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Thread: Film vs digital for long exposures

  1. #1

    Film vs digital for long exposures

    I understand reciprocity rule so not my question. My question is this: When I use film, like asa 100 extar, provia, etc I am able to take very long expsoures, like 5-10 minutes or even longer and I do not notice any "noise" grain in the pictures making them unusable. When I shoot digital, I have to watch for temperature, length of expsosure, use noise reduction in pre and post. The hotter it is outside, the longer the exposure, the worse it is is. Especially when you have a firefly convention. It is a lot of work to take dark frames, bias frames, light frames stack them proprly, etc to get an image especially if your image is more than about 30 seconds in length, even at iso 100 (or the native iso for the camera) And when you are employing tilt/shift/rise/fall with the lens (I use Canon TS/E lens for digital stuff) your sensor just gets plain hot.

    Anyway,
    Am I correct in that I can take very long exposures with film and not have any similar problems to worry about. I have made some at 5-7 minutes in length, fairly warm out and did not see any degradation of the image. so is there a point in which film will not yield satisfactory results with the grain/noise becoming too much? Like I stated though, I have not seen it, yet, that is.

  2. #2

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    Re: Film vs digital for long exposures

    Have done exposures on both B&W and Chromes up to 20 minutes without any problems. Velvia at 20 minutes goes a bit magenta - but since it was western sky reflecting on water well after sunset the magenta helped.
    My uncle has done 8 hour exposures in very dim buildings and the negatives look good and print well.
    I tend to procrastinate on stuff. One of these days I'll do something about it.

  3. #3

    Re: Film vs digital for long exposures

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie View Post
    Have done exposures on both B&W and Chromes up to 20 minutes without any problems. Velvia at 20 minutes goes a bit magenta - but since it was western sky reflecting on water well after sunset the magenta helped.
    My uncle has done 8 hour exposures in very dim buildings and the negatives look good and print well.
    Cool.

  4. #4
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Film vs digital for long exposures

    Film has reciprocity as you mention as well as color shift depending on the type of film. There is no change in grain - that is inherent to the film.

    The issues with digital are sidestepped by using multiple exposures and blending, but the slight delay between exposures may be a problem in certain situations.

    So there's different pluses and minuses and so you might choose one or the other depending on the photo. I have shot very very long exposures on film and digital - digital is much easier for startrails which I like to do. Slight delay is masked in the software I use and becomes irrelevant. I limit length to 30 seconds usually.
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  5. #5

    Re: Film vs digital for long exposures

    If astrophotography then digital. If long exposures of city scapes etc especially at night then film for the most part.

  6. #6

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    Re: Film vs digital for long exposures

    Despite reciprocity, speed, and contrast build-up, at least film does not build up other artifacts during exposure...

    Steve K

  7. #7

    Re: Film vs digital for long exposures

    Quote Originally Posted by LabRat View Post
    Despite reciprocity, speed, and contrast build-up, at least film does not build up other artifacts during exposure...

    Steve K
    True. Digital noise of all types is a pain to deal with.

  8. #8

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    Re: Film vs digital for long exposures

    I've taken many 6-8 hour exposures on Agfacolor 100, 125, and 400 during the winter -- of the SW desert landscapes & skies. The only possible problem is color shift -- but that's hard to determine because it's so dark you really can't tell what color it's supposed to be! So when I see the results, I might like it -- and if I don't, I can change it.

    The other issue is metering of the scene. You need a very sensitive meter, but you can't use the reading directly -- or you will end up with a very bring scene, not a dark, night-time scene.

    Oh, the other problem I've had is remembering to bring an alarm clock to wake me up before sunrise! Dew is usually not an issue in the Desert SW.

  9. #9

    Re: Film vs digital for long exposures

    Marines cured me of getting up early, no problem!

  10. #10
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Film vs digital for long exposures

    A lens hood fitted with a very low power heat source may prevent condensation from dew.
    As for B&W, I've done star trails up to 12 hours on Tech Pan. Predicting the correct exposure may be the worst problem.

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