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Author Topic: Colour neg film grain  (Read 4145 times)
Dale_Cotton
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« on: December 29, 2002, 03:23:26 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Reala is a wonderful film, but when you start talking about the grain of one of the smallest-grain films on the market, you need to give us some more information. Are you scanning or having prints done from a lab? If scanning with what scanner and what software?

In general, colour neg film does emphasize grain in the sky and in dark areas, but there are ways of reducing this if you are scanning.[/font]
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Mark Ward
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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2002, 02:57:56 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Thanks for your help. I'm scanning it myself on a Minolta dimage scan dual (2438 dpi if I remember right), using vuescan software. I've explored using vuescan's multisampling to reduce noise at the expense of scan time.

I have some suspicions about the scanner or how it is being controlled - sometimes (if I really boost the contrast) there are lines visible in some images perpendicular to the direction of film motion past the scan head, but as far as I can tell at the moment that's independent of 'grain', and can be reduced / eliminated by upping the multisampling.

Would it help if I posted links either bits of images or raw neg scans?[/font]
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Dale_Cotton
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2003, 05:04:01 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']First, I've been working almost exclusively with Reala and a scanner for over two years. Every film has its problems; Reala is not particularly scanner friendly, but the fine grain, high acutance, and endless dynamic range keep me hooked.

Quote
sure enough, the grainy-shadow scans come from very light negs

Yes, when the whole image is underexposed, the grain will be more pronounced. However, in any properly exposed neg there are going to be low density areas because most scenes have a mix of shadow and brighter areas or a dark subject or whatever. These low density areas will still tend towards graininess.

My own experience with multi-sampling and my Canon FS4000 is that I'm only re-inforcing the noise, not eliminating it. I love Vuescan's long exposure pass feature, but that's the only extra pass I do. I recommend you take a crop of a noisy area of one of your negs, then do several scans of it at various samplings and other settings to find what works best for you.

One setting on the Color tab I commend to your attention is the Color Balance. Try setting this to None while choosing one of the log brightness curves. The image will look wretched when you open it in Photoshop, but play with Levels and Curves to restore it to life. (In particular, in Levels just push the white and black triangles in until they nearly but not quite reach the edges of the histogram.) The problem with automatic adjustments in Vuescan or any other software is that the harsh curves that are often used can lead to exaggerated grain and white or black point clipping.

If you use a PC you might also want to look into Neat Image. I've just started with this myself, but it seems to do an excellent job of noise removal if you don't use it too aggressively.

As far as formats go, 35mm is good for 11x16 landscapes and can often be stretched to 12x18. Read up on edge sharpening, if you haven't done so already. Stitching multiple frames is constrained by subject motion and also gets old very quickly, at least for me. Many people like their poster and mural sized prints with microscopic detail, but if you can content yourself with 11x16s you'll save yourself a lot of money and hassle.

As for metering, it sounds like you are on the right track. You might want to scrounge up John Shaw's Landscape Photography for some excellent tutorials in working with an averaging meter. Still, neg film is very forgiving of exposure because of its large latitude. A good trick is to rate Reala at 80 instead of 100 any time the wind lets you get away with the slower film speed.[/font]
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Dave Gurtcheff
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« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2003, 09:16:31 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Hi Mark:
I agree with Dale Cotton regarding re-rating the film. I have my exposure compensation dial on my cameras permanently set for 1/3 to 1/2 stop overexposure, just to guard against under exposure, as I always shoot negative film. Color neg film actually picks up saturation and FINER grain with over exposure (up to a point). Over exposure causes more silver to be exposed. During processing, the silver is bleached out, leaving less space between dye clouds, compared to a negative given less exposure. The closer dye clouds give finer "grain" (actually the space between dye clouds). All my color work is done with color neg film---it CAN give breath taking results!
Good luck
Dave G.
www.modernpictorials.com[/font]
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Mark Ward
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« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2002, 01:10:09 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Happy New Year to everyone!

I had a very enjoyable trip to the southwest US last year, and I'm finally putting together a set of prints from it, scanned and inkjet printed. I used Fuji reala (100) exclusively (I figured if it's good for skin tones it'd be good for desert-type landscapes too), but I'm open to suggestions on alternatives. What I've noticed is that some shots blow up fairly well to A3-ish size, but some show very obvious grain even at half that size. Is that likely to be down to original exposure errors (so the full contrast range of the neg isn't being used), processing (poor chemicals / setup, or the machine detecting poor exposure and increasing / decreasing development time), or just that grain is more apparent in some image types (e.g. clouds rather than highly textured stuff)?

Thanks very much,

Mark[/font]
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robertwatcher
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« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2002, 10:10:05 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Realla is the ultimate neg film for me. Vibrant smooth tones - little grain and scans beautifully. Most of the time though I end up needing Fuji 400 and 800 for speed and produce 13x19 prints that show very little grain (no more than traditional darkroom).

Underexposed or underdeveloped negs can create problems when you adjust them back to a proper balance. Shadows will tend to block up and exhibit artifacts. Plain light skies might also show grain but as Dale has just mentioned post processing (removing jaggies, removing noise, blur and sharpen, contast adjustments) can eliminate much of this.

Then again don't expect 4x5 smoothness from 35mm. Traditional won't do this and digital won't close the gap much. Let us know more specifics as stated above.[/font]
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Mark Ward
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« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2003, 01:18:09 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\'](showing how much I still have to learn...  )
I've looked at the negs for clean scans and for those with somewhat grainy shadows, and yes, sure enough, the grainy-shadow scans come from very light negs. I don't know whether the developing could have been at fault, but I'm going to do some experimentation with exposures to help me get a better handle on how to second-guess my eos 300's meter. So far I've put off using the 'find something mid-grey and spot meter off it' approach as I've not trusted my ability to find a good mid-grey, or the eos 300's centre (sort of spot) metering mode. Maybe now's the time to start

I take your points about 35mm not being 4x5. Doh! I'm going to try stitching multiple 35mm frames, to get a feel for whether this can work well enough for me for landscapes.

Thanks for your input,

Mark[/font]
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Stefano Allari
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« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2003, 06:25:46 PM »
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[font color=\'#000000\']Mark,
I own a Scan Multi Pro. I do not know if yours is similar, but the Multi Pro tends to be tough with negatives. I suggest you have a look at the Multi Pro group at yahoo :
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/multipro/
and search for the related topics: there was plenty of discussions on how to improve negative scanning and reduce grain. Also, I suggest you check at the Minolta website for the latest scanning drivers. Something was released recently.
All the best
Stefano[/font]
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