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Thread: Slide or print?

  1. #1

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    Slide or print?

    Which has a broader dynamic range? I've recently read some opinions that contradict what I thought on this matter. Thanks.

    Jmal

  2. #2

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    Depends on what you want to do with the final version of your image.

    Modern color negative film has a much larger range then in the past.

    The richness of transparency film is hard to match with negative film, but then there are lighting situations that negative film is the best choice.

    You're comparing apples and oranges. No one film is correct for all situations. You should choose the tools needed for the scene and lighting.
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    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    The quality of modern colour print films is outstanding and while 20 years ago I would always use E6 Fuji 50D or 100D now I prefer using colour negative materials, while my personal preference is still for Fuji materials the Kodak films are equally as good.

    A lot depends on what you intend to do with the images, RA-4 materials are still available so it's easy to make your own prints from negatives, but with transparency film your really going to have to go a hybrid route unless you want Ilfochromes.

    Ian

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    When started being involved in photography (amateur) the color prints had emerged (1960).They were too expensive and the results questioning.Besides,as far as it concerns in slides,I preferred movies if I was going to see my pictures in the dark.So I stuck to BW home developing and printing.Later,when color home processing was technically feasible - and believe me it's very easy to do- I turned to make my own pictures and I was never concerned about "dynamic range".

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    Without a doubt, modern C-41 materials will capture a much wider dynamic range than any E-6 material. Optical printing onto easily available and modestly priced RA-4 materials is possible with C-41, but not with E-6 where your only option is the expensive Ilfochrome process. C-41 offers advantages in a hybrid work flow as well, especially in recent years as these films have been tweaked to perform well as source material for a scanner. Once scanned, you are free to manipulate the color space and gamma as you see fit with the image editor of your choice. Naturally, you can do this with E-6 materials, but you have less information in the form of dynamic range.

    For projection, you can't beat E-6 materials or Kodachomes. Even well made, dare I say it, digital images projected through a high quality video projector don't look as nice to me.

  6. #6
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    Indeed, print films offer more exposure latitude or 'dynamic range.' I rarely feel like I need that extra range for a print, though. There are so many advantages of slide film that I tend to use it whenever possible.

    What people sometimes find confusing is that there is usually a lot more density range in a slide than in a negative. Thus Dmax/min matters a lot more when scanning a slide. If you plan to scan: slide films can offer spectacularly detailed and vibrant results when drum scanned, but it's pretty hard to get top-notch results from lesser scanners.

    Note that it is possible to preflash slide film, and this has certain advantages if your scene has deep shadows.

    Oh yeah, nothing beats a big transparency on a lightbox or projector!
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    Quote Originally Posted by fschifano View Post
    Optical printing onto easily available and modestly priced RA-4 materials is possible with C-41, but not with E-6 where your only option is the expensive Ilfochrome process.
    This is a bit of a nit-pick, but: It is possible to reversal process RA-4 paper, thus producing prints from slides. The result is likely to be unsatisfying for most subjects, but sometimes it works well. (For that matter, you could print slides on RA-4 paper and process normally to get "negative" images, but that's even weirder.)

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    I had a conversation about scanning with the lab I use the other day - which scans better slide or neg - they use Imacon scanners and in their opinion both have their advantages, but grain shows up more readily with negatives.

  9. #9
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    Colour negative and print materials have indeed came a long way. Just by comparing prints from the 80s and the 90s in my family albums, I can see that modern materials have a much nicer rendition of colours. It used to be that the best way to get saturated, crisp colours was to use slide film, but the latest print films have come of age in this department.

    On the other hand, modern materials are much more saturated and contrasted than they used to be. Even Portra NC is more saturated than whatever consumer film was used in our family albums then. There are certain kinds of look that are harder to achieve now with modern films.

    In a purely analog workflow, I would say one should choose film based upon usage first (print v. projection), and second upon colour palette. In a hybrid workflow, the color palette and look of the film would be the primary consideration.
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    I am also very much interested in the debate - mostly from a final print quality perspective as the OP is, but I am also interested in the workflow and archival aspects of the two mediums. I am relatively new to slide film, but I find that quality E6 processing, perhaps because it is a narrower market, is much more on the mark than finding consisitent color film processing. Also, slides are much easier to handle and store, and there is nothing in the world like viewing slides through a good loupe and lightbox.

    I realize the OP is concerned with Dynamic Range - but let's say we nail the exposure enough of the time (90%+) to remove this question from the argument. Is there another compelling reason to choose film over chrome? I think the quality of the scanning these days has leveled the playing field between the two sufficiently enough to make this decision a very tough one.

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