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  1. #1

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    35mm Slide Film vs Print Film

    Greetings!

    I've been shooting print film forever. My go to film is usually Fuji 160 pro if I know that I'll be doing people shots, or Fuji Reala for just messing around. I shoot other print film, but this is the stuff that I mainly buy. I usually use either my Canon T-70 and other Canon FD gear, or Nikon N-70 with a few zooms. I usually print to just the usual 4x6 for most photos, but I make 5x7's, 8x10's and 12-18's. Lately, I'm amking more 8x10's and the larger 12x18's.

    Anyway, I'm not that familiar with slide film. I use about one roll a year in a Kodak Stereo camera for fun. But, I'd like to learn more about it's capability, especially about it's printing capabilities. Can you get good prints from slide film, or should I stick to print film? I want to play around with some large prints, and try to get the best quality that I can. Will slide film produce better prints at say 16x20 or 20x30 then print film, or will the limiting factor be the small 35mm format? I understand that you have a lot more latitude with print film, but at the end of the day can you produce a better large prints with slide film, assuming that it is properly exposed etc.?

    I also want to mess around a bit with balck and white film. I've never really used it much as I prefer color photos. But, I think it has it's place and I'd like to give it a try. Should I go the C-41 black and white route, or try "real" black and white film. For a novice, will I see a difference.

    Lastly, I'm not a pro. But, I do enjoy producing good photos. I would like to expand my understanding of these different films. Any advie will be appreciated.

    Jeff

  2. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    There's not much choice now with reversal print materials only Ilfochrome (formrly Cibachrome) is left. However any Digital Minilab can make prints from 35mm slides and a few from 120.

    There's a significant difference in trad B&W films over C41, which is why thev C41 films are a very small segment of the market.

    Ian
    Last edited by Ian Grant; 08-23-2008 at 03:34 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: typo

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey S. Winn View Post
    Greetings!

    I've been shooting print film forever.
    Anyway, I'm not that familiar with slide film. I use about one roll a year in a Kodak Stereo camera for fun. But, I'd like to learn more about it's capability, especially about it's printing capabilities. Can you get good prints from slide film, or should I stick to print film?
    Jeff
    At this day and time, the answer would be a guarded YES! You can get good prints from slide film IF you scan and print digitally. While this is not the forum to discuss digital things...I can tell you that my commercial clients prefer 4x5 transparencies for their product shots. Excellent images can be made with modern transparency films, and you don't need proof sheets to view your initial results.

    In the past, making RA-4 prints optically from transparencies involved making an internegative. Both Kodak and Fuji made excellent materials for this purpose, but I don't know if they still do. Mini-labs, of course print on RA-4 materials, but they scan the film and expose the paper with a laser, so it is not optical printing.

  4. #4
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    It used to be a work flow issue/final desired product issue that would determine print vs. transparency film. Shooting for publication, or for the quickest proofing possible, transparencies were the way to go, eliminating the required printing step with print film, and giving printers an original positive which could be reproduced more directly, hence faster and with less generation loss. Journalism, editorial, and commercial work were shot almost entirely on transparency film. Look at the enormous number of slightly different transparency films that used to be available. It's sickening how many wonderful tools photographers had before digital that are simply gone forever for the next generations of film shooters.

    However, digital has pretty much destroyed these reasons. Anyone who needs a quick turnaround is using digital, and you have probably got to be doing quite high end work to get actual traditional analog printing done. Most printers will have the film scanned these days.

    Nowadays, the big advantage of transparencies is the tweaking you can do in development vs. print films, and how well they scan. Print films scan mighty well these days as well, so that advantage is almost gone.

    You can push and pull transparencies almost to the same degree you can push and pull black and white film. With print film, you lose significant pulling ability.

    Ilfochrome is alive. Please go to Freestyle and buy some stuff to help keep it that way!

    It is the way to go if you want shiny, saturated, contrasty color prints by default. No RA paper looks the same. The art in Ilfochrome really comes from masking, which is what you use to control contrast.

    The matte papers are now gone, but Ilfochrome labs will coat the glossy material to make it matte.

