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  1. #21

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    I'm basing my statements on my experiences with Porta 400NC-3, 400VC-3, and the new 400. The -3 versions of these films were better than the -2 versions, of which I shot a little. I never shot the original 400NC or 400VC. Those comparing Portra 400 to the original 400NC/VC probably do see much larger improvements than I did, because most of my experience has been with the -2 and -3 versions.

    While none of the tests are super scientific because I couldn't control the weather and my days off, they do provide some references between the 3 films (and 160NC, 160VC, and Ektar) which I haven't seen any where else on the web. The most controlled of the shots in terms of lighting are the first 3 indoor tests under tungsten lighting. The three 400 films look much more similar to my eye than different. Again, I think the new Portra 400 is fantastic and does represent an improvement over the previous two versions.

    All of them can be seen here:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/tgray1/...7623656649261/

  2. #22
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    If you do your own tests, I'd suggest that you let your lab know that the rolls are test film. Sometimes the lab is trying to make every neg into a good print for their customers who don't have command of the medium. If you're doing test rolls, you would like everything neutral. Also, avoid the box store outlets, perhaps a potrait studio near you, or camera store, has lab services available. Or even mail order, like Lattin Labs in Iowa.
    "We often think that when we have completed our study of one we know all about two, because 'two' is 'one and one'. We forget that we have still to make a study of 'and'."
    -A. S. Eddington

  3. #23
    Athiril's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markbarendt View Post
    This is not a free lunch.

    It will be underexposed. You give away 2-stops of shadow detail when you expose an ISO 400 film at an EI of 1600.

    Is what's left workable? Your call.

    The only way you'll know is trying it.

    Most C-41 film's are much more tolerant of overexposure rather than under.

    Portra 400 is a free lunch.

    You're not giving up shadow detail. Perhaps it has grain that doesn't get developed at the standard time. But here even the deepest shadow was still revealed at 1600.


    OCAU Melb Photowalk Week 2 #6 by athiril, on Flickr

  4. #24

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    Much of what has gone before in this thread is to a great extent true of most colour neg films but particularly those faster than 100 ISO. The extraordinary latitude of these films is IMO the outstanding difference between them and digital capture. Although I use them fairly infrequently these days, it will be a sad day if they eventually become unavailable as seems increasingly likely.
    OzJohn

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athiril View Post
    Portra 400 is a free lunch.

    You're not giving up shadow detail. Perhaps it has grain that doesn't get developed at the standard time. But here even the deepest shadow was still revealed at 1600.
    I'm not saying acceptable results can't be had but there are a lot of variables that affect that judgement. Metering technique, print size, personal taste...

    What I have suggested at various points in this thread, including in the post you are replying to, is that it would be good to test the film for ones-self and to judge for ones-self.

    What I will say now, is that wishful thinking can't change the laws of physics or the film curve.

    Portra is very flexible but reducing exposure by two stops means every zone will "fall" two stops further down the film curve.

    Two stops fall off the toe, never to be seen again.

    Two stops of good detail slide onto the toe and get muddier, grainier, and harder to use.

    The mid-tones move two stops closer to the toe, blah, blah, blah....

    There are consequences to reducing exposure.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  6. #26

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    I don't know technically how Portra 400 is so tolerant of underexposure, but it is. I've shot it at 400, 800 and 1600 on the same roll, developed as normal and 400/800 look the same, 1600 just a touch darker. All shot completely usable.

    I can only assume it's because it's based on a motion picture film, where you *have* to shoot at a certain shutter speed and can only rely on ND filters or aperture for exposure (and you likely can't use aperture, as that would change how the shot looked). That means motion picture films simply would not be practical if they didn't have latitude. That's just what I think though, I'm not an expert, and could easily be making this up.

  7. #27
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mugent View Post
    I don't know technically how Portra 400 is so tolerant of underexposure, but it is. I've shot it at 400, 800 and 1600 on the same roll, developed as normal and 400/800 look the same, 1600 just a touch darker. All shot completely usable.
    Most C-41 type films are very tolerant. This is true of B&W negs too BTW, especially films like T-Max and Delta in their 400 & 3200 versions.

    The tolerance/latitude of negative film is rooted in the fact that the film can catch a much wider brightness range than the paper can print.

    The reason the prints from your 400/800 shots look the same is that the film had an extra stop of detail available "below the normal printing range" that the lab used to your advantage.

    The reason the 1600 print looked darker is that you were starting to bump that lower limit. You could "brighten" the print from the "1600" neg but the blacks in a "straight print" wouldn't be as strong. Without strong blacks, prints start to lose their snap and look muddy or washed out.

    Shooting at 3200 compounds the issue.

    This doesn't mean you can't get good prints from negs that get less exposure!

    It does mean that the process you/your lab uses to get a good print from an EI3200 shot isn't the same as what it would be for an EI400 shot.

