I picked up a few rolls of expired (05/2005) provia400F from a local store and shoot one of them with contax g1. this was the first time I use this film and i shot it at ei400. However most frames in roll are under-exposed. those frames are taken in shadows, without much back light. Funny thing is some frames taken under the sun look ok.
I am not sure if this is the problem of the film is expired. I mean indeed its only like half year or so. should I rate the film differently?
I would not rate it any differently, it sounds like you just did not have enough light to complete the exposure at the shutter speed you were shooting at, were you metering with your camera, and if so, did you make sure to set the ISO correctly in the camera? expired has nothing to do with underexposure in this film, I have several hundreds of rolls of expired provia and never have any problems with it, of course it is stored in the fridge until such time as I am going to shoot, and with provia the most likely problem you would see if the film was bad would be color shift and not underexposure.
Echoing what Dave said, definately don't rate the film differently to try to make up for this issue. In my experience, expired transparency film that's not been stored properly will, as Dave pointed out, shift in color. Six months out of date is not anything to worry about at all unless the film has been stored in a very warm location. If it had been stored in a very warm location, I'd expect either a magenta or green shift in the color, but not an overall drop in the effective speed of the film. (Someone who knows Provia 400F more intimately could probably tell you what color it shifts to when it ages.)
Transparency film doesn't handle over- or under-exposure nearly as well as negative film. Some people slightly (1/3 stop) over- or under-expose transparency films to get a slightly different look (for example, many 35mm photographers shoot Velvia 50 rated at 40 because they like the look...I personally like it at 50), but going beyond 1/3 stop is inviting problems.
Also, since your images shot in the sun were OK, I doubt that the film was the source of the problem.
You mentioned that the shots that caused you problems were shot in the shadows, but you didn't mention what you were shooting. I have both a Nikon FE2 and a Contax G1, and in my experience the Contax meter is more center-weighted than the Nikon meter. If the center of your images is mostly brighter than the surrounding areas of the film, the meter could have been tricked into underexposing. (The classic example of this for me is a white flower against green foliage...transparencies will inevitably be underexposed if I don't make some sort of compensation in a situation like this...the meter will try to make the white flower 18% gray.)
If you were shooting portraits of a light skinned person in a white shirt, or white flowers against foliage, or some other subject that was much brighter in the center of the frame than in the rest of the frame, exposure compensation would probably have helped. Let us know what you were shooting and someone might be able to help you with specific suggestions for exposure compensation.
Best of luck.
Film is cheap. Opportunities are priceless.
Hi Dave and Dave,
Thanks for the suggestion and help. I know it had been a while. I took another roll and make some shots at day time and on the streets at night. The camera I used this time is still Contax G1, but with a 28mm lense. The EI was 400 as it is on the box. This I experienced more situations.
1) if the scene is overally balanced in the light condition, the shot comes out fine.
2) if there is any part of the scene is brighter than other, I lose the detail. It ususally happens when there is bright sky as a part of the frame. However, in many situations I didn't expect the result could be that bad. sometimes the shadow is in complete dark. I don't know why the film didn't respond well. Or is it just being super sensitive?
3) I took a few pictures in a subway station, basically I can only see the lights and signs under the lights.
4) Last few frames were at the night, with the street lights, basically I only got lights nothing at all, even those lights were not that bright (either in the real or the pictures)
I took a test at home, I shot at my workstation, with a lamp. First I did it with the original G1's reading, then I add 1/3 stop, then 2/3. I found the hightlighs (the lamp) in all of them look the same, but with +2/3 the detail is much better.
So, I guess I should add 2/3 stop all the time? The book tells me not to compensate over +/-1/2 in slide films.
I barely used slide. I usually use b/w which has large latitude. I am trying to have a taste on slides film used in documentary tasks. Maybe it is not a good idea??? The RHPIII boxes says its daylight film. Does that matter?
In compare with my other camera, I do notice G1 gives slight less exposure. Do you notice the same? Dave. I took street scenes most time. with B/w I have no problem with G1. Is it true with slide film I will have to be extreme accurate?
So far I love the color I got from the film. I am not supprised it is that expensive if it is not expired. The films I have now expired like 9 months ago, I guess it should be ok? I didn't see the color shift.
Slide film is a good way to test your meter ;-) It could be that yours is 1/2 - 2/3 stop off. If you can spend a roll of film the test is simple - set the film speed manualy for 2/3 stop overexposure, pick 7-8 locations / scenes for which you have a good idea of the exposure and then shoot each with -2/3, no comp and +2/3.
It is sometimes also useful to bracket even if the meter is spot on to get the ideal exposure. Colour reversal films give you the best results in the world but in return do demand good exposure.
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it sounds like you need to check your metering style. i have been shooting E6 for a while, got pretty good at exposeing it and then i switched to b&w and i found i was not getting a good exposure. i corrected my metering and now all is well again.
i shoot expired film almost exclusively. i get it for very cheap as it expires so i can not pass it up. i have shot 100-150 roles and i have had one role give me a color shift. it was an 800 asa print film that was a year old that i had been carrying with me in asia for 6 months. it turns out that the color shift adds to the photos. they are better withthe shift than they would have been without it. i even sold 2 out of the 10 frames! unbelievable. i have shot provia that was 3 year sold with no problem. enjoy!