New to colour film, E6 or C41? etc.
Until recently I did B&W on film and colour digital, but I discovered I hardly touched my digital camera for months since I fell in love with film.
I know very little about colour film but want to learn to know it so I would like to know a few basic things.
Is the only difference between slides and negatives that slides are used for projection and negatives mainly for prints? Or can slides be used for prints just as good? (And are there other reasons why people choose the one or the other.)
My main interest on colours in skin tone, I have tried some films and scanned them. Fuji Astia seems a lot better than Velvia for this purpose, Kodak ektachrome is ok as well. Is it worth to try negative film as well, eventually the pictures have to be on print...
You can prints from slide film every bit as well as with negs, but prints from negs are usually cheaper. Slide tends to be a bit sharper and more saturated, but the difference is fairly marginal these days if you use a good printer. Neg film has far more exposure latitude and is thus much more forgiving of exposure errors. You can get an OK print from neg film underexposed by at least a stop or overexposed by two. If you are after skin tones there are purpose made portrait neg films available from a number of manufacturers.
Velvia isn't too good at skin. It produces artificially strong (over saturated) colours. It is mainly used by landscape photographers, in which role it is superb.
I've been printing color for a while; I used to prefer printing from slides and then make prings on Ilfochrome paper. After a bit I got tired of printing this way; slide filmis as David points out, not very forgiving and does not have a good tonal range. Neither does Ilfochrome paper, so even when you get a nice slide, you'll still have a lot of work to do to print it! Printing prints from slide film also costs a lot more. A box of 100 sheets of the cheaper Ilfochrome paper costs $100, comparable to B&W, but if you use the good polyester-base paper (which probably every experienced Ilfochrome printer would use, the color's much better and it's archival) then a box will be about $200. A box of 100 sheets of Kodak color-print paper is only about $30!
I now very much prefer using color negatives; slides are just too saturated and don't look good for my imagery (even landscapre photos)- the subtleness of the colors using print film in my mind, creates a much more satisfactory print. If what you want is that classic "wow, look at the color" then I'd go with slide film. If you want to print in color and like more muted colors where the form and composition of the photograph will stand out more, go with print film. Or... if you want to save a lot of money!
Many of us, that have shot slides for year, do it for publications, such as magazines and books, where the extra saturation was a definate benefit, If I was just starting out, I would get a selection of print and a selection of slide film and do some testing and make the choice on what I liked best, every single film on the market in color is optimized for certain types of situations, currently the three slide films I shoot are Velvia, Kodak E100VS and Provia, in that order, when shooting print(not often) I use either Kodak hi def film and often use fuji supreia 200, if your going to have your prints done commercially, most of the newer machines can handle up to about 4-5 stops of incorrect exposure and still produce a good print from neg film, when shooting slides, your limited to about a maximum of 1 stop off to get a decent print and slide, if your going to use slide film to print at home, it can become very expensive, the chemicals and the printing materials are quite a bit more than the color neg materials, so keep that in mind.
As I said, gets some different films and do some testing, this is the only way your going to find out what works for you.
Whow thanks guys, I heard another thing from the guy at the local lab: He said that prints from slides will look about the same from each lab while prints from negatives can give huge colour variations from lab to lab. I am not sude why that is but it could be another point.
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Quinten, try some Fuij NPS 160 for color skin tones. It will do a good job, is easier and less costly to print, sees shadows well and has a decent speed rating at 160. The slide films are nice for color, but can be a bit more saturated. Astia would be my first choice, as it is neutral in balance but processing and printing costs are much higher than with a print film. Find a lab you like to deal with (the people) and let them see how you are shooting. Once they get familiar with your work, your will have consistent prints. tim
The basic idea behind color print (negative) film is that you reverse the colors and add a color mask. In theory, to print you reverse this process, giving you back the original colors. Note I said "basic idea," though; in practice there are tweaks and complications that give a lot of wiggle room for deciding on proper color balance when making the final print. This can be good in some cases because it permits a photofinisher to correct for, say, the ugly orange tint of tungsten light when using daylight-balanced film indoors in existing light. OTOH, it does make it unlikely that you'll be able to get two identical prints from two different photofinishers (or even from the same one unless they've recorded the settings they used for the first print).
Originally Posted by Quinten
FWIW, I've been scanning a lot of old family negatives over the past year. I've found that I can usually get much better color balance from these old negatives than the original photofinishers provided, usually just by setting various automatic options on VueScan (the scanning software I'm using). Color balance is usually better on more recent photos (those done in the past five years or so), but I've found that modern photofinishers tend to kick up the contrast to ludicrous levels, so my own scans are often superior to what they provide. This is one of the reasons I've started doing my own color processing -- why pay a photofinisher to deliver results I don't like?