Slide Film for Studio Work


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Aug 9, 2014
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Denton, TX
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I can 't remember if I've asked this before (i searched briefly), but does anyone use slide film for their portraiture studio work? I've been wanting to try this, and it looks like it's going to be either Velvia 100 or Provia 100 ...

Any thoughts?
Ive done it quite a few times and always enjoy E6 film. Ive used Kodak E100G and Provia. The Kodak had cooler colors where as the Provia is warmer. Shot with either a 4x5 or 120
I wouldn't use it for studio work your exposures will have to be perfect, no blown highlights, pluse it is double to get processed unless you can do it yourself
I would use 160/400 Portra
I started with slide film for studio work and used quite a bit. It's best shot using an incident flash meter and exposing for the highlights, which is pretty easy to do if you have a flash meter. If you do not have a meter, you'd want to use a digital camera as a substitute, and use an ISO setting on the camera that correlates well with the film you're using. The best thing is, the slide itself is the picture, so there's no intermediate step, like the printing of the negative, that some "other person" or "a machine" can screw up.

Color negative film is really great stuff, but the negatives have to be interpreted. When I was using gel-colored backgrounds, which was a common practice in the 80's and 90's, color prints could easily come back with odd skin tones unless they were custom printed with operator-override done...the large areas of background color (unexpected color) could fool the machines we had in those days...maybe the machine algorithms are much better today. But with slide film--YOU GOT what you had SHOT. And that's the best thing abut slide film on studio shooting: the film is developed to a rigid, known standard, and the film is the final image, without color interpretation, without a second step that can be messed up.

I would never suggest Velvia for people, unless it's Halloween.
Ok so I have a roll of provia 100 in 120 format, as well as couple rolls of 35mm ... I'll give them a spin on a TFP shoot I have this weekend ... The model is a young black woman, and I'm interested to see how it works with darker skin tones ... this is the first time I've worked with a person who isn't Caucasian, and I hope I do well with her.

I may even try a one-stop push with one roll just to experiment with the contrast.

What I imagine I can do is get everything looking right with the D810 at ISO 100 and then reshoot with the slide film. The model knows we will be experimenting a bit.
I think a one-stop push could easily be considered a less-than-good idea. But yeah, use the D800 at 100 ISO as your proxy light meter and you'll be ballpark.

Look at the lighting setup you are using, and SQUINT your eyes, and then you will get a sort of rough idea of the way slide film in-studio can force the shadowed-side stuff into going to black a looooot more readily than the shadow-side areas would do with the D800 as the capture device.

If you want to see how that works, make sure D-Lighting is turned off in the D800's setup menu, but set the tone curve manually, to HIGH contrast, so it is maximally contrasty. There's color slide film shot with studio lighting. The shadowed areas in-studio will drop to nothingness very fast as compared against what a wide-DR sensor like a D800 will do.

Pushing the film a stop will make the contrast higher, which is I think, not the way to go today--now that we SCAN the film, and not make color separations or projection images.
I'm a serious hobby photographer, and I have many good photos of my wife (who is quite brown :) ) using Provia 100f. I'm amazed at what this film can do, and I think it's probably the best film form warm sunlight (e.g. Towards sunset). I agree that some shots occasionally get ruined by wrong exposure, but I'm surprised how often it comes out perfect, particularly if I do a bit bracketing (which I do now and then). I think people overemphasize the difficulty of slide film; I managed to get many shots just right when I was a complete newbie.

I have also pushed Provia one stop (exposed at 200) with excellent results.

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