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10-05-2013, 06:40 AM   #1
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Shots taken my Pentax 645 and advice needed as results are not as expected


Bought a Pentax 645 Nii back in July.
Went on holiday in September and got the results back yesterday.

Went to the Indian Ocean (Reunion island) thus good lighting conditions.

To be fair I am pretty disapointed with the results so if you can advice me it would be welcome.
I used several types of film (Kodak, Ilford, Fuji) some in color and others in B/W.

For the time being I concentrate on the color films.

A lab in Paris developped my films and I'm scanning it at home (I'm new to scanning).
I use the Plustek Opticfilm 120 with Silverfast.
In silverfast I use as much as possible the standard settings.

For my pictures I fully relied on the build in meter (and thus did not use an external lightmeter).

Some concerns I currently have:
- Seems that quite a lot of what I shot comes out underexposed.

- I find the results not very 'sharp'.
(I scanned other films before my holiday which were sharp with those lenses).

- On some of the film I have a lot of "grain" (see the examples below).
The 2 examples below are with Kodak Porta 160.

Example 1:
(actually this is taken from the garden of the house we have over there ).
Film used porta 160NS.
F11, 1/250, FA75, AF S, WideC, Iso 160.

Example 2:
Film used porta 160NS.
F13, 1/250, FA150, AF S, Iso 160

Spotmetering used for both of them. Shot with autofocus (thus not manual mode).

Any suggestion will be welcome.

Attached Images

Last edited by spotreunion; 08-05-2015 at 11:48 AM.
10-05-2013, 11:00 PM   #2

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Print film has quite a bit of variation at the lab compared with slide film. The same negative given to five labs will all look different. Scanning will soften your image unless you spend lots of money and have it drum scanned or virtual drum scanned ( such as the Hasselblad X5).
10-06-2013, 01:25 AM   #3
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Are your film expired?
10-06-2013, 02:18 AM   #4
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No the films were brand new and not expired (and I keep them in a cool area).

Maybe as said it depends on the lab.
I think it also depends on the film type used.
Porta 160 looks easier to scan than the Ektar 100.

On the other had I started with the B/W and there I'm pretty happy with the results.
(I'll post some results in B/W).

10-06-2013, 02:45 AM   #5
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Compare the negs from the images you said were good to the negatives you don't like, look for sharpness using a loupe then judge them by eye for overall lab processing. Good labs keep a check on chemical exhaustion, calibration using a densitometer with a control negs versus a process test-strip.
Unfortunately custom labs are only as good as the people operating the machines, same holds true for this mini labs. I thought Extar was made for scanning?
10-06-2013, 10:31 AM   #6
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You might want to try a roll of slide film. It’s easier to tell if the scans are at fault as you can see the true image on a positive. I can never get my home scans close to the original slide and I also use Silverfast. I have the best results with Kodachrome slide, as I have the profile in Silverfast.

10-06-2013, 02:02 PM   #7
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Thanks for your answers.

The black and white ones are OK with the expected level of detail and they are like I hoped for.

The color ones have too much 'noise' this time compared to the last films I brought for development.
Same issue for the Kodak and Fuji color fims I gave to the lab.

Using the same scanner as for the first films I gave in August I can only imagine it has to do with the actual development.

Will post a black and white one when back home tomorrow and check how the issue can be made better with lightroom or the nik software tools.
10-07-2013, 10:27 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by spotreunion Quote
F13, 1/250, FA150, AF S, Iso 160
Was this shot at around 11am or 3pm?
Would that mean that is should be F13 and at about 500th for the sky and the grass is 125th?

10-07-2013, 01:39 PM   #9
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The shot was taken in early afternoon probably around 14.00.
Not sure to understand your point :-)
10-07-2013, 01:51 PM   #10
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When I look at this one of the old suger factiry it looks ok to me (just scanned and not post processed just added some 'light' to it as it was a little underexposed for my feeling).

FA35, 1/125, F16.
Can it be a question of 'bad focus' ?
This one was on 'multi segment metering'.

