Film for use at airshow

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by rogercottee, Apr 12, 2006.

  1. I will be going to a number of airshows this year, and I need some
    advice on what film to use, I would rather stay away from print
    film. The slide film would need to be fast as I will be using a
    slowish lens (f8) and Brittish weather can be dull at times. So can
    anybody recomend a fastish slide film that will not break the
  2. Cloudy sky is a lot brighter than blue sky. If you want to capture a dark plane against a bright sky, I suggest using negative film. A fast, fine-grained film like Fuji NPH400 works well.

    Why slides? Does anyone want to bunch up in a dark room to watch them on a screen any more? Who even makes slide projectors (or magazines)?
  3. Slides are definitely prettier than negs. but negs. have much greater exposure latitude and finer grain than slides for the high asa required for the hand held shooting necessary to capture planes in flight. I would recommend Fuji 800 as the best compromise between speed and quality.
  4. Thanks for your help so far. I find the saturation and colour a lot more brilliant with slide that print film. Would NPS or NPZ be more saturated.?
  5. NPS/NPZ are very unsaturated, they are meant as portrait films.

    Slides are definitely the way to go, but I wouldn't go over 400 and also bring 100 speed in
    case there is enough light.

    If you don't want to break the bank, the cheapest place in the UK for any film is
  6. Don't know why you want to stay away from print films. They will likely be printed from scans in any event, so you should take advantage of the latitude of negative film.

    Select one with lower contrast if it is sunny. I would stay with either 160 or 400. Remember, you will need to use slower shutter speeds if propeller aircraft are included, so the prop is blurred.

    That said, I did get some good shots at an airshow last summer using some 400UC I dug out of the back of the fridge.

    Bill Pearce
  7. Don't get too fast a film if shooting vintage stuff. If you stop the action dead you just get frozen props. You don't really want to shoot much past 1/125 to be honest - so practice your panning.

    Take a look at as there are some VERY experienced airshow photographers there - and they will probably all be at Old Warden on 7th May for the first show of the year. So will I. We're all on digital now, but some of us do remember film. I used to just use Velvia at Duxford believe it or not.
  8. Believe it or not, I would recommend Kodak E100VS or Elite Extra Color (EBX); or if you want to go the Fuji route, Velvia 100 (NOT Velvia 100F): You want the bright paint on these planes to "pop" and these three chrome films will do the trick.
  9. No doubt you can get some very saturated colors with the proper transparency film. However, that still would not convince me to use it. If you plan to do a slide projection show with these photographs, then you don't have much choice in the matter. Transparency film is it. If not, then why would you not want to take full advantage of negative film's generous latitude? Once you have the negatives in hand they can be scanned; and, with some skillful application of some Photoshop or other photo editing software techniques, color corrected to produce exactly the results you want. With a good scanner you should have no problem producing files that can deliver a very good 8x12 or possibly even 11x14 RA4 print from a commercial photofinisher if you started with a good enough negative.
  10. I've got good results with Provia 100F. Meter on the sky and open up one stop. A blue sky just goes a little lighter while the plane has perfect color. The planes are low and the morning or afternoon light (even if overcast) is hitting the side of the plane from the photographer's back...

    An f8 lens on an overcast day with an action subject ? Yeah, fast film is needed...
  11. "I find the saturation and colour a lot more brilliant with slide that print film."
    "need to be fast as I will be using a slowish lens (f8)"
    There is one film that sounds ideal for this situation: Kodak UC 400.
    Yes, it is a negative film, but it has high saturation. Fortunately, its saturation is high but not garish like some slide films. (if printed correctly!) It scans beautifully. You'll also have the advantage of the lattitude that print film has.
    One word of advice -- do NOT underexpose this film. If you do, shadows will go purple. In normal shooting situations (parades, parties, shows, etc.), I overexpose by +1/3 or +1/2.
    I haven't done airshow photography, but I'd imagine you'd use a guideline such as "meter the sky and open up 2 or 3 stops" when metering it. Whatever guideline you've used successfully in the past, err on the overexposure side.
    There was a pretty good discussion on UC 400 in this thread: UC 400 Discussion
  12. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    I guess it depends on which part of the sky you are aiming at. I've always found that metering a clear northern sky gives about the same reading as a gray card or incident light meter reading.
  13. Roger, if you're shooting mostly ground displays and will be scanning or going for press/printing, ignore the advice above and stick with E100G or Astia. The'll produce more vivid and detailed renditions of classic air-craft, and make it easier for your printer. I have no idea why anybody would shoot open ground displays at an airshow on stupid 800 speed print film.

    Where print film should be considered is 400 speed or faster. That's of course if you are using tele work and need extra speed for motion capture. 400 speed slide film like Provia 400 is tricky in bright lighting, and I'm not convinced it rules over 400 speed print films like 100 speed slide films do.
  14. If you want to shoot jet planes in flight (Thunderbirds and Blue Angels in the US), you will need high speed. That usually means color negative. I like Kodak 800 speed color neg film. I've attached an example shot in 2003. Kodak 800 speed film has been updated twice since then.
  15. I'am afraid these are not that great, as was the first time I shot moving jets, and I only used 200 speed film and a 100-300mm F5.6-6.3

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