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Author Topic: Medium format film advice sought  (Read 5667 times)
whawn
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« on: July 15, 2008, 05:04:42 PM »
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I recently bought a Hasselblad 503cw to use for landscape photography. I had been planning to use Kodak UltraColor film in it -- but Kodak has decided it wants me to use only Portra. Now, I find that Fuji is offering Reala and Supera (sp?) only in 120 rolls.  Nothing I know of against those films, but I prefer to change film less often, and I'd like a choice of ASA speeds.

Don't want to use slide film much, as its dynamic range is too small, and the shadows block up 'way too much.

I've heard of a European Mfger who offers an equivalent to UC, but that's only an unverified rumor at this point.

Kodak Portra is too soft and, while haven't tried Fuji's 'pro' films, they appear to be about equivalent.

Any advice or commiseration is fully appreciated.

Walter Hawn
« Last Edit: July 15, 2008, 05:05:06 PM by whawn » Logged

Walter Hawn -- Casper, Wyoming
marcmccalmont
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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2008, 04:06:38 PM »
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Well this is a very subjective answer and opposite most who favor films like Velvia etc. My philosophy is whether digital or film the file or the film is a record that I want to record the most information in not a pretty picture in itself, that being said; The most accurate film is Fuji Astia and the best choice for me in Hawaii (wide dynamic range) is Fuji pro 160 print film. They both scan well and any saturation or local dynamic range changes can be made in Photoshop to get the look you want. You can go to both the Kodak and Fujifilm websites and pull the data sheets of all their films.
Hope this helps
Marc
« Last Edit: July 16, 2008, 04:08:03 PM by marcmccalmont » Logged

Marc McCalmont
whawn
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« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2008, 12:17:04 AM »
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Thanks, Marc,

Film choice is very subjective -- and one reason I like Kodak UC is the grain that comes up in the scan.  It doesn't show so much when making a wet-process print, but there are lots of fine things that can happen in the digital realm because of the grain.  Back in the day, I was a big fan of (real) tri-x; because of the grain, when a lot of other people wanted a silky smooth print and so they used plus-x and thinned dektol for art prints.   Me, I'd push with over concentrated d-76 to bring out more grain.  'Course, that killed the shadows, too, but it sometimes looked really good.

Time marches on.  I'll investigate the Fuji films, but dang, I had a nice look going with UC 35mm film and had hoped to continue it with 60mm.  But, folks now want color prints to be really big and anything from 35mm bigger than about 20x30 gets too grainy even for me.

I wonder, would it be possible to simulate grain in PS? -- maybe by working with each color layer or channel with a really fine screen sort of thing...

That'll give me something to do in my off-hours, I guess!

Regards,
Walt
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Walter Hawn -- Casper, Wyoming
alainbriot
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« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2008, 12:53:52 AM »
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I wonder, would it be possible to simulate grain in PS? -- maybe by working with each color layer or channel with a really fine screen sort of thing...
Walt
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=209057\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

DXO has something called the "film pack" which gives you the choice of simulating grain for a variety of films.  It's very realistic and the grain is created from different films scanned at very high resolution.  The DXO Film Pack works as a DXO plugin or a standalone application

Alain
« Last Edit: July 18, 2008, 12:54:25 AM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2008, 02:48:32 AM »
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DXO has something called the "film pack" which gives you the choice of simulating grain for a variety of films.  It's very realistic and the grain is created from different films scanned at very high resolution.  The DXO Film Pack works as a DXO plugin or a standalone application

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=209060\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yep, but you have to work with small files...

All my 100 MPixel Tiff files cause DxO 5.2 to crash when I open them at the moment...

Regards,
Bernard
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rgs
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« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2008, 09:06:30 AM »
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As others have said, film choice can be very subjective. For years my principal camera has been a Pentax 67. My favorite print film is Fuji Pro 160 followed by Pro 400. I do not care for Kodak print films (or chrome), but do like Kodak b&w.

I understand your desire for a longer scale and have seen prints from negative film that I really admired, but, for landscape work, I always use Fujichrome, usually Velvia (but not Velvia F).

