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Understanding Print Lights


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#1 Jay Young

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Posted 25 September 2015 - 12:37 PM

I just received my first camera test print back!  I was super excited to project a thing I made, mostly as I'm a bit of a projection buff.  Anyhow, I was reading about print light reports and trying to understand what I was seeing versus what numbers I saw on the page, and really without something else printed to judge how the numbers change the image, OR having a supervised session with a colorist I have nothing to compare.

 

Hopefully someone can shed some light on how this all works in the end.

 

 

IMG_20150925_061143_zpstb9zlbxu.jpg

 

This first grab is literally from my phone grabbing off the projected image from the thing that I had lying around at the time screen.

This is Fuji 64D and the print lights came back 26-22-12.  It looks quite more fantastic in person of course, and I have not gotten around to having any of this scanned.

 

I read that the blue light for modern films prints usually low because the method of film manufacture changed but the normal print light values

were kept somewhere in the 25-25-25 range average. 

 

 

 


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#2 Jay Young

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Posted 25 September 2015 - 01:00 PM

Continuing from above, as I think I ran out of time for typing - sorry for the double post.

 

The next two are from Kodak VISION 200t 7274 (That is not a typo) from about year 1997.  I forgot I had it, it sat outside in an unheated building for 5 years when I "discovered it".  I though I might make a camera test to at least see if my equipment is actually working.  This is rated at 200t and the print lights came back as 30-29-15.  This was at f11/ASA200

 

unsqueezed_zpslkr34tfa.jpg

 

IMG_20150925_061450_zpsvs0nrevj.jpg

 

 

From what I gather, there seems to be something like 1/2 a stop difference in the Red light, one full stop in the green light, and not much of a difference in the blue light at all.  This is based on the 7-points=about 1 stop. 

 

I don't know that there is that much difference in being able to match between the Fuji and the Kodak stocks at this point, so that's good to know. Unfortunately I didn't have the sky in the Fuji roll to compare.  This also tells me that 20 year old not taken care of film stock is "fine".  I didn't tell the lab anything other than "this is 7274 vision 200t process normal".

 

I told the person who called to make it look normal when they asked if I had a specific look.  I LOVE the way the clouds were rendered, exactly as I imagined them. And of course these images are very much sharper when I'm not trying to focus my phone onto a subtly moving fabric screen.

 

That said, I know that often people will advise "print high" for higher lights resulting in a more saturated look? 

Any advise or books to read on the subject of photochemical printing and print lights?


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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 September 2015 - 02:31 PM

When a negative prints in the high 30's, let's say, as opposed to the high 20's, to yield a print of normal brightness, you get blacker blacks, which in turn gives the impression of deeper colors and higher contrast, within limits -- overexpose TOO much and you get muddier highlights from having so much detail placed in the shoulder of the curve. Overexposure also gives you a tighter grain structure.
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#4 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 25 September 2015 - 03:04 PM

Printer light values are usually a judgement call made by the lab technician (color timer) who inspects your processed negative on a densitometer. They will try to find the best overall neutral color balance and density for the print based on your in-camera exposure and color filtering choices, either on a per-camera roll or per-shot basis depending on your lab order. You can help them take some of the guesswork out by shooting a properly exposed and color corrected grey card every time you want them to make a correction. Usually, this would be at the head of every roll and sometimes at the head of every significant change in lighting setup. For example, if you are shooting a day exterior and then move to an interior lit by overhead warm-white fluorescent tubes, you would want to shoot a new grey card under the new lighting so that the color timer can remove the yellow-green color cast from the fluorescents.

For more advanced applications, you can use the grey card to indicate to the color timer that a specific color cast is an intentional 'look' and should be left in. You would do this by shooting a properly exposed and color correct grey card first, then offset your exposure and/or color from that known baseline to achieve your desired look. For example, if you want to shoot a dark bluish moon-lit night interior, you would shoot the grey card front lit under unfiltered 3200K tungsten light. Then add blue gel to your lights or switch to daylight sources and stop down or take away light to create the dark look. The color timer should balance the printer lights for the grey card, rendering your subsequent shots dark and bluish as intended. It helps to shoot a written slate with simple directions like 'Look: Bluish moon-lit night interior' after your grey card so there is no confusion.

Your printer light values do appear to be slightly low, so if you want richer blacks and less grain, I would consider overexposing the film slightly by rating the film slower on your light meter. Unfiltered 64D overexposed by 2/3 stop would be 40ASA. Unfiltered 200T would be 125ASA.
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