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  1. #1
    david b's Avatar
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    Exposing Color Film : How to Meter?

    I haven't shot color negative film in about 7 or 8 years. I just picked up a couple of rolls of Kodak 160NC and I am wondering what is the best way to expose it? I have a Pentax spot meter as well as a Sekonic incident meter.

    Obviously exposing for the shadows and developing for the highlights is not going to work.

    Any advice is appreciated.

  2. #2

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    Use your incident meter.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Photography/index.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by david b View Post
    Obviously exposing for the shadows and developing for the highlights is not going to work.
    Comes close though. What I do is expose for the shadows and let the highlights fall where they may. You can't effectively pull process C-41. Standard development is already down to 3.25 minutes. Going shorter just buys you some color shifting. You can push a stop, maybe more without color shifting however.
    Bruce Watson
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  4. #4
    jd callow's Avatar
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    If you have a spot meter and or can figure out how to use your reflective/incidence meter to gauge highlights, mid's and shadows try to keep important shadow and highlight detail within 2 stops or so of the mid's. Colour film can capture a larger tonal range than that (or for that matter any other film type), but the paper you'll be printing to is probably going to be in the 5-7 stop range.

    Failing that you can expose for the shadows and let everything else fall where it may or simply take an incident or reflective reading and assume that some of what lands on the film is either going to not be printed or require some dodging or burning.

    160NC is the most forgiving of all films. It can capture a huge range (something in the vicinity of 11+ stops), and does not block up easily (highlight density will slow, but not block-up as the shadows continue to build). I rate it at an ei of 80 develop normal and simply take incident readings for most things. It also has excellent reciprocity characteristics.

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    You can use any meter. I like to use all the same meters I use with b/w: Sekonic Studio (actually one if its predecessors, the Brockway), and Pentax Digital Spotmeter, plus in-camera meters sometimes. I always like to use both meters if I have time. I use the incident to measure the light that exists and get a basic exposure, and look at lighting ratios. Then I use the spot to check where things fall at that exposure, so I can make adjustments if I want. You can place tones, but shoot some rolls first to figure out what different tonal placements actually look like in color. They look different than in b/w. You can pull the film a little bit, but not a lot. 1/2 stop will give you perfectly correctable color. 1 full stop will be a bit off, but may be usable for some stuff depending on how accurate your color needs to be for the shot you want. I routinely take off 10% when I have shot in high-contrast light, for a developing time of 2:55. A half a stop helps, even though it is not a lot. Placement (AKA exposure) and pushing and pulling are far more important in color than in b/w, IMO, as you have very limited control in printing compared to b/w. With b/w, you have a million different papers and grades, film developers, paper developers, etc., but with color, there are only three papers that I know of: Fuji C, Fuji P, and Kodak Supra. Kodak Ultra and Portra are no more (although I do still see a lot of Portra on store shelves).
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 03-21-2009 at 05:26 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

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    c41 film has an awesome latitude, I often overexpose 3 ev without losing detail in whites.
    I enlarge b&w but no color film and you have to overexpose in order to achieve good results with the scanner, I cannot speak about color enlarging.
    My normal aproach is to overexpose the film between one to three ev,s. I choose a grey area and then I make the compensation.

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    David, I treat it just like B&W for exposure purposes. It has a lot of latitude so it can take some exposure punishment.

    I expose that film at box speed, or at most 1/3 stop less (ei 125) and---depending on the camera system---rely on the onboard reflected meter with appropriate exposure comp based on the scene; or use incident metering; or try to find a zone IV or V luminance in the scene (LF, spot meter) to place appropriately.

    What are you going to do with the negatives? Optically print? that other non-analog process?

    All the Portras are fine films. I like the VC line better, along with Fuji 160S and 400H---that's just me.
    Michael Sebastian
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    tiberiustibz's Avatar
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    This depends. If you are sending it off to Joe's digital minilab, you can pretty much meter it however you want. If you're actually printing the stuff, start with exposing it at 160 and adjust from there based on contrast. Color negative film in general is not that particular. Overexposure reduces the effective contrast when printing at home.

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    I like 160NC best exposed as ISO 100 and processed normally.

    I meter 'normally', without an additional bias.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by david b View Post
    I haven't shot color negative film in about 7 or 8 years. I just picked up a couple of rolls of Kodak 160NC and I am wondering what is the best way to expose it? I have a Pentax spot meter as well as a Sekonic incident meter.

    Obviously exposing for the shadows and developing for the highlights is not going to work.

    Any advice is appreciated.
    Well all my cameras from P&S to Canon T90 get the exposure near enough correct on auto, and when they don't, the lab machines correct when you get the print.........just watch out for the shots e.g. snow, structures with an expanse of white sky behind etc and adjust.
    If you are stuck on what exposure reading to use, take a reading from green grass or grey pavement (both near Kodak grey) then set the camera. Also any holiday shots with plenty of nice blue sky the camera can handle easily as blue sky is near Kodak grey also.
    With cameras that don't have a built in exposure meter, I used to take a reading from the back of my sun tanned hand (of course with my hand in the sun) with a weston (didn't have an incident light cone), and I do have a kodak grey card and it's about right, and saves carrying a card around (well I suppose some still do).

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