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02-11-2010, 10:42 PM   #1
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Recommend a fast color print film?

I've been using 100 ISO films in medium format and 200 ISO in 35mm, tripod mounted and shooting stationary vehicles. Natural light. Big prints. Nice. Easy. Years ago, I'd never used above 400 ISO film because even that was so tremendously grainy by comparison. Well I'll be doing different things this year that will require all the speed I can find, now and then. I'd prefer not to invest in digital, but try to make what I already have work. Super Programs with a range of lenses.
I'll have to experiment with 800 and even 1600 films, but rather than shop totally blind and order one of everything I can find, I thought I'd ask for some advice on where to start - or what to avoid. Fortunately, most uses will be for web use, but not all. So, anyone find any 400-800-1600 color print films C-41 that are almost usable for detail? And what's with Fuji's "Press" films besides comparatively low cost? What was sacrificed? Where should I start, based on your experience?
Thank you!

02-11-2010, 11:03 PM   #2
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I've never shot anything above ISO 400, and pretty much shudder at the thought of shooting anything higher than ISO 200.
So I won't make any recommendation there.

However I did want to say, that while working in a lab I see just how important perfect exposure is while using higher ISO films all the time.
We can usually make numerous corrections on ISO 200 film, and the final print will still look perfect.
If we bump more than 1 stop with ISO 400 film you'll see some pretty ugly grain in the print.
Anything above ISO 400 and any corrections are highly visible, usually looking awful (in my opinion).

What I usually do with my own stuff when I'm working in a darker environment is underexpose a couple of stops with a low ISO film, and if it needs it bump it back up while processing.
02-12-2010, 12:26 AM   #3
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Fuji's Press films are inexpensive, but not cheap. They're the standard Superia films, but with much better quality control.

I'm a fan of Kodak's Portra. The 800 is nice.
02-12-2010, 01:42 AM   #4
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Kodak Ultramax 400 is very good, inexpensive and widely available.
Even Walmart and CVS carry it.

Chris

02-12-2010, 05:14 AM   #5
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Impressed with the results my online friends have from ASA800 film, I've tried it - and was very positively surprised - I share your decades old experience/bias... The two Fuji films - press 800 and 800 Pro (800Z) seem very good, look like Fuji film - I'd tried the 800Z. And Kodak has their Portra... I wouldn't think you go too wrong trying any one of these. Each has excellent reviews on B&H.

In fact, based on seeing samples and using some myself, 800 is the new 400
02-12-2010, 05:16 AM   #6
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I'll second the Ultramax 400 - I've ended up shooting a lot of it for those exact reasons; it's inexpensive and widely available <g>. Ultramax 800 is also available and I've had relatively good luck with it. I expected to find more grain in it and was pleasantly surprised when I didn't.

Mister Pita, how do you like your Super Programs? I've got one coming back from Eric that I haven't had a chance to shoot yet and I'm really looking forward to it.

Best,
Kevin
02-12-2010, 06:11 AM   #7
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I've seen very nice shots taken with Portra 800. That would be my call if it's fast enough.
02-12-2010, 08:44 AM   #8
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I've shot a couple of rolls of Fuji 400H and liked it. I have a roll of Fuji press 800 on the go right now but I haven't had any developed yet.

02-12-2010, 09:38 AM   #9
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I have only shot 1 roll of Fuji 800Z (NPZ?) and was very impressed with the results. I shot it all ad EI 640 which I have read makes the grain a little finer.
Here are some pics from the roll
Picasa Web Albums - Colton - Fuji NPZ 800 ...

Swift1
02-12-2010, 09:44 AM   #10
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In fact, based on seeing samples and using some myself, 800 is the new 400.
Nesster
Mister Pita, how do you like your Super Programs? I've got one coming back from Eric that I haven't had a chance to shoot yet and I'm really looking forward to it.
KJon


Nesster, I suspected that maybe 800 is where 400 was years ago. Nice expression.

KJon, I won't be able to give a knowledgeable answer until late Spring when I put them to use - my ME SE exposure indicator finally broke, and I had to scramble to grab a couple of SP's, both of which needed to have foam replaced. They are at TLC Camera Repair Home) in N Carolina at the moment. I really liked the ME, but occasionally wanted to have shutter priority available for racetracks, instead of having to fake it by working backwards with aperture. I did basic testing before I sent the SP's off, though. Love them. Despite the various capabilities, there is no complexity at all in readjusting to get what you want. With settings info in the big viewfinder, and on the external LCD, there's no need to alter how you want to do things on the tripod or handheld. Believe it or not, aside from pocket digitals that blow out flash shots, this is my first experience with dedicated TTL flash! Stunning. I can bounce it (AF-280T) instead of direct, leave the camera on full auto or just yank the aperture how I want, and those indoor "ghost in a cave" shots turn into perfection. (I've always had a snooty dislike for flash shots that LOOK like flash shots.) If I'm not sure the 280 will have enough poop for a particular bounce shot, I can have it test and tell me beforehand. I know the SP's exposure system is pretty crude technically, but it sure delivers over a wide span of natural light conditions, like the ME did. Yeah, I know I'm the unfrozen caveman here, but then, I'll bet I appreciate TTL flash a bit more than you guys who take it for granted now. It's like I just discovered the FAX machine. Wow!

