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  1. #1
    ted_smith's Avatar
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    Poor (very grainy) results in low light with Fuji Pro 800Z

    I think the answer to this question is film age, but I will ask nonetheless.

    I bought some Fuji Pro 800Z several years ago for the first time and got some pretty good results with it and bought some more. For various reasons though, I didn't use it much and suffice to say some rolls I bought back in 2010 or thereabouts I use from time to time when light is low. The film has always been in the fridge but its expiry date is March 2012. So it'sa year out. That said, I used one of the rolls back in 2010 and had the same problem I am aout to tell you.

    Basically, 800Z is a fast film, so, naturally I use it when light is low or flash not generally acceptable. However, what I have found every time is that any shots taken without flash in even fairly low light or dark light produces stupidly grainy prints and scans. Yet, if I use the film in "normal" light where you can get 1\60th of a sec at f8, the prints look OK.

    Now, my question is, if 800Z was a famed grainy film like Delta 3200 (which 800Z is not famed for being), surely all prints from a roll would be grainy - not just the ones where the light was very dark?

    So how come the shots where I use it in light where its speed is not actually needed and I could have used 400H or 160S are acceptable, whereas the occasions where I could only use 800Z and the other films would fail produce such grainy unusable results? I have attached two shots shot in the early morning, indoors, in a caravan (sunlight coming in via opposite window) and another taken at midday in the same caravan. As you can see, the two low light shots are very grainy compared to the one shot a few hours later. The prints are obviously not AS grainy, but they are comparatively the same - the two low lights very grainy compraed to the brighter light.

    Shot using Nikon F5, 35mm at box speed of ISO800

    I only ask because TBH, I will probably get rid of my 3 remaining rolls - it lets me down like this every time, or I am using it wrong.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 52120010.JPG   52120014.JPG   52120024.JPG  
    Ted Smith Photography
    Hasselblad 501CM...my 2nd love.

  2. #2
    chriscrawfordphoto's Avatar
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    They're underexposed. That grainy look with the empty shadows that look too light without detail is what you get when you underexpose any color neg film. I suspect that bright window behind the kids fooled the camera's meter into underexposing.
    Chris Crawford
    Fine Art Photography of Indiana and other places no one else photographs.

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    Fort Wayne, Indiana

  3. #3

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    There simply is no good color film for low light work. Digital blows everything away. I think your "error" is that the images were exposed for the highlights and yet printed (or scanned) for the shadow.
    In life you only get one great dog, one great car, and one great woman. Pet the dog. Drive the car. Make love to the woman. Don't mix them up.

  4. #4
    LunoLuno's Avatar
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    The first two shots look obviously underexposed. To be more precise, red and green light may be properly exposed but blue light is underexposed. Even when you shoot print films, there are some occasions you have to consider the color temperature of light on deciding the exposure seting in order to get good color balance in your print. You'd better open up at least 2/3 of a stop from the meter's reading when shooting under the early morning sunlight, at least one full stop recommended under the artificial light conditions (tungsten, flourscent etc). This rule doesn't apply to those films with immese latitude, though (like latest Portra series films which have wider latitude on the under exposure side than the conventional print films). If I were you, I would open up 1~4/3 stop from the reading of the meter considering the existance of blight colored wall behind her.

    Luno

  5. #5
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Yeah, I'm thinking underexposure too. Betting it is more of a metering issue, been bit by my F5 (F100, N90s, FM2...) the same way. My incident meter doesn't give me the same problem.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  6. #6

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    Well there no arguing that the girl shots are grainier than the lad's by a mile, Ted. Are these prints that have been scanned and if so do the actual prints have the same difference in graininess?

    If they are underexposed then you'd expect the shot of the lad which has more of the window in it to be more underexposed than the girl's shots, I think.Maybe the lad's underexposure is somehow "neutralised" by the fact that overall the light is much brighter at midday?

    Anyone care to comment on the above comment?

    pentaxuser

  7. #7
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pentaxuser View Post
    Well there no arguing that the girl shots are grainier than the lad's by a mile, Ted. Are these prints that have been scanned and if so do the actual prints have the same difference in graininess?

    If they are underexposed then you'd expect the shot of the lad which has more of the window in it to be more underexposed than the girl's shots, I think.Maybe the lad's underexposure is somehow "neutralised" by the fact that overall the light is much brighter at midday?

    Anyone care to comment on the above comment?

    pentaxuser
    We'd need to know more about the metering. Spot, center weighted, matrix? Which focus indicator was in use, what was it centered on? Was compensation applied to the meter or manually from the point measured? ...

    The F5's meter is very nice and very sophisticated, but far from un-foolable.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  8. #8
    hrst's Avatar
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    Fast film loses some speed relatively quickly, or develops very grainy fog. If you want to ensure really good results in low light and underexposed shots, don't use outdated film, even if you would be perfectly satisfied with the same film when properly exposed.

    In other words, give a fast film that's over its expiry date +1 stop compared to box speed. Shoot the 800Z at 400. Or buy new film.

  9. #9
    MattKing's Avatar
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    The two problem shots are underexposed.

    When the light is low, there is a natural tendency to make exposure choices that are right at the margins.

    In situations like that, I would use an incident meter, or take a close-up reading off of a forehead and open up 1.5 - 2 stops.
    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

  10. #10
    LunoLuno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pentaxuser View Post
    If they are underexposed then you'd expect the shot of the lad which has more of the window in it to be more underexposed than the girl's shots, I think.Maybe the lad's underexposure is somehow "neutralised" by the fact that overall the light is much brighter at midday?
    That's because the light of the third shot is "neutralized to daylight" at midday. The underexposure under the neutral daylight is not such a big issue for a print film unless it's too excessive.

    Luno

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