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Thread: Finest grain on 4x5 film for studio stills

  1. #1
    norly's Avatar
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    Finest grain on 4x5 film for studio stills

    Hi.
    Im new to writing but not reading this forum. Thanks for all the information, it has helped me a lot in my work. Anyway I have 3 questions.

    1. What is the best option if Im looking for low grain when shooting 4x5 stills in a studio (tungsten), Color negatives or Dia positives?

    2. The best fine grain color negatives availably (I usually shoot with Kodak 160 NC but its not fine enough for me). For stills and in tungsten lights.

    3. The finest low grain Dia under the same circumstances.

    I am a professional photographer and understand the differences between neg and Dia. But when it comes to grain im not sure. My theory is that DIA has the same grain at the same ISO/ASA as the negatives. But is availably in lower ISO/ASA with should make it the winner. Am I right?

    I have attached a photo of what kind of stuff I will be shooting. Im also planing a test with different films next week, but I wanted to know what you people know first.

    thanks
    /norly
    www.rasmusnorlander.se


  2. #2

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    Re: Finest grain on 4x5 film for studio stills

    Quote Originally Posted by norly View Post
    My theory is that DIA has the same grain at the same ISO/ASA as the negatives. But is availably in lower ISO/ASA with should make it the winner. Am I right?
    No.

    A photographic film is a mixture of grains of different sizes. The bigger grains ar more sensitive as the small ones. If the film will be developed in two different steps as it is done with reversal films, in the first developer the bigger grains are developed at first. The second, color-developer, develops the smaller grains. So a reversal film shows finer grain as a negative film of the same ISO.

    Peter K

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    Re: Finest grain on 4x5 film for studio stills

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter K View Post
    So a reversal film shows finer grain as a negative film of the same ISO.
    This used to be true. I don't believe it is any more. My last reading of graininess ratings from Kodak indicate that their negative films actually have lower RMS graininess ratings than similar ISO tranny films.

    But... and it's a big but, graininess is directly related to density. With a tranny, the density is in the shadows, where the increased graininess due to increased density is harder to see. In a negative the increased graininess due to increased density is in the highlights, where it's much easier to see. Thus the persistent myth that negative film is more grainy than tranny film.

    So what to use? Depends on one's preferences. I for one think that graininess is sufficiently small in all LF emulsions that it's a moot point. Clearly the OP would disagree. In any case, one has to test and find the film that works best for one's intended uses and one's workflow. And of course, one can always move to 10x8 or larger formats to stomp graininess into the ground.

    Bruce Watson

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    Re: Finest grain on 4x5 film for studio stills

    10x8 is meant for stompin'

    Grin.

    Switch to Velvia 50 and filter for your tungsten lights. Of course do some tests 'cause I find 50 isn't ISO 50 the way I shoot.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Photography/index.html

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    Re: Finest grain on 4x5 film for studio stills

    Are you seeing film grain or scanner noise? They look about the same. Better film won't fix a noisy scanner.

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    norly's Avatar
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    Re: Finest grain on 4x5 film for studio stills

    Thanks for all the replies. I agree that the grain normally isnt a problem with 4x5. Its just that I want to go as fine as possible. It might be scanner grain im seeing but im using a Imacon precision 3 and it should be a good one (i like it).

    It seams that the finest 4x5 color neg film availably are the Kodak 160VC/NC (which i usually use and like) and fuji pro 160S. Or am I wrong?

    And when it comes to DIA the ones I found are Ektakrom 64T and Fujicrome 64T and velvia 50. I assume the velvia is the finest but its not made for tungsten (and the saturation might be a bit hi?) which forces me to use a color filter, that might degrade the quality a bit?

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    Re: Finest grain on 4x5 film for studio stills

    Quote Originally Posted by norly View Post
    Thanks for all the replies. I agree that the grain normally isn't a problem with 4x5. Its just that I want to go as fine as possible. It might be scanner grain I'm seeing but I'm using a Imacon precision 3 and it should be a good one (i like it).
    Different scanners will give you different results. In flatbeds, the CCDs in the scanning array have a fixed size and pitch which can interact with film dye cloud size and pitch causing "grain aliasing" which exaggerates graininess. Your Imacon will not be any different in this regard. Drum scanners have variable "spot size" which helps eliminate the grain aliasing problem, and PMTs are extremely low noise sensors.

    The way to find out if what you are seeing is scanner noise is to scan the negative with your Imacon, then sent it that same negative out and have it scanned on a drum scanner. Same level of enlargement of course. Make same sized prints from the scan files and see which looks better to you.

    Bruce Watson

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    Re: Finest grain on 4x5 film for studio stills

    Just concerning the scanner. I do not know which generation is your Imacon Precision 3, but the scans (2000 spi) I was getting from Imacon 848 did definitely show noise in darker areas. The Imacon X5 seems to better in this respect (the same operator with both scanners).

    If you see "grain" with low ISO films like Provia 100F or similar at 2000 spi, then it is most probably a scanner noise. But more experienced guys should comment on this.
    Matus

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    norly's Avatar
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    Re: Finest grain on 4x5 film for studio stills

    Well, most of the times I think the studios uses imacons or kodaks for scanning, but of course nothing beats a real drum scanner. I will do some film and scanner test next week. Any good tips for compare-charts for film qualities/grain on the web? Someone must have taken test films, scanned and compared them on the internet...?

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    Re: Finest grain on 4x5 film for studio stills

    Is the content of your contemplated imagery receiving the same level of attention as you are giving to the presence of grain? Have you been receiving commentary from your viewing public that the images look grainy?

    IMO, the tools and material used in a production should be kept in their proper role, as a supportive element to the artist's statement. I've not seen anything in this thread that describes the project and why the ultimate in small grain is so critical.

    JY

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