high iso vs pushing

Discussion in 'Film Discussion and Q & A' started by a_spaceman, Dec 10, 2008.

  1. a_spaceman

    a_spaceman TPF Noob!

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    i recently shot my first iso800 film, a fuji superia xtra 800.
    got some nice photos of of it but all very grainy.
    now my question is, what would have these photos been like if shot with a lower iso pushed to 800?
    more in general, what is the difference between a high iso film and a low iso film pushed?
     
  2. Dick Sanders

    Dick Sanders TPF Noob!

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    You can generally push negative films one stop and still get very good results, although you will probably add a tiny bit of contrast. Beyond one stop, you're going to get degraded images in some way. But some films will push better than others. Check with the pro lab you plan to use and ask them which "pro films" they recommend for pushing. They may tell you a specific 160 film pushes fine to 640, while another one doesn't.

    I have pushed 100 speed Ilford Delta Pro (B&W film) to 400 (2 stops), for a very slightly finer grain look than the Ilford 400 Delta Pro film at normal speed. But I did add contrast, which made the negatives harder to use. Today, I often shoot the Ilford 400 at 800 (1 stop push) with no problems. The thing to do is to test different films at different speeds. Determine what kind of look you want, then use that film and speed.

    The high speed films will give you large grain, but that's a look in itself that can be used to your advantage. Although, if you're shooting with 35mm, big grain can be a problem. Consider getting a used medium format camera. Big grain on medium format can be very attractive. Also keep in mind that manufacturers often exaggerate film speed. The 3200 speed films are really 1,000 or 1200 (but are capable of being pushed to 3200). In your case, with the Fuji 800 speed film, you might have gotten better results with a 640 setting. Finally, keep in mind that digital shooters don't get grain -- they get noise. They have to buy PhotoShop plug-ins to add film grain. Why? Because having the texture of grain just looks better.
     
  3. Early

    Early TPF Noob!

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    The grain from low ISO film will be smaller in size. That's not to say it won't be grainy, but since the grain is caused by the silver halides themselves, the size doesn't increase no matter how far you push the film.

    Oops! Sorry, Dick! I should have read down before I answered.
     
  4. frXnz kafka

    frXnz kafka TPF Noob!

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    I spent the last 4 months pushing Tmax 400 to EI3200. I was shooting night scenes and I wanted to be able to handhold (plus I like the way the film looks pushed 3 stops).

    You do get more grain, but at least with TMax it's nice grain. I was still getting really nice gray tones, so contrast wasn't an issue. You can see an example of this here. The scan doesn't really do it justice, but you can see the really subtle grays in the people on the left.
     
  5. Rem

    Rem TPF Noob!

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    It's been years since I had the chance to set up my B+W darkroom but I was doing Tri-X (400) pushed to 1600 asa with Diafine and if I used a mild contrast paper it weas not too grainy at 11x14. Often I LIKED the odd effects of grain and a high contrast paper-printed some shots "wrong" and loved it.

    I used to use Focal 400 slide sometimes to do real abstract macros of flowers. The way it rendered backlight,grain was like a Renoir impessionist painting. Wish I could still get that film.
     
  6. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I don't know what to do about color if you are determined to shoot film. I found Fuji pro 800 to be the best, although I never really was very thrilled with it either. I tried every high ISO BW film available in the late 90's. In the end I preferred my results from Tri-X at ISO 1250 to 1600 and developed with Diafine the best.

    Another option is to go to a larger format film so you don't have to enlarge the grain so much. That helps a lot, but if you are going to shoot high ISO film you better learn to like grain.

    I agree with Rem that crazy grain can look good. Konica used to sell ISO 3200 color neg film, and while it sucked at ISO 3200, I loved it at ISO 800 (much closer to it's true ISO). Super saturated colors and textured grain made the photos look like pointillism.
     

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