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  1. #1

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    Question on intentionally overexposing c-41 color film

    Hi everyone, new here!
    I have heard it is generally a good idea to rate color negative film one half to one full stop overexposed (i.e. rating 400 at 200) for better shadow detail, contrast, and color. My question is, is this only beneficial when your lab offers pull processing or is it a good idea to have slightly overexposed color negative even if your lab does not offer special processing?
    (My apologies if this has been asked before, I did search but I couldn't find an answer)

  2. #2
    alienmeatsack's Avatar
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    I think it depends on the film and its age. Some films will change colors/tones/hues a little when over and under exposed... and the push or pull processing also shifts the colors a little as well.

    I usually shoot color film that's new at box speed, only adjusting exposure based on the shot and the amount of shadow it has and hope for the best. When I use expired films or cheap films, I just shoot and enjoy the results I or the lab gets.

    The only way to really tell is to shoot a roll and do some bracketing on shots, make notes of settings, and see what you get. I find some films will vary wildly based on a stop of exposure.

  3. #3
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    Color neg film has long been know for its good tolerance of overexposure. So this seems to well complement the color neg intolerance of underexpose, where the colors get 'muddy'. So, by overexposing by 1EV, one can avoid muddy color in the shadows.

    Since the labs automatically print based upon density of the neg, a more dense and slightly overexposed neg simply gets increases exposure of the paper to the negative's darker image, and all is well again.

    Shooting weddings on color neg, I routinely under-rating set my exposures, to avoid muddy colors in the shadows. ISO 160 film might be exposed to EI 100, for example

  4. #4
    adelorenzo's Avatar
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    You would overexpose a stop or so and process normally. No need to pull. I shoot Portra 160 at 125 and process normally, for example. That's a good suggestion to shoot a test roll and bracket some different exposures and see what works best for you.

  5. #5
    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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    Generally you should only overexpose by about 1/3 stop and thus a 400 speed film would be 320. However, good results can be obtained by overexposures of 1 - 2 stops. I have posted an exposure series of Portra 160 elsewhere on APUG. It covers a full over and under exposure range.

    PE

  6. #6
    Poisson Du Jour's Avatar
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    An 0.3 stop over-exposure is usually, in my experience, too small and inconsequential to be noticed with the latitude of C41 emulsions, including Portra that I have used. If the question was about transparency film, over- and under-exposure would be a more critical consideration. I would not be concerned about 0.3 or even 0.5, but run a series of tests at 1.5, 2 and 3 stops up and down. Many photographers set their exposure preference based on tests in given lighting conditions e.g. flat/overcast vs bright sun with shadows, and use their standing test results to achieve the outcome based on prevailing conditions.
    .::Gary Rowan Higgins

    A comfort zone is a wonderful place. But nothing ever grows there.
    —Anon.






  7. #7
    Pioneer's Avatar
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    Over exposing color negative film usually helps to ensure that your shadows have some detail in them. But to be totally honest I have better luck from exposing for the shadows to start with.

    But, try it for yourself. Load your camera up with a roll of your favorite color film, shoot it at box speed. Then load the same film, shoot it one stop over exposed. Have it developed and see if you can tell any difference. I will bet that you can't. My experience is that unless you develop your own film, you won't see much difference.

    Unless you are shooting Ektar 100 of course. The do yourself a favor and get your exposure right. This film does not like under exposure.

  8. #8

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    Thank you all very much for clearing that up! A lot of helpful advice. I will run some tests and do some bracketing as soon as possible

  9. #9

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    First thing is to know what kind of accuracy your shutter and your meter are giving. Without that, every exposure is presumed inaccurate. Especially the leaf shutters. I haven't found one accurate yet. You need to keep on top of them every minute. On the other hand I have a Nikkormat FT2 that has never been touched for service, and it's dead on the money. Yes that includes Hasselblad. They are way off, too. Without service, you can't say what is "1 stop overexposure". Knowing that and your meter accuracy, 1/3 over on color neg film is optimal.

  10. #10
    benjiboy's Avatar
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    Unless I have a very good reason I always expose professional films at the box speed and rely on the film manufactures knowing the true speed of their products, unless I get consistently underexposed results, only then do I consider adjusting the I.S.O.
    Ben

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