Understading films!

Discussion in 'Film Discussion and Q & A' started by ShiFty268, Nov 21, 2006.

  1. ShiFty268

    ShiFty268 TPF Noob!

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    I just sighed up with this forum. so hello everyone :)

    Im 17 and i did photography at school this year and really enjoyed it. What im posting this thread about is films. I don't really have an understanding about different types of films. What im trying to ask is whats the difference between films that people just buy for normal camera and good professional films that give really good colours. How do you know the difference? what do you use for what photography?

    Im pretty much asking for some information on films, i have know understanding.
     
  2. fightheheathens

    fightheheathens TPF Noob!

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    well, film its self is highly complicated. I am a chemist and i still do not fully understand the exact chemistry behind film. Even my professor with a PhD in chemistry has told me that very few people understand the exact chemistry of B and W film. Color being even harder.

    That being said, film is a large can of worms and ill try to answer some of it.

    B&W Film. basically it comes down to grain and contrast.
    High ISO films are very grainy and contrasty
    Low ISO films are very smooth

    what kind of film you use is determied by what effect you want.


    Color film is more complicated.
    these films are balanced for certian colors of light. Daylight is different then light from a light bulb. you can find films balanced for different types of light. In the digital world, this is light white balance.

    The highest quality color films tend to be positive slide film. you can get extreamly good color saturation and fine grain with a film like Fugi Velvia 50 or Kodachrome 64

    hopefully more people will add to this
     
  3. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Why not go to the manufacturers' web sites. They should have information about each product. Kodak, Fuji and Ilford would be a good place to start.
     
  4. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    Over the years I have found that film brands are geneally a matter of personal preference. Within the brand are plenty of differences. Im sure you know the advanages and disadvantages of slide vs negative film.

    I think what you are asking is 'what is the working difference between kodak gold 200 and kodak vps 160' kind of thing. Not sure they still make iether by the way. Kodak vps 160 was the standard wedding all round pro load when I quit the business. The color and grain were very good, Color dept or richness is a big thing with professional photographers. The look just says richness.

    An off the shelf film is seen as inferior, now with all that said, "Get yourself a roll of kodak gold from the drug store, and a roll of fuji (whatever is their current model) shoot them as a test and see which color you prefer.

    Then buy whoever's different types till you find one you like.

    Remember too that if you aren't processing it, the lab will make more difference than the film stock. Learn what it's supposed to look like then "help" your lab get it right. In other words time will teach you a lot more than advice.

    But do use the same methodology for each test not just random shooting. If you take a look at stevesdigicams.com he shoots the same objects for each camera thats a really good idea with test rolls. Shoot under daylight, natural light through a window strobe if you have it ect.

    Some film within a brand are sharper than others. Some will enlarge better than others. We used to call it 'hold together' .. I would image the choices in film is shrinking but then most people are just processing the negs and then going digital so it doesn't matter all that much. Digital is the great equalizer. in my opinion downwardly equal but nonetheless.
     
  5. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Hi Shifty, and welcome to TPF.

    There are several good answers here. Fighttheheathens also touched on some of the things certain film speeds can give you. I would also recommend you take a look at this article for some more detailed explanation of B&W films. Then just experiment with a few different kinds - you'll find out pretty quickly what you like and don't like based on your results.

    I also recommend color slide film for the best color. Fuji Velvia 100 and Provia 100 are pretty wonderful, and give vivid colors.

    Have fun with it! Working with different film types is a joy. :D
     
  6. neogfx

    neogfx TPF Noob!

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    Just to expand on this a little, because this sounds like you should just go for the lowest ISO possible. A lower ISO yields a lower film speed, ie. you'll need to set either a larger aperture or slower shutter to expose correctly because it records more detail.
    A higher ISO yields a quicker film speed, so you have to work out what you want to shoot. It's a trade off between quality and speed. Some photographers like grain anyway so use a higher ISO.
    Anyway, if you wanted to shoot a football match for example, you wouldn't choose an ISO 100 film, I wouldn't actually go below 400 ISO for sports. And quicker than that for sports such as motor racing.

    The only real way to find out which film is best for you, is get the basic knowledge down, like ISO speeds and then try a number of different films until you find a few that give the results you are looking for.
     
  7. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    One of the big differences between pro and consumer films has nothing to do with how they are made. Sometimes they are the exact same film. Pros tend to use their film quickly. The way I understand it is: a lot of film that is labeled "pro" is released just before it's prime (or "color ripe") and is refrigerated, and it's expected to be refrigerated both at the store and after it's bought. It's ready to be used at any time in it's prime condition. Consumer film is released right away because there is no expectation of it being refrigerated and it may sit around quite a while before it's used.
     
  8. cosmonaut

    cosmonaut No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Experiment around there are differences, I have personally have had better luck with Fuji xtra 400 and Kodak gold 400. Fuji has a bit more color and the Kodak a more muted color. Try them both. 100asa is harder to shot if you lack practice and you will almost have to have a tripod. I know that some swear by Fuji Reala and Velvia for landscapes. But department store films hold there own, there a much better quality than you would think. For B&W Kodak TriX is suppose to be the best. I have a Roll but have yet to shot it...
    Cosmo
     
  9. sthvtsh

    sthvtsh TPF Noob!

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    Don't think she ever looked here again, but it still helps me, so yey. :D
     
  10. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Pro films are different in two ways. The first is that they have a thinner base which makes it better to use for photography with a process camera. The consumer films are thicker on the assumption that they may take more abuse than professionals would apply to them. The other is the aging issue Marc mentions here. Pro films should be used right away and developed very soon after exposure. If you delay you get a blue color cast. In this day and age films are scanned for printing rather than being photographed in process cameras. Then they are worked in Photoshop. Even the few pros that continue to use film rarely use pro films any more.
     

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