View Full Version : Color Neg for landscape

Matthew Cromer
16-Mar-2005, 18:00
I know of a small group of 4x5 landscapers who are using color negative film in situations with a lot of dynamic range. We are all scanning the film and printing digitally.

Just wondering how many more "deviants" might be lurking on the LFInfo forum?

bob carnie
16-Mar-2005, 18:29

Why would you shoot colour film then scan to print digitally?
Would you not get better results to shoot digitally and then print from your file and skip the scan stage?
I would think you deviants would get better results than this second stage method?

If you want to print digital , for sure you should be capturing with a phase and going direct.

Melchi M. Michel
16-Mar-2005, 19:02

Why would you drive a lexus to the supermarket? Wouldn't you get better results with a Bentley or Rolls Royce?

I doubt most of us on this forum could afford to spend $30,000 on a digital back. Furthermore, even if I had the means (and the desire) to buy one, I doubt that I'd take it on backpacking trips and expose it to the elements.

bob carnie
16-Mar-2005, 19:15
If ultimate quality and reproduction is of any concern to you for digital printing then I would indeed invest in my equipment and go to a phase. Otherwise I would shoot traditional film and optically print.
I would not be suprised to what people on this forum would be able to afford , for their photography pursuits.

Bruce Watson
16-Mar-2005, 20:24
I primarily shoot 4x5 Tri-X, but on those rare occasions when what's interesting to me is the color, I shoot 4x5 160PortaVC negative film. I've never used chromes, because I don't want to be limited by a chrome's lack of dynamic range (I like the sun), and saddled with a chrome's massive density.

I've never understood the so called WYSIWYG aspect of chromes, since I shoot in natural light. In natural light, WYSIWYG is a myth - we hardly ever shoot in light conditions that the film was designed for, unless we are shooting at 10:00am on the equinox (which is coming up in a few days). For landscape work, some color correction is almost always required, chrome, negative, whatever. So... if you aren't going to get the WYSIWYG advantage, why put up with the disadvantages of limited dynamic range and huge density?

This (http://www.achromaticarts.com/flowers/02.html) is what I'm talking about. It measured 10 stops of SBR IIRC - can't be done with a chrome. So, include me in your list of "deviants" if you please. I'm already known as a heretic; what's one more data point?

Leonard Evens
16-Mar-2005, 20:52
I use Portra VC 160 and scan it with an Epson 3200. I prefer the greater latitude of color negative film, and I don't have to worry about dmax when scanning. I don't find the lack of a slide to compare color to to be an obstruction. Slides rarely present an accurate rendition of colors in a scene. See the example, Fall at Northwestern,2004 in the color gallery at www.midwestlargeformat.com.

When full size 4 x 5, moderate priced, light, scanning backs become available I will be happy to switch from film, but right now film+scanning is a good way to do it.

Eric Leppanen
16-Mar-2005, 23:54
I normally use chrome film, but always keep a couple holders loaded with Portra 160VC for high contrast situations. I still send out my "keepers" for high-end drum scanning, and in this workflow transparency film tends to give slightly more saturated and slightly less grainy results than C-41. But the Portra has proven highly useful where contrast is high and use of an ND grad filter is not feasible.

Also, I am shooting more 8x10 these days, and Portra gives me the added option of contact printing. An 8x10 color contact print is absolutely gorgeous!

Richard Littlewood
17-Mar-2005, 03:00
I'm using Fuji NPS 5x4 (aswell as FP4) to photograph the landscape here in Yorkshire, England. I wanted to make colour prints with lowish contrast and saturation, muted is the word I think. So far the results are good - and unlike tranny film, 1 shot will do, without bracketing. Like you I'm planning on scanned negs and digital (possibly Lambda) prints. In theory this is a good route to take - but possibly a little expensive.

Struan Gray
17-Mar-2005, 03:20
Like the others here, I find it difficult to live with the lower dynamic range of transparency film. Portra NC is my standard colour film in 35 mm, 6x6 and 4x5 - I use the 160 speed for most things, some 400 now and then. It is a bit weak with saturated reds, but it does nice things to my kid's skin and Scottish beaches so I stick with it. I scan on an Epson 3200 and either print at home on an Epson 2100 or upload scans to online Fuji Frontier merchants.

ronald moravec
17-Mar-2005, 05:44
Portra Vc in 4x5 works fine for me. I can print it with my Chromega or scan it with my Epson 4870. Plus exposures can be off a little or I can expose for the shadows and just burn in the highlits if I need shadow detail. Masking also works.

There is no reason to use transparency that I can see for my use.

Edward (Halifax,NS)
17-Mar-2005, 07:06
I use Fuji NPH for medium format and Fuji Provia 100F for large format. I just bought a scanner so I don't know yet which will give better results for me. I have heard that my scanner, Epson 2450 gives better results scanning print film than transparency film. We shall see.

tim atherton
17-Mar-2005, 08:27
I find (the older) Astia generally works very well in these circumstances - it has a wider range than most other transparency films and I rarely feel the need to move to colour negative - though I do every now and then.

"Why would you shoot colour film then scan to print digitally? Would you not get better results to shoot digitally and then print from your file and skip the scan stage? I would think you deviants would get better results than this second stage method?

