View Full Version : Film advice for a Newbie

23-Jun-2010, 12:11
I should be taking delivery of my first 4x5 camera tomorrow (Arca F Classic :D ) and now have to decide what film to start shooting with. My main interest is in photographing cityscapes / buildings at dusk and I wondered if anyone could advise on the best film for this type of work. I've only shot digital for the past few years so have no recent experience with film.

I think that I would prefer a natural colour rendition rather than a velvia type vividness so my own research points towards Portra 160NC for negative film or Provia for transparency. Fuji Pro 160s would appear to be another option. I will be scanning the film rather than direct printing.

Is there any particular advantage to using negative over transparency, or vice versa?

23-Jun-2010, 12:30
Check out Fuji Astia. Not very saturated or contrasty and scans pretty well.

Lachlan 717
23-Jun-2010, 12:38
Negatives will give you better exposure latitude; important if you're not very experienced with reading exposures. The downside of this is that your skills will not improve as quickly as if you use Positives.

Astia wouldn't be my first choice; its tonal range is more directed at portraits/skin tones. I'd still be using Velvia 50/100, but seeing as you've said you don't want them, consider using Vevia 100F. Less saturated than the "regular" Velvias. Or Provia. Good film.

If I was in your shoes, I'd be looking at others' Architectural twilight shots. Find ones that you like and finding out what they used.

23-Jun-2010, 13:00
I did consider Astia and would like to give a try at some point but it's hard to find in the UK for some reason. Velvia and Provia, on the other hand, are both readily available and I think i'd opt for Provia if I decide to use transparency.

Has anyone got any thoughts on the negative film options?

Also, are there any colour negative films available in ISO100? I will be using my dslr as a light meter to start with and I can't set it to 160 so a 100 film would a bit easier to work with. Less confusing for my little brain.

23-Jun-2010, 13:27
I stopped using Velvia because it seems to be more difficult to scan than Provia. But with the limited range of the transparency films, I have been considering switching to Ektar which will give much better latitude.

Sascha Welter
23-Jun-2010, 14:08
I agree with color negative film offering more latitude. This is very helpful with evening photography.

Keep in mind that Fuji does not post reciprocity data for Fuji Pro 160s beyond 32 seconds. Apart from that it worked fine in my few experiments with dusk/evening photography. If Kodak has better reciprocity data, their stuff might be more suitable.

The change from 100 to 160 is just 2/3 of a stop. Most people usually overexpose color negative film, so you can ignore the difference. Myself I meter at ISO100, because I expose Acros 100 and Fuji Pro 160s at the same time.

23-Jun-2010, 14:33
Ektar 100 is a 100-speed film. But as mentioned, exposing a 160 speed color negative film at 100 is absolutely no problem anyway.

23-Jun-2010, 15:06
Highly recommend starting with some transparency film to get a hang of colour and exposure early on. At some point (or from the start) you could take a transparency and a negative at the same time to help teach you how to scan negative (it isn't easy and a colour reference is really useful).

as for which films, I would suggest Astia (loveley neutral with warm shadows) or 100G/100VS (don't know too much apart from the fact 100G is very unsaturated) for transparency and Portra 160NC or 400NC for it's beautifully neutral colour rendering.

Hope you have fun!

Ben Syverson
23-Jun-2010, 16:02
I absolutely love Astia, and it's what I used for my first few sheets of LF. But slide film is incredibly unforgiving, and very difficult to scan.

23-Jun-2010, 23:07
Thanks for the advice. I think I'll start with some Portra and see how it goes.

24-Jun-2010, 00:50
Still really recommend you take a transparency as well for the first few shots to help with your scanning (unless you are going to get them professionally scanned?)

24-Jun-2010, 04:14
Yes, I'll have to get them professionally scanned as I haven't got my own scanner yet. I need to find somewhere in the UK that can do drum scans for reasonable money.

I plan to get a decent flat bed scanner eventually but it won't be for some time as I spent more on the camera than I originally intended.