View Full Version : Color film newbie questions

Tom Westbrook
1-Apr-2005, 17:38
I have some questions about 4x5 color transparency films. I haven't really used any color trans film since the demise of Kodachrome 64 120, and since that obviously is not coming back...

<li>What currently available film(s) is closest to Kodachrome in color balance? I tend to like warmer films. Roughly the same contrast as PKR is preferred, too.
<li>Does color balance matter given Photoshop manipulations? That is, canít you make any film look like any other film in Photoshop as far as color balance goes, anyway?
<li>Are all transparency films equally scanable (assuming a drum scan)? If not, what are the variables, or what films scan best?
<li>What EI do you use for suggested films?

Iíve already done some experiments with color negative films (160NC, NPS, 400NC), but they donít seem to completely satisfy, though I do like them when I want lower contrast.

Many thanks for any info.

Ralph Barker
2-Apr-2005, 11:55
Pending one of the color experts coming along, Tom, I'll offer a couple of ideas based on my limited experience.

1. Color Balance - I think the whole color rendition thing is too subjective to allow definitive statements. Monitor calibration is crucial to color interpretation in the scans, and getting two monitors calibrated exactly the same between users is tough. Plus, different people seem to see subtle color variations differently. Thus, my suggestion to people is to test the various color films yourself - using 35mm. Find a film that provides a color rendition you like personally, and then go with that in further LF tests.

2. Digital manipulation - while one can adjust the pixels off a scanned image in Photoshop, I don't think that's really equivalent to the color rendition differences of the various films.

3. drum scanability - I have no idea, but I haven't heard of any films presenting particular problems to drum scanners, even though desktop scanners often have trouble with darker images and more saturated films. I see that as a limitation of desktop scanners, however.

4. EI suggestions - again an area where personal tests are required, I think, to get past the subjective interpretation issues.

Jim Rice
2-Apr-2005, 19:02
As usual, Ralph knows of which he speaks. I suspect that it took so long to get a reply because all of the chrome shooters pondered it, and didn't know of anything else that looks like Kodachrome. I was pesonally never that fond of it (I found it harder to print in 6x7) but I can understand the loss of it .

Roger Scott
2-Apr-2005, 19:58
Hi Tom,

As Jim suggested Ralph has pretty much answered your questions so I'll only add a little. I'm also a wet darkroom person so can't comment on photoshop manipulations or drum scanability. As far as I'm aware unfortunately there's nothing currently available which is close to Kodachrome. As an aside it's no longer available in Australia in any format. :-( Given the subjective nature of films some of the newer options you might consider trying include Fuji Astia and Kodak E100GX. I found the latter a little too warm for my liking but opinions differ. You might also like some of the older Kodak emulsions such as EPR, EPN and/or EPP which tend to have a more neutral colour palette, that is assuming these are still available. None of these films have the sharpness of Kodachrome with only Velvia 50 (RVP) left in the colour transparency sharpness game and that too will be disappearing soon. With regards to EI I nearly always meter at whatever it says on the box. I do however do a test roll with one of the smaller formats photographing a gray card between +/- 5 stops so I have an idea of the latitude/bounds of each film.


2-Apr-2005, 22:14
Is Velvia leaving? Sorry, I havent been reading the newspaper lately...If Astia is staying I wont care

Frank Petronio
2-Apr-2005, 22:43
Different films will separate skies, foilage and flesh differently. To do that with Photoshop you would be working with selective colors, which isn't difficult but it adds to the complexity of tasks ahead of you. So I would try to start with a film that renders the subject closer to what you favor (duh).

To warm up the image - such as between 100G and 100GX - that is really quite simple to do during scanning or in Photoshop, so I wouldn't worry as much about the "warmth" differential.

EPN is a delicate and subtle low contrast film that scans well. It's easy to add Velvetta saturation.

Roger Scott
3-Apr-2005, 00:25
Hi Wayne,

Velvia 50 is leaving to be replaced with Velvia 100 (not to be confused with Velvia 100F). Faster, finer grain but less sharp. Press release is on the Fuji site.