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05-09-2011, 12:33 PM   #1
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Film Newbie - Q's about film choice, development and scanning

Hey guys, I just bought a Pentax ME SE on a whim, but now I'm feeling a bit over my head, and I feel like I've got a lot of conflicting information.

First of all, I'm satisfied with my digital workflow - and I'd like to integrate my film shots into my digital library. The main reason for buying this camera is to make myself slow down and work on my composure - I also have a hard time using my 50/1.7 and 28/2.8 with my K-X because of lack of focus confirm lights and inability to use a focus screen without affecting AF performance.

So I thought at first that I'd just scan my negatives. I have an HP Photosmart C7150 that I used to scan my parents old wedding photos, and it did a great job there. It even has a negative/slide attachment, but now I'm reading that regular flatbed scanners suck. I mean, I can scan at 4800dpix48bit without any software tweaks - yielding a roughly 28megapixel image, if my calculations are correct. Will I be able to satisfactorily scan my negatives with a flatbed scanner?

The other dilemma I have is what kind of film to shoot. Initially I was looking at the Ektar 100 stuff or maybe even Velvia, but I'm leaning toward Black & White for simplicity and to avoid white balance and other color headaches. But then I find out you can't get true black and white film developed just anywhere, and I'm not doing it myself. So how good is the BW400CN or whatever C-41 Black and White film is best?

Which leads me to my final question - does anyone have any opinion of Ritz/Wolf's developing quality compared to your general drug store lab? Or should I just be sending it to Dwayne's or I happen to have one about a half mile from my house.

I really want to be excited about shooting film - I've always loved vintage cameras, even back when they weren't vintage. I remember handling and playing with my dad's old AE-1 when I was a toddler . . . but I'm a little unsure.

FYI here's the camera. I also ordered a pre-cut seal kit that was recommended on here.



Last edited by Ryan Trevisol; 05-09-2011 at 02:03 PM.
05-09-2011, 01:37 PM   #2
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Just experiment with the different types to see works for you. I started out shooting B&W and liked the control I had developing the prints. It also was a great way to see how I composed shots. Film is a great way of having to slow down as well and makes you think more before pushing the button. The ME SE is a great camera. I have ME-Super model and have enjoyed using it for many years.

If you feel up to it, buying the chemicals and materials to develop your own pictures is a great way to get more out of photography. In the long run you can save money over sending film out to be processed. The control you have on the printing side is the way of getting the images you see in your minds eye. Darkroom equipment very cheap these days.

I tried out an older c-41 based film ages ago but it lacked the look of a "real" B&W film.
05-09-2011, 01:46 PM   #3
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It's really easy to devellop your own B&W film...it's a lot cheaper than having someone devellop it, but it's a bit time consuming (although i find the process very relaxing and fun to do while chatting with someone or listening to music...), you can set the darkroom in a bathroom it's gotta be pitch black when you put the film on the rails for the tank...

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This is Tmax 400 scanned in a flatbed scanner..i think that the one you got having the negative attachement will do a fine job (unless you need insane quality...).
There is also B&W that can be revealed in the machine...maybe you should try those too since you are going to send it devellop anyways...maybe buy both and see if the one that has to be revealed manually like the Tmax is better (i buy Tmax because i do it myself...if i was going to send it devellop i would at least try the one that is revealed in the machine).

Very beautifull ME..i like the brown leather...classy.Congrats.
05-09-2011, 02:02 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Coeurdechene Quote
It's really easy to devellop your own B&W film...it's a lot cheaper than having someone devellop it, but it's a bit time consuming (although i find the process very relaxing and fun to do while chatting with someone or listening to music...), you can set the darkroom in a bathroom it's gotta be pitch black when you put the film on the rails for the tank...
Let's see how well I do with film in general before I start buying supplies for developing.
QuoteQuote:
This is Tmax 400 scanned in a flatbed scanner..i think that the one you got having the negative attachement will do a fine job (unless you need insane quality...)
Okay, that's cool - I can handle that. I know I'm gonna have to do some PP on any color negatives and no doubt some dust removal on all scans but it'll still be less time consuming than the digital side of my workflow because of sheer volume.

QuoteQuote:
There is also B&W that can be revealed in the machine...maybe you should try those too since you are going to send it devellop anyways...maybe buy both and see if the one that has to be revealed manually like the Tmax is better
You mean, the kind that uses color-processing to yield Black and White images? Yes, I misspoke when I said TMax. I meant BW400CN. I think that's what I'm going to try first.

QuoteQuote:
Very beautifull ME..i like the brown leather...classy.Congrats.
Thanks. That's what sold me! With my chrome-and-silver Mamiya Sekor 55/1.8 it should look stunning!

