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  1. #1

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    160speed colour neg-- all the same?

    Hello all,

    I've been attempting some haphazard testing of the 4 current iso 160 colour negative films (portra 160nc, vc fuji 160s, c)

    My conclusion is that it's nearly impossible to tell these films apart without a program-- at box speed the vc is noticeably more saturated than the nc, and the c lightly more than the s, but as soon as I overexpose the neutral films slightly they look nearly identical to the higher saturation versions. Also noted that the kodak nc is very slightly finer grained but the fuji s seems very slightly sharper. All and all its a wash.

    Am I out to lunch or are these films basically completely interchangeable once you get to know them? nb I haven't had a chance to make a lot of optical prints with these, so I'm going by scan results.

  2. #2
    MikeSeb's Avatar
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    You are not far wrong. I've used them all extensively, other than the Fujicolor 160C, which I find has an unappealing tendency to look sickly green in any light; they can look very similar to one another depending on the light.

    If I could use only one, it would probably be the Fujicolor 160S. With the right exposure and, er, adjustment later, it can be either saturated or not as you need. They aren't interchangeable, but the differences don't seem to me as large as I once thought.
    Michael Sebastian
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  3. #3
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    are you going to be shooting under mixed lighting? I've found the 160s to be much more satisfactory for mixed-lighting situations. Even under tungsten illumination, it renders very neutral. The 160NC and 400NC's render tungsten lighting quite accurately(too warm ), with a nasty reddish cast from what I've found.

    I generally shoot 160/400vc/800 films for pretty much anything, but when I need to shoot something with mixed-lighting(interior portrait in window, with tungsten room illumination), I would reach for the 160s from Fuji. Otherwise, I generally prefer the Kodak palette of colors for outside.

    are you scanning only, or wet-printing as well? All do well in both situations, I find the Kodak films to be more easily corrected in scanning software, even though I try to shoot them like I would chromes, CC filters and all.

    to pass on some valuable info though, I've gotten it from several great people on here: STICK TO ONE(OR TWO) FILMS, AND GET TO KNOW THEM. that way, if you get results that you know are wrong, its easier to assess what is wrong because you know how that film(s) react in those situations.

    besides, testing ain't any fun, making/creating great photographs is!

    -Dan


  4. #4
    tiberiustibz's Avatar
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    You've just saved me some money. Thank you. Next is to compare Ektar versus 160VC.

  5. #5
    MikeSeb's Avatar
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    The Ektar is a wonderful film. Be prepare for radioactively saturated reds, oranges, and greens. Grain is invisible, sharpness is razor-like. An absolutely excellent film. I find it brighter, more saturated, and more contrasty than Portra VC, especially affecting the above mentioned colors; whereas VC's saturation boost seems more pan-spectral. These are my unscientific observations.
    Michael Sebastian
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  6. #6

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    I'm leaning to the 160s as my go to colour film-- it seems to be the most flexible of the four. If nothing else it's slightly cheaper than the kodak .
    @DanielStone, I agree for most things I've found the kodak stuff easier to scan, at least with my equipment. I had a really hard time with reala and 400h for reasons I haven't been able to nail down but I found the 160 fuji easy to scan. I'm preparing for a documentary project that's going to be scanned negs for web/blurb book and a handful of 8x12ish wet prints too. Also agree that cc filters are always a good idea even on colour neg and d****l-- just makes things a little easier to print. I must say I really like this class of film, at least in 35mm with faster lenses. (the shutter speeds end up about the same as using the 400 speeds with medium format)

    EKtar is a lot of fun, but a little finicky-- It has a more limited exposure latitude than most other negative film. It has a very distinctive look, which is just right for some pictures.

  7. #7
    df cardwell's Avatar
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    The 160 films have the same contrast as we are used to seeing in a normal B&W scale. Hardly soft !
    But much softer than the common color films.

    The only way you would be able to judge the 'portrait' films would be if you were printing them... if you were a pro printer !
    Run through a contemporary scanner/printer, the films won't be making a difference. If you compared them printed, say, at Costco and at a first rate portrait/wedding lab, which will use a different contrast paper...well.
    The normal paper is like printing on #3... portrait lab on #2.

    Never seen the 160c, but it isn't meant as a portrait film.
    "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
    and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"

    -Bertrand Russell

  8. #8
    tiberiustibz's Avatar
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    Ektar is very pleasing printed on Supra Endura at room temp. Very sharp. Surprisingly good fairly neutral skin tones with great saturation, particularly in reds.

    And did I say sharp. I printed at 35mm at 16x20 and the grain was ultrafine and very pleasing. It looked like a typical 4x5 b+w grain.

  9. #9
    Athiril's Avatar
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    Dont forget Ektarcolor 160... or is that just rebadged portra?

  10. #10
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    160 films will look remarkably similar if scanned and output digitally. In my experience when using an enlarger NC has a distinct earthy palette and the greatest latitude. I believe it was built to produce good skin tones whilst holding the highlight detail as it built shadow detail -- think wedding gown and tux -- it is also almost impossible to over expose this film. VC (the old version) was cooler and generally fell short of being much of anything in my opinion. Both fuji's are better under florescent lighting, but I don't recall them being better under tungstun (I use filters in most instances). 160s has the same palette as 160c (a little on the plastic side opposed to the earthier side), but has wider latitude. 160c has the appearance of more punch as it tends to be more contrasty -- I don't believe it produces bluer blues or reder reds, etc... than 160s. I have never seen 160c go green or at least not in the print. There is a chance that I dial out more Magenta when using it, but not that I've noticed. Neither fuji has the tonal range or the exposure latitude of kodak 160nc.

    I generally rate the films at 1/2 box speed and adjust exposure according to the scene requirements.

    YMMV

    *

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