I have't shot much 400nc, but I never remember it having less contrast than 160nc. Not to be argumentative but I've generally found faster films to be more contrasty than medium speed films. Probably the least contrasty film I've used in recent years is portra 100t. As a general rule the more exposure you give a film (shy of having the film block up) the more it will be able to capture the scene's contrast range. That being said a film that is built not to block up, like the Portra films (opposed to the original fuji NPS, NPC and to a lessor degree NPL films), especially NC, would be the way to go. I can't comment on the newer Fuji's as I have only shot about 100 rolls of the 160c and about half that of 160s and have not pushed (or pulled I guess) the exposure range of the film. The newer fuji films do seem to have greater exposure latitude than their predecessors.
Again I would recommend Reala along with Portra NC. It has great exposure latitude and is great for contrasty scenes. The colour palette is a bit more plastic and therefore maybe ever so less suitable for skin and earthier scenes.
As in all things I would test the film first using your standard metering and shooting style and when testing bracket toward over exposure. Any exposure over box speed, depending upon how you meter or how acurate your meter is, will get you more contrast.
Last edited by jd callow; 08-21-2009 at 01:30 PM. Click to view previous post history.
It depends if you're also trying to get details out of shadows. The highlights look rather flat under the white hot light of midday, the colours look desaturated, but if there are little to no clouds, there will be quite a few stops between shadows and highlights.
Originally Posted by Sal Santamaura
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"One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal
, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11
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I have generally found faster films to be less contrasty than slower films. That is why I love 400 and 800 films so much. There are exceptions, but Portra 400NC does not seem like one of them to me.
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The Fuji 400 is certainly low contrast (and a bit of an exception as I remember), but their 800z by both my own experience and by Fuji's marketing is a high contrast film. Having said that I don't generally shoot the faster films and we all seem to have differing experiences. If I want to tame a high contrast setting I'll shoot a medium speed portrait/wedding film with a wide latitude. I'm sure others have found success doing it differently.
Originally Posted by 2F/2F
Again, I appreciate all the good advice. I love it when two folks can say the opposite and both be right. Sal is correct the mid-day front lighting can be very dull, flat, and washed out calling for a Velvia, E100VS, or Reala to add punch. Michel is also correct on the hugh dynamic range and hard contrast - same time of day but under trees, side or top lit rock faces. I see the best advice is to take a variety of film and adapt to the situation. I just didn't have any experience with the Porta(s) and Fuji Pro films favored by Portrait and Wedding shooters trying to hold details in white wedding dresses and black tuxes simultaneously, which of course is hard test of range and highlight "soft shoulder".
All you kind folks have provided a good store of advice - much appreciated.
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Oh my. Well I typically take no less than five colour films with me on the road... velvia 100, astia 100F, provia 400x, fuji pro s and pro h. Which I use depends on the light, the colours in the scene, and the timing requirements, and quite often I go back and forth. Almost without fail, though, my favourite shots wind up being on the three slide films.