Badly underexposed Provia: my fault or the photolab's?

dav305z

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I was really excited to find a shop near me that processed E6 and took them a roll of Provia 100 I'd shot. The slides and scans came back very dark and underexposed. Like this:

$Jagsmall.jpg

I shot most of the roll in daylight, going by an external light meter (app on my phone) and the sunny 16 rule—1/125 shutter speed, f16. I have shot Provia before and certainly got usable results. Now, it is entirely within the realm of possibility that I simply messed something up. I'm a novice and I realize slide film has a rather narrow range. I also presume that in case of doubt, the photolab will blame the photographer (understandably, since they can't be expected to pay for every amateur mistake).

My question is thus whether there's anything about this picture that definitively speaks to photo lab error. If not, is there anything I'm doing that's clearly wrong?
 

cgw

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I was really excited to find a shop near me that processed E6 and took them a roll of Provia 100 I'd shot. The slides and scans came back very dark and underexposed. Like this:

View attachment 53703

I shot most of the roll in daylight, going by an external light meter (app on my phone) and the sunny 16 rule—1/125 shutter speed, f16. I have shot Provia before and certainly got usable results. Now, it is entirely within the realm of possibility that I simply messed something up. I'm a novice and I realize slide film has a rather narrow range. I also presume that in case of doubt, the photolab will blame the photographer (understandably, since they can't be expected to pay for every amateur mistake).

My question is thus whether there's anything about this picture that definitively speaks to photo lab error. If not, is there anything I'm doing that's clearly wrong?

For starters, how much E6 processing volume does your lab do? What do they use to scan slides/negs?
 
OP
D

dav305z

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For starters, how much E6 processing volume does your lab do? What do they use to scan slides/negs?

Truth is, I don't know the answers to those questions. I do know that the scans accurately represent the slides in terms of exposure—first thing I did after seeing the scans was to put the slides in a lightbox.
 

Light Guru

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I shot most of the roll in daylight, going by an external light meter (app on my phone) and the sunny 16 rule

I don't think it's the lab. Slide film does not have much if any latitude in exposure like negative film does. If your exposure is not spot on its really going to show. I would not trust a phone app or the sunny 16 suggestion to give you spot on exposure.
 

gsgary

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You need to be more precise with your exposure with slide, ive not shot much because i love B+W but i use spot metering, this is a scan of Agfa precisa slide film on my Epson V500 (budget friendly) maybe worth looking at getting your own scanner if you are going to shoot lots of film

scan587-XL.jpg
 

cgw

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Given the cost of film and processing(not to mention the loss of face), I'd think about getting a basic incident meter rather than rely on an app. Something like a used Sekonic 318/328/308--or even a 208 TwinMate--won't cost a pile and will make life easier if you shoot sides.
 

limr

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I'd also think the problem was more in the exposure than in the processing/scanning. One clue is looking at the shadows in the picture. They are long enough to suggest that the sun was at enough of an angle that you needed to be a couple of stops under (over?) Sunny 16. I love the rule and practice it often but (as I've learned the hard way), it can sometimes fool you into thinking there is more light than you think. I've even read from some film shooters in the UK that they follow more of a "Sunny 11" rule because the sun they deal with is never quite overhead and the slanted angle might look bright to our eyes but not so much to a camera.

I've not shot slide film but as mentioned, it's very picky (one of the reasons I haven't tried it...yet!) so it seems easy to get wrong if you're not working with reliable light meters (I agree the phone app is marginal. I have one and use it every once in a while, but it's dodgy) or if you're not dead on with Sunny 16 rules.

And on a completely different topic...any chance of shutter speeds being slightly off in your camera?
 

amolitor

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You need to look at the film between and around the sprocket holes, where the film was unexposed. This will tell you much, or at least something, about whether the processing is to blame. Is this film clear? What about the markings on it, giving film type and batch number (these are "correctly exposed" items that the manufacturer pre-exposes onto the film in the factory), do these look nice and crisply dark? Manufacturers of film give you quite a bit of diagnostic stuff on that area of the film, go use it.

This may entail taking a slide apart, I guess.
 

vintagesnaps

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Looks like exposure, I'd think the metering most likely wasn't accurate. Sometimes I have another camera along with me and have used that to get readings in a pinch for the camera with a nonworking/wonky meter. Or just buy a meter used.

Nice photo Gary.
 

gsgary

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Looks like exposure, I'd think the metering most likely wasn't accurate. Sometimes I have another camera along with me and have used that to get readings in a pinch for the camera with a nonworking/wonky meter. Or just buy a meter used.

Nice photo Gary.

Thankyou, it was taken at a place called Whitby Whitby - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

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