View Full Version : Qualities of Portra 400NC vs slower film

Murray Fredericks
15-May-2005, 07:40
Hi All,

I have a specific project I am about to shoot on 8" x 10" and am thinking of using Kodak Portra 400NC. The images will be scanned and very large Lambda prints will be made. I am very familiar with the various Transparency options available but I need a 'faster film' for various reasons (mainly wind and low light) in this situation.

Will the grain become noticable with this film at big enlargements? Any other experiences (shooting 8" x 10") with this film that could be shared would be appreciated also.

John Sarsgard
15-May-2005, 08:26
I've shot lots of it in 4x5. Never did an enlargement larger than 11x14, but can not see any grain at all at that size. I think it would be worth shooting a couple sheets and giving it a try.

Bruce Watson
15-May-2005, 09:11
Define "big" enlargements.

I seriously doubt you'll be able to see the grain in a 10x enlargement. That would be about 2.0 x 2.5 meters, or about 6.7 x 8.3 feet. And anyone standing close enough to even look for the grain, well, they'll be missing the bigger picture ;-)

Eric Leppanen
15-May-2005, 17:14
Assuming "very large" means 8x enlargement or greater, I would suggest shooting a test sheet, having it scanned and an 8x10" section printed at the enlargement factor you envision, so that you are sure of the result. I too carry 400NC as my high-speed color 8x10 film, but avoid using it unless I have no choice due to its relatively low color saturation and, to a lesser extent, concerns about grain. While I have not experimented yet with large prints from 8x10 print film negatives, I know from experience in 6x7 that print film does not drum scan as gracefully as chrome film and appears markedly grainier at a 16x20 print size (roughly 8x enlargement factor). I ran the 6x7 tests with Fuji Reala so 400NC might perform a bit worse, although Kodak claims Portra scans well so I don't really know.

Also beware of longer exposures. Kodak implies that reciprocity failure in Portra starts at 10 seconds, although they provide no details. Fuji claims no reciprocity failure in Provia up to 128 seconds. So perhaps in low light conditions perhaps Portra versus, say, pushed Provia might not be so different after all, assuming contrast is manageable?

I try to use pushed Provia or 160VC whenever I can to minimize these issues.

Donald Qualls
15-May-2005, 20:37
I find (when scanning at 2400 ppi) that Portra 400 NC in roll film has less grain than TMY in the same roll format. If you aren't enlarging as much as 10x (which would be 80x100 inches final print size), I wouldn't think it would be a problem.

Murray Fredericks
15-May-2005, 21:01

thanks for the suggestions.

This raisies other issues. What equpiment can be recommended for scanning 8" x 10" - exhibition quality 10x enlargements. I am familiar with scanning 4" x 5" using a flextight but unfortunately there is no such option for 8" x 10". Perhaps something like the Creo IQ Smart or should I perhaps be finding a bureau and purchasing scans?

I have also found know that the colour neg scans can be tricky compared with the chromes that tend to scan very well. I find Provia a bit blue all round for my purposes.

Two Questions:

Does anybody have any other 8" x 10" (colour) film/ scan combinations they prefer?

Can anyone recommend some accurate colour film reciprocity information with regard to 8" x 10" films. I find the manufacturers info vague to say the least. I have my own reciprocity methods on 4" x 5" but the subjects I am about to shoot will be asking for super long exposures.



David Hempenstall
16-May-2005, 00:48

what about Astia or EPP. If EPN is still around in 8x10 it might give you an even 'smoother' or 'muted' colour palette.

Not overly contrasty like many other chromes, and as noted most people on drums MUCH prefer a chrome (if you choose to go the drum route).

I think Chris Jordan is shooting Astia.... I'm sure someone will correct me quickly. Maybe Tim Atherton and the others working in this manner can weigh in.... or you can chase them down. Struth and the others might be a little less 'approachable'.

No need to proof to get a feel for the image either. process the bit of film and off you go.

The little Fuji green book used to have both time and colour correction that gave me a good start when heading out into long exposures. If you go WAY out into the hours you might just have to shoot a few sheets to get a 'gut feeling'. At a certain point 10 minutes here or there ain't gonna matter.

Hope all is well. You had mentioned a large colour project a few years ago (during the Tasmania show), this must be it.

