirements that other transparency films are subject to.

    Each film has its own color palette. Velvia has attracted many with its particular color rendition. Just as Kodachrome had a unique look that wasn’t matched by other films, Fuji Velvia has its own unique “look” that many folks appreciate.

    The last I saw, reversal printing materials for making color prints directly from transparencies and the special chemicals they require have all gone the way of the dodo, passenger pigeon and thylacine, at least in the US. I haven’t seen Ilfochrome for sale here since 2009. Even then, it had become too dear for most users. So it’s not likely that you’ll find a practical way to print it with a dichoric color enlarger.

    If you want to make color darkroom prints, using C41 color negative films and printing them on RA4 paper is a much better choice.

    I don’t know the answer to “What exactly is the range in stops of Velvia?” More importantly, it is what it is and there’s nothing we can do to alter it. You can discover the answer for yourself by actually shooting this film of a scene that you’ve metered and recorded the various light intensities. In this way you’ll have the answer.
     
  3. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    The reason there are different answers is because people do things differently and scenes vary too. The best way to figure out how much room you have is to experiment.

    The contrast of all film's can be adjusted in development. With color work this can significantly change the color balance/rendering. That said part of the magic of Velvia is the strong contrast.

    One alternative for contrast control is viewing Velvia, Provia, and Astia simply as contrast control choices.

    The other thing you might experiment with is color filters and polarization. Warming and cooling filters can make any of these films more or less vibrant.
     
  4. pryan9

    pryan9 Member

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    I have a whole bunch of old velvia that I find fun to shoot in toy cameras. It's very freeing and the colors from slides in something like a Holga are just so neat. Yea I have my blown highlights and my detail-less shadows but it doesn't matter to me. This image below was shot on a Holga with an 8stop ND filter and a circular polarizor fabricated to the lens.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Member

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    Velvia is a brand name that Fujifilm employs for three different products. I suppose you mean Velvia 50 or RVP50.

    http://www.fujifilm.com/products/professional_films/pdf/velvia_50_datasheet.pdf

    From what I understand (and what I understand is not Gospel at all) look the graph "characteristic curves", page 8.
    The more-or-less straight portion of the curves goes from around 0.3 (right side, highlights, "foot") to around 1.7 (left side, shadows, "shoulder").
    That means 2.0 as measured on a log base 10 exposure scale. That means 10^2.0 = 100.
    In stop terms, that is between 6 and 7 stops. 6 stops would be 64, 7 stops would be 128.

    Outside of the linear portion, you still have texture, but the response of the film is not linear (which helps you in not burning the highlights) and is not chromatically correct (see in the shadows how the red layer clips much before the other two layers).

    The answer to your question would be that Velvia 50 (RVP50) has the correct and nice response that you expect some 3 and something stops on both sides of middle gray, after which the non-linear portion begins. Considering that highlights burn faster and with greater overall damage to your image, you can - as most do as I understand - consider the dynamic range as being 2.6 EV above middle grey, and 3.3 below middle grey, and still be using 6 stops of dynamic range (your film has something more in the quasi-linear portion, but not much, the rest is foot and shoulder).

    In practical life, in a contrasted situation, with this film you meter with a spot light reflected meter the brightest part of the scene which you would consider a failure if it came burned out (lacking texture, looking "washed") and open 2.6 stops more than what the meter measures. That places that brightest part of the image in the part of the characteristic curve where the film answer is still polite :smile:
    The shadows will fall as they will fall and if you are outside and have no control over light that's just a thing you stoically accept.

    In practical terms, you would "scan" with your spot light meter the shadows and see where they fall, and how large it is their extent. You pay particular attention to any spot which is darker than 3.3 stops than your previously calculated exposure.

    If the extent of those zones is too large and the final slide is going to come out a bit too sepulchral, you have three choices:

    - bracket a bit toward opening more, accepting some highlight burning and hoping the shoulder will save your picture;
    - wait for some clouds;
    - save film.

    Cheers
    Fabrizio

    PS People don't use slides because they guarantee better chances of success. They don't. Slides can be problematic and sometimes are a pain where it aches. People use slides because when they work, they work a lot. It's not important how bad are images that you don't show, because you don't show them. It's important how good are images that you show, because you show them. Slides are very good at producing very bad and very good images. Just toss the bad ones (or save film, or use negative).

    PPS If you consider your highlights limit to be 2.7 and your shadows limit to be 3.3 you are already "skewing" your measure toward a slight underexposure. I would meter film at its nominal ISO value. I never "rate" slide film any different than ISO value, but I do consider the dynamic range "asymmetrical".

    PPPS If you use an incident light meter, in low-contrast situation you just expose according to your light meter indication (at nominal ISO). If you have one of those situations with a lot of contrast and the brightest marble receiving the most abundant light, you might close some 1/3 or 1/2 stop to prevent highlight burning.

