saturated or not?
When I first took photography classes we did one roll of B&W then switched to color slide film. At that time I remember the big decision was to use Fuji for it's enhanced greems, or Kodak for the great blues.
About 10 years ago I sat through way too many college biology classes. The one that stood out was the plant bio class. We were shown many slides each class. The two professors that taught it, would get so mad at the slides. They were not happy with the look. They said there was not a good color film out there that would give you true to life colors. The colors of the slides were too saturated. Listening to this same rant throught the semester it made me wonder about saturated verses non saturated films. Then I wondered about negative verses transperancy film. Is there a film that gives more natural colors? Or do you have to filters to adjust for that?
With the shrinking availability of color films, what are the characteristics of each type? I want to get back to doing color work, just need some input as to what is what.
As you mentioned each film is different..
Not very familiar with the Kodak line except the extracolor EBX which pretty wild color wise but fuji line slide film goes like this.
Velvia 50 : Ultra saturated, fine grain, sharp, low lattitute film
Velvia 100F : high saturation, fine grain, sharp, low lattitute film
Provia 100F : slightly higher than normal saturation, very fine grain, very sharp, low lattitute film
Astia 100F : Normal saturation, fine grain sharp , slightly higher lattitute film
velvia 50 is my main choice if i decide to do color work with 4x5. I dont usually use filters with it other than 81A since the film has cooler tones in shade. Polarizer really punches the greens.
some don't like this film since it looks too cartoonish sometimes with overly saturated colors but many still use it cause its the best.. I just bought a 50 sheets box of it that i am looking forward to use.. and i have 6000 35mm slides of it in my files...
color slide film has less lattitute and more saturation than color negative film. if the film is gonna be taken to photoshop all the time, it makes sense to shoot negative film so that you have a little more room to play with your exposure(lattitute).
polarizers, enhancer filters and warmig filters really help with negative film also.
Disclaimer: Everything that follows is just my opinion, based on my preferences, values and way of working.
I also like colours as near to natural as I can get. Portra 160 NC suits me well. I tried Fuji NPS as an alternative and found it to be quite similar. You could say that the NPS - NPH - NPZ and Portra 160 NC - 400 NC - 800 sets were all in the 'natural', wide latitude/low contrast category. NPZ and Portra 800 can be pushed up to two stops while keeping natural colours - but I daren't set my meter any higher than 1250 or 1600 with a two-stop push.
Choosing between them is a matter of taste. I find the Kodak films to be more closely predictable in their behaviour in mixed lighting - the Fuji films often do better, but sometimes fail miserably in mixed lighting (maybe I expect too much of them after reading all the fourth-layer hype). They all have low graininess for their speed - maybe Kodak still have the slight acutance edge which Fuji trade off for slightly lower graininess.
They all respond well to 'over-exposure': their curves carry on in a straight line a long way above the aim point for an 18% grey card, but only go down three and a bit (or so) stops to the toe. Some people set their meters a third of a stop under the box speed 'so they can get better shadow detail'. Set your meter a full stop under and you will get great shadow separation. In lighting conditions that are not standard daylight, over-exposure also helps to keep all the layers on their straight-line portions. Example: in household incandescent lighting - say 2800 K light - if you don't use a filter the blue layer could be 'underexposed'. Giving more exposure helps the blue layer without risking over-exposure in the red layer. I hope that I've explained that reasonably well. The point I'm trying to make is that 'overexposed' neg film gives you the best chance of having 'naturalness' in the final work.
Despite my preference for natural colour, I've just tested Kodak 100UC and 400UC. They are both impressive films with very wide exposure latitude. 100UC's toe lifted off at the same place as the nominally faster NPS and 160 NC in my side-by-side tests (admittedly limited to two examples of each film). I found that I could get natural results from 100UC, with pleasing skin tones.
Slide films: I used to use Kodachrome almost exclusively until '97 when I worked for a client who insisted on Agfa RSX films - which I'd never tried before. I found them pleasingly natural. Then Ektachrome E200 came along. I think that's a good all-round film that pushes and pulls well. E100G is in the same ball-park, but a bit more saturated. E100G has very low graininess. Good old EPN (Ektachrome 100 Professional) is still a standard in terms of accurate, natural colour for exposures shorter than about 1/8 (The 'E' family are better for longer exposures). I never really got on with Fuji slide films - always preferred the Kodak side of the acutance vs low graininess contest.
Helen's post is excellent.
I would have been harsher with regard to NPS. I suspect if you are not comparing it to NC it is fine film, but nc has everything on NPS -- IMNSHO.
