Take some shots both indoors and outdoors and bracket them. You should be able to see quickly what the ideal speed is for you. I personally shoot Portra at 2/3 to 1 stop less than box speed (200 or 250 instead of 400). It works well for me both manually metering, and using the matrix meter in my Nikon (which seems to be setup form for slides - preserves highlights at the expense of shadow detail).
My guess is you are a bit under exposed, and the scanning isn't the best it could be. An optical print will tell you how well the film is developed.
ok time to expand the darkroom, Quality and charaster are the main qualities I am looking for ;-) and film offer both to those who keep trying and learning.. I hope to be able to post something better soon. Thanks
From reading Ken Rockwell's review, it seems your camera's metering system discards the edges and averages the rest. That big back-lighting blob is probably contributing a lot to the underexposure of the rest. Also, this was Canon's first camera with a computer chip so the metering system might not have been as accurate and was certainly less sophisticated than later models. Be prepared for a lot more surprises than you are used to with digital cameras having 30-year newer computers in them.
Last edited by pbromaghin; 02-27-2013 at 04:06 PM. Click to view previous post history.
All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. Choose the one that has heart.
If you were to do RA4 printing, you do not need to heat the kodak chemicals, if you were to buy developer replenisher and blix kit without starter. Just run a couple of prints thru it to season the dev a bit first. The filtration settings can be different though, but that doesn't matter.
As for a safelight i use a VERY dim kodak no. 13 standard safelight (not directly illuminating paper) and i get really nice results. i have a 'safetorch' as well, which can be used for a few seconds at a time to position ones self. I do not have problems with fog, unless the safelights are positioned close to, and directly on the paper for more than 10 or 20 seconds.
RA4 is rewarding My jobo enlarger is OLD but i get superb quality prints from it, i have a good enlarger lens as well. I can rarely find a lab that prints how I want to, as how i like them to look can only be judged by me, not an unknown operator.
It's an interesting tradeoff. The optical route gives you the highest resolution with the least loss of information from the negative, especially if you use larger film but the hybrid route gives you far more control which is important if the lighting situation is difficult (strong colour casts or mixed lighting) because you can make any number of corrections digitally that you can't optically. In particular, it's much easier to correct for strong lighting-colour errors (e.g. due to shooting under tungsten light without a tungsten/daylight conversion filter) digitally than under the enlarger.
Originally Posted by LucRoMar
The digital route also gives you contrast and saturation control which can be very important, particularly because there are now only high-contrast RA4 papers available which makes portraiture more difficult.
This is true (that cold RA4 is OK) when printing on Kodak paper. The Fuji paper can give bad crossover though if not developed at vaguely the correct temperature - I use 35C. And Fuji paper is by far the more available now, especially if you want to buy sheets not rolls.
Originally Posted by jm94
Last edited by polyglot; 02-27-2013 at 04:12 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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Welcome to Under Exposure and the World of Negative Film!
Both images are under exposed. First image, probably grossly so. See the strong backlight in the background? That threw your meter way off. Even more modern and sophisticated multi segment "matrix" meters would be off, but the simple center weighted "averaging" meter you have is thrown massively off by situations like this. It sees all that light in the background, and in the process of averaging the exposure over the entire image area, gives an exposure way too low for the important part of the image - your sons face.
Second image has a similar but less drastic situation. Your sons face is in reality a highlight, that is, it is brighter than middle grey. Same for the walls in the background. But your meter does not know this, and believes the boys face should be a brightness similar to middle grey. so instead of correct exposure, it only sets enought to make his face a dull grey level of brightness - and the shadow side of his face falls into murky, grainy darkness. Caucasiioan skin tones (tones = brightness, or at least it is helpful to think of it that way) should be 1 stop Above middle grey brightness. So, the fix is to add 1 stop of extra exposure in a sitaution like this. Plus, negative film is always improved by an extra stop, so plus 2 stops would be the best for your second image.
So, that is the Under Exposure part of the Story. And with Porta 400, even in 35mm, that is the greatest part of the story. Expose it well (make sure you err on the side of over exposure with negative film), and you will get much much better scans.
But the other part of the story is that negative film just simply scans more grainy and less sharp than slide film. Peroid. Plus, consumer scanners are optimized for slide film which makes the situation worse when home scanning negs (not your case, you had a minilab which was optimized for negtive scans do your work).
Try a roll of Provia 100F or Provia 400X and you will be amazed at how much better the scanned results are. Like worlds better. Sharper, with almost non-existant grain that allows digital like levels of inage sharpening if needed. Plus, you will be blown away by the colors and vibrancy of your slides! If you have an old family projector, your first slide show will be something you will not soon forget.
However, your metering must be much more precise. a non issue really with any of the multi segment metering cameras from the 1990's, and even point and shoots from that era. But your camera will require more care and thought in basing exposure readings.
But, I still highly recommend trying a roll of slide. It offers maximum differentiation to digital. Its a true analog expereince. Neg only approaches this level of uniqueness if you are doing optical printing, which is an art unto itself....
I would also ask, did you have the lab scan these or did you do it yourself? It looks like they are slightly "lab corrected" as in rather than give you lab scans as they were, they were brightened up a bit from the original exposure which would account for the increased grain look. Also standard lab scans are often of poor quality. Third, the first image looks like someone hand processed them as I see a bit of bromide drag in the background, not at all terrible from what I've seen but not great either, I agree try over exposing by a stop or ask for push process for one stop, I've read that Portra handles that sort of thing better than any other film ever, so as long as you dial it in properly it should fine.
whoops didn't see that there were multiple pages of response... guess mine is over kill haha, good luck!
StoneNYC, yes I'm overwhelmed by the quantity AND quality of the replies I got so far, but It also give me a lot of work too lol.
My to do is to :
- get better exposure of my film/learn to use the camera.
- start home dev BW film, then when I am used to doing it try color (looks like I can save a ton of money doing it myself.
- start B/W enlargment and then try color enlargment.
- try slide film when I am ok with exposition.
- finish reading the 3 AA books Camera/negative/print.
B&W is certainly cheaper than a lab, but color, it's a toss up, it's a LOT more work, and you can save money for sure, but you basically have to stockpile the color until there's enough of it to develop until your chemistry is exhausted, otherwise it goes bad really fast. So you spend all day developing 20-30 rolls, it's a nightmare... I'm moving away from color, I'll keep my Velvia because it's just yummy haha, but other than that, I'm trying to purge all my C-41... in fact I have a thread about it, want to trade?
Originally Posted by LucRoMar