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Thread: Why Does Anyone Shoot Trannies - Round Two

  1. #1

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    Why Does Anyone Shoot Trannies - Round Two

    A few messages down somebody asked why anyone would use large format slide film rather than negative film IF the final goal was a print. Most of the responses gave reasons that didn't seem relevant to the question - e.g. an 8x10 on slide film looks great on the light table, it's the industry standard, clients expect it, etc. etc. After using black and white film exclusively for many years I've become interested in doing some color work in 4x5 and possibly 8x10 and I've been wondering which type of film to start with.

    So here's the question: if I don't have to please a client, if I don't care how slide film looks on a light table or anywhere else, if I don't need to match colors to a product, if I don't care about what has been done in the past or how magazines like to receive photographs, if industry standards are unimportant, if I won't be using a commercial lab to make the print and instead will scan the film and make a giclee print (oops, I mean an inkjet print : - )) if none of those things matter at all to me and and if the only thing I care about is making the best possible color print for my own personal purposes is there any reason to use transparency film?
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  2. #2

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    Why Does Anyone Shoot Trannies - Round Two

    Transparencies generally have much less grain. IIRC Fuji NPS has an RMS value of about 4 while Provia and Kodak E100G have RMS values of about 10-11. Grain will start being fairly visible at about 11x14 in inkjet prints from color neg film unless managed (based on my scans from an Artixscan 1800f using the glassless carrier). There are several ways to manage grain in scanning and post processing, but you do have to manage it unless you're comfortable with it.

    Other than that, I'm not aware of any drawback in inkjet printmaking WRT color neg film. I find it quite useful in landscape photography based on my beginning use of it this year.

    Steve

  3. #3
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    Why Does Anyone Shoot Trannies - Round Two

    I'm a color neophyte, but was horrified by the idea of having to use transparencies. Pros who shoot under the conditions that I typically find myslelf in (outside, natural light, no control) seem to bracket and shoot polaroids to make sure they get the exposure right. Color film and processing is already expensive enough to bum me out ($5 every time i go click?)

    Once I figured out that scanning color neg film is actually a reasonable challenge, there was no looking back. Grain isn't an issue at the sizes I usually print. I can't think of any other drawbacks.

  4. #4

    Why Does Anyone Shoot Trannies - Round Two

    No reason at all. I had similar issues quite recently in deciding to take up colour work aswell as B+W. One thing that put me off was the amount of bracketing exposure with tranny film, and the contrast and colour cast issue. In the end I went with 5x4 Fuji NPS. Honestly it does do the job.

  5. #5

    Why Does Anyone Shoot Trannies - Round Two

    Brian,



    I think more than one person said this in the other thread, but probably the biggest advantage of a slide is that it is self-proofing. That is, you know how the print should look. Now, I know that you must be thinking "well, I've been doing B&W for a long time and I always use negs." I do too, and I must say that it is a very different process with B&W. The reversed tones are much easier to interpret. Furthermore, one does not have to worry about color balance. Unless you already have a really good color workflow (calibration with your own IT8 targets, etc.) and you only plan to use one or two color negative films, you may find playing with color (without a proof) to be very frustrating. Slides will still require adjustment, but much less so, and you will have a target to match as a starting point.



    Beyond this, realize that you never get something for nothing. You have to decide what's important in the final image. There's a good reason for the fact that B&W photographers don't often develop for the lowest possible contrast. The reason you can represent a greater range of subject luminances on a peice of color negative is that the tonal representation is compressed on the negative film relative to that of reversal film. As a result, two neighboring tones are much more separated, and more discriminable in a slide than in a negative; there is simply much more tonal density encoding this difference in the slide.



    So forget all the talk about the beauty of a LF slide (though they are beautiful!). The real question to ask yourself while shooting a particular scene is which do you value more: capturing sheer range or capturing subtlety?