Is it advised to generally "overexpose" a little bit ?
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Last edited by spotreunion; 10-07-2013 at 02:10 PM.
10-08-2013, 09:09 AM   #11

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QuoteOriginally posted by spotreunion Quote

Example 1:
(actually this is taken from the garden of the house we have over there ).
Film used porta 160NS.
F11, 1/250, FA75, AF S, WideC, Iso 160.
The Sunny 16 rule, which you open up 1 stop for this time of year and your latitude, is f11, 1/250 for 200 film (ISO 160 is close enough). On sunny days with the sun at your back, just keep this rule in mind when evaluating exposures under these easy and simple light conditions of your shots. Color negative and BW film has a lot of latitude.
10-13-2013, 08:35 AM   #12
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When print film is underexposed the film will have a more grainy look to it. This is not noise as you've been calling it. I've never shot Kodak's 160 films at 160, but instead usually shot them at 80 ISO. Print film overexposed by just one stop will increase your color saturation and you won't have grain issues either Still, to be sure your camera's meter is working properly, I'd take it to a local camera shop and compare the exposure to another camera with a metering system that is known to be accurate.

I believe that the problem is due to a combination of poor metering by the user and not knowing the particulars of the film in use. The images that you've posted are all underexposed, especially the one of the old building. Some things I've done to get accurate metering:

1: With slide film you want to expose for your highlights and NOT your shadows. So I meter off of the most important highlight then adjust my exposure take the initial metering from 18% gray to a value high enough to render the highlight bright enough. For example if I meter off bright snow I'd increase the indicated exposure by 1 2/3 stops. Your camera's meter is different so you my need a full 2 stops or just 1 1/2.
Sometimes I will meter off of my hand (making sure that the light falling on my hand is the same for my subject) and then increase the indicated exposure by 1 stop. For me, this results in my Caucasian skin being perfectly exposed. And now that I've got one part of the exposure nailed, then the other parts should also be properly exposed too.

2: With print film you want to expose for the shadows. Google the Zone System and read up on how to pre-visualize when taking a pix. With print film I meter off of the most important shadow area and pre-visualize how dark I want that area to be. No adjustment and the shadow area (now at 18% gray) will fall on Zone V and will result in an over-exposed slide. Depending on how dark I want the shadow area to be, I'll lower the exposure to place the shadow somewhere between Zone III and Zone IV.

Again, each camera's meter is slightly different so you'll need to test your camera to find out if it's accurate. You can do this easily with a gray card. Comparing exposure readings with another camera will confirm if your meter is working properly, but looking at the slide will tell you if your meter and aperture are accurate as well.

The Zone System, developed by Ansel Adams, was initially intended for B&W sheet film where the user could adjust the exposure and development of the film. Obviously this is easy with sheet film and more difficult with an entire roll. However, the basic concept of using the Zone System for pre-visualizing the placement of the highlights & shadows works, and works well for color, B&W films and digital cameras too.

Last edited by FrankC; 10-13-2013 at 08:43 AM.
10-13-2013, 11:20 AM   #13
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Thanks for your answer. I ll look on the lightmeter side.
I have been delivered an external demonic lightmeter and that should help.

I have used a lot of different films just to see what I like most.
Will reduce this to Kodak ports and ilford which currently I seem to prefer.
10-13-2013, 12:09 PM   #14
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In terms of exposure and colour balance your holiday shots look OK to my eyes so I'd conclude that the lab did a reasonable job in processing. With C41 and machine processing there is little chance of making a mistake and had there been a mistake in terms of temperature and time then it would have shown up in the negative.

Have a look at the negatives under a high magnification loupe and I am betting that the grain isn't there. What does that leave? Well its the problem that all hybrid shooter have, namely the scanner. I strongly suspect that there lies your problem. To be sure get a lab to make a print of the neg but I am betting again that the print will not show this graininess

I am a member of another forum where the complaint you have about these shots arises quite often and the common link is always that they are hybrid users who scan their own negs and judge the negs on that basis as they don't have the negs turned into prints.

Portra 160 is a grainless film and in good light conditions which you clearly had in these shots is one of the best films in the market.

10-15-2013, 04:20 PM   #15
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To determine the exposure accuracy of your 645, load it with transparency film and leave the negative stuff until later. There is too much latitude in film to accurately and definitely perceive an error.

Any exposure errors, provided the scene you shoot is similar to those you have posted (no excessively large dark/shadow or bright/spectral areas) will be immediately evident and can be replicated on another roll to be certain that there is an error somewhere.

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