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04-19-2010, 04:27 PM   #1
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Medium or Low Contrast Film Recommendations?

I used to use Kodak VG100 and E100 slide film, and am now trying to find a print film to allow local C-41 development and save money on that. I shoot automobiles only, and both slide films had been just a bit too contrasty, but color was superb. Worked well on everything but black cars. I just tried Ektar 100 at a show, and although leafy backgrounds were great, contrast was out of sight. Certain bright, intense paint colors just blew out flat in direct sun and subtle changes in tonality were gone. Milder light colors blew out towards white in the sun and got darker than I expected in the shade. I can crank down exposure of course, but it's time to try something less contrasty because I don't want to have to play Russian roulette with every different car color. I guess I'll have to say goodbye to slide's color intensity, but am I relegated to drugstore Kodak Gold 200 and similar? It seems that what is wonderful for landscape and scenic stuff is death on a shiny car in harsh sun. Any suggestions are appreciated - it doesn't hurt to try anything as long as one roll of bad results can be at least partially salvaged in Photoshop.

04-19-2010, 04:39 PM   #2
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If you don't like Ektar then you'll hate Portra NC I find it even easier to blow highlights.

Although I don't have much experience with it, how about Reala? I don't recall having blown any highlights with it, and the colours were very pleasing.
04-19-2010, 05:07 PM   #3
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You could try a Polarizer, it may help in reducing the reflections off the cars painted suface.

04-19-2010, 05:32 PM   #4
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Well, I'm sure you can do better, but there's nothing offensive about ordinary Fuji 200 for stuff like this: I've actually not tried any of the newer fancier color films, but I've used it for some utilitarian purposes and camera tests and all. I know it works OK on cars.

04-19-2010, 06:17 PM   #5
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I haven't found blown highlights too much a problem with 150NC... the Fuji 160S is worth trying as well. For lower contrast and intensity I like Fuji 400H, which is my favorite 400 speed color film.
04-19-2010, 07:14 PM   #6
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It sounds like you experienced some of Javier's "wild reds"

It is not my usual subject, but I have shot cars and aircraft in Ektar in full sun with good results. Not super results, but not bad. Here is one of a Caddy:

Not real great, but not too bad either. I had a bit of over-exposure going here and the red looks a little flat as a result. It may be that more attention to the scan might yield better results as well (I used default settings from the Coolscan 5000).

You did not mention what ISO you were shooting at or where you had your processing/scanning/printing done. My experience has been that quality processing is essential as is appropriate exposure. I was getting very mixed results before I switched to a local pro lab.

I did a set of exposure tests last year with the results posted on this thread:
In summary:
  • Avoid overexposure
  • Avoid underexposure even more
  • Use a pro lab for processing

04-26-2010, 07:09 PM   #7
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Thank you all. I took another few looks at what I had, and some are perfect while some look overexposed, wiping out details in the bodywork/paint schemes while at the same time dark areas are deep black without detail. My cameras are Super Programs, which won't be too discerning with touchy film exposure. Adding in the Caddy photo above, I think it will come down to trying a film which is more tolerant of exposure variations. Since my usage is not longer artistic, that plain Fuji 200 may be the ticket. Thank you!
04-26-2010, 07:57 PM   #8
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Have you tried Reala?


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