On a different subject, this is my personal opinion, but I do not understand the desire to introduce artificial "grain" into a digital file. For years I used medium and large format film to minimize grain and increase resolution, and now, when digital has eliminated grain, you want to get it back? Each to his own, I guess, but it makes no sense to me.

Richard Smith
« Last Edit: July 18, 2008, 09:44:54 AM by rgs » Logged

sojournerphoto
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« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2008, 09:07:17 AM »
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Yep, but you have to work with small files...

All my 100 MPixel Tiff files cause DxO 5.2 to crash when I open them at the moment...

Regards,
Bernard
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You use the plugin in photoshop or as a stand alone - i.e. not just as a part of 5.2.

Incidentally, how are you finding 5.2, apart from crashing on big files, how does it render your D3 files?

I upgraded the other night, but haven't yet had chance to even open it up!

Mike
« Last Edit: July 18, 2008, 09:08:25 AM by sojournerphoto » Logged
Rob C
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« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2008, 10:01:25 AM »
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On a different subject, this is my personal opinion, but I do not understand the desire to introduce artificial "grain" into a digital file. For years I used medium and large format film to minimize grain and increase resolution, and now, when digital has eliminated grain, you want to get it back? Each to his own, I guess, but it makes no sense to me.

Richard Smith
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I understand what you say and find no argument against it. However, if grain is what is required, then why not simply use 35mm original materials, but not Kodachrome, because you will be hard-pressed to find either it or the grain!

The use of colour neg or positive also worries me a little: all the big names that I can think of who do landscape are into transparencies, the bigger the better. It isn´t as if nobody pre-digital was able to make masterpieces; mostly, I believe, confusion has developed over which material to use because of the digital age and the attitude which it appears (to me) to have spawned: the old ways are dead. long live the new. Oh, really? Stop and think awhile.

Like I suggested on another post, there should be filters placed over the drain of that old bath, just to save some of those poor little babies.

Rob C
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rgs
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« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2008, 01:02:39 PM »
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Just to be clear, "color positive film" is slide film (or "chrome"). Those who have never used film may not know the lingo.

In the pre-digital days, chrome was generally used for material shot primarily for publication because of the expense of getting good prints from slides. Cibachrome (later Ilfochrome) and dye transfer produced good prints at a very high price. Type R prints (similar to present wet lab prints) tended to be high contrast and unsatisfying. And they were not as widely available as "type C" or prints from negatives.

Negative film was usually used when the primary goal was a photographic print because it printed better than chrome, was cheaper, and had a longer tonal scale which made better prints (usually).

Kodachrome was not grainless. In fact original Fujichrome Velvia 50 rivaled or exceeded Kodachrome's grain. The supposed grainless Kodachrome was Kodachrome 25 which has been discontinued for a long time now. After Fuji released Velvia, I no longer shot Kodachrome. It just didn't satisfy me (or my editors) as much.

Digital needs to be view as an addition to older technologies, not as a replacement. It has some huge advantages but it looks different. And, sometimes, I prefer the look of film. I, too, have difficulty with the attitude that digital is the new age and everything else is outdated.

RGS
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whawn
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« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2008, 01:44:01 PM »
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I do not understand the desire to introduce artificial "grain" into a digital file. For years I used medium and large format film to minimize grain and increase resolution, and now, when digital has eliminated grain, you want to get it back? Each to his own, I guess, but it makes no sense to me.

Well -- I like grain, controlled grain, and the lack of it in digital stuff is one reason I have not gone digital on the camera side.  (Another reason is that film is awesomely cheaper in anything but mega-image operations)

Most all-digital images are, to me, far too bland.  The averaging process in the camera sensor tends to smooth things over, tends to knock off the rough edges, and the result tends to lack flavor to my eye.  

Digital darkroom work allows one to control not only the overall grain, but -- by masking and blurring or sharpening -- allows one to control grain in specific areas of the image.  Right now I'm working on a technique of scanning the same neg dry and wet (the wet scan has a larger dynamic range and less apparent grain), then blend the two in PS with masks to control apparent depth of field and (I hope) eye movement of the viewer.  I've gotten some good results, but no breakthrough, yet.
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Walter Hawn -- Casper, Wyoming
Plekto
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« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2008, 01:45:04 PM »
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The Fuji Astia is really quite nice film, IMO.  I like the look quite a bit more than the Velvia, actually.  Over-saturated has its place, but I like the the realistic and more muted/natural look.  People say it's not great for scenery, but it comes darn close to what my eyes actually see when I am shooting in the early morning or in the evening.(usually when I'm shooting).  I do a lot of city scenery and walking around type stuff, which frequently has buildings and people and traffic in it somewhere.  It has a nice realistic and slightly gritty(opposite of daydream/memory type wedding photography) look to it.

