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Thread: does a color negative have the same dynamic range as a regular b&w film negative?

  1. #11

    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Re: does a color negative have the same dynamic range as a regular b&w film negative?

    ^^^ I disagree particularly if we're discussing 4x5 or larger. And "medium format" digital is still just too pricey.

  2. #12
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Albuquerque, Nuevo Mexico

    Re: does a color negative have the same dynamic range as a regular b&w film negative?

    I carry both in the field. If I need to separate something from the background and the filtration is not straight forward like say a faded reddish petroglyph against a yellow sandstone wall-my go to choice is a color negative, because I can "filter" with infinite combinations in PS. On the other hand, a traditional broad landscape that I want really dark skies works better in traditional b&w film and filters-less noise in the severly darkened sky.

    Also by shooting color negs and PS with layers and masks you can effectively use a different filter in the foreground than in the sky, avoiding problems like darkening evergreens when you are just wanting to darken the sky. You could do this with two b&w negs shot with different filters and blend them in PS, but with changing light I rarely have the freedom to shoot such in the field.

    The grain and sharpness issue is not relevant to my work as rarely print over 16x20.

    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

  3. #13

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    South Carolina

    Re: does a color negative have the same dynamic range as a regular b&w film negative?

    Quote Originally Posted by D. Bryant View Post

    This very topic came up at luncheon conversation yesterday with large format photographers here locally (who BTW have many years of experience with LF and PS) and everyone at the table agreed they preferred using B&W film over color conversions (digital or analog). It was generally agreed the look of color conversions, as Oren pointed out, just looks different and good mid-tone separation is difficult at times.

    Don Bryant

    Well, Don, if I had been part of that luncheon conversation I would have offered another opinion for you misguided Georgia boys.

    There are certainly reasons to use B&W film. Given color negative film and B&W film of the same ASA the B&W will have less grain, higher resolution, longer effective dynamic range, and will cost a lot less to shoot.

    On the other hand, the ability to control tonal values with the color sliders in post processing of color negative film is a very powerful tool that in many situations trumps all of the cited pros of B&W film. And if you don't make super large prints the issue of finer grain and higher resolution of B&W film is not relevant to final print quality with LF film.

    So if you run the program you will find that there are pros and cons to both ways of working. I have done a lot of color conversion of color negative film to B&W and there is no question in my mind but that it is possible to make high quality prints that rival or equal those made with B&W film. And I am positive that with color negative film I have vastly more control of tonal values than with B&W film.

    Sandy King
    For discussion and information about carbon transfer please visit the carbon group at Yahoo.

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