In hybrid workflow does film choice really matter?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by stevierose, Jun 8, 2009.

  1. After a few years of using only digital cameras, I long to use some of my older rangefinders. I will be using a hybrid workflow where I will shoot c41 color film and then scan the "keepers" into my computer where I will be adjusting contrast, color, sharpness, etc. digitally before printing. If this is the case, does it really matter which film I use for capture? I realize that different films have different grain structure and other physical characteristics, but if I am going to be adjusting contrast, saturation, etc, digitally, do I really gain anything by using pro films, or one pro film versus another?
    In this sort of hybrid workflow, which ISO 100 and 400 films do you think would work best? I have a Minolta Scan Elite 5400 II scanner and own both Vuescan and Silverfast SE Plus software, however I am new to scanning and would prefer to keep the scanning process as straightforward as possible. I note that neither Silverfast nor Vuescan have built in film profiles for 400 UC and Ektar 100 which seem to be frequently recommended on PN for this purpose. Do I need to produce my own profiles for these films if I want to scan them?
  2. Answer is Yes.... Some films love a scanner some don't also it depends on how you shoot them... adjusting in PS does not make any difference if the exposure is way off and then there is ICE.
    Your scanner and mileage will differ... :)
    You will need to make up your own mind with what film you like... Sorry but it is not a simple answer.
  3. I think that one of the advantages of a hybrid workflow over digital is that you have different films to choose: each film has its own unique characteristics and it's like you were able to change your "sensor" each time you load a new roll of film in your camera :)
    If you know your films you can take advantages of their unique characterictics and choose the film which fits best your need according to your purpose. I think you cannot change completely the film look with PS, unless you search for a very strange or creative result... In theory you can emulate a film with digital, but in practice it's very difficult or requires very advanced skills.
    If you want some examples, take a look at my portfolio ( all these shot were made with a hybrid workflow. I shot with different films and then I scan my best with Nikon's 5000 ED scanner... The different look I achieved is not from PS editing, but from unique film characteristics...
    Hope that helps, Alberto.
  4. Well said Alberto Funny thing is that Digital wants to look like film.yet film is well film it is it's own beast roll from roll batch from batch and smile from smile. Digital is different from camera to camera and it is adjusted just like film to get the look the photographer wants....
    No Flame here to each his own... I still play because I have not run every base in all 9 innings.
  5. Yeah, I would say that it makes a big difference. Even if you're going to be adjusting your pictures with an image editing program after scanning, every film has a very unique look to it...and you will have a different starting point. For example, the new Kodak Ektar 100 film has a very unique look to it with beautiful saturated colors, but kind of a "cold" tone. It's hard to describe. It's just different. I suppose that theoretically you could use another film and manipulate the pictures to look somewhat like Ektar. But why? If you wanted the look of Ektar, you could have a better starting point and save a lot of work and just shoot with Ektar.
    That's just an example. My point is that every film has a unique look, and instead of trying to replicate the look of a different film, why not just shoot with that film? Even Kodak Gold 200 has a unique look to it. Let the film speak for itself.
    I admit though that I don't have a film scanner. I send all my color film to a photo lab. (I do develop my own B&W film though). But I can tell you that there is a definite difference between films. No question about that at all. I've taken Ektar 100 to several different labs, and the pictures always have a very distinct look to them. I've gotten to the point where I can often look at pictures and say "Yup, that looks like an Ektar picture."
  6. I've been doing quite a bit of testing for my own benefit on this very subject lately. I've been finding that the film type does make a big difference.
    One thing to remember: Different films handle relationships between colors in their own way. Some seem to punch up the reds; others are more muted; higher or lower contrast between various color groups.
    You can handle some of this in post-processing -- scanning and image editing. But you're going to tie yourself up in knots if you try to change these relationships between colors. How does that green thing look next to the red thing? If you try to change the red thing, the green thing's going to go with it one way or the other.
    I just can't stand the way some films scan and can spend hours before finally giving up/giving in; other films just scan so easily I get suspicious and wonder what I did, if I'll ever be able to do that again.
