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Thread: ISO 800 film

  1. #1

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    ISO 800 film

    Hello,

    I had some specific questions about ISO 800 film that I wanted to run by you guys. I have searched the forum for the same topic and although I found hits, it does not address all my concerns.

    I am off to Alaska in 10 days to shoot the Northern Lights. I really really want to capture the lights on film (not to worry....I have a solid Nikon D300 as backup). My gear is a Pentax 645N with the 45mm f2.8. I am going to shoot wide open. I want to stop here because this is not a "how to shoot the lights questions" and I am aware of the limitations (I was in Alaska last year as well).

    I already have Portra 400 (although I am not a huge fan of C41 film) and Fuji PRovia 400X slide (I am madly in love with slide film). I am looking for an ISO800 film as well and came across Portra 800 as a choice, but user opinions are wildly varying from "no grain" to "unacceptable grain", so I am left without a reliable baseline....

    I DO NOT want to push and introduce grain in my shots if possible. I tried an experiment with Portra 400 pushed to 3200 (albeit a bit aggressive) and I absolutely hated the result....too much grain.

    My questions (I always scan my film, so am looking for a solution conducive to scanning):

    1. What is the verdict on Portra 800 when shot at box speed? Underexposed 0.5-1 stop? Would it need pushing under underexposure or can it handle that, followed up photoshop tweaking?

    2. Is it advisable to push Portra 400 and Fuji Provia 400X to 800? Again: opinions are skewed, so I don't know what to believe. I dare not push beyond 1 stop since I don't want to risk it given the importance of the subject. Although I want to avoid pushing, if the lights are too weak, I may not have a choice.

    I would REALLY appreciate your valuable insights. I hope to come back with some memorable images of the lights captured on (preferably) slide and C-41 film.

    Avi

  2. #2

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    This is Max 800, the twin brother of Portra 800. If you search Photo.Net, you will find a thread from one of the engineers who helped design both this and Portra 800. He said they are very very similar. With that in mind, you can check this image to get an idea of saturation and (lack of) grain.
    A very vibrant film, with superb skin tones (does not apply to your case), and I was very suprised to find, it actually does a decent sunset, capturing some reds...
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pukalo/7940946376/

    Click on the "actions" button in upper left corner, and set to View All Sizes to see full rez scan.
    Staright scan, no post processsing, straight from the excellent Kodak F135 scanner.

  3. #3
    polyglot's Avatar
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    It looks (from the published curves) that New Portra 400 has at least as much speed as Portra 800. So you could expose P400 at 800 and probably be quite happy. Since you're scanning it, C41 gives you a lot more latitude than you would have with a chrome, especially if the dynamic range is over-expanded by push processing in order to bring the speed up.

    Provia 400X reportedly pushes very well, certainly to 800. You gain some contrast of course but I'm not sure that's a problem for northern lights - just make sure you don't have any artificially-lit structures appearing in-frame to blow out.

    10 days isn't much but I bet you could shoot a roll of each at 800 in an afternoon and have them developed/scanned well before you needed to leave. Only you can judge the level at which grain is or isn't "acceptable" for your purposes...

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    Quote Originally Posted by pukalo View Post
    This is Max 800, the twin brother of Portra 800. If you search Photo.Net, you will find a thread from one of the engineers who helped design both this and Portra 800. He said they are very very similar. With that in mind, you can check this image to get an idea of saturation and (lack of) grain.
    A very vibrant film, with superb skin tones (does not apply to your case), and I was very suprised to find, it actually does a decent sunset, capturing some reds...
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/pukalo/7940946376/

    Click on the "actions" button in upper left corner, and set to View All Sizes to see full rez scan.
    Staright scan, no post processsing, straight from the excellent Kodak F135 scanner.
    Hey...thanks for this. But I don't think this film is available in 120. I don't shoot 135.

    Avi

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    Quote Originally Posted by polyglot View Post
    It looks (from the published curves) that New Portra 400 has at least as much speed as Portra 800. So you could expose P400 at 800 and probably be quite happy. Since you're scanning it, C41 gives you a lot more latitude than you would have with a chrome, especially if the dynamic range is over-expanded by push processing in order to bring the speed up.

    Provia 400X reportedly pushes very well, certainly to 800. You gain some contrast of course but I'm not sure that's a problem for northern lights - just make sure you don't have any artificially-lit structures appearing in-frame to blow out.

    10 days isn't much but I bet you could shoot a roll of each at 800 in an afternoon and have them developed/scanned well before you needed to leave. Only you can judge the level at which grain is or isn't "acceptable" for your purposes...
    Hmm...thats interesting. So what you are saying is I can underexpose Portra 400 1 stop and develop without pushing. My initial foray into Portra 400 was for exactly those reasons. I saw results: http://filmphotographyproject.com/co...g-kodak-portra where Portra had been severely underexposed with either no push or a 1 stop push. I was astounded by the results.