But grain - yeah, it has virtually none.  If you want that look, though just shoot the higher speed version of that.  I usually do scenery and so ISO 100 or 50 even is what I use.  Velvia 50 is gorgeous stuff if you want colors to pop out at you.  Take this and a tripod to a botanical garden or to photograph sunsets and the like.  People... yeah, stick with something other than Velvia.

http://www.vividlight.com/Articles/2814.htm
A nice article on it.  Note the 300 year stability of the formula for Velvia and Astia slide film.  While many companies are dropping film development, Fuji seems to be really paying attention to this small but still present market.  There's a reason most people shoot Fuji now for color - it looks good and works.  

And the stuff comes in 220 rolls if you want.
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marcmccalmont
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« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2008, 02:14:26 PM »
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Here is a 5D image, gritty enough?
Marc

[attachment=7514:attachment]
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Rob C
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« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2008, 03:45:08 PM »
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Kodachrome was not grainless. In fact original Fujichrome Velvia 50 rivaled or exceeded Kodachrome's grain. The supposed grainless Kodachrome was Kodachrome 25 which has been discontinued for a long time now. After Fuji released Velvia, I no longer shot Kodachrome. It just didn't satisfy me (or my editors) as much.


RGS
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The thing about Kodachrome was not just its dye structure and subsequently minute grain traces, but something quite else, two things, for me: most importantly, I could take it away on location for a couple of weeks with a minimum of cooling - never more than just a Kodak bag - and its latent image just stayed perfect, never losing speed; the second thing, for people, which was where I worked, Velvia was hideously pink and at 50ASA, too slow - even the 64ASA of Kodachrome was pushing the boat a little... 25 Kodachrome was too contrasty for my purposes, though I have to concede that greater photographers than I managed to shoot excellent calendars from it! Also, Kodachrome lives frozen for ever.

Back to the Kodachrome 64 grain: yes, I have some heads from tiny parts of 35mm slides converted to b/w and there is grain, but so slight as to be not worth thinking about. In fact, I have made attempts to create really large grain - Tri-X perhaps? - and it works quite well too from these Kodachrome originals.

Rob C
« Last Edit: July 18, 2008, 03:46:28 PM by Rob C » Logged

rgs
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« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2008, 05:10:33 PM »
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The Velvia look is more than highly saturated colors. There is a slight magenta shift, which I usually like, but it's more than that too. I've tried to duplicate it and never succeeded. It's a complex palette. I once had an editor who was always very pleased with my work and especially the color quality. I kept telling her "It's not me, it's the film" but she didn't believe me (I guess that's good).

Newer Velvias (both the normal and the "F" variety) are a bit more accurate but they just don't have the same look. Also, Velvia is not really 50. It's more like 32 and bracket toward even slower.

I've never shot many people for publication. Most of the portrait type work I've done is for prints so I use Fuji 160 Pro or 400 pro. But you're right about not using Velvia for that work. People who want accurate color make other choices.

RGS
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Plekto
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« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2008, 05:39:37 PM »
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Here is a 5D image, gritty enough?
Marc

[attachment=7514:attachment]
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Heh.  You know what I mean - grungy, realistic colors that magnify the urban decay.  

Nice photo, though - good example of why I like black and white.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #15 on: July 18, 2008, 07:05:29 PM »
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You use the plugin in photoshop or as a stand alone - i.e. not just as a part of 5.2.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=209118\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Mike,

I am using the standalone app, I should probably give a try to the plug-in also.

I haven't played very much with 5.2 either, there is still an aliasing problem with contrasty edges involving reds, but otherwise it seems to be not that bad.

C1 4.1 remains the kind in terms of pure conversion quality though.

Cheers,
Bernard
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