My sole dislike is that the shutter delay timer on both cameras is unreliable, but that will only annoy me once a year on vacation when nobody is around to take the shot for us.

Now, I'm going to have to occasionally shoot indoors but w/o a tripod or flash, or objects to perch the camera against, obviously w/o image stabilization or vibration reduction, and without digital's ability to crank up the ISO value and still have a generous DoF. ISO 800 gets me in the ballpark, and 1600 gets me in a halfway decent seat. But I dread the image quality based on my experiences before I was frozen... Thanks very much for your input, all! Any other comments welcome too.

Doug
02-12-2010, 04:34 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mister Pita Quote
[I] KJon, I won't be able to give a knowledgeable answer until late Spring when I put them to use - my ME SE exposure indicator finally broke, and I had to scramble to grab a couple of SP's, both of which needed to have foam replaced. They are at TLC Camera Repair Home) in N Carolina at the moment. I really liked the ME, but occasionally wanted to have shutter priority available for racetracks, instead of having to fake it by working backwards with aperture. I did basic testing before I sent the SP's off, though. Love them. Despite the various capabilities, there is no complexity at all in readjusting to get what you want. With settings info in the big viewfinder, and on the external LCD, there's no need to alter how you want to do things on the tripod or handheld. Believe it or not, aside from pocket digitals that blow out flash shots, this is my first experience with dedicated TTL flash! Stunning. I can bounce it (AF-280T) instead of direct, leave the camera on full auto or just yank the aperture how I want, and those indoor "ghost in a cave" shots turn into perfection. (I've always had a snooty dislike for flash shots that LOOK like flash shots.) If I'm not sure the 280 will have enough poop for a particular bounce shot, I can have it test and tell me beforehand. I know the SP's exposure system is pretty crude technically, but it sure delivers over a wide span of natural light conditions, like the ME did. Yeah, I know I'm the unfrozen caveman here, but then, I'll bet I appreciate TTL flash a bit more than you guys who take it for granted now. It's like I just discovered the FAX machine. Wow!

My sole dislike is that the shutter delay timer on both cameras is unreliable, but that will only annoy me once a year on vacation when nobody is around to take the shot for us.

Now, I'm going to have to occasionally shoot indoors but w/o a tripod or flash, or objects to perch the camera against, obviously w/o image stabilization or vibration reduction, and without digital's ability to crank up the ISO value and still have a generous DoF. ISO 800 gets me in the ballpark, and 1600 gets me in a halfway decent seat. But I dread the image quality based on my experiences before I was frozen... Thanks very much for your input, all! Any other comments welcome too.

Doug
Doug, thanks for the great description of TTL flash and the ringing endorsement. It's one of the reasons I purchased the Super Program. I haven't used TTL on film yet (though I have had access to the feature on my ZX-5n). I've used the on-board flash on that camera with good success, but I haven't put either one of my Metzes on it as of this posting. The school I teach at is on break next week, so I'm hoping to spend some quality time with the Super Program. It didn't come in the mail today, but I'm hoping it'll show tomorrow. If not, I'll probably have to wait 'til next Tuesday <sniff>.

Best,
Kevin
02-12-2010, 05:26 PM   #12
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Kevin,
You might dig up an online manual for the Super Program so you can play with the Metz easier. Butkus.org. There's a section on flash use in there of course. The manual for my Pentax AF-280T is only slightly nasty if you want to get fancy, but all I ever do is aim the flash head toward the ceiling or wall, jus' poooosh de shutter button an' de picture it come out gud! Great in car interiors too, where you're trying to avoid the wallop of blinding glare from a direct flash so close. What a camera! Once you use TTL, you'll (almost) never go back.
02-12-2010, 05:50 PM   #13
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Thanks for pointing me in the direction of Butkus.org. Been there, done that . That was the first place I went after purchasing the Super Program. After reading your post, I went back and checked on the flash section of the manual; you're right - it looks good. If I want to try anything fancy in the flash department, I'll go digital to get my feet wet and then apply the principles to film. Good to hear you're getting good results with bounce, though. It's a load off my mind.

Best,
Kevin
02-13-2010, 09:45 AM   #14
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Kevin,
I promise this is my last comment on this! I have a perfectly good Vivitar 1800 flash but bought this model Pentax from B&H so I could both test each situation before and/or have a confirmation signal afterward. Kind of a belt and suspenders feeling of security. I always had weak little direct flashes and the results always stunk. If you do a side by side direct and bounce flash (as long as the flash has enough horsepower for that situation) you'll be impressed with the results. Just using a diffuser would help a heap, I assume, but I'll never buy another non-swivelling flash, you betcha. I sure can't conquer the world with this setup, but for the usual types of situations I encounter, I can wade in fearlessly and concentrate on the shot, not the equipment. It's a nice feeling.
07-03-2010, 12:11 PM   #15
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I want to second (or third) Portra 800. My favorite fast film by far. The standard Kodak 800 isn't bad, and can be had in Walgreen's or CVS.

I haven't tried any of Fuji's fast stuff besides their Superia 800, but it was pretty good.
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