I would add the following:
All neg film is limited by the paper and the person/thing that determines colour balance. You can not stuff the wide latitude of the film on to the relatively narrow latitude of paper. Paper has its own personality as well which can be troublesome -- usually in contrast it seems.
Each film has, to a varying degree, a unique pallette. This makes them suitable for some applications (wedding, portraiture as an example), but less suitable for others. This also limits the overall acuracy. A film that does a good job with plastic colours will general not be as good with earth tones and vise versa.
The most neutral chromes tend to be older films: EPR, EPN and to a far lesser degree EPP. EPR and EPN are not blue at all. EPP leans that way but nothing like Provia.
E200 is a wonderful film that has a very wide latitude (the shadows have detail as well as the highlights), is pretty neutral, and pushes well. It also crossprocesses very well.
E100vs, s and sw are not neutral, but pretty films. They have meduim to high saturation and contrast. I have not used the G or GX yet.
Provia and Velvia are very different animals. They are not nuetral, and are also very pretty films. I have not used the newer velvia 100, but do prefer velvia over provia. Many people think these two chromes are the best available. I am not in love with the Provia 'look' it is often to cool (as in blue), and unaturally saturated.
Having said that I like Velvia because it is over the top when it comes to saturation. This comes at the expense of contrast and latitude though.
Astia is the most neutral of the Fuji films, but only when compared to Velvia and Provia. I met a portrait photographer who uses Fuji's MS pro 100-1000 chrome and says that it is the most neutral he has used when rated at 200 to 400 iso. I didn't see any examples and have never used the film.
I have also heard good things about RSX, but have never used it.
I also favor neutral films. My favorite was Kodachrome 25, but that was only 35mm, and alas it is no more. On the other hand Astia in medium and large format is a beautiful neutral film--a little on the cool side, so I usually use it with a slight warming filter like an 81A or KR1.5 for a neutral result. The new Astia 100F looks even better from the examples I've seen, but I haven't used it myself.
EPN is probably the most accurate film out there, particularly with strobes or short exposures outdoors.
Fuji MS 100/1000 is a fairly neutral film at EI 100 and 200. I've shot a good deal of it in medium format, and even though it's no longer made, Freestyle may still have some in 35mm and MF cold-stored for cheap. It's grainier and less saturated than Provia 100F or 400F, but arguably has a little better acutance.
I haven't used the current RSX, but I used to use Agfachrome 100, and this was a great, relatively neutral film that favored pastels. It could usually print straight onto Cibachrome without any masking. I think most people find Ilfochrome difficult because they are shooting oversaturated, excessively contrasty slide films to begin with.
I'm not a fan of Velvia or the saturated/warm films from Kodak, though I've seen some nice images with Velvia in very flat light or in commercial uses where a strong "graphic" look with bold primary colors is required to fit into a magazine layout.
In flat light, my preference is Provia 100F pushed one stop. I've shot a lot of Kodachrome 64 in 35mm, but I've been phasing it out as processing options become more limited. I guess I'll replace it with Provia 100F, since I already use that. I also shoot Provia 400F when I need more speed.
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what about neg films?
I shoot very little color neg, so I figured I'd leave that to others. When I do, it's usually Porta 160 NC.
Thanks for the knowlegeable posts- I have never tried color slides but I have a job to come up with stuff to be projected behind a rock band and they want color so good timing and a weath of info here as always
One more vote for Agfa RSX II - ISO 100.
One of my "sidelines" is producing color transparencies of Artists work for submission to Art Schools, Galleries ... etc.
No one is more critical of color work than the artists themselves. Color balance is the most important characteristic of all ...( and there is a caveat warning about the inability of *any* film to duplicate the look of metallic paints or inks...). With Agfa RSX II 100, a setup of DynaLites and Photoflex softboxes, and meticulous metering, I've been able to gain approval from the artists - and I've helped five (5) students gain admission into prestigious Art Schools. Seems like a pretty fair test of color fidelity to me.
BTW ... Ultraviolet correction of lighting is **critical** enough to make eyes water. I've recently done some work (not art reproduction) with uncorrected flash units (happened to be Novatrons) and color negative film. The color balance is all over the lot. Even with some extraordinary effort in the darkroom, I'm not sure the results are going to be worthwhile.
Ed Sukach, FFP.
For natural colors, I suggest using Fuji Provia 100F, which I use occasionally. Most of my work is on Velvia F100, which isn't as saturated as the old 50 speed version. I can't tell you about negative film, since I don't use it. The only filters I use are either a polarizer, 81-series or graduated neutral density. I have used an enhancing filter in the past, but don't like the colors that result.
Originally Posted by Aggie