View Full Version : What do you do with your LF transparencies???

23-Jan-2019, 08:11
Looking ahead, I'm going for a week in August to the Outer Banks, Ocracoke, Cape Hatteras and while I have the time think I'd like to lug my 4x5 with me and some color transparency film (dont' have the camera YET it's at JKF customs). What do you folks do with your transparencies? Scan yourself (which I hear is difficult)? I have a v850 Pro and on the uphill learning curve still. Do you use a lab for enlargements, and if you do, can anyone recommend a lab, how your prepare the file (if you scanned it yourself) and what color space and bit depth? Sorry if this is very basic, but I just called Millers and she told me "use 8 bit, doesn't really matter, and whatever color space you use is fine, just upload it." Hmmm. I've ordered from them once before, the image was actually great, but it was their promotional offer where you upload a file and they color correct, edit and print it their way for free. I usually print on an Epson P800 but may want to do a few larger prints for my office if they come out. I would like to do a "dry run" locally first however, thinking of using Provia which I like the look of. Or should I bad transparencies and do color negative? I have ZERO experience scanning color and uploading to a lab.

23-Jan-2019, 08:42
I have not shot any since the disappearance of Cibachrome. I keep the old ones in storage sleeves and occasionally have considered printing them to panchromatic B&W film to make printable internegatives.

23-Jan-2019, 08:45
I'm interested in color seascapes and have to admit I never, even back in the day, used Cibachrome. All I know is I don't care much for Velvia. I've shot quite a bit in 35mm and it just isn't for me. I was having North Coast Photographic process and drum scan those for me.

Pere Casals
23-Jan-2019, 08:47
I have ZERO experience scanning color and uploading to a lab.

With remote printing problem is proofing, adjusting an image for a print or for monitors is different, even with calibrations and profiles.

Just take an image and make a mosaic with say 16 small images with different contrast/exposure/saturation/etc and order an small print of the mosaic, then see the result with a magnifier to find how monitor's look transforms on paper.

Learn how to expose slides, I don't think there is another medium like that on earth, even with a cheap slide viewer you have atonishing colors and dynamic range. A monitor cannot show that, so after scanning you won't see the same punch.

Scanning+processing slides it's easier than with color negative, at least you have a reference from the slide itself, but extreme densities in slides may be difficult to recover with a flatbed. You can easily destroy slide highlights by overexposure, so just learn how to expose with some 35mm bracketings, combined with spot metering. Learn how sky/clouds/trees/people/etc look if spot meter said -2, 0 or +2 for them. You may require a Grad ND filter to not overexpose sky in contrasty scenes.

23-Jan-2019, 08:51
Transparencies were difficult to enlarge (cibachrome / ilfochrome) when those printing product were available, and probably more difficult now to print optically. Commercially transparencies were wsiwyg for people making color separations for traditional printing. Scanning is the way to make them useful. Currently I think it is more practical to shoot negative film like portra160 since it captures a bigger brightness range (more forgiving at exposure) and can be scanned or optically printed. Other people may have varying opinions.

Adam Kavalunas
23-Jan-2019, 09:23
I've been out of the 4x5 game for almost 2 years now, but this was my process. When I got my film back, I would go through and select all the "winners" and scan them myself. I was using an older Epson 3200 scanner (likely light years behind your v850). This was only to begin working on the images, and used for posting online, and to my website. It is very likely that your v850 scans could make some beautiful and sharp prints, so don't dismiss that completely. If a customer wanted a print, or I decided I wanted to make a print for myself, I would then send the transparency out for a professional scan. There are lots of services that do this. I use AGX imaging in Michigan. They use an Imacon (Hassleblad) scanner, which I think is technically a "virtual" drum scanner. While not quite up to par with the top of the line (lots of discussion there....) the scans are gorgeous, and will easily suffice for a 24x30" or even a 30x40" print with careful processing. You'll likely pay up to $50 and more for a true drum scan everywhere else, as opposed to $12.50 at AGX (and Mike has a wealth of knowledge in the film game). As far as printing, I was always and still am a fan of LightJet prints on Fuji Crystal Archive (particularly Pearl, which is as close to Cibachrome as I've found) The particular lab I use is PhotoCraft out of Boulder Colorado. Its not your typical "drag and drop", no interaction type lab. They will work with you every step of the way, and are extremely knowledgeable. Anyways, this was the process that worked well for me. I'm sure others will vary...

Adam Kavalunas
23-Jan-2019, 09:30
I was also never a big fan of Velvia. Astia and Provia were my films of choice, both have a wider dynamic range than Velvia. Since you'll be scanning and working from a digital file, I wouldn't worry about the tonal differences between the two as that can changed in PS with one click of the mouse.

