What ISO film with flash for indoors?

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by film_guy, Feb 18, 2007.

  1. film_guy

    film_guy Member

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    I hope this is the right forum for this question. I'm confused with the available options for film for indoor use. There's ISO 160, 200, 400, 800, 1600 and 3200 negative film options available.

    In terms of which film to suit the situations, am I right to assume that 160 iso film is only for outdoors during the day time with fill-flash as necessary, while iso 400 is for darker outdoors and indoors with fill-flash, and iso 800, 1600 and 3200 film is "mainly" for available light shooting.
     
  2. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    Depending on whether flash is your main light source, if your flash(es) is/are strong enough, and/or your lenses are fast enough and your subjects are close enough, you can shoot with slow film with flash.

    -Anupam
     
  3. dmr

    dmr Member

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    I usually avoid flash, but when I use it I'll usually use plain Fuji off-the-shelf 200 or sometimes 400.

    No particular reason, actually.
     
  4. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    In purely practical terms, I guess you could classifiy things that way. I would tend to judge film in terms of grain, color rendition and taste, then conditions, because there are always exceptions. For example you may shoot with 400 outdoors if you have a goal of large depth of field and/or very short exposures, say for fast action. On the other hand, if you have a flash that can produce lots of light, then shooting indoors with a slow film works just fine. Available light depends on your ability to steady the camera, and whether or not you need to worry about subject movement. And there are lots of ways to steady a camera without resorting to tripods, and such.
    Since my taste runs toward fine grain, and good color if it's not B&W, I tend to use films around 100 iso, rarely anything as fast as 400.
     
  5. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Perhaps you should start with the variables that are already set for you. For example: when I had to make flash shots for a work assignment, I bought a flash that was within my budget, a Sunpak 383. I was going to shoot in a hotel during a busy conference, so that means handheld on-camera flash that provides all the light. Set.

    Next item on the list, what kind of photos I wanted to take. I had to take people pictures, from headshots to waist-level. I figured a 50mm lens was a pleasing and useful focal length for this. I also use the 50mm because mine is an f1.4, which also helps focussing (I'm using manual focus). Set.

    Then I use a diffuser, because I shoot people, which cuts about 2.5 stops. Set.

    Given these parameters, I can now look at the distance scales on my flash. I take most pictures between 0.6 - 5m, so I use the auto mode. Set.

    If my film were 100 ISO, my aperture is f8. Given the -2.5 loss from the diffuser, that means I would need to work around f3.5, which is not much depth of field, even in 35mm. If my film were a 400 ISO, on the other hand, I can work at ~f8/f5.6, which is much better.

    Now I can pick my film, and I was working with color. So I picked my favorite 400 ISO color negative film (Kodak Portra NC). Had I wanted to work with slide instead, I would compromise for 200 ISO, because that's the faster slide film I like (Kodak E200). Set, and ready to go.

    Took me a while to figure it all out; start by laying out the variables you can't change, and then calculate the remaining ones. You'll find out that there are surprisingly few options in the end.
     
  6. Jonathan Brewer

    Jonathan Brewer Member

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    'In terms of which film to suit the situations, am I right to assume that 160 iso film is only for outdoors during the day time with fill-flash as necessary, while iso 400 is for darker outdoors and indoors with fill-flash, and iso 800, 1600 and 3200 film is "mainly" for available light shooting.'.............

    .............There's no mistake about why each film is usually double/half the succeeding film, they can of course be used in terms of an EV. Considerations of grain and patina notwithstanding, you're shooting with strobe, you run out of power/need more depth of field, you can double the film speed/force develop, or use a film w/double the speed, same as opening up the lens/increasing shutter times.

    The reverse is also true, you've got too much of 'X' or 'Y' and you use a slower film, which is why, depending upon the issue/problems/sudden ideas/inspirations that always come up, no matter what I shoot, I have several films w/several diff. films speeds ready when I shoot.

    This is also gives you freedom/flexibility when you're using variables filtration that sucks up power like a sponge.
     
  7. Jonathan Brewer

    Jonathan Brewer Member

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    If I shoot folks in b&w with dark skin, I'll many times use an orange filter(21), ..............since skin has red in it, and since the filter sucks up 2 stops, I'll use Ilford HP5(I rate at 320), and set my meter to EI-80, no calucations/hassle, and this works a lot better for me than reaching for Ilford FP4 which starts out @ISO 125(on the box [I rate it @ EI-100]).

    Now if I wanted to open up for more selective focus, then I reach for the FP4, which I meter/rate @EI-25 behind an orange filter, since I've now got a much slower film speed.
     
  8. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    It depends on how big an area you want to light, how powerful a flash you are using, what flash technique (direct, bounce etc) you want to use and how much depth of field (and so what lens aperture) you need.

    David.
     
  9. tbm

    tbm Member

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    I've always used Fuji Acros 100 and Delta 100 indoors with my Metz flash on my Leicas and have always gotten wonderful results. One day last year, I tried several 400 speed films in the same environment (Neopan 400, Tri-X, and a forgotten third) and I disliked the grain and contrast immensely.

