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Vision 3 in ECN2 vs Portra 400


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#1 Mendes Nabil

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 07:51 PM

Hello all, i hope you are doing well!

 

I'm planning to shoot some stills to accompany my next film, and i'm going crazy trying to decide whereas i should go for Portra 400 or Vision 3 500T processed in ECN2 ..

 

I will shoot at night under street lights (tungsten and metal white lamps) so here are the questions that will help me decide :

 

-Does Portra 400 (which is a daylight stock ) handles Street lights at night and tungsten well?

 

From what i've seen, i really don't like Cinestill (which is based on Vision 3 500T) or V3 500T processed in C41, but i came across few Vision 3 photographies processed in "ECN2",

and i was impressed by the feel and the color renditions, it looked like a still from a Motion picture movie shot on Arriflex or Panavision.

 

-So, do Vision 3 stills processed in ECN2 look exactly the same as in Motion picture camera? Vision 3 500T is for me the most wonderful stock ever created and there is no Tungsten stock in this ISO range for still photography,

so why is this stock not more popular in the photography world? Am i missing something? Some say it has a different look because of its original purpose (designed for 24fps and more), but a stock exposed and processed in the same conditions should give the same result no matter the camera right?

 

And last thing, not all street lights are the same, what is the best stock for yellow lamps (almost white) ?

 

Thank you all!


Edited by Mendes Nabil, 01 February 2018 - 07:56 PM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 08:16 PM

It'd hard to get a ECN2 motion picture lab to process still camera rolls which are only a few feet long, they often require a minimum of 500'.  And it's hard to get a stills camera lab to use ECN2 processing, which involves the removal of the carbon anti-halation backing.

 

You could use two stocks, one C41 stock for daylight and the 500T ECN2 stock for tungsten.

 

Or use a partial blue correction filter on the daylight stock for tungsten scenes.

 

Traditionally still camera film has been daylight-balanced because of electronic flashes indoors, sunlight outdoors, and you have the ability to use blue filters and longer exposures if you have to shoot under tungsten light.


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#3 Mendes Nabil

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 08:39 PM

Thanks for your answer David! The guys at Lumens photo lab process stills in ECN2, i heard that one of them work at Cinelab, he just uses all the professionals machines there..

 

So do you think that when processed in ECN2, Vision 3 looks the same in photography as it looks in Motion picture?

 

The discussion is still hugely opened guys, the more informations and experiences i get, the best it is, Thanks in advance!


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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 08:59 PM

It should look the same if not slightly better being that 35mm stills are 8-perf, not 4-perf, so it's a bigger negative than standard cinema 35mm.


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#5 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 11:49 PM

Our man Joe (an ardent analog film lover)  has setup his still lab in our lab and will run still films in our ECN-2 PhotoMec machine in batches.


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#6 Dirk DeJonghe

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 03:08 AM

We have several cinematographers also taking stills on 135 cartridges, Vision3 50D and 500T. We process them in ECN2, as long as the minimum charge of 55€ is covered. Some people bring in 10-15 cartridges, we process and deliver them on a roll. Many decades ago my father started a photographic stills lab, I started doing MP in 1973, processing ME4 for both 16mm and 35mm slides.


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#7 Mendes Nabil

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 05:41 AM

Thank you David, it's reassuring! And Thanks Robert and Dirk, it's always good to have options! 

@Robert, are you by any means linked to Lumens photo lab? They seem to process ECN2 in Cinelab and i can see "Cinelab.com" in your signature..

 

Also, as you both seem to have experience with stills processed in ECN2, do you think that when processed in ECN2, Vision 3 looks the same in photography as it looks in Motion picture?

 

Or should i go with Portra 400 for my Night shots under street lights even if it is a daylight stock? I feel like it can handles tungsten.

 

Thanks!


Edited by Mendes Nabil, 02 February 2018 - 05:48 AM.

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#8 Michael Rodin

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 05:47 AM

-Does Portra 400 (which is a daylight stock ) handles Street lights at night and tungsten well?

Sodium lights will look intensely orange of course, but you'll be seeing at least texture in lit areas around lamps, and likely nothing but the bulbs will be blown out even if you expose to show some shadow detail. The exposure latitude is massive.

 

From what i've seen, i really don't like Cinestill (which is based on Vision 3 500T) or V3 500T processed in C41, but i came across few Vision 3 photographies processed in "ECN2",

and i was impressed by the feel and the color renditions, it looked like a still from a Motion picture movie shot on Arriflex or Panavision.

Portra 400 is also based on '19.  Different dyes, different base, but the same emulsion technology, i.e. very similar grain and latitude.

 

How a movie looks has nothing to do with the camera. Of technical things, it's lenses and processing that make a difference, And the weak link is usually the scan.

Cameras are 1AC's things, DoPs don't care about them :)

 

Some say it has a different look because of its original purpose (designed for 24fps and more), but a stock exposed and processed in the same conditions should give the same result no matter the camera right?

Right. That "designed for 24fps" theory is first-class bullshit.

 

They do design emulsions for a specific range of exposure times (actually more for a specific luminous flux...) because of reciprocity failure, but it doesn't make a motion picture stock look different at, say, 1/125 shutter speed vs. 1/48. Give it 10 minutes of exposure and you'll probably see very slightly different color balance and get lower sensitivity.


Edited by Michael Rodin, 02 February 2018 - 05:48 AM.

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#9 Mendes Nabil

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 06:07 AM

I really like your answer Michael, Thank you, and i also strongly believe that the weak point in the Film chain is scanning..

 

In Portra 400 Sodium lights will obviously look strongly orange, but besides that, will the scene look massively unbalanced in term of color? Nothing that can not be fixed in post right?

 

So according to your answer, i should go with Vision 3 processed in ECN2 without hesitation.. Am i understanding correctly?

 

Thanks!


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#10 Michael Rodin

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 12:00 PM

Yes, you'll starve the blue layer on daylight film under sodium, but, actually, so you'll do on tungsten stock. See, it has almost no blue wavelengths:

FFGdTtF.jpg

 

So even though 500T is more sensitive to blue light, there's still not enough to create any printable image in the blue layer.

Under sodium you're essentially recording an orange-toned B&W image. There's no way to get any saturated color other than orange in grading, but why you'd want? Neither does our eye see a rich color palette under that light. That's daylight film under sodium;

wlNFL0z.jpg

 

Don't forget there's also a lot of metal halide on night streets that'll look blue on T film. Not as problematic though as they've got a wider spectrum and let you record more hues. Here's '19 processed with CD4 developer from C41.

EeLJDmE.jpg

Couldn't find a scan with sodium. It'll look very similar to the previous one.

I'd use '19 as it's a more universal stock (excellent in daylight with an 81EF and no problem to shoot unfiltered either) and cheaper than stills film. Portra is neither better nor worse, think of it as Vision 3 500D for C41.

 


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#11 Karim D. Ghantous

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 08:20 PM

Michael, I love those photos, especially the second one. Very Blade Runner-like.


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