Looking for the Right Film

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by jayroberts, Nov 26, 2019.

  1. I'm going to be shooting indoors for an awards ceremony next week for a high school cross country team. I'll be shooting in the school where there is decent lighting. I'll be shooting on an Olympus OM-2N and I'll need color and black and white films. Which films would be the best for this occasion?
  2. Pardon my brain lag; "decent lighting"? = 1/125 f4 @ ISO 1600? / Glass you plan to use?
    How is that going to work? - I hope its a typo and you have 3 of these cameras!
    Sorry, maybe I'm not getting the goal of your mission. If I want to cover a ceremony to tell a story, I pick one appropriate kind of films and stick to it. Black and white worked for me press style; burn a roll, print 3 frames in the darkroom, put one into the newspaper. Color was OK to fill a photo album with 4x6" memories of a family event. Mixing those media got me nowhere. - Are you planning to scan your results, to share them?
    I'd stick with my usual suspects in each family. In 35mm T-Max & Delta seem a wash. I'd bring TMY for the wide body, ready to push it to ISO 1600 and TMZ for the telephoto body, assuming that I 'll need the extra F stop there. If you are used to Ilford bring Delta 400 & 3200. If you love your Tri-X: Stick to it. Ditto about HP5 plus. (Both too grainy for me. The ISO 3200 stuff isn't better but when you need it, unlike them, unavoidable.) If you see a chance to get away with ISO 400 and have no own darkroom: XP2
    Color: Fuji freaking fast (i.e. 1600 & 800) worked nicely enough for me. But didn't it get discontinued? - Buy speed, if you can.
    If print size is a goal and flash an option: Stick to ISO 400.

    I hope you know what you are doing? - I recall fast glass like a 35/1.4 for Olympus, but focusing challenges, going along with it, seem big.

    Best of luck!
  3. If you're the official photographer, then film really isn't the right thing to be using.

    The fact that you have to ask what film to use shows you have little or no experience of shooting film at this type of 'gig'. So, sorry, but this is just a disaster waiting to happen.

    There is no film made, especially colour, that has enough speed for general indoor use, and with a fine enough grain to give decent, professional standard results in the 35mm format.

    Plus, if the lighting isn't flash or incandescent of a known colour temperature (i.e.3200 K), then you'll need balancing filters with a consequent loss of light and needing added exposure. Do you know the CT of the lighting? And what exposure times you're likely to get?
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2019
  4. Responses so far have been less than encouraging...but I'd have to agree. Film + indoor just don't go together, unless you have dedicated lighting. If you are doing it just for fun, then stick to black & white - you won't have to worry about colour casts, and graininess is somehow always more acceptable with B&W. You should certainly be using nothing slower than ISO 400, and as mentioned, you may have to look into push processing. I used Kodak P3200 once and didn't like the results. Don't just shoot and hope for the best - meter the light and understand what needs to be done in exposure and development.
  5. I think your best chance is with black and white film. You can try Tri-X pushed to 800 or 1600, Or you can shoot Delta 3200 rated at 1600. Either way you will get grain so big enlargements will be a problem; try to use a telephoto to compose in the camera.
  6. In years past, and with the Vivitar 283 flash, I used to do pretty well indoors, even not so close.

    I believe that the ASA 400 guidenumber is 240, so 120 feet with an f/2 lens.
    There are add-on lenses for 70mm and 150mm lenses, that get a little more light
    into the needed spot.

    With flash, you have to be careful, as backgrounds far behind the subject will be dark.

    But yes, in the pre-digital days, or even early digital days, this would be done with flash.
    It could also be done with appropriate fixed lighting.
  7. I'd stick with Kodak TMax P3200. Color can be tough because of the characteristics of the lights. Fluorescent ain't great, but it's way better than sodium vapor lights.
  8. Sorry, but I'm laughing out loud here.
    The true Guide Number of a Vivitar 283 or similar, is around 160-180 in ft at 400 ISO. So f/1.4 would be needed at 120ft. Not really a practical proposition, since ambient light would likely overpower the flash (X-synch = 1/60th on an OM2n?) and then you have mixed lighting colours to deal with.

    Basically, if the OP just used a halfway decent digital camera none of this would be an issue, or much less so.
  9. Ambient light can be reduced by stopping down - assuming shutter speed stays at the sync speed. So flash gives tremendous control over how much of the captured illumination is due to flash and how much is due to ambient.
  10. Not so. Stopping down equally affects the flash, and if the flash is already at full power, there's nothing that can be done to make the flash overpower the ambient light. Whereas lengthening the shutter speed has the opposite and undesired effect of increasing the ambient light exposure relative to the flash.

    But a simple increase of ISO and setting of a custom WB with a digital camera makes all those issues go away. And in most cases results in a less 'grainy' and far better-looking image.
    AJG likes this.
  11. Not to labour the point, but an analogy to this question would be:

    "I'm thinking of tackling a moderate domestic fire with a soda-syphon. What would be the best type and brand of soda water to use?

