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12-07-2013, 06:29 AM - 2 Likes   #1
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Film blowouts vs Digital Blowouts

For fun, I filmed a very harsh (and mundane) scene with my film and digital cameras.

I think I got all the variables mostly correct, does this sound right?

Cameras:
- Pentax K01
- Pentax Super Program

ISO 400 (same on both)
f/2.8 (same on both)
shutter speeds (same on both)
-.4 (iphone soft spot meter says this was shadows)
- 1/125 (iphone soft meter says this was average from shadows to highlights)
- 1/500 (what the super program suggested)

So obviously the field of view is different so I had to crop but I was kind of surprised at how well the film handled the light. I should also mention that the super program has had a recent Eric CLA so the speeds should be ok.

Anyway I thought this was cool and informative (I only started shooting film this year as I turned 40 thought it would be a fun project)


Last edited by Jamey777; 07-22-2014 at 06:31 AM.
12-07-2013, 06:31 AM   #2
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I suppose I should mention that the film is expired Fuji Superia 400.... I am sure nicer film would have handled the exposures even better. The lens is a K 24mm f 2/8.
12-07-2013, 06:53 AM - 1 Like   #3
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So the K-01 is on the left and the film camera is on the right?
Yeah, film tends to be superior in some ways.
12-07-2013, 06:54 AM   #4
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It's harder to blow highlights with film.

But, it's harder to recover something in the shadow with film, because no light = no chemical reaction on the film = no information to recover.

12-07-2013, 07:06 AM   #5
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So I think I am starting to understand the maxim "Expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights" :-) I blew out a roll of tri-x shot @1600 because I left it in the soup too long.
12-07-2013, 07:08 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
So the K-01 is on the left and the film camera is on the right?
Yeah, film tends to be superior in some ways.
Yes, digital is left, film is right....
12-07-2013, 07:29 AM   #7
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If the digital programmers had their collective heads out of their rear ends they would set the software up with a menu selectable highlight protection mode that tells the individual pixels or whatever they are called on the sensor to stop counting photons after they hit a certain threshold. That would essentially make it impossible to blow highlights even while other parts of the sensor are still counting photons.
Its basically chemically what film does by growing less sensitive where the light hits the most.
This is one of the main reasons I use film still (the other being its a cheap FF), even newer digital stuff takes major post processing work arounds to do what film does naturally.
12-07-2013, 07:54 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jamey777 Quote
Yes, digital is left, film is right....
I saw the first two and wondered which was which but then scrolled down and it became VERY clear . Try the same with Portra 400 instead of expired Superia, I think you'll find the film does even better.

12-07-2013, 08:04 AM   #9
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Jonathan, I agree... i save my Portra 400 for the kids :-)
12-07-2013, 09:26 AM - 1 Like   #10
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It will also depend on the scanner+software and settings to additionally recover even more of the shadows and highlights of the film. In the test below, I couldn't even blow out Kodak Portra 400 at +10. You can see the results in the bottom right how a +10 overexposure "normalizes" with white balance and levels while the digi equivalents are no longer useful at +3 or +4.


Link to larger version -> http://www.fototime.com/3EDD4D13204247B/orig.jpg


By knowing the various films exposure characteristics, you can show high contrast scenes and know what you can recover and print as needed. In the example of Kodak Portra 400, a high contrast scene with deep shadows and blown highlights can be normalized easily.


Link to larger version -> http://www.fototime.com/DCE615918D77901/orig.jpg



Or if you were using Kodak Ektar 100 and your camera meter recommends 1/60 but you wanted 1/2 to smooth the water and you don't have ND filters you can be confident to have usable results still.


Link to larger version -> http://www.fototime.com/9145EF248F78D91/orig.jpg


Take advantage of the various film's characteristics - experiment and have fun!
12-07-2013, 10:34 AM   #11
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These were scanned on a Pakon 135, so I don't get control of the gain. But I bet you could do some crazy stuff with a flatbed and multiple exposures. For now i will just try and get my exposure and dev time correct :-)
12-07-2013, 05:00 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by aurele Quote
It's harder to blow highlights with film.

But, it's harder to recover something in the shadow with film, because no light = no chemical reaction on the film = no information to recover.
Though the same is true for digital as well.

For both media, there are limits to the linear response range. Where they differ is how the medium reacts as the light approaches extremes of sensitivity/response. Digital tends to have absolute thresholds at both ends while film tends to tail out gradually at the low end and less gradually at the high. The graphed response is called the "characteristic curve". The linear part of the (s-shaped) curve constitutes what we usually consider to be the usable range for scan/printing. The foot and shoulder regions represent areas that may contain usable data, but which are not accessible using standard techniques.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensitometry

The cool thing is that the response curves for many traditional B&W films can be substantially modified by processing technique such that shadow detail can still be retained without blocking highlights with even very extreme contrast subjects. Tuco (site user) has pretty much perfected this technique. I dabble, but with some success.


Steve
12-08-2013, 06:32 PM   #13
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Like others have said, if you want to be impressed, try Kodak Portra. Also the nice thing about film is, if you want nice pastel look, which I do like, overexpose by 5 stops or so.

Where digital is better, is the high iso and shadow/under exposure.

Here's Portra 400 overexposed by 5 or 6 stops.

12-09-2013, 10:19 AM   #14
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And with BW film, you can compress highlights to get even more DR by over exposing and under developing the film. To understand why film handles highlights differently, have a look at its characteristic curve in the film's data sheet.

On my monitor and on the negative, I can see the actual diameter of the Sun as apposed to a big ball of glow so often seen. And there is more detail in the shadows than shown here because I crushed them in post for effect. The ability to see more DR from scanned images is also a function of your scanner. This is what drum scanners do much better than any other. They can grab more density off the negative.







Last edited by tuco; 12-09-2013 at 10:56 AM.
12-09-2013, 10:27 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
And with BW film, you can compress highlights to get even more DR by over exposing and under developing the film. To understand why film handles highlights differently, have a look it its characteristic curve in the film's data sheet.

On my monitor and on the negative, I can see the actual diameter of the Sun as apposed to a big ball of glow so often seen. And there is more detail in the shadows than shown here because I crushed them in post for effect.






I actually visited your flickr account after seeing some of your work here. The medium format beach and lighthouse stuff is amazing.
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