QuoteOriginally posted by stevbike Quote
I tried out an older c-41 based film ages ago but it lacked the look of a "real" B&W film.
Hmmm, this is what I'm afraid of. BW400CN has been getting a lot of praise from what i see. I may go grab a roll of ektar and BW400 and see how they shape up.

Thanks for the input so far!

Any more experience with BW400CN? It seems to get good reviews as "easy to scan"

05-09-2011, 07:22 PM   #5
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Yes film is wonderful. I have been using a Pentax MX since 1980 and do not plan on using any other film SLR. Here is my $0.02 worth.

1. You will always get better quality scans with a film scanner (which only scans negatives and slides) but flatbed scanners are getting better and better and cheaper and cheaper. Pure film scanners are hard to find nowadays - they are either the cheap and nasty ones (around $100) or very good expensive ones. There is a very good German made film scanner called Reflecta Crystal Scan 7200 and the Reflecta ProScan 7200. But they are not available in USA. Their equivalent here are the Plustek s - but they are not as good and generate huge jpg files. Of flatbed scanners available in USA good ones include Epson V500 and Canon CanoScan 9000F. The Canoscan 900F is massive (but has dust correction performed in hardware!).

2. For pure black and white I use Kodak Tri-X 400 but is grainy. Kodak TMax 400 is less grainy. I also use Ilford HP5 PLUS 400. This is wonderful - very good shadow detail for the speed. I think for black and white Ilford film is better than Kodak as far as detail and tonal range is concerned. A more practical solution is to use a C-41 chromogenic black and white film. Kodak BW400CN often leaves a greenish or purple cast. I think the Ilford XP2 is better in this respect - you can print the XP2 negative both on color paper and pure Ilford black and white paper (recommended) but a commercial printer will usually print on a digital printer anyway. And the C-41 negatives scan much better than the pure black and white negatives (they are really dye-based C-41 color negatives - no silver). Film brand is a very personal choice. For color film I use FujiFilm Superia 400 (very cheap) which has more natural muted colors than Kodak color film and when I can afford it the FujiFilm Pro 400H. I do not like the vivid Kodak colors. Kodak Portra 400 NC is OK but not VC (colors too vivid).
05-09-2011, 08:02 PM   #6
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Cool. Thanks for the heads up on the Fuji Superia - I'll pick up a couple rolls, I wanted to start with a couple rolls bought locally - and they sell that at WalMart so that's good.

I went to Ritz camera - they had a few rolls of Tmax and Kodak Gold on the shelf, but they don't process film in house. At all. They send it out to their lab and it takes 10 days. I guess to start I'll take my chances with superia and walmart developing - and then I'll try maybe some BW400 - the tint doesn't bother me. I'll be processing and dealing with them digitally. I'm not concerned about getting prints from negatives. I'm concerned with getting them into my computer accurately, processing them there, getting them developed digitally.
05-10-2011, 03:25 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ryan Trevisol Quote

I went to Ritz camera - they had a few rolls of Tmax and Kodak Gold on the shelf, but they don't process film in house. At all. They send it out to their lab and it takes 10 days.
I noticed your location-
Have you tried the Wolf Camera in Ft. Lauderdale? They sell quite a bit of film, and they do processing, I believe SOME in house, and do scans. Not fantastic scans, but satisfactory and possibly included in development.
05-10-2011, 03:43 PM   #8
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My 2 cents worth.

It is worth trying different film stocks. For instance E6 is very different from C41 for colour. I have always found certain film types suit different styles of photography. It will depend on what you are looking for.

You will need to use a special processing lab if you need to push or pull the film stock. For "normal" exposure the results should be much the same anywhere. The big difference will be in the way they handle the film. A good lab will sleeve the film seperately rather than alltogether. I have had Scratched negs back from some places.

I know many people are happy with flat bed scanners for MF film but they do have limitations for 35mm. I have tried sevaral ways but I now have a Nikon 8000ED and the results are so much better.

Kim

05-10-2011, 04:27 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kim C Quote
My 2 cents worth.

It is worth trying different film stocks. For instance E6 is very different from C41 for colour. I have always found certain film types suit different styles of photography. It will depend on what you are looking for.
Kim
Thanks Kim, I think I'm going to try my hand with films that are easily available and locally processed to see how much I like it before jumping into some kind of film that I have to buy online and send away for processing, but I do love black and white - so I think I'll eventually get into using "real" B&W film.

BTW, nice ME SE in your avatar!


QuoteOriginally posted by PGillin Quote
I noticed your location-
Have you tried the Wolf Camera in Ft. Lauderdale? They sell quite a bit of film, and they do processing, I believe SOME in house, and do scans. Not fantastic scans, but satisfactory and possibly included in development.
I've driven by the store several times. I bought a roll of Superia 400 today at Walmart and I'll take it down there to get processed, and I'll check out the film selection while I'm there.