    The best thing to do is try out some different films. Scan and print them. Then you'll find the one that renders colors the way you want it to.
    Regarding profiles: I've been having great luck just outputting the scans to the biggest color gamut the scanning software will produce. One of my scanners does have some film profiles and those are sometimes useful, but they aren't all that current.
    Last week I scanned some Ektar 100 120-size and got the best results just using the scanner's default RGB setting, then piping that out to Wide Gamut RGB 16-bit. The colors were beautifully neutral, perfect for taking into Photoshop for post-processing. Other films do better with a profile assigned to them, at least for my taste in color.
    Anyway, the short answer after the long-winded meander -- yeah, I think the choice of film makes a big difference.
  7. To Les:
    As you are enthusiastic about Ektar 100 can you share with me (or point me to a previous post) about the best way to scan it? I have a Minolta 5400 II scanner as well as Vuescan and Silverfast SE Plus software. I am an experienced photographer and competent with Photoshop, but I am new to scanning. Any tips would be most appreciated by me. Same for Kodak 400UC.
  8. Do I need to produce my own profiles for these films if I want to scan them?"
    No. I don't recall any discussion of Vuescan here about workflow with c41 where anything but using the generic color print film setting was used, except sometimes the film types were used as 'presets' regardless of how they are labeled in Vuescan and the film being scanned. Hope that makes sense.
    " does it really matter which film I use for capture?"
    Scan two print films with frames of the same subject, with one of them being Reala, the other anything you want. I defy anyone to make them look alike :cool:
    Using Vuescan, I suggest reading about the advanced workflow in the manual.
  9. Yes, a very good collection. I also recommend "Nowhere" as an excellent, interesting image.
  10. Thanks, Les. I'm sorry to be such a scanning newbie, but when you say "fully automated neutral scans" what software are you using with your scanner? Are using a particular film term included with the software (such as "generic" or "Supra 400") or some other means of neutralizing the orange film mask/cast?
  11. Alberto,
    Is it possible you can email me at or give me a link to somewhere with your email address? I'd like to talk with you a little off - forum about Velvia 100F and your scans. They are gorgeous!
    Thank you,
  12. I too would like to carry just one film, 160VC for landscapes. However, if there is yellowish sunlight and there are people, the skin tones are just too red. ProS would be a better choice then. But ProS has more grain so I wouldn't want to use it for all shots. Then, for scenes around dusk 400 speed film are better suited. If I want night time shots with little grain showing I would use Provia 400X pushed one stop.
  13. As others have said, every film is different in grain structure, contrast, color relationships, so experiment and decide what you like. Of course, consider slides as well as negative film.
    The only piece of advice I would impart is to learn the parameters of the scanning software well. I've been scanning for almost a decade, mostly lazily, and only recently figured out that I should be more careful in the prescan stage setting black and white points, gamma, etc., which end up having a surprising and considerable impact on your work image, often in ways that Photoshop cannot duplicate. Of course, I had to rescan years of negatives. Fortunately, my newest scanner supports batch scanning, so it went faster than with previous scanners.
  14. Les, Roger, many thanks for your appreciation: it's a great reward for me and for my efforts in shooting film and scanning it!
    I'd be honored if you left a comment on my portfolio page.
    Jedidiah, if you want to email me and ask some questions click on my name and then on the link at the top of the page or directly:
    Regarding the scanning process and software I use the same scanner and the same software of Les Sarile: I leave all the settings off (neutral scan) except digital ICE (normal). I check the histogram and sometimes I adjust the analog gain control to avoid clipping. All my scans are 16 bit .tiff files @ 4000 dpi in Adobe RGB color space. I then fine tune my scans with PS CS3.
    I think the scans archive of Les is preciousness for "hybrid photographers"! Thank you again!
  15. Les, I think you did something wrong with the "manual" white balance setting- did you select something reasonably neutral in the frame? Perhaps her teeth or necklace?
    Personally I always leave negative type as "generic color negative" in Vuescan. The profiles are useless to me and I'd rather scan as "none" or "manual."
  16. It defeats the whole idea of using film. Film brands have a personality and that is why we use them. Otherwise it is always easier to just go digital.

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