    I tried the same (sent in my film to E-Six Atlanta) but was super disappointed. I underexposed 3 stops and pushed 1 stop and 3 stops respectively on 2 rolls.....I was disappointed with both results. But based on what I saw from my 1 stop experiment, I can believe that the film will handle 800 well without a push. But I probably will overexpose slightly (maybe 1/3 stop) just to be sure.

    But the results were a bit confusing from the 1 stop push experiment. Scenes shot in sufficient light came out fine, but those shot under low light came out with very thin negs. This could be a metering issue (I use the Pentax 645 meter without an external confirmation).

    I think I might get a couple of rolls of Portra 800 along as well. Unfortunately 10 days is not sufficient to run my tests, since I have to mail my film in for development and that would take time.

    Thanks a lot! This definitely helps.

    Avi

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by psychoanalyst_god View Post
    Hey...thanks for this. But I don't think this film is available in 120. I don't shoot 135.

    Avi
    I read his post to say he understood that but was suggesting that the films are similar enough that this is indicative of the kind of results to expect, grain wise - and your 120 will need less enlargement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Cole View Post
    I read his post to say he understood that but was suggesting that the films are similar enough that this is indicative of the kind of results to expect, grain wise - and your 120 will need less enlargement.
    Hi Roger,

    Yes....you are correct. My apologies to pukalo.

    Thanks!

    Avi

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    MattKing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by psychoanalyst_god View Post
    Hmm...thats interesting. So what you are saying is I can underexpose Portra 400 1 stop and develop without pushing. My initial foray into Portra 400 was for exactly those reasons. I saw results: http://filmphotographyproject.com/co...g-kodak-portra where Portra had been severely underexposed with either no push or a 1 stop push. I was astounded by the results.

    I tried the same (sent in my film to E-Six Atlanta) but was super disappointed. I underexposed 3 stops and pushed 1 stop and 3 stops respectively on 2 rolls.....I was disappointed with both results. But based on what I saw from my 1 stop experiment, I can believe that the film will handle 800 well without a push. But I probably will overexpose slightly (maybe 1/3 stop) just to be sure.

    But the results were a bit confusing from the 1 stop push experiment. Scenes shot in sufficient light came out fine, but those shot under low light came out with very thin negs. This could be a metering issue (I use the Pentax 645 meter without an external confirmation).

    I think I might get a couple of rolls of Portra 800 along as well. Unfortunately 10 days is not sufficient to run my tests, since I have to mail my film in for development and that would take time.

    Thanks a lot! This definitely helps.

    Avi
    In a number of cases Kodak does not recommend that you adjust the development when your film is one stop under-exposed.

    As I understand it, this is due to what actually happens when you "push" your development.

    In reality, pushing does almost nothing to increase the detail in the shadows. What it does is increase the contrast across the board. As a result, the appearance of the deep shadows doesn't change but the lighter areas (from fully detailed near shadows, through the mid-tones and up to the near highlights) becomes more contrasty, and therefore either more or as appealing. The brighter highlights, however, lose detail due to the increased contrast, so they suffer.

    Kodak doesn't recommend the one stop push because their results indicate that the loss of quality in the highlights outweighs the benefits obtained in the near shadows.

    If you have a scene with a narrow subject brightness range, a push is much more likely to work well - but that is probably true even if you don't under-expose the shot.

    So essentially I'm saying that if you have a scene with a narrow subject brightness range, go ahead and meter your scene at EI 800 when using ISO 400 film and request a one stop push. If, however, you have a scene with an extremely wide subject brightness range, you need to decide where you are willing to sacrifice detail - in the shadows, or the highlights.

    If your scene has a moderate subject brightness range, you can rely on Portra's excellent ability to capture it.
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

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    I think I'd go with Provia 400X, pushes well, and the contrast of slide film will probably help the subject too. I think I'd also do at least one roll of Velvia, maybe it's too slow, but if it works, I think it would look great.

  10. #10

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    thanks so much guys!

    I have got Provia 400X, Portra 400 and 2 rolls of Portra 800. The plan is to shoot 2 rolls of Provia (1 at 400 and the other pushed to 800), 2 rolls of Portra (1 @ 400 1@800 without push; I will push a third roll to 800 if time permits) and 1-2 rolls of Portra 800.

    I am definitely carrying Velvia with me, but those are for my daylight shots.....I cannot image using that for the Northern Lights.

    Avi

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