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35mm still film question


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#1 Jason Reimer

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 12:08 PM

Hello everyone,

I've been searching unsuccessfully (so far) for a thread here about the sorts of 35mm still film stocks that people enjoy, the merits of them, etc, but I haven't found anything yet beyond an occassional reference here and there. Anyone know of one that I've missed somehow? At this point, the only film I get to shoot is for my old Minolta SRT, so I'm just curious what stocks people have used, why they have liked them, and maybe some comparisons between them (Fuji Provia vs Sensia vs Kodak Ektachrome vs Elite Chrome, etc, negative and slide film). I've read a lot about Tri-X on here, so that one isn't much of a mystery, but the rest is. When I've browsed other still photography forums, the comments and opinions just don't seem to be anywhere near the standard of those on this forum, as far as how much experience is backing up those opinions.

The idea is just to practice with 35mm stills to augment what I'm learning with my DVX, as was discussed in a thread a few months back in the Student/Firsttime Filmmaker section, so I'm not looking to find still film that exactly corresponds to any motion picture stocks, it's more just looking at the still film options on their own merits. So far I've shot just one roll of old Elite Chrome 200 that I pushed a stop, and it came out great, exactly what I wanted. A little grain, and even the slightly red fog in the shadows was cool. I had taken detailed notes for each frame of exactly what I was trying to get and what my settings were, just as some of you had said to do. When I got my slides back and checked them out on the lightbox in the shop, I was so stoked to see that all of the time spent reading what you guys and gals have to say, and the books I've read have paid off. Every single shot was exactly as I had visualized it!

I have another roll of the same old (probably fogged) film that I'm going to cross-process just for the heck of it, and then I have a roll of Agfa 200 ISO b&w slide film, a few rolls of tri-x 400, and one roll of Ektachrome 400x slide film. Anyway, if anyone knows of a thread on this topic, or can share your thoughts on these stocks, or any you've used, I'd be grateful.
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#2 Ronney Ross

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 02:18 PM

Hello Jason,

I really only shoot negative stocks in 35mm and then only consumer base at that, so I cant be be much help on shooting slide film. I have read that there is a lab that loads cine film into 35mm cassettes I think there in California maybe someone here knows something about it. As far as 35mm goes you can try shooting Kodak Gold 200 when lit right its a lovely stock and also kodak ultra 800. There isn't much differences in grain pattern between either stock.

-Ronney Ross
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#3 James Baker

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 05:03 PM

Hi Jason,

These are somewhat loaded questions as film stock preference is very subjective. For the record, I use reversal film exclusively in all sizes (35mm; 120; 4x5) only because it works for me. It scans well on a drum scanner and one has a positive image to check colors accurately, etc. Negative film is much more forgiving with exposure, but you have that orange mask to contend with and proof sheets and/or thumbnail scans might not be very accurate depending on the lab's effort and/or quality. Reversal film is a good film to use to practice exposure techniques and to judge color renditions and contrast from different stock. It's also less expensive to process as you don't need a proof sheet or thumbnail scans to view the image.

However, if you plan to scan, then you can make color and contrast adjustments in your editing software and negative film is much more forgiving with shooting technique. You can overexpose to get sufficient density whereas with reversal film you need to be careful to contain highlights. It's just that with negative film you have no accurate original to truly judge color; you will have to make do with what looks good to you at the time of scanning and any post editing (as the colorist does when he/she telecines color negative motion picture film.) One thing you can do, if you do use negative film, is to shoot a frame with a gray card and a second frame with the yellow Kodak box or the green Fuji box. This will help the lab person to adjust the proof sheet to closely match a color they already are familiar with (the common green or yellow film boxes.)

I would highly suggest that you experiment only with current stock so that you are able to buy more if you find something you like. Like motion picture film, outdated stock is not a good idea if you are seriously trying to test the characteristics of different films. If you know the film is fresh, at least you have that variable in your workflow addressed.

Again, it's very subject and there are different films for different purposes. I like Fuji Astia 100F for neutral colors and moderate contrast, but I use Kodak 100GX when I prefer a bit more warmth. The latest Fuji Provia 400X is a good film for low light and the grain is relatively minimal for a high speed film. Fuji Velvia is a slow film with tight grain but is very saturated particularly in the green spectrum. I find it a bit too "wild" but again it's all subjective and depends on your needs. So, you'll need to try them out and decide yourself. Be careful with pushing reversal film as you can increase grain and contrast.

You can research manufacturer's website for their descriptions, but again you need to try them yourself. Here's a "photo geek" discussion board on reversal film that may be helpful: http://photo.net/bbo...ory=Color slide
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#4 Jason Reimer

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 05:38 PM

Thanks for the responses, guys. This is exactly what I'm looking for, is your subjective experiences with various kinds of film. So for instance, it's good to know that one stock adds grain and contrast when pushed, or that another can be pushed without much change in grain or contrast, those sorts of things. I can appreciate all sorts of looks, so depending on what I want, I'll know how to achieve it. With the old slide film I'm using, I basically wanted to make sure the camera was functioning properly, and I'm told that cross-processing old film yields some crazy colors, so I thought I'd give it a shot. We'll see if it's worth the money, but it's fun to experiment either way. The rest of my film is new, so I'll expect some consistency from it.

Also, thanks for the gray card/film box tip. I'll be sure to try that out. Now I just need to procure a slide projector...

If I ever get any of it scanned, I'll have to post some stills in that other thread, though.
Again, thanks for the responses and keep 'em coming; I'm learning a lot from you guys!

Jason
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Willys Widgets

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

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Rig Wheels Passport

Ritter Battery

Technodolly

Aerial Filmworks

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Metropolis Post

Tai Audio

Glidecam

Paralinx LLC