And if you haven't spoken to Bruce H in a while, best give him a bell.


Eric Leppanen
16-May-2005, 00:57
I think Fuji reasonably documents the reciprocity characteristics of at least some of their films. If Provia is too blue for your taste, you could try Velvia 100F (which I have never tried) or Astia 100F (which is hard to find in 8x10). Both of these films reportedly push one stop reasonably well.

Velvia 100F: www.fujifilm.com/JSP/fuji/epartners/bin/RVP100FAF3-148E_1.pdf (http://www.fujifilm.com/JSP/fuji/epartners/bin/RVP100FAF3-148E_1.pdf)

Astia 100F: www.fujifilm.com/JSP/fuji/epartners/bin/RAP100FAF3-149E_1.pdf (http://www.fujifilm.com/JSP/fuji/epartners/bin/RAP100FAF3-149E_1.pdf)

Kodak is more vague regarding reciprocity and only highlights push processing in their E200 film, which is not available in 8x10. Various folks recommend against pushing 100VS. I don't know how well E100G/GX will push, and Kodak gives little info about this.

Regarding large enlargements, I've found that drum scanning (I send out for Tango drum scans) yields significantly sharper results than the Flextights or Scitex flatbeds.

Bruce Watson
16-May-2005, 14:29

You want a 10x enlargement scan of an 8x10 negative? Assuming this is for inkjet output (360dpi), that would be:

(80x100)(360^2)(3 channels)(2 bytes/channel) = 6.22 GB. Impractical.

Looking at this from the other side, about the biggest file you are going to be able to work with is in the 2.0 to 3.5 GB range, using the latest of either windoze or OSX, and Photoshop CS2, and the proper setup to get you beyond 2.0 GB.

So, (80x100)(300^2)(3 channels)(1 byte/channel) = 2.16 GB. Do-able maybe.

This would give you nice sharp prints from 12-18 inches out. It's an 8 bit scan though, so it won't stand major levels, curves, or color balance adjustments. You may well be able to get by with lower resolution with a huge print like this. I'm just pointing out where the upper limits are.

I recommend a drum scan for anything this size (8x enlargement or higher). I wouldn't hesitate to stick with negative film. This would be expecially true for anything with a subject brightness range larger than about six stops. Color negatives scan fine on a drum scanner if you can find a shop that has some experience scanning negatives.

Tango scanners and Linocolor/Newcolor software do fine with chromes. I think there is better equipment and software for scanning negatives however. Anyone with a Optronics ColorGetter running ColorRight 2.0 Pro, or an Aztek Premier running DPL might be a better choice for negatives. A lot depends on the operator also.

You might also want to check out this thread (http://largeformatphotography.info/lfforum/topic/501962.html#551109) where Chris Jordon recommendations the shops that drum scan his 8x10s.

The above is clearly my opinion, and YMMV.

Eric Leppanen
16-May-2005, 15:16

When scanning for output to the Epson 9600 color printer, West Coast Imaging told me some time back that they scan and manipulate the image at 240DPI (print size resolution), and only upres to 360DPI (to prevent the printer from doing its own rasterization) at print time. Their testing showed that workshop participants staring at prints with the naked eye saw no benefit to scanning above 180 DPI, although with a loupe additional benefits could be seen up to 240DPI.

Since Murray will be using a Lambda printer, I presume he'll need to provide only around 200DPI to achieve optimal output IIRC.

Bruce Watson
16-May-2005, 19:20

That becomes a religious argument. The flip side is, if you talk to pros like George DeWolfe they like to output considerably over printer resolution (last I heard he liked 480 dpi or thereabouts) and let the driver deal with it. Everyone has an opinion.

I have my doubts about not seeing any benefit to scanning above 180 dpi output - I can sure see a big improvement in my prints when I scan at full printer resolution (360 dpi) over 240 dpi, and certainly over 180 dpi. I see a lot less benefit to scanning at resolutions above 360 dpi however. My conclusion after my own tests is it's best to give the printer exactly the resolution it wants. This seems to be true of Epson printers and Lightjets anyway - the only two on which I've run my tests.

I always assume that there will be arguments over opinions. That's why I said "YMMV."