23-Jan-2019, 10:11
A lot of great info and stuff to think about. Adam thank you for specific recommendations. I agree, having seen many transparencies not my own (including 8x10's) that the colors are stunning. But aside from projecting (if it can even be done) what is one to do? Walk around with a light table and ask people to look at your photos? I guess I never considered the usefulness of transparencies for commercial separations as I have never worked in that realm. Maybe what I'll do before the trip is shoot ten sheets of Provia, Ektar and Portra and see how I like them each. I'd like to see what types of scans I can do with them. LAST thing I want to do is wake up at dawn and walk the beach and dunes, take a dozen images, come back and not have one good one. Now if the camera would just get here already.

Pere Casals
23-Jan-2019, 10:13
Astia and Provia were my films of choice, both have a wider dynamic range than Velvia.

Near exactly the same dynamic range, perhaps 1/3 stop difference in the full dynamic range (that has some 5.75 stops, including toe/shoulder), see characteristic curves in the datasheets, a 1 Log H unit is 2.3 stops. Also toe shoulders are near equal.

What's different is contrast, velvias are more contrasty by reaching higher densities in the same dynamic range, and also having a color shift to brown in the really extreme densities beyond 3.5D.

Bernice Loui
23-Jan-2019, 10:22
Fuji Velvia results in false color and contrast rendition. This is one of the prime reasons why Velvia became so popular.

Fuji Astia is opposite of Velvia with very accurate color rendition and modest contrast. Astia was not a popular color transparency film. It does well as the basis for making nice Ciba-Ilford chrome prints back in the day.

Provia is mostly between these two. Overall excellent color transparency film.


Pere Casals
23-Jan-2019, 10:44
Yes... Velvia 50 in special makes yellows warmer and oranges redder, crafting impressive landscapes, this has an spectral footprint in the capture so there is no universal way to imitate velvia 50 well in Ps. In the same way a portrait made with Velvia 50 is to be pretty awful, and a long Ps session on it is not have a happy ending.

This is the film advantage, having dedicated mediums for different jobs. Sadly Astia was killed, it was really nice for portraits.

Larry Gebhardt
23-Jan-2019, 12:03
I would get the film lab developed, though I used to do mine. I think you can still get the chemicals, but it's been a few years since I processed any E6. Don't discount your scanner, which my do well enough if you don't under expose. Velvia is the hardest film for me to scan (and nail the exposure). Even the drum scanner won't see cleanly into the deep shadows. So I'd try Provia, or just go with color neg if you don't want the wow factor on a light table. Scan at 16 bit and use a wide gamut color space. If you do scan at 8bit use a color space that's just wide enough for the colors in a chrome. Joseph Holmes' Ekta Space PS J works well and even with 16bit I'll still use this.

As far as prints go I like to print on my own. It's rare I get it just right on the first go and waiting for the lab to turn it around is not my idea of fun. A small desktop printer might make sense if you don't plan to print a lot. You can proof at home and then send them to a lab for the large final prints.

Drew Wiley
23-Jan-2019, 12:03
The last rendition of Astia (100F) was on polyester rather than acetate base, a major asset when needing dimensional stability for mask registration. Kodak's E100G was also stable, but with a bit more contrast. I have a lot of old chromes laying around. I've made contact internegs from a few of the 8x10's for RA4 printing. It's perfectly feasible, but for good results generally requires supplementary contrast masking just like Ciba did.

23-Jan-2019, 12:05
Thanks Larry, I'm going to have them lab processed. I use an Epson P800 which does a great job for me. My primary concern was the scanning quality. While I don't mind getting drum scans, I can see that adding up pretty quickly.

Mark Darragh
23-Jan-2019, 20:37
You might find this of interest to compare films



Realistically, unless you want to order film from Japan, your options for new transparency films are Velvia 100 and Provia. Provia is a much more versatile film with a less pronounced colour cast than RVP100. However, for someone starting out shooting colour LF, negative film is going to be much more "user friendly". Ektar 100 can be tweaked to give quite a traditional "negative" look or something much closer to the rendition of transparency film in terms of saturation and contrast. The equipment that you have is capable of producing very good quality scans and prints in the right hands. If you do take something that you want to print particularly large you could always get that drum scanned.

23-Jan-2019, 21:36
Thank you Mark, I'm going to dig into those. I'm primarily going to do BW but would like, at least on this trip, to do color. I just love the morning colors on the beach.