    (it goes without saying that if the frame matters, and if the situation is tricky, you should do some bracketing).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 17, 2011
  6. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    Some very good answers here.
     
  7. segedi

    segedi Member

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    What size film are you planning to shoot? And what's your location? I have some RVP 50 and some Agfa slide film I may part with so you can get your toes wet.
     
  8. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    "You found lots of different answers to your question" and will get a lot more on this forum because to ask someone to test films for you is like asking them to have sex for you, you have to do it yourself you can't rely on other peoples experiences.
     
  9. 36cm2

    36cm2 Member

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    Benjiboy, you must be doing some serious film testing! :wink:
     
  10. coigach

    coigach Subscriber

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    When using transparency film, ND Grads are essential in my opinion.

    You can use ND Grads on-camera to 'even up' the stop range to an amount more suited to the limited range of Velvia (4-6 stops). My 0.9 ND Grad (3 stops) is used very often in my landscape shots to ensure definition in the sky.

    These links on metering with ND grads might also be useful:

    http://www.nathangriffin.com/technical/how_to_graduated_nd.htm

    http://www.brucepercy.co.uk/blog/category/nd-grads/

    http://dougchinnery.blogspot.com/2009/01/metering-for-lee-nd-grads-with-digital.html
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 17, 2011
  11. Puma

    Puma Member

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    Thanks for the great responses! I didn't realize that ilfochrome supplies are unobtanium which seriously bums me out. I was really looking forward to learning this film and making cibachromes. How are the serious landscape guys doing this? I really don't want to be tied to the computer and I have even less of a desire to get a digital camera. I saw online that these supplies are still available in England, I wonder if I it would be possible to get it somehow? Hazmat might be the limiting factor.

    What if everyone on this site wrote an email to Freestyle asking for it? Even though I have zero experience with it I think it would be a shame to lose such an amazing process.

    Meanwhile, I'm going to buy the home kits for e6 processing and start figuring it out. At least I can still.do that. Does anyone know how many rolls I can process with each kit?

    Thank you for your valuable insights,

    Puma
     
  12. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Hi,

    All three Velvia varieties will behave differently. 50 is very saturated and has very warm warm hues. 100 is very saturated, but the warm hues are cooler. 100F is highly saturated, but not nearly as much as the other two kinds. It is also less contrasty IME.

    The 100F is the most "normal" of the three IME. I use it more than any of the others. I particularly like it for still life pix and twilight landscapes.

    I would put in the effort and expense for an initial test of the range of these films, and push and pull tests. It is a P.I.T.A., but it gives you so much information about the films that you can use in the future.

    I would start with a plain old bracketed towel (or any textured fabric) test, and see where your film drops off into black on the low end, and into clear (white) on the high end. That will give you a rough idea of the film's ability to hold texture on either side of middle gray.
     
  13. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Shush, don't tell my wife, IMO the only way to experience the capability of a film is "suck it and see" :wink:
     
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  15. mhanc

    mhanc Member

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    A lot of good information here and I think I will try some Velvia as well as some others discussed here. I have been exclusively using E100G and E100VS. I really like the VS for low [and warm] light.

    I should point out that Ilfochrome/Cibachrome IS STILL AVAILABLE both at a number of labs as well as the materials to print in one's own darkroom. I have used The Lab and the work is profoundly excellent. I encourage everyone to avail themselves of this process: it will keep it alive and you will never get better color prints! See the below links...

    The Lab
    Recent list of labs
    Thread
     
  16. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    i shot a lot of velvia 120 and 4x5 film for a while ..
    extra vivid was OK but a bit on the surreal side for me ...
    so i muted the colors ( by hand not by machine ) shooting
    with ancient lenses and bellows and over exposing the film ...
    the only suggestions i would give are experiment with different
    situations --- exposing in different ways.
     
  17. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    Wow, John..that proves once again that all rules are meant to be broken...or actually NEED to be broken to achieve something unique and beautiful. Wonderful, soothing image.
     
  18. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    thanks max !

    yeah, i agree about the rules ...
    i guess it is good to know why they are there ( kinda-sorta ) and then they should be disregard entirely !
    rules and formulas in any kind of artistic endeavor hamper creativity

    - john
     
  19. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    You could get Ilfochrome stuff from Freestyle (via special order) and B&H last I checked. Has that changed?
     
  20. hrst

    hrst Member

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    Hello, the most important question you pose, the exposure range, is often a debate in the Internet forums, although it is clearly answerred in the datasheet that you can download from the Fuji website!

    Just learn how to read the characteristic curve -- on the X axis, there is the exposure, 0.3 being one f/stop; going to right means more exposure. On the Y axis, there is the resulting density from that exposure. When the curve is going downwards steeply, the tonal separation (contrast) is high -- this is called the linear region. Or "almost linear region" -- it's up to you what you want to read from the curves!