If you want to print digital , for sure you should be capturing with a phase and going direct."

Last time we tested one, the Phase back just didn't cut it. The manufacturer was trying to persuade the government it was the solution to all their digital wishes - it wasn't. It worked fine for photographing artifacts in the studio, but outdoors - even for architectural work (and certainly for my own landscape and cityscape work) capture was still too slow and file sizes too small. (they great thing about 4x5 and even 8x10 is you can pritn them up at 8x10 or smaller if that's all you need, but you can also take both up to 50x60 and beyond - [if you really want, with 8x10]) - One thing we were workignon was wall sized murals for a new exhibit gallery and the files from the Phase back really still weren't up to that - and for all that extra cost too.

In addition, despite the manufaturers assurances, it really didn't work in the cold (the brochure says zero c - the manufacturere said it would actually work below that). Well, not very well in moderate cold - and when we tested it in decent cold, the wee beastie just died never to recover. As far as I know, it's still sat on a workbench in Frederiksberg somewhere while they figure out what happened to it...

Eric Rose
17-Mar-2005, 12:50
When I quite shooting stock 10 years ago I quite shooting chromes. Hated them! Now I use either Fuji NPS or Kodak NC160. Lately mostly Kodak. I scan using an Epson scanner but only for web use. Any prints I do I still do in a darkroom unless they are really huge. For those I get them drum scanned and digitally output. The dynamic range is unbeatable.

Steve Baggett
17-Mar-2005, 19:01
I shoot NPS and 160VC, only, for color landscape. I'm also typing this reply while naked, so I am definitely a deviant.

neil poulsen
18-Mar-2005, 07:21
Sometimes, with it's orange cast, negative film is more difficult to scan and print digitally. I'm wondering if it would make sense for a film company to come out with negative film without the orange cast, or better, negative film that's optimized for scanning. In that way, one could get the advantage of scanning transparencies and still have the increased latitude.

It just seems like back-correcting (i.e. re-engineering the image) for the huge orange cast shouldn't be necessary when scanning negative film, that it would throw off the colors. Why correct for something that's not necessary in the first place? Film has a real advantage over quality digital in it's portability and expense.

Juergen Sattler
18-Mar-2005, 07:39
"I'm also typing this reply while naked, so I am definitely a deviant"

Steve, too much information - we didn't have to know this:-)


Al Seyle
19-Mar-2005, 12:47
Quote from highly respected West Coast Imaging:

Customer: I've heard it is much more difficult to get a high-quality scan from negative film than chromes. Is this absolutely true ? Is there a way to expose film to optimize it for scanning? I prefer to continue shooting negative film because of its contrast ratio and exposure latitude. As I contemplate having my images scanned, I'd like to know the best solution for future film, and the projects I'm embarking upon.

WCI: The short answer is that chromes make much better prints than negs, relative to each other. This does not mean that prints from negs are unacceptable, but they don't have the snap a print from a chrome does, when you compare them side by side. Some people may be very happy with a print from a neg, but if we are to set a benchmark of which is best, chrome wins.

Chromes scan more easily than negs for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it is a positive, and we have an accurate reference to what it should look like. With a negative we have no such reference. Also, the grain structure of chromes holds up much better, and gives a sharper file than negs.

The wider latitude of negs is part of the problem, as well. Compressing that range into a print flattens contrast and destroys local contrast...things that make a print sparkle. On the other hand, using chromes in flat light stretches out the contrast range and makes nice local contrast happen automatically.
We have scanned thousands of chromes and negs from beginners to 30 year professionals. In looking at what works, we have found that negs from studio photographers who light flat for chrome, make the best scans....so the very reason you want to use neg is in direct opposition to creating the type of lighting conditions and neg that scans well.

Now this doesn't mean that the chrome is always better, but at least 90% of the time you'd get a better print from a well exposed chrome compared to a neg. The type of neg film really doesn't matter very much.

You will choose what tools and workflow will work best for you and your work. I don't know the type of subject matter you photograph, but the look you see in Outdoor Photographer of landscapes is a direct function of using chrome film in those early morning and late evening conditions that are conducive to the film. If there was an easier way to obtain that look, we'd all be doing it!"

End quote

Steven Kefford
19-Mar-2005, 17:46
That is a very interesting quote from WCI. I have had a lab over in the UK tell me the exact opposite. They where trying to make excuses for some very naff prints from slides that they had done. They where digital prints, and they say that they can not capture all of the contrast in a slide, and that if you want prints, negs are a much better option. I don't believe them though.


Marco Buonocore
22-Mar-2005, 07:25

With regards to scanning colour negs, you may be interested in the NegPos (http://www.c-f-systems.com/PhotoMathDocs.html) plugin. I've only given it a quick go, scanning some 120 negs on a Coolscan 9000, and was impressed. I think if I find myself scanning 4x5s colour negs on the Imacon, I'll probably use this method.


Eric Fredine
22-Mar-2005, 18:00
"the look you see in Outdoor Photographer of landscapes is a direct function of using chrome film"

I suppose WCI's 'position' is ok IF you actually WANT the look of OP.