View Full Version : Transparencies or Negative? Which type do you prefer?

brian steinberger
12-May-2007, 16:57
I'd just like to see where everyone is with this topic now. I know it's been beating to death in the past, but lets re-look at it now. With numerous post processing options, scanners, times are different now.

Which type or color film are you shooting, transparencies or negatives? Please explain why, your subject matter, how you're printing.. etc. If you're shooting a little of both, please explain under what conditions you prefer one type over the other.

12-May-2007, 17:17
Transparancies. Mainly velvia 50. Some E100vs stuff in 8x10. Landscapes. I'm not a big fan of color neg scans. They lack the brilliance and fine grain i get from Velvia. Straight optical prints from color neg look great for portraits but i prefer the look of transparancy film for lanscapes. I've got an imacon flextight and i've got a friend with a howtek drum scanner so i've been doing direct to print lightjets from Calypso. I'm quite pleased with my results. I've got a few 8x10's i'm considering for cibachromes through the Ciba Lab here in L.A. There's nothing quite like those prints, nothing.


JW Dewdney
12-May-2007, 17:41
Myself - I don't care for cibachromes too much. While the saturation can be pretty out of this world, I find them lacking in a certain 'intimacy' - but anyway - to the task at hand... I personally prefer shooting colour neg film. One reason is logistic - easily being able to make RA-4 prints (assuming one has access to a lab, of course!) - the other reason is that you have the flexibility to coax a good print out of it later - rather than having to make a decision in-camera as to what the final result will look like. Since you won't be using the entire range of values a neg can record, in most cases, there's some room for interpretation later - especially if one chooses to re-interpret the scene. I just really like the flexibility that neg film gives me. Velvia, and others, while lovely to look at, do have their place... but I really like the assurance of being able to 'capture' what I want with neg film. I have no problems with scanning them, either at home or with a lab's drum scanner. Most of the stuff on my website was scanned on a flatbed, directly from the negs.

Diane Maher
12-May-2007, 17:43
I've mostly been shooting transparencies, Provia 100F in 8x10. However, recently I have been giving C41 a try in that size. This is mostly due to getting a free box of 8x10 Fuji 160S at last year's View Camera Conference. I've been getting prints made via interneg from the Provia and I like those, but it's kind of nice to just get a contact print via the C41 neg too. I shoot mostly landscapes and don't scan my 8x10's because my scanner (Epson 2450) is too small to scan the neg/transparency unless I do multiple scans and stitch them together.

JW Dewdney
12-May-2007, 18:09
I've got an imacon flextight and i've got a friend with a howtek drum scanner so i've been doing direct to print lightjets from Calypso.

Hey Vinny - have you tried A&Is lightjets? They're ABSURDLY cheap. I can't see how calypso could be any cheaper... what are you paying?

Walter Calahan
12-May-2007, 19:30
Both, depending what I'm doing. Film's just a tool to capture one's vision, just like lens choice. Depending on what I'm shooting, I select between color negative or transparency film, as well as manufacturers and their various emulsions.

brian steinberger
12-May-2007, 21:28
Negative film for portraits and trannys for landscapes seems to be the trend. I think it might be that one might like a boost in contrast and saturation for landscapes with Velvia, and the need of laditude and lack of satuaration and contrast for portraiture with negative film. I hope to get alot more feedback from this forum.

Walter, could you be a little bit more specific as to what kind of situations you would use either?

Eric Leppanen
12-May-2007, 22:29
For landscapes, I generally try to match film contrast to scene contrast, so that the film can record as much information as possible. For low contrast scenes, I use Velvia or Provia, depending on the color scheme I want; for high contrast scenes, I use Pro160S or Portra 160VC. Most of my landscapes are shot during the first few minutes after sunrise or before sunset, where the lighting is soft and the contrast is usually within the limits of what transparency film can handle. Overall I shoot roughly 80% transparencies and 20% color neg.

I haven't shot portraits for awhile, but when possible I used to shoot transparency film (Astia 100F), as there is nothing like a positive image to remember someone by. However, this only worked when I had precise lighting control, so as a practical matter color neg was frequently used.

12-May-2007, 23:55
B&W negatives for LF, digital for everything else.

JW Dewdney
13-May-2007, 00:47
Actually - I'm going to revise and say negatives for anything with a significant amount of contrast - and chromes only for low-contrast scenes, that need a strong colour kick for differentiation, such as what velvia can offer.

Bruce Watson
13-May-2007, 05:33
I only use negative films in 5x4. I shoot a lot of high contrast landscapes, and tranny film just can't capture the SBR. If they could I'd still shoot negative films for the speed -- gotta love that 400PortraNC.

