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Thread: Best negative color film for long exposures?

  1. #1
    Stefan
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    Best negative color film for long exposures?

    I have been doing some urban night exposures using Agfa Optima 100 color negative film. I have generally been satisfied with my result, but I do not have anything to compare it to, since it is the only color negative film Ive shot at night in 4x5!

    As Optima 100 has been out of production for a long time, I need to find another film. I shoot urban scenes at night, 4x5 film, exposure times generally 2-8 minutes or so. Desired properties are, in order:
    1. Minimal color shifts during long exposures. I think Im seeing a bit of this with the Optima.
    2. Wide dynamic range, night scenes often have high contrast.
    3. Sharpness.

    The goal is scanning, so contrast and saturation will be adjusted in post processing. It does not matter if the film needs much reciprocal correction, as long as the colors stay in line.

    Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Stefan
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    Re: Best negative color film for long exposures?

    Even without a single reply, this thread has been helpful! After typing out my needs I had a look at some pictures and did some thinking. Maybe color shifts are not such a big problem after all for my photography?

    It is not like a gray is going to be gray anyway, being lit by a mix of incandescent, fluorescent, halogen, low/high pressure sodium lamps, blue light from the sky just after sunset, car headlights and multicolor neon signs...

    Maybe I have some more thinking to do before I know what to ask for! Im pretty sure the request for wide dynamic range is going to stand though.

  3. #3
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    Re: Best negative color film for long exposures?

    Once upon a time, there was Fuji 100/1000 film. Nice E6, and one night under (technically speaking) the brightest moon in a century, I went photographing. Under moonlight. I left the shutter open for 15 minutes. Know what it looked like? Daylight. I was so disappointed. No color shift with that film at all, and if it wasn't for one house light, you couldn't tell that the scene was at night.

    If you have a 35mm camera, buy a roll of one each of a variety, and make a bunch of test shots. I tried for moonlight with 100/1000 and got daylight, so it really depends on the film.

  4. #4

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    Re: Best negative color film for long exposures?

    It will really be about trying a bunch of them and seeing what you like best. They all work.

    I have mainly settled on using Kodak E100G color slide film and Kodak Portra 160NC color neg film for my night shots. Here is an example of the same shot taken with both. They do entirely different things.

    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4116/...38b308caf4.jpg

    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4121/...7fc1841321.jpg

    For my next time out, I will also add in some Ektar 100 and give that a go.

  5. #5
    Lachlan 717
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    Re: Best negative color film for long exposures?

    Quote Originally Posted by John NYC View Post
    It will really be about trying a bunch of them and seeing what you like best. They all work.

    I have mainly settled on using Kodak E100G color slide film and Kodak Portra 160NC color neg film for my night shots. Here is an example of the same shot taken with both. They do entirely different things.

    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4116/...38b308caf4.jpg

    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4121/...7fc1841321.jpg

    For my next time out, I will also add in some Ektar 100 and give that a go.
    John,

    I prefer the bluer rendering in the 38b shot. The 7fc seems too grey for me. But that could just be the scan...
    Lachlan.

    You miss 100% of the shots you never take. -- Wayne Gretzky

  6. #6
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    Re: Best negative color film for long exposures?

    Well, the two shots are far enough apart in time that the sky's lighting has changed. I think the first one had much more evening sun color, thus the blueness of the sky, and blue is reflecting all over everything. The second shot is predominated by the city's lights. I agree with you, though, I like the 38b shot better.

  7. #7
    Stefan
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    Re: Best negative color film for long exposures?

    Thanks for the replies!

    I guess there really are not too many options to choose from, if I want something available everywhere, and not in QuickLoads. Ill try 35mm rolls of Ektar 100 and Porta 160NC at night and see how they perform. Maybe 400NC as well, but that might actually give me too short exposure times (with light trails, there is such a thing!).

  8. #8

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    Re: Best negative color film for long exposures?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian C. Miller View Post
    Well, the two shots are far enough apart in time that the sky's lighting has changed. I think the first one had much more evening sun color, thus the blueness of the sky, and blue is reflecting all over everything. The second shot is predominated by the city's lights. I agree with you, though, I like the 38b shot better.
    Yes, you guessed right. The first exposure was done around the start of civil twilight and by the time I got around to the second one, we were getting closer to nautical twilight. In all, not a lot of time difference, but a critical time difference.

    Strangely, I have found if you really overexpose Portra 160NC even during astronomical twilight, you get a nice blue sky, but then it is too late to really see all the details on the ground and the shot doesn't glow as much, you have more burnouts, shadow areas start looking grungy, etc. It can still look cool though.

    Shot as done here, i.e, not overexposed, it gives an old school look compared to the E100... which I like, as my subject matter is New York City.

    The great thing about film is I can shoot all kinds and enjoy experimenting. If someone were to hold a gun to my head, though, and said I could only shoot one film at night, it would be E100G. It is such a gorgeous film and does some really interestingly weird things at night sometimes. But that's my own preference and YMMV.

  9. #9
    ARS KC2UU
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    Re: Best negative color film for long exposures?

    Quote Originally Posted by John NYC View Post
    ...The great thing about film is I can shoot all kinds and enjoy experimenting. If someone were to hold a gun to my head, though, and said I could only shoot one film at night, it would be E100G. It is such a gorgeous film and does some really interestingly weird things at night sometimes. But that's my own preference and YMMV.
    John: Would you be willing to post one of your E100G night shots? I like shooting city and bridge lights at night with various films for the unusual effects. But I've never tried E100G.

    So I would like to see it's look.

    The following shot with: VPL, E100VS, RTP-II, RDP-II respectively.

    Cheers. Bob G.
    All natural images are analog. But the retina converts them to digital on their way to the brain.

  10. #10

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    Re: Best negative color film for long exposures?

    Quote Originally Posted by rguinter View Post
    John: Would you be willing to post one of your E100G night shots? I like shooting city and bridge lights at night with various films for the unusual effects. But I've never tried E100G.

    So I would like to see it's look.

    The following shot with: VPL, E100VS, RTP-II, RDP-II respectively.

    Cheers. Bob G.
    Hi Bob,

    Nice work!

    If you go to the flickr page of the photo I had linked to above statically, you can see it in larger sizes (you might have to be logged into flickr to see the largest, called "original"):

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/33946021@N04/4754018414/

    If you look through my flickr site by tags, you can search for 8x10 and E100G and see the others that I have posted there.

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