Color films today
I have found that some subject matter here in Arizona just cries for the use of color. It has been well over twenty years since I last shot and printed color.
Considering todays materials, what film would you recommend if you were shooting for prints only in 4X5 and 6X4.5? Is there a definite advantage to shooting transparency with todays materials? It seemed from what I remember that contrast on prints was a real problem when I last shot Kodachrome. I understand that Chris Burkett still masks most of his stuff today.
Who beyond West Coast Imaging does a really top notch job of printing today? Do they do film or just printing? Is their process digital output or still traditional?
Thanks for any insight that you can offer.
I only use Velvia these days (big surprise), because I can't find any other film that has the capability of capturing the nuances of color that I can get with it. But, you have to work with its saturation - which I find pleasing, but some do not. The other choice of film, that I occasionally use is Provia 100F. It isn't as saturated, the colors are quite good and it is a very sharp film.
I use West Coast Imaging primarily, and they are a top notch printer - used by people like Jack Dykinga - but not cheap. Others I could recommend would be Calypso Imaging. However, I was really blown away with the work that I have seen Bob Carnie and his Elevator Gallery on Toronto do on Ilfochrome - I would like to use him more in the future. BTW, West Coast Imaging does not develop film, it only prints them. I have heard of one printer in Flagstaff that prints Ilfochrome optically, but now days most color work is printed digitally.
Christoper Burkett does extensive masking for his images, that is the nature of optically printing Ilfochrome. By going the Chromira, LightJet or Lambda contrast is controlled a different way.
I hope this helps,
Donald I would certainly recommend that you try Kodak Ultra 100 or Fuji 160s or 160c befiore making a choice. The built in masks are very helpful in color correction and making high subject contrast variations easier to live with.
Of course in the end it comes down to what you like and what you feel works well for you.
Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)
My own feeling is that colour works best when used as a blunt instrument, at which point Elite Chrome EBX ISO 100 is pretty good. But I have to confess that nowadays I scan slides rather than making Cibas.
Weldon Color Labs is another place in LA area. There is also Chrome in San Diego. However, I think they are largely Chromira, LightJet, or Durst Lambda. When going with those types of printers, the advantage of shooting a transparency is that the colour is there for the lab to see.
You can reduce contrast by having pull processing done, though you also lose a little of the saturation. The most saturated transparency films are Fuji Velvia and Kodak E100VS, with the Kodak being slightly higher contrast. Personally, I like what I get from E100VS, but it can be too much for some people. Kodak E200 is medium to low contrast, and medium saturation, though not available in 4x5. Fuji Astia 100F is more natural rendition, though medium to high contrast.
Colour negative is another direction. If you want enlarger prints, rather than the others I mentioned, that is the only way to go. I think Toronto Color Works (name? anyone?) that Edward Burtynsky owns is one place that does very high quality enlarger prints, though they too seem to be moving more towards other chemical print methods and equipment. In film choices, the newer Fuji ISO 160 films seem to have impressed many people, and some other people like Kodak UC films. I rarely use colour negative films, but I though Kodak 100UC worked nicely at roll film sizes (I have not tried it in 4x5).
I guess a lower cost way of finding out would be to try some films in your 6x4.5 camera. Some of the 4x5 colour films are a little pricey, though I did manage to get some short dated Astia 100F in Quickloads for about 1/3 the new cost quite recently.
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If you can get exact exposures and want exaggerated color use slide film, but if you want exact color and wide exposure latitude use negative film.
The Kodak Portra negative films are best in their class IMHO, but I agree that the Fuji reversal flims seem to have an edge. The Kodak G series reversal films are quite good though.
The new 800 film just introduced by EK may be among the best for grain at 800 speed with good color and latitude, but I have not tried it yet.
I shoot mostly Fuji NPS (now Pro 160S) and NPH (now Pro 400H). Both have very good color rendition.
If your final result is going to be a print, use should use negative film imho.
If you even think of shooting anything handheld, you should use the ASA 400 film. You will get better results.
I agree with Claire, I'm a big fan of Fuji Pro 160S and 160C and would recomend you try them Donald, I think you will be surprised how much colour films have improved in twenty years, and how well particularly 160S handles contrast.
Originally Posted by Claire Senft
I use mostly Fuji Pro 160S (which is not the same as NPS) and 100UC for landscapes because I like plenty of shadow and highlight detail, and natural colours. The Pro 160S is available in 220 and 4x5, so I tend to use that more than 100UC which is not available in 220 or 4x5. Porta 160NC isn't bad either, and it might suit optical printing more than the newer films.
Thanks everyone for your insights and direction. Certainly gives me something to work with.