    This almost linear range is around 6 to 7 stops with all Velvias; Velvia 50 may show a little bit more than 100 and 100F, but not much.

    OTOH, when the curve is straight horizontal line, every detail is lost. But, with slide film, the toe and shoulder are very important. This means the parts of the curve that do not produce full tonal separation but still show detail. Velvia 50 can show some detail for even up to 10 stops, but Velvia 100 and 100F are worse in this regard; they have sharper toe and shoulder.

    A basic "rule of thumb" often stated is that it's good to have sharp toe and shoulder, but this is based on the comparison where longer toe and shoulder would eat off the linear part. (And this is mostly the rule for designing color negative films, where the toe and shoulder are ignored anyway). This is not the case with Velvias, as the 50 shows as much linear part as 100 and 100F, if not even more. Therefore, the longer toe and shoulder are merely extra. In practice, this means that the Velvia 50 does not block the shadows as easily as the newer counterparts, but still show the nice high-contrast crispness in the midtones. I'm also seeing better highlight detail with Velvia 50.

    The color rendition is completely a different matter from this. I won't go into it because it is always well discussed whereas the contrast or "dynamic range" issue is dismissed.

    I have evaluated pull processing of Velvia 50 in a controlled side-by-side test and found that shooting it at 20 to 25 ISO and developing for 2 minutes less than normal in FD results in decreased contrast, decreased color saturation and increased tonal separation in both shadows and highlights. The effect is not huge but it's clearly there. I liked the results more than when shot normally. Has anyone tested this with Velvia 100 or Velvia 100F? I think it would be even more important with them to tame the contrast.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 18, 2011
  21. stevie duncan

    stevie duncan Member

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    Velvia

    Hi,

    I shoot large format velvia and read the thread - I take shots at between 0.5 and 1s with no colour correction. I take three shots - I take a shot where I have measured exposure for the foreground this over exposes the sky I take a shot at the average of the scene - this usually has some hard shadows and also over exposes the sky. Let us say that is f22 50ASA and the two exposures were 1s and 0.5s - I now shoot a shot at 1s with a graduated filter on the highlights. If you go over 4s us magenta colour correction.

    I do not consistently get a best shot i.e. it really depends on the light which one has worked but I have alwasy had a shot i want to print up. If I could only take 1 shot - i.e. only one dark slide left I would take the shot with the graduated filter.

    As to dynamic range I make it 3.67 EV - I will have to check the product guide. As you will know depends on the light how far it is plus and how far it is minus but I have never managed to exceed 3.67 EV.
     
  22. Puma

    Puma Member

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    I found out that Freestyle has TWO types of chemistry to process RVP 50, so I'm going to get started testing this stuff and figure it out. This is a great thread and I'm thrilled that it's still possible. The only thing that stands in my way is finding a color module for my Leitz V35 and a good book on the process. Should anyone know the whereabouts of one these color modules, I'd be thrilled to hear about it.

    Thank you,

    Puma
     
  23. Ian C

    Ian C Member

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    Ilfochrome and Chemistry at Freestyle by Special Order

    From #18


    I emailed Freestyle to find out because I hadn't seen it listed under color papers or color chemistry. Here's the response I received:

    "Yes, we offer the P 30 2 liter developing kit, and the Ilfochrome papers in standard and moderate contrast. The are drop shipped from the vendor, so please contact us for shipping quotes.

    Thank you,

    Tori Puente

    Telesales Representative

    Freestyle Photographic Supplies

    800-292-6137 ext. 151

    tori@freestylephoto.biz"

    So the good news is that we can still get Ilfochrome and the processing chemsitry.

    Thus we can still make prints of our color transparencies.
     
  24. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    That is good that they have been able to set that up. It is $90 for a 2L kit of the chemistry, last I checked, and a few hundred bucks or so for a box of the printing material, I believe.

    So, it's an expensive practice. $400 (a box of 11x14 print material and 4L of chemistry) might get you four 10-print editions, if you aren't wasting a lot of printing material to get to your perfect print. If you don't need so many copies, you'll get more, of course. And don't forget the cost of the masking film, at over a dollar a sheet.

    Apparently surfaces other than glossy are still manufactured as well, but they are only sold in large quantities to professional labs, so home users are out of luck.
     
  25. hrst

    hrst Member

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    What?! You seem to have a very own definition for EV -- or dynamic range, for that matter. Are you sure you are not speaking about Dmax, a totally different subject? Though, the Dmax is not 3.67, but nearer to 3.5, but I cannot figure out any other number that is even close to your 3.67. For log H, on the other hand, 3.67 is too much for any slide film for any purpose.

    It surprises me every time how difficult it is to learn to read the characteristic curves, found in the datasheets published by the manufacturers. The internet is full of crazy legends and sayings with no understanding which would be extremely easy to obtain.
     
  26. Puma

    Puma Member

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    What's the best book to learn to develop and print slides?