Ole Tjugen
13-May-2007, 05:49
I think I have a pack or two of 160 Portra somewhere, but what little colour film I use is all transparency. Most of it's Ektachrome E100G in 13x18cm.

Eirik Berger
13-May-2007, 06:38
I use transparencies when I do color. Mostly because I have never managed to get good scans from negatives on my drum scanner, and I must say that I really enjoy large transparencies on the light table. There is nothing like a groovy 8x10" trannie under a good loupe. I use Astia for high contrast scenes and Provia/Velvia for the rest.

For BW of course negative film is the natural choise, at least for LF. The last few months I have experimented with the Fomapan 100R (135-format) wich is a positive BW-film. I developet it with a Foma "chemistry-kit". I used a dark red (029) filter and the results are really neat.

David Luttmann
13-May-2007, 07:29
Astia and Velvia for most landscape....Fuji ProS for some. B&W mainly Delta 100 or FP4. Wanting to try some Efke 25 to see how it is.

Bruce Watson
13-May-2007, 08:03
I use transparencies when I do color. Mostly because I have never managed to get good scans from negatives on my drum scanner...

Just curious -- which film, drum scanner, and software? I ask because I've been getting excellent results drum scanning 5x4 160PortraVC on my Optronics ColorGetter 3 Pro with ColorRight Pro 2.0 software. The results I'm getting with 400PortraNC are just outstanding.

Eirik Berger
13-May-2007, 08:26
Dainippon Screen DT-S1045ai and ColorScope Pro that came with the scanner. But I did not say that the scanner was uncapable of getting good results, I guess the problem lays with the operator in this case. I would have explored (color) negative scanning further, but for a period of 2 years I live away from home and unable to use and learn more about the scanner. I know other Screen-owners get good results with color negatives on this scanner.

13-May-2007, 13:11
Velvia, for LF, MF and 35mm.

Frank Petronio
13-May-2007, 16:44
Porta 400NC when I need color

Jack Flesher
13-May-2007, 17:12
In 4x5 or 8x10: E100G when I want a nice bright chrome, Astia when I want a bit more latitude in a chrome... But due to its exceptional latitude and great scan-ability, I use Pro-160 color neg most of the time, especially when I'm not sure what I'll be running into; if I had to pick only one film, Pro-160 would be it.


Gary L. Quay
13-May-2007, 20:54
I've switched back to mostly negative film since Fuji R paper went away. I still shoot some transparencies, but I have to get digital enlargements made because I can't afford Ilfochrome (although, at $35.00 for an 11x14 from the camera store, it's getting more affordable all the time). I'm really of two minds on the subject. I want the look of Velvia for my landscapes, but I'd like to be able to enlarge it at home. I could buy another expensive printer, and beat my head on the keyboard, turning out print after print that looks nothing like it looks on my screen, or I could buy an expensive analog method, and at least enjoy the process. Even with Monaco EZ color and a Huey color calibrator I have trouble. Eventually, I just printed off something, and made my monitor look like the print, and corrected from there, but the color balance is still off. I'm really having trouble with digital, and I'm no luddite. I've been working with computers since the 1970s. Whoever came up with the idea that digital is easier than darkroom was likely an inkjet cartridge salesman.

I shoot Pro-160NC and in 4x5, and occasionally some Velvia
I shoot miles of Kodak 100UC, and occasionally some Velvia in my Hasselblad.
Now that Agfa Scala is gone, all B&W is, of course, on negative.


Leonard Metcalf
14-May-2007, 02:24
It depends on the contrast range in the scene and what I am trying to achieve. Trannies for those misty days, while neg for the bright Australian days we get. I used to carry both. At the moment I am only shooting black and white because it is all I can afford.



Harley Goldman
14-May-2007, 15:41
Used to shoot just Velvia, now I shoot mostly Provia and Astia, but heading more toward Astia. I can boost the Astia colors if I want the Velvia look and I get a lot more latitude. It also converts to B&W quite nicely.

I have shot some neg film, but don't like the fact I cannot easily evaluate it a glance on a light table. I have to do a quick scan to see what I have.

Eric James
14-May-2007, 19:59
I'm currently using Astia and Velvia. I've used Velvia 100F in the past - it's a fine film but doesn't have the !POP! of the 100 or the 50. I've used Provia for 35mm but I never liked it - it seemed to block up easily.

Many here seem to be shooting Astia for the extra 0.5 stop (and that's certainly an added bonus) but I love Astia for its palette. Astia is a world apart from Velvita (typo intended). Astia landscapes transcend Velvia surrealism with its own otherworldly look. Pastel replaces neon; periwinkle tackles cyan.

Astia is also a fine emulsion for skin tones.