    It does mean that a bit of experimentation, as you have done, to find your own limits is worthwhile.

    Quote Originally Posted by mugent View Post
    I can only assume it's because it's based on a motion picture film, where you *have* to shoot at a certain shutter speed and can only rely on ND filters or aperture for exposure (and you likely can't use aperture, as that would change how the shot looked). That means motion picture films simply would not be practical if they didn't have latitude. That's just what I think though, I'm not an expert, and could easily be making this up.
    There is another whole set of controls that movie makers use during a shoot, artificial controls.

    Lights, camera, action.

    Movie makers (like most pros) will go to great lengths to get the lighting just right for the shot so that they don't have to fix it in post; that is the norm, not the exception. "Post" is an expensive 4-letter word, there's no point to going there, unless there is no other choice.

    Most amateurs I know aren't so keen on scrims, reflectors, strobes and the like.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  8. #28
    Athiril's Avatar
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    markbarendt it doesn't how matter you look at it, Portra 400 is faster than any other 400 speed colour film, so it already has a leg up.

    It has more deep shadow detail than 400H does @ 200, when the Portra is @ 1600. The vents under the step at the very top right in the blackest part, it all has contrast there if you wanted to bring that, and that is a -long- way down. This shot is incident metered at 1600. There is a huge contrast difference there to under the step.

    400H has on several occassions dropped shadow detail straight to black no contrast on black hair on a model - in the same lighting with incident @ 400. That's probably 3 stops below mid tones (the hair) in reflectivity brightness at most, and the detail is dropped. The example above is much greater than 3 stops from mid tones to detail that is not dropped.

    You're making several assumptions about how far down the film extends and that the cut off point is the same in push processing as it is standard. Then you also need to take into account the dynamic range below midtones or incident (midtones to deepest shadow wanted in reflectivity) you need or want, which can be quite often, small anyway.



    Majority of stuff is shot intended for post, rather than getting what they want in camera/lighting. And that statement you made is a bad generalisation about the film industry, it's more often than not - bedlam. Many great scenes from films were fixed in post. Like in The Shining - the snow scenes were originally yellow as captured on film. Many great things have been captured for cinema in a run and gun and impromptu as an after thought or on set creative spark shooting in equipment and light/etc restrictions/limitations and seeing what came back.




    Logically if you can retain a ridiculous amount of highlights, then I would compare film speeds based on how many stops below mid tones a film can capture before there is no contrast left available (ie: I can retain nearly anything on one end, but not the other I would count towards the other).

    Given this methodology I would count Portra 400 several stops faster than 400H.
    Last edited by Athiril; 05-13-2011 at 07:18 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  9. #29
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athiril View Post
    markbarendt it doesn't how matter you look at it, Portra 400 is faster than any other 400 speed colour film
    That may be so but exposure changes still work the same way. Reduce exposure by 1-stop and 1-stop of detail is lost on film, that's pure physics.

    Whether there is still enough detail left or not is a separate question.

    I'm not suggesting that your results are wrong, just that your expectations might be different than mine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Athiril View Post
    You're making several assumptions about how far down the film extends and that the cut off point is the same in push processing as it is standard.
    No assumptions.

    The OP specifically asked about normal processing.

    With normal processing a given amount of exposure will provide a given response from the film.

    Quote Originally Posted by Athiril View Post
    Majority of stuff is shot intended for post, rather than getting what they want in camera/lighting. And that statement you bad is a bad generalisation about the film industry, it's more often than not - bedlam. Many great scenes from films were fixed in post. Like in The Shining - the snow scenes were originally yellow as captured on film. Many great things have been captured for cinema in a run and gun and impromptu as an after thought or on set creative spark shooting in equipment and light/etc restrictions/limitations and seeing what came back.
    I don't know a single self respecting pro that doesn't plan their lighting whenever they can, even if that's just simply scheduling the beach portrait for morning or evening rather than mid-day.

    Studio work is always planned lighting.

    I do agree that they will take what they can get when there isn't another choice but so what. I'll take it too but it is a lot easier to get it right in camera.

    If the camera work and lighting is right the people doing the post will be happier.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Athiril View Post
    Given this methodology I would count Portra 400 several stops faster than 400H.
    I just want to point out that I was comparing to the previous generation of Portra, not Fuji 400H. And I think the above quote is the first mention of 400H in this thread.

    If I remember correctly, almost everyone who claims the new Portra is stops faster and amazingly flexible compared to 'other' 400 speed films is comparing to 400H, not the previous Portras. And that includes most of the wedding photographers on blogs. It could very well be the fact that Portra 400 is faster than 400H. I would probably assume that this was true for the previous Portra. Heck, most of those wedding guys say to expose 400H at EI 200 anyway. Never really heard that recommendation for 400NC - it was always 400 or maybe 320.

    All of my statements were made in reference to the previous Portra 400s.

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