  6. #6

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    Why Does Anyone Shoot Trannies - Round Two

    In defense of transparencies, I prefer to shoot them and have no problems with exposure. I use a most unfashionable Gossen Luna Pro SBC in the equally unfashionable 30-degree reflected mode and expose at meter reading and 1/3 stop under for most landscapes. Both exposures are typically usable with the lighter one being my usual choice to scan.

    I don't want to sound harsh, but if you can't meter for transparencies acceptably that's not a fault of the film.

    I pull out the NPS when I have shadows that would block up with E100VS (or E100G) or need the extended range.

    Steve

  7. #7
    Resident Heretic
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    Why Does Anyone Shoot Trannies - Round Two

    I'm doing basically the same thing you are talking about. I shoot 4x5 and print with inkjet. I find no reason at all to use tranny film, and every reason to shoot negative film.

    I did some experiments (not scientific, used real subjects and didn't measure much of anything with a densitometer) last year with 160PortraVC in readyloads. I found the dynamic range of this film to be as large as Tri-X, and about as linear. Over a huge range I couldn't see any color shifting either. One of my favorite results is this passion flower photograph. Using a Zone VI modify Pentax spot meter, I measured about 11 stops of SBR (zone I being black and zone II having some tone and color, zones III-XI carrying detail). The film handled the dynamic range requirement easily.

    In printing, all I did was a levels adjustment, an RGB curves adjustment, and some color correction to pull the whites back to white (as scanned the image was a bit blue, but then the capture was at high noon in July, so the color temperature was probably in the 9000K range, which is a bit blue). That's it. No other corrections or manipulations -- it's a "straight print" as it were.

    Part of what I wanted to see was just how bad the grain was. The white part of the flowers is pretty dense; I remember it being around 2.0 but I didn't write anything down. Since grain is partly a function of density, I thought this would be a good test. I took part of one of the flowers up to 8x enlargement and printed it. It all looks grainless, including the white parts of the flower, on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag with UltraChromes. It's not just because the white parts are blown out to paper white either - they show tone and texture just fine - but no grain.

    So... my conclusion is that grain isn't an issue, and that the ability to capture a large SBR really is an issue. So I opted for color negative film. YMMV of course, but I really doubt that it will.

    Bruce Watson

  8. #8

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    Why Does Anyone Shoot Trannies - Round Two

    The answers were all relevant to the question for those that responded. The fact that they may not be relevant for one personmakes them only irrelevant to him. It is solipsistic to make one the center of everyone else's universe. This is one thing I notice all to often in internet discussion groups - one person answers in a way that makes sense to them and then someone else comes along and declares that answer irrelevant. Irrelevant to whom?

    Type C prints, those from color negs, are becoming a thing of the past. Their archival qualities were always suspect so this may or may not be a bad thing.

    It is true that scanning negs is becoming easier. However, there are still advanatages to shooting transparencies - and bracketing extensively should not be necessary. It is also true that in the digital age that the advantages and disadvantages between negs and positives are becoming blurred.

    However, transparencies stillhave uses in this modern digital world. Some publications still want them rather than negs or scans done by who knows who. They are generally sharper than negs, at least that used to be true. They tell you what the colors were in the scene (withing the color biases of each film but then this is true of negs as well) so you have a context for output. You can also lay them on a light table and know what you have which is not true with negs.

    Both are valuable. When I was an architectural photographer working in difficult situations I always took great pride in getting a good transparency.

    steve simmons

  9. #9

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    Why Does Anyone Shoot Trannies - Round Two

    You can't print Cibachromes from color negatives.

  10. #10
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Why Does Anyone Shoot Trannies - Round Two

    A lot of fine work is done and has been done with neg film, and color neg films are better than they've ever been. If it works for you, then do it.

    I've printed my own color, both neg and Ilfochrome, but right now I'm not doing enough color to justify it, and I'd rather use a service with much better scanners and printers than I could afford and just tell them "match the slide."

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