I've had two film questions pop into my head and I don't want to start a new thread:

BW400CN is said to be a "dye based" black and white film. Would using a yellow filter on regular color film (e.g. Superia 400) and converting to Black and White (in Aperture, which gives me control of R, G, and B) in Post give me the same results as BW400CN?

What recommendations can anyone make about places to send film out for processing? I know Dwayne's gets a lot of press for having been the last one to process Kodachrome. Their prices seem reasonable, and they offer scanning - does anyone have experience with their scan quality?
05-10-2011, 04:59 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ryan Trevisol Quote
Thanks Kim, I think I'm going to try my hand with films that are easily available and locally processed to see how much I like it before jumping into some kind of film that I have to buy online and send away for processing, but I do love black and white - so I think I'll eventually get into using "real" B&W film.

BTW, nice ME SE in your avatar!




I've driven by the store several times. I bought a roll of Superia 400 today at Walmart and I'll take it down there to get processed, and I'll check out the film selection while I'm there.

I've had two film questions pop into my head and I don't want to start a new thread:

BW400CN is said to be a "dye based" black and white film. Would using a yellow filter on regular color film (e.g. Superia 400) and converting to Black and White (in Aperture, which gives me control of R, G, and B) in Post give me the same results as BW400CN?

What recommendations can anyone make about places to send film out for processing? I know Dwayne's gets a lot of press for having been the last one to process Kodachrome. Their prices seem reasonable, and they offer scanning - does anyone have experience with their scan quality?
I had Dwayne's scan some Kodachrome slides for me a couple years ago at the time of processing. They were fine and were a decent price. See my review of the Pentax K24/2.8 lens for some sample slide scans that Dwayne's did.

SMC Pentax 24mm F2.8 Reviews - Pentax Lens Reviews & Pentax Lens Database

Phil.
05-10-2011, 05:01 PM   #11
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Thanks, those are good quality, what kind of resolution did they give you? I'm hoping digital will be my primary storage.
05-10-2011, 06:02 PM   #12
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It isn't an ME SE. It's an LX2000! LOL

It's worth trying the ready available C41 film as well as the Superia. I find C41 can be better for nature and landscapes and E6 is better when you need the higher contrast for such things as vehicles, aircraft etc.

The "normal" monochrome filters will still have an effect on dye based film in that you can darken the opposite "colour". However the effect can be much more marked and is more needed on silver based films because their spectral response if different.

Kim

QuoteOriginally posted by Ryan Trevisol Quote
Thanks Kim, I think I'm going to try my hand with films that are easily available and locally processed to see how much I like it before jumping into some kind of film that I have to buy online and send away for processing, but I do love black and white - so I think I'll eventually get into using "real" B&W film.

BTW, nice ME SE in your avatar!




I've driven by the store several times. I bought a roll of Superia 400 today at Walmart and I'll take it down there to get processed, and I'll check out the film selection while I'm there.

I've had two film questions pop into my head and I don't want to start a new thread:

BW400CN is said to be a "dye based" black and white film. Would using a yellow filter on regular color film (e.g. Superia 400) and converting to Black and White (in Aperture, which gives me control of R, G, and B) in Post give me the same results as BW400CN?

What recommendations can anyone make about places to send film out for processing? I know Dwayne's gets a lot of press for having been the last one to process Kodachrome. Their prices seem reasonable, and they offer scanning - does anyone have experience with their scan quality?
05-10-2011, 06:05 PM   #13
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In general, virtually all photo-processors that are left in business, except the high-end, uber-expensive custom shops, use the same automated film processors. Therefore, there isn't going to be much difference in the quality.

The BUT here is that not all such labs are equally consiencous about keeping the machine clean and the chemistry refreshed. That is where the variation comes in. There's really no way to know, except to send them an unimportant roll and see how it comes out, unless someone else has first-hand experience with that lab, and is willing to share their opinion.

Once you find a processor that gives good, consistent results, stick with them.

Personally, I've had good luck with Costco. They use the same Fujitsu machine that everyone else does, and the staff there seem to do a good job of keeping it clean and refreshed.
05-10-2011, 06:35 PM   #14
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Are there any file size recommendations when scanning a negative? I had a local drug store (Rite Aid) develop a test roll of SUPERIA X-TRA400 and also got the pictures on digital CD. The digital images are 1536x1024 pixels at 96dpi. I'm guessing that will restrict the print size.
05-10-2011, 07:20 PM   #15
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^ I had a similar experience with my wedding photos. My friend the "professional photographer" took my pictures and gave me picture CD's at my request and did God knows what with the negatives. They were all scanned at approximately 2MP like DanWeso's experience. If that's the standard, I'll use my flatbed at home.

@ Kim that's funny, the ME SE was the only Pentax I'd seen with the brown leather.
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