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Using a DSLR as a Preview


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#1 Doug Frerichs

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 01:55 AM

I was working on a student film this last weekend and the weekend before, and me and the dp would often use his dslr to get an idea of the color of the lighting and would double check the reading the light meter was giving us to see if that was indeed the exposure that we wanted to get-- we used it in general to get a preview of what it would look like on the film. I was just wondering if this is a "safe" thing to do, as in, will the images we're getting on the dslr be similar to what it will turn out on film? Is it okay to use a dslr as an exposure check (we of course set it to the same iso and shutter speed) and to test how it will look color wise? Should I be wary about using this technique in the future? Thanks in advanced.
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 07:43 AM

The DSLR will see less, generally, than the film will, so if it looks good on the DSLR, it'll look better (lower in contrast generally) on film-- and you can bring the film, in color correction, to look like the DSLR. This is commonly done now. Before we'd use Polaroids, i still would if i could source some film, but a DSLR will work as well. the biggest difference is film will give you a lot more highlight information.

Now this all assumes you're shooting color negative film, and that your stills camera was set properly (1/50th or 1/60th of a sec exposure and approx the same F stop).
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#3 K Borowski

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 04:13 PM

Adrian, you keep talking about "Polaroids." Almost all of the films that WERE commonly used before digital SLRs took off are still available from Fuji in almost identical products.


So, if you have a *professional* Polaroid camera that would be used for continuity, you could easily find film for it.
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 05:03 PM

I would, but no local place for me to grab it, and i'm horrible with UPS etc.
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#5 K Borowski

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 05:28 PM

Can you still FIND film in Philly, of any kind other than disposable cameras or 4-packs of crap 800?


What about ECN? Do Kodak and Fuji have coating plants there? :P
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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 05:42 PM

With ENC I don't gotta wait for UPS ;) and yes, we still have film here ;) even that elusive e6 stuff
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#7 K Borowski

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 06:29 PM

So, isn't that still SHIPPED, from Rochester?
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#8 Gregory Middleton

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 05:08 PM

As far a Preview is concerned I assume you are looking at the rear screen on your camera. Just be aware to set up the brightness of that screen as well.
I have used my 7d quite a bit for that purpose and its fine. Just check some of the stills you shoot against your dailies and then you can fine tune your DSLR exposure/ISO if you need to compensate.

gm
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#9 Karel Bata

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 05:54 AM

Actually Polaroid isn't quite dead and gone: http://www.the-impos...ject.com/about/

If you're shootng an ad you would so impress the clients if you produced one of these beauties:

Posted Image

Yup, gold plated, and going on eBay http://bit.ly/PolaroidGold with it's original packing case. :o Man, that is SO tempting!

:D
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#10 K Borowski

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 07:39 AM

I give up.


The "Impossible Project" is like the RED of instant film production. Why buy a perfectly affordable, totally acceptable, good-as-Polaroid Fuji Instax or any of their still-made, Polaroid-compatible professional instant films? Instead you can buy crap Impossible stuff for amateur cameras at twice the price? :rolleyes:


http://www.bhphotovi...27/N/4277998824

Notice there's no "Impossible" film here at this highly respected photographic retailer (unless the Polaroid 300 at the bottom is re-branded).

Edited by K Borowski, 08 November 2010 - 07:42 AM.

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#11 Stephen Murphy

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 07:48 AM

I give up.


The "Impossible Project" is like the RED of instant film production. Why buy a perfectly affordable, totally acceptable, good-as-Polaroid Fuji Instax or any of their still-made, Polaroid-compatible professional instant films? Instead you can buy crap Impossible stuff for amateur cameras at twice the price? :rolleyes:


http://www.bhphotovi...27/N/4277998824

Notice there's no "Impossible" film here at this highly respected photographic retailer (unless the Polaroid 300 at the bottom is re-branded).



Karl = as far as im aware the Fuji Instax isn't compatible with integral 600 cameras. The impossible stock is nice. I've been getting some good results from it but yeah its too expensive:-)
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#12 Karel Bata

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 08:45 AM

I must say that I'm a bit disappointed with the stock impossible have been releasing. Who wants the 'fade to blck' range that literally fades to black in a week! Seems kinda arty and just plain dumb to me. What I'd hoped for was a stock with the same kind of color rendition SX-70 used to have, and (pipe dream this!) maybe the plasticity of the original dye layers that allowed for manupulation during the curing process.

For those skeptics who think that the classic Polaroid colors can be cheated in PS or elsewhere and all this nostalgia is a bit silly, it's worth taking a look at Polaroid's sensitivity curve compared with film:

Posted Image. Posted Image

A somewhat different animal.

