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  1. #1

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    Overexposed negatives?

    I tried posting this on my Hexar thread, but no response. I'm really not sure where to put this as I don't know the root cause. 35mm, B&W film, and Exposure all seem like applicable forums.

    Anyways, some of you may know about my recent purchase of a Konica Hexar (AF model). One thing I've noticed is that the scans from negatives often appear quite flat and bright. I know from testing with my Nikon's (and Yashica to a lesser degree) over the past 18 months that my scanner sometimes just scan things a bit flat. So I do minor levels adjustments to match prints, contacts, or indexes from the lab.

    But with the Hexar, it seems more exaggerated and more often. I don't have access to optical printing, so I can't really test that way currently. I've tried ensuring that each time the Hex is set to -0.3 exposure. I'm used to doing a bit of underexposure on my SLRs, anyway. The strange thing is that I don't have this issue with colour, only B&W (including C-41 Ilford XP2).

    Now, yesterday, I began processing my own B&W film. I did two rolls of HP5 in DD-X. One from the Nikon F90, one from the Konica Hexar. The F90 ones are generally fine in scans, a few aren't, but I'm used to that from before and know it's just the scanner. With the Hexar roll, however, almost every photo is overexposed and flat. Granted, it was a sunny winter day, lots of white snow and ice. But wouldn't that trick the camera into underexposure (higher shutter speed, thinking the scene is brighter than it is)?

    Now I'm at a loss as to whether or not it's the scanner, the camera, or my processing. Is there any way to make it sharper and more contrasty with DD-X? Should I set the camera to -0.7 or -1.0 or more instead?

    Feel free to move this to another forum if it turns out this subforum doesn't really work.
    cities & citizens - edmonton street photography (mostly), 100% film

  2. #2

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    I would suggest you should send a roll of something and send off to a lab, does not need to be a lab you can walk into, just any decent mail order lab. That will tell you if you can take well exposed photos with the Hexar AF.

    Some people say that a good scan *is* quite flat, too contrasty and you can lose the highlights or the shadows, flat scans means you likely have kept both. I would drop one of your flat scans into a paint program. I'll assume you use Windows, so get something like Paint.NET and adjust the "curves", drag the bottom of the diagonal line down, and the top of the diagonal line up to make a wave, this *should* make a contrast rendition similar to what we expect from film.

    Flat scans may well mean you're doing it right!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by h.v. View Post
    Now, yesterday, I began processing my own B&W film. I did two rolls of HP5 in DD-X. One from the Nikon F90, one from the Konica Hexar. The F90 ones are generally fine in scans, a few aren't, but I'm used to that from before and know it's just the scanner. With the Hexar roll, however, almost every photo is overexposed and flat. Granted, it was a sunny winter day, lots of white snow and ice. But wouldn't that trick the camera into underexposure (higher shutter speed, thinking the scene is brighter than it is)?
    You are right in your thinking about how the meter would be affected.

    It is a distinct possibility, given your description, that the problem you have is not a scanner, developer, or film issue, but actually "flare". The lenses on your cameras may actually be the difference.

    The optics on your Hexar may simply be affected by or imparting more stray rays of light that eventually get to the film than the Nikon lens.

    The fix may be as simple as using a lens hood or your hand to protect the front element on your Hexar from seeing stray light. Worth a try
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

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

  4. #4

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    I would think it's more likely that a histogram of your scene has a long 'tail' of bright shades. This would fool your scanner software into making a very dull, flat rendition in order to capture the whole range of tonal values. It would be simply remedied by adjusting the curve in PS or Aperture or whatever you use for post-processing.

    The only satisfactory way to evaluate a negative is with a 5x to 10x hand-lens. If there is detail in both shadow and highlight areas, you have no worries. If it's there it can be printed, and usually scanned. Conversely, just because it isn't there in the scan or print, doesn't mean it isn't there in the negative.

  5. #5

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    Hello...thanks for the responses.

    I should've been more clear, but I have had some rolls of B&W processed by a lab. The flatness is there, but less so in comparison to my home processed rolls. But seeing as I only just got the Hexar and have only dropped off 2 traditional B&W rolls (1 HP5, 1 Tri-X) and 1 of them isn't back yet (part of the reason I want to do this myself, takes too long for the lab to send to Winnipeg affiliate), it could've just been the scene or the weather.

    The Konica Hexar automatically comes with a pull out hood for it's 35mm f2 lens. I did a test inside a restaurant, towards the sun rays and through the viewfinder it was extremely hazy. But on my processed roll, it came out fine, no haze. I've had issues with that with the Nikons because only 1 of my lenses has a hood, and it is a crop lens suited to APS-C DSLRs, so I don't really use it. So I can't see it being lens flare and haze from the Hex.

    I think Jonathan's idea of the scanner being fooled. Full disclosure - it was mostly of photos at an ice sculpture festival. I didn't take many photos of the sculptures, but of the people (street photography), and invariably lots of snow and ice would get in peripherals and backgrounds. But this occurred in photos on a main commercial street - no ice sculptures to be found and far less snow around.

    Because I'm a complete newbie to B&W processing, I've been scouring the net for some tips. I like contrasty B&W. I find it works so much better than the digital equivalent which will have little detail and overblown highlights. Contrasty HP5, Tri-X, or FP4 is far more graceful. On RFF there's a thread about this, and the consensus seems to be to try underexposing (maybe by -1, instead of my usual -0.3) and overdeveloping. Do you think that might help?

    I'll also try inspecting the negatives up close.

    P.S. Would it help to see some photos?
    cities & citizens - edmonton street photography (mostly), 100% film

  6. #6
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    I'm 95% sure it's your scanning workflow.

    We can't answer your question without seeing the negs though, so put a few of them on a bright surface (e.g. LCD monitor showing white) and take a digital snapshot of them, e.g. with your phone or something.

  7. #7

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    Yeah I'm starting to think that too. I will do that tonight or tomorrow (Jan 30th) and post the results.
    cities & citizens - edmonton street photography (mostly), 100% film

  8. #8

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    The problem with scanning negatives is whether a problem is with the negative or the scanner. You reeally can't tell. Have some prints made by a reputable lab.
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  9. #9

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    Even if you like contrasty B&W, I would not advise you to pursue it at the expense of either shadow or highlight detail. You can always boost contrast later in printing or digital post-processing, but empty shadows and highlights just look hideous. 'Under-expose and over-develop' is a recipe for contrasty negatives that sacrifice shadow detail and have dense highlights that are beastly to print or scan. Then again, very thin negs are difficult too. If you will accept advice from an oldie who clearly remembers his early struggles back with improvised facilities in the 1960s, I recommend you concentrate on getting 'normal' negatives consistently before you reject normal in favour of a different look!

  10. #10

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    Gerald, B&W 4x6 set from lab is $22. Did that once, no thank you.

    Jonathan, yeah, perhaps. I am trying a roll at -1 instead of -0.3, as I think that is closer to what I usually did with my Nikons (usually a bar or two or three over the middle of the meter). But these photos are abnormally flat, I'm a newbie at this, so I'm not sure where to go.

    Anyways per request, here is a couple photos of my negatives against a white screen on the computer. So weird using the SD card again to transfer the photos from my D90. It's been a while .

    Click image for larger version. 

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    cities & citizens - edmonton street photography (mostly), 100% film

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