    Personally, I consider the final product and the quickness with which I need to realize it when making the decision. Also, film selections are an issue, with the fastest transparency film being ISO 400:

    - If I want to make prints relatively quickly, and RA will give me the look I want, I will use C-41 films.

    - If I need to have the option of pulling, I will use transparency film.

    - If the film will be turned over to someone else, I will use transparencies.

    - If I know I will never under any circumstances print the pix optically, but will be scanning, I will use transparencies (unless I need a high-speed film).

    - If I am working on a long term project that will probably be more publication oriented instead of gallery oriented, I will use transparencies.

    - If I want the unique Ilfochrome look, I shoot transparencies.

    - If I want to make an analog slideshow, I will use transparencies.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 08-23-2008 at 03:09 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Grant View Post
    There's a significant difference in trad B&W films over C41, which is why thev C41 films are a very small segment of the market.

    Ian
    Ian, C-41 color negative films are the largest segment of the film market, followed by b/w and in last place E-6 transparency products. Are you sure you meant "c41 films are a very small segment of the market"? You can still get disposable cameras literally everywhere loaded with C-41 films.

  6. #6

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    Phototone, I believe from context that Ian meant that C-41 B&W films are a very small part of the B&W market.

    As to the rest: As Ian and others have said, Ilfochrome is the only "official" way left to make traditional direct optical prints from slide film. Other alternatives are digital prints, prints using internegatives, prints using a reversal process on RA-4 paper, and perhaps other oddball methods. What hasn't been mentioned is that Ilfochrome is now very hard to come by and is ridiculously expensive. A 25-sheet box of 8x10-inch paper at B&H costs $77.50. That much money will buy about eight times as much RA-4 paper. Thus, if you want to do it yourself, you should have deep pockets. The RA-4 reversal process is of course much more affordable, but you tend to get somewhat odd colors. It's best reserved for if you want a somewhat surreal look or if you happen to have an image with colors that work well with this process.

    More broadly speaking, negative and positive films just have different looks. You might or might not like the look of prints made from positive films, by whatever method. It's impossible for somebody else to predict your preferences, so if you want to know whether you'll like it, you'll just have to try it.

  7. #7

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    Oh yes, concerning B&W: It sounds to me, Jeffrey, as if you're doing your own C-41 processing. If so, you'll simplify your life if you start with a C-41 B&W film, since you'll be able to process it just like the C-41 films you're processing now. Ilford XP-2 Super is intended for printing onto conventional B&W paper, whereas Kodak's BW400CN is intended for printing onto RA-4 color paper. Either can be printed on the other type of paper, but they're a bit less than optimal that way -- the Ilford might be harder to get a good neutral color balance on RA-4 paper, and the Kodak will require longer exposure times and higher contrast grades on B&W paper.

    There are a lot more options for conventional B&W films than there are for C-41 B&W films, so in the long run, if you do more than a little B&W shooting, you'll probably want to at least try some of the conventional options.

  8. #8

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    Even when Kodak made a reversal paper, it was never very good, so the MAIN way to get optical prints that look professional (other than Cibachrome) was with an internegative. The Kodak and Fuji internegative film was very very fine and capable of top quality results, particularly if one made an enlarged 4x5 internegative from smaller format original transparency, alas those products seem to be gone.

  9. #9

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    Thanks for all of the good advice. There seems to be a lot more to printing with slides then I expected. For now I think I'll stick with print film.

    Thanks again for al lof the good information!!!!

    Jeff

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey S. Winn View Post
    Thanks for all of the good advice. There seems to be a lot more to printing with slides then I expected. For now I think I'll stick with print film.

    Thanks again for al lof the good information!!!!

    Jeff
    If you have your printing done "out". Then printing from slides and/or negatives should be seamless to you. All mini-labs can print from 35mm slides. If you want to print your own, then you either have to use Ilfochrome print material and chemicals, or scan and print.

    The beauty of slides is that you don't have to print to view your film. The film you shoot in the camera is the final product. You can just pick the image you want to print.

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