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  1. #1

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    Feb 2004
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    120 E6 vs. C41 in the age of the Frontier

    I am rethinking my use of 120 color print film these days. I recently received reprints back from a (pro) lab and the colors were quite different from the orginal prints made about a year ago. My understanding is that almost all color labs currently print color film by digital means (e.g. Fuji Frontier) as opposed to optical printing (which is still the rule with true black and white emulsions). Since: 1) I'm told that reversal (slide) film usually scans about as well as negative film; 2) the slide itself provides the printer with a guide for correct color; 3) color contact sheets are expensive and would not be needed with E6 film; and 4) 5x5 machine prints from E6 are really no more expensive than C41, it seems to me that it would be more economical (with no image quality loss) to shoot E6 rather than print film in medium format. Am I missing something here? I'd appreciate any thoughts you may have concerning this issue. Lastly, since I do mostly handheld/candid photography, any thoughts regarding Provia 400F or E200 with regard to color, sharpness, and grain? Thanks very much.

  2. #2
    Jeremy's Avatar
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    Oct 2002
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    The price of the prints are the same, but for me, since I can get 120 C41 developed in 15-30 minutes for $2.99 while E-6 takes a day and costs $8, I'll just stick with my Reala, NPH, and UC.
    Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!

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  3. #3
    Dave Parker's Avatar
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    One thing to be aware of, there can be a loss of shadow detail in the digital printing systems from E6 Slides, I only shoot E6 in 35mm and have had a ton of prints made from various slides and the shadow detail is lacking in many of them, due to the digital scanning process and exposure on normal print papers, it seems to give a bit of a softer look as opposed to the C41 prints my wife has done.

    On your reprints, did you give them a print to match the colors from? Even though we are in the age of so called digital perfection, the person printing the picture is in charge of the color corrections and such, and I can almost guarantee you, two sepreate individuals sitting down to the machine are going to make different choices on what they feel color balance is, hence you will receive prints at different times with different color balance, when I was shooting weddings, I always made sure that if I thought I was going to require prints in the future, that I either kept a copy of the prints for myself, or I at least wrote down the settings that are printed on the back of the print so we would have a base for starting out, when the prints needed to be redone.

    Another thing to keep in mind, many of even the pro labs have become lax in keeping their machines calibrated in the digital age, the lab I worked at we found out, that we needed to calibrate the machine at least a couple of times a day, and if we changed emulsion numbers on the papaer we had to recalibrate to keep everything in correct calibration.

    So there are manythings that can come into play when your doing reprints if the colors are off or different.

    Dave

  4. #4

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    Nov 2004
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    I've never understood the claim that slides provide a guide to what the print should look like. Does Velvia provide accurate colours? You can ask the printer to match the slide but that to me is different to providing accurate colours.

    Or am I missing something?

  5. #5
    Dave Parker's Avatar
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    Nope Nick, your not missing a thing, most slide films are biases a certain way to portrey a certain look, Velvia is a great film, but definately not suited to all situations, I sure would not want to shoot people on it, Provia is a more neutral balance slide film but to me still will not render flesh tones accuratly, most of the kodak slide films have a magenta balance in my eye, after many years of shooting, I still have not found a slide film that I like for shooting people and that even includes the kodachrome I used to shoot. Print film is so much more forgiving with changing light situations and different enviorments that you can miss be quite a few stops and still get an acceptable print out of it, where as a missed slide by just a small amount will render a unusable slide and will give you problems when trying to get a print from it.

    Dave



 

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