That Fuji instant stock (like, it has to be said, the more recent Polaroid releases before they went under) are distinctly underwhelming. I looked into the possibility of creating a genuine classic Polaroid 'look' on film a while back. But it's just not possible with natural light, and neither do any lamps nor filters have narrow enough curves. Ho hum.

While we're here, and I'm on a roll, for comparison maybe it's worth taking a look at human sensitivity, and that of a video camera:

Posted Image . Posted Image




Back to the original post. If you have a zoom on your DSLR, it may be worth spending a bit of time before the shoot putting your primes on your film camera and noting on your zoom which setting corresponds to the same framing and making a note. That way on set/location you can quickly ascertain with the DSLR which lens you'll need (until one day you just 'know' ;) )

Best of luck!
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#13 K Borowski

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 09:29 AM

The Impossible Project is even more guilty of shameless hype than our friends at RED. I'm pretty sure that "Fade to Black" is a failed coating. They were selling batches with splotches from uneven coating (like pinholes and whatnot on negative film) and trumpeting that as some kind of "artsy" product too.



Now, let's be sensible here. . . What did a 600 camera cost? $40? You can have a brand new Instax for $60 or 70 if you want to take instant pictures. It will pay for itself because the material isn't overpriced like "Impossible's."


I couldn't comment on how it compares to a 600 shot, but I'm sure they are similar. I used the professional 600 series of Polaroids (no relation to 600 CAMERAS) for test shots and I couldn't tell the B&W apart at all from Fuji (although I miss the type where you had a positive and a negative you could enlarge from the Polaroid for other applications). I seem to recall liking Polaroid color a little better, but, to be honest, they were very close. Fuji's was less contrasty, but I'm sure the colors were probably more accurate, making it more useful for film work or for test photography. So take that as anecdotal evidence of how Instax would compare to 600 camera film.

It's a shame that Fuji didn't pick up SX-70 as it had unique characteristics for manipulation that I understand the other films don't offer (at least not as much). However, I recall Polaroid sold SX-70 for a premium, so at least you can get these materials from "Impossible" at a similar price, albeit not as good. I think that company's only chance of survival is if they start producing quality work and better define their niche, instead of trying to make instant films for mainstream, crummy consumer cameras. I honestly don't understand why anyone would want to use a fully automatic point-and-shoot camera for taking expensive instant photos.
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#14 K Borowski

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 09:37 AM

Couldn't find a chart to copy-paste, just charts embedded in PDFs, but, for reference, here is a link to the datasheet for Instax film, an 800-speed ASA product. . . http://www.fujifilm....i_datasheet.pdf
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#15 Karel Bata

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 10:29 AM

Ah, well done.

That's not too far off film is it?

Maybe I'm off on a wild tangent here, because that classic Polaroid look was buried 20 years ago when SX-70 was what we'd now call 'upgraded'. In the process it started to look like cheap regular photos, and so (for many of us) lost the appeal it once had. What's wanted here (in this thread) is exactly what you're recommending.

But before leaving this, here's a few pix with the look I'm talking about. Bear in mind these are straight out of the camera with no tweaking. You'd never guess that a stock with such a severely limited sensitivity would yield such beautiful results. Such a shame they discontinued it, and magine if anyone ever ever did that with moving images...

Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
Posted Image
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#16 K Borowski

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 02:38 PM

Are you referring to '70s Polaroids, or the SX-70 that continued to be made to within a few years of Polaroid pulling the plug on ALL of its instant film products (I seem to recall a fuss about SX-70 being discontinued in 2007). They kept it around for emulsion transfers or emulsion lifts (always mix the two up). The thickness of that earlier design made it desirable for that application.


But I also remember it being double the cost of other, more recent Polaroid sizes. There is a similar nostalgia for the '60s film stocks/lighting style, and even some for EXR. How much of it, though, is lighting style and less-refined technology, and maybe even FADING, as opposed to new materials being "bland"? I think a lot of the emotional impact of these photographs are the outlandish, or historical settings. The only photo you have there, Karel, that isn't an exotic location is the 5th, and that clearly has some lighting and art diretion going on.



SX-70 cameras were embraced by the masses, until 600 series, Spectra, and 1200 (are those last two the same thing?) came out. Ultimately, though, what was/is keeping Instant Materials alive are professional (often for composition/exposure testing purposes only) with the few still photographers still using, documentation (law enforcement, head shots or continuity shots or locations shots), and to a very small degree fine art or alternative processes (emulsion transfers with SX-70). The biggest application is almost certainly documentation, where a low-tech, unskilled, re-take the photo if it doesn't come out right approach is needed.

I don't think the pop-culture of the medium is really there today. Now it is Facebook photos, cell phone photos. (And, you have to admit: Some Polaroids weren't much better than these). So I think Impossible is missing the mark on the biggest market share of instant film users left; maybe they have intentionally left it to Fuji, or just feel that they can't compete (a safe bet based on the samples I've seen).
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