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Thread: Reasons for using reversal film?

  1. #1

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    Reasons for using reversal film?

    I'm planning a large format project and I have to decide whether to use color negative or reversal film. Where I am, the choices for the latter are FujiFilm Provia F and Kodak Ektachrome. I'd appreciate comments from people who are using reversal on their reasons for using it. It would be helpful to know whether the end product is projection or a print from a scan. One other question. If the end product is a print, what is the rationale for scanning a positive rather than a negative?

    Thanks

  2. #2

    Re: Reasons for using reversal film?

    Counterquestion: Did you see slides?

    I personally like the brilliance of slides. You can not achieve that with negative.
    I also project them, but only 35 mm and 6x6. But even looking at a slide is an unique experience, specially the bigger formats (above 6x9 cm).

    Therefore my counterquestion; I have not a logical reason, you simply have to live the experience. If you havent, do it and you will know afterwards what to choose.

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    Re: Reasons for using reversal film?

    Hi Eugen,

    I've shot 6x7 and 4x5 reversal film, although not much and not for several years. I understand what you're saying about the impact when viewed on a light table or projected. I've never had a positive scanned and printed. Consequently, I don't know what impact that additional processing has. That's why I asked what the rationale is for scanning a positive rather than a negative. It sounds like you don't print yours.

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    Re: Reasons for using reversal film?

    Reversal film is gorgeous, but doesn't have the latitude of negative. You have to be very precise with your exposure, highlights burn out and shadows block up easily. Negatives give you more options for adjustments. Since your final product is a print, I would suggest using negative film. You'll never get a print that looks as good as a large format chrome, at least not today.

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    Re: Reasons for using reversal film?

    Hi Pieter,

    Thanks, I'm aware of the exposure and dynamic range issues. Fujifilm's technical document claims a fair amount of exposure latitude for Provia F, but I take that with a certain degree of skepticism. Sounds like you shoot reversal, but not when the end product includes a print.

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    Reasons for using reversal film?

    You shoot slides for the resolution, sharpness, finer grain and vivid colors. However at 4x5 or 8x10 the difference in resolution is hardly justifiable unless you print very large.
    The other reason is color palette: Velvia 50 has its own personality, as does Ektar or Portra. The look and feel won’t be the same. So it depends what look you’re after.

    Here’s a good summary:

    https://thedarkroom.com/slide-film-v...negative-film/

    Personally I shoot both— negatives for large dynamic range situations, and slides for everything else. In 8x10. Because I want to.

    Again, the rationale depends on the application and your needs— for a lot of people it’s just a choice rooted on what you like, more than what you need, which drives decisions not only on film type but even film vs digital and sensor/film size as well.

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    Re: Reasons for using reversal film?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi7475 View Post
    Personally I shoot both— negatives for large dynamic range situations, and slides for everything else. In 8x10. Because I want to.
    Thanks. Do you scan and print your positives? If so, what impact does scanning and printing have on the image? Leaving aside the idea that scanning positives is easier, what do you get from scanning and printing a positive that you wouldn't have gotten from doing the same if you had shot a negative?

  8. #8
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Reasons for using reversal film?

    Ektar CN film is just as fine grained and potentially sharp as any chrome film. Makes little or no difference in LF applications, however, where most films have a surplus of real estate anyway. Colors differ regardless - each type has its own specific personality. But chromes as a category do have more contrast. I don't scan, but optically print; so at this point in time, negatives are easier. But I do sometimes print from precise contact internegs made from older 8x10 chrome originals. Going back to chromes today would be quite pricey to print - around $30 per 8x10 shot including E-6 processing, nearly the same amount for an 8x10 Portra interneg with C-41 processing, plus at least one intermediate 8X10 black and white mask, but lets say an average of two, so maybe another twenty bucks - overall, 80 or 90 bucks before printing the image even begins. But the actual results are well worth it.

  9. #9

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    Re: Reasons for using reversal film?

    Quote Originally Posted by r.e. View Post
    Thanks. Do you scan and print your positives? If so, what impact does scanning and printing have on the image? Leaving aside the idea that scanning positives is easier, what do you get from scanning and printing a positive that you wouldn't have gotten from doing the same if you had shot a negative?
    These days with cibachrome gone, Photoshop really blurs everything.

    If you’re thinking of a <x4 enlargement for a print, and an inkjet print at that, I don’t think you’ll see any difference in resolution. The real difference is how much work it’ll take you to retouch it in PS to get what you’re after. For me, color negative is more involved to get color corrected, slides is simpler. You can even mimic certain film looks in PS. But without some effort, a Velvia sheet or an Ektar sheet will render quite differently after a simple scan and minimal corrections. Also, slides give me more of a high constraint look — “Rembrandt shadows”, which you can’t lift much and tend to color shift, to blue, or to purple depending on the film.

    But to answer your question — what I’ll get depends on what I’m after but tends to be color reproduction. If I’m doing portraits I’ll use Portra, never Velvia or Provia or Ektar. If I’m doing landscape and want vivid results I’ll go for Velvia 50. For a landscape already color saturated, I’ll go for Provia. If it’s a high contrast landscape, I’ll go with Ektar. In low light conditions I may go for Portra because of the better reciprocity. Others may choose differently.

    In other words— what they give me is a combination of different rendition and different ability to handle a scene. Beyond that, there’s nothing really that creates a practical difference between the two, that translates into a print.
    Except if you go for “extreme” (drum) scanning for very large prints, then slides may show a resolution edge all things equal.

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    Re: Reasons for using reversal film?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    Ektar CN film is just as fine grained and potentially sharp as any chrome film. Makes little or no difference in LF applications, however, where most films have a surplus of real estate anyway. Colors differ regardless - each type has its own specific personality. But chromes as a category do have more contrast. I don't scan, but optically print; so at this point in time, negatives are easier. But I do sometimes print from precise contact internegs made from older 8x10 chrome originals. Going back to chromes today would be quite pricey to print - around $30 per 8x10 shot including E-6 processing, nearly the same amount for an 8x10 Portra interneg with C-41 processing, plus at least one intermediate 8X10 black and white mask, but lets say an average of two, so maybe another twenty bucks - overall, 80 or 90 bucks before printing the image even begins. But the actual results are well worth it.
    Thanks, very helpful comments.

    I did a quick search and came across this thread, in which you're a participant: Internegative from color slides for darkroom printing

    I won't be using this process for my project, if only due to cost, but it's intriguing. I may shoot a positive and see what one of the better labs here can do with it.

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