    Re color film, I've always used Fuji Reala 100 when using my Metz flash on my Leicas and, again, have always gotten superb results. Several years ago, I photographed the interior floors of a four-story mansion in Rock Island, Illinois with that film and all the flash shots were grain-free, sharp, and full of beautiful colors.

    Terry
     
  10. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Unlike the others, I have no immediate recommendation to your question.

    First, let me ask you a few questions:

    1. What camera do you use?

    2. Do you already own a flash unit?

    3. If not, what is your budget?

    Quite frankly, if your shooting say a Nikon F5 with a SB-800 flash unit, the flash will auto-adjust to your film speed via the DX setting and the ambient light conditions as read through the lens!

    While use of flash can vary somewhat - generally it is all close in work - so if you think of my above example as the "total no worry" way to go - you adjust downward in terms of the capabilities of your flash unit and camera to attain the same (and maybe better, at times) result.
     
  11. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    For colour film, the lower speed films that are oriented toward portraits and flesh tones are a great choice, because they tend to be a bit lower in contrast and more muted in colour than some others.

    Over the years, Vericolour II, Vericolour III, and Portra 160 NC have all worked well for me. I am looking forward to trying the new version of Portra 160 NC.

    This is, however, with fairly powerful flash units (Vivitar 283 initially, than Metz 202, and more recently Metz 60 CT1 or 60 CT2 flashes).

    If I had to use lower power flashes, I would probably use the Portra 400NC film.

    Matt
     
  12. film_guy

    film_guy Member

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    1. EOS 3

    2. Yes, I own a Canon ETTL-enabled flash

    I've shot mainly digital before during large-events, where I can automatically adjust the ISO up or down based on lighting conditions. But with film it's harder to do so since what I have in the SLR is basically the ISO I have to work with (minus or plus 1 stop with the lattitude of negative film). And add in the problems with tungsten lighting, it can be quite confusing.

     
  13. reub2000

    reub2000 Member

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    I'm not sure if you can do this on the EOS 3, but with my ELAN 7 I can change film mid roll.

    Any competent lab should be able to correct the color cast from tungsten lighting. (Read: Not a 1 hour lab, they have been bad in getting color temp correct from my experience.) If your really worried about color temperature, then shoot with the flash as your only light source. Shoot on manual mode, and set shutter to the x-sync speed, which is 1/200 on the eos 3.
     
  14. film_guy

    film_guy Member

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    I just got a roll of Fuji Superia X-tra 800 developed which was shot in mainly tungsten lighting indoors. I rated the roll at 800 iso and shot at 1/30 to 1/60th of a sec, at F2.8 to F5.6, and made sure I gave all the exposures +1/3 EV. In 75% of the shots I used bounced flash at -1/3 to +1/3 Flash Exposure Compensation, and the shots came out looking pretty decent whenever there's a 0 to +1/3 Flash Exposure Compensation added.

    Whenever there wasn't any flash used or when there's not a low enough ceiling to bounce the flash, the colors came out looking muddy, yellow-ish tint and grainy. So does this mean that I have to use my flash for any available light photos to help with the colors and less grain?
     
  15. reub2000

    reub2000 Member

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    If you bounce the flash off of a ceiling that is too high, then there might not be enough flash power. In that case, the camera will just fire the flash at it's maximum output. Opening up your aperture will make the flash more effective.

    Color temperature is controlled during the printing stage. Where did you have the film developed? Take your film back there and ask them to reprint the film. If you don't want a lab to be modifying the color temperature of your photos, then shoot slides with the appropriate color filter in front of your camera.
     
  16. sanderx1

    sanderx1 Member

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    This means you got gross underexposure. You certainly can make available light exposures without any use of flash, but to be successfull you have to tell your camera you won't use flash (turn it off). It might need exposures as long as several seconds though. Flash power falls off to the 4th power with disatnce just like radar, so if you want to use bounce with high ceilings you have to have very powerfull flash or even several powerful flashes.
     
  17. film_guy

    film_guy Member

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    So does that mean I need to shoot higher ISO film like 1600 or 3200 since these situations cannot take iso 800 film? There's going to be situations when I cannot or don't prefer to use flash, and have to go by available light. And I thought film can take about one to one and half stop underexposure and still come out looking right, or am I wrong?
     
  18. sanderx1

    sanderx1 Member

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    Its very hard to say without knowing what the exposure times were / would have been without flash, or what aperture setting you were using.
     
  19. film_guy

    film_guy Member

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    Exposure range from 1/25 sec F5.6 to 1/80 sec F2.8 without flash.
     
  20. reub2000

    reub2000 Member

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    If I where you then I'd go with the 1/80@f/2.8 instead of trying to use a faster film. Try to hold the camera steady.

    If your having a hard time holding the camera steady, then consider getting a monopod.