    P.S. I have no previous experience with soda-syphons, but I think they look really cool."
    Jochen likes this.
  12. I the past I had good results in museums with TMAX P3200 rated at iso 1000.
  13. Do you even use flash? Because flash power is controllable - unless you are using flash bulbs. And stopping down decreases ambient exposure. Yes, you need to bump flash power up - but that's not a problem most of the time. Even speedlights are pretty powerful. And flash allows fine control over how much illumination is from ambient light and how much is from flash.

    And I didn't propose lengthening shutter speed - unless your goal is to drag the shutter to increase ambient exposure. And, no, custom white balance and bumping up ISO won't solve all problems. Custom WB is fine if your light source behaves like a black body radiator, or if you are happy with the light that you just happen to find. So why not use flash as the valuable tool that it is?
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2019
  14. As a film enthusiast with questionable skill, here's what I would personally do to hedge my bets: Shoot color on a digital camera and B&W with your Olympus.

    Use a fast lens and get close. A 50mm 1.4 is not hard to find and not that expensive for OM cameras. Use fast film. I have not tried Kodak's TMAX 3200. It sounds ideal for this sort of thing but it also sounds like you need to know what your doing to get the results you want with it. But if the light allows, 400 ISO film at box speed might be fine if you're OK with stuff in the background being out of focus. Usually 400 film is flexible enough to be shot at 800 if that extra stop helps.

    I'd also expect some grain in these light conditions, - which might be exactly what you're looking for.

    If you really, really want to shoot color on film, see if you can order some Cinestill 800Tungsten or something similar.

    As I said, I'm a film enthusiast with questionable skills. So I tend to stick with ambient light. If I got good results with a flash, it would be mostly by luck. Obviously, if you know what you're doing that may be the better way to go.

    Again, if this were me and I was just taking pictures for my own use, I'd be OK with experimenting. If someone is depending on me to get decent pictures, that's when I'd go with digital at least for the color photos.

    But don't get discouraged. People managed to take decent pictures indoors before that advent of digital cameras, but I agree it is more challenging.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2019
  15. Nooo. I just make this stuff up.
    Of course I use flash! Studio strobes to on-camera popups and ringlights for fill. Go teach your grandma to suck eggs Bob.

    The first mention of flash was a suggestion to use a Vivitar 283, that IIRC comes with no built-in manual 'power' (actually energy) control. Therefore you cannot simply raise and lower the flash output with that particular model. Also, unless you have portable and powerful professional strobes, most of the time it's a struggle to get enough light from a puny speedlight in big public spaces with high ceilings. Especially if you don't have close access to the participants at an event. More than a few feet away from the 'action' and the average speedlight becomes near useless.
    Most digital cameras made within the last few years will quite happily shoot at 1600 or 3200 ISO with very little noise. That's a good 2 stops or more than colour film allows. This gives immense flexibility in unknown or low lighting conditions without using madly wide apertures with commensurate shallow depth-of-field. The ability to rapidly change White Balance without the need to fiddle about with a bagful of filters is also invaluable. The light source doesn't have to have a black-body-radiator spectrum to be, at least partly, corrected for. Fluorescent tubes are a good example.

    On-camera flash is fine if you like the look of shiny skin and a cartoon-like black outline around people. If you want prettier lighting then you have to diffuse, bounce or take your light off-camera. All of those options sap 'power' from a flash and usually require more initial light output than most speedlights can easily deliver. Especially in a large space where you have little control over ambient lighting, background or subject movement.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2019
  16. In the mid-2000s, I was shooting a lot of film indoors because film was still cheap and the digital cameras I could afford were bad. Back then, it was easy-ish to handle color since I knew a residence or somewhere like a restaurant would probably have tungsten, while most other commercial spaces were fluorescent and big spaces were metal halide. 4th color layer Fuji Superia overexposed 1-2 stops would usually give me enough to pull a correct color balance in most situations, although I also judiciously used 80As or FL-Ds(as appropriate). I usually was using simple flashes like Vivitar 283s, would gel them to match the ambient light, and would bounce wherever possible(direct was still sometimes a necessary evil if there was any distance involved). The results were passable at best, but never really anything I was proud of.

    Now, we have a couple of things at play. For one, color temperatures of indoor lighting can be all over the place. Residences are often CFL and LED, while commercial spaces have sometimes moved from bad old but predictable fluorescent to fancier broad-spectrum types.

    If I can completely control the light indoors-such as with studio lighting-I can shoot digital and film pretty much interchangeably.

    For more unpredictable situations, though, digital makes my life SO much easier. In RAW, I can fix the color balance in post as easily as I want, plus 3200 from most any digital camera looks at least as good as 35mm ASA 400. The color balance thing can be an even bigger deal than you realize-back in the spring I was at a wedding reception as a guest, and as it turned out the bride wanted a bunch of photos I'd taken after their paid photographer had left for the night. It was dark and the lighting color was all over the place shot to shot and even within different areas of the same photo thanks to heavy use of colored high intensity LEDs. I shot my D800 at 6400 and got handholdable shutter speeds. It took quite a bit of manual work, but I was able to get the color correct at least for the main subjects in almost every photo. I couldn't have done that with film.

    Now, if I do want to shoot film in such a situation, I pretty well stick to Tri-X or possibly P3200/Delta 3200. I'm more tolerant of B&W grain, and it frees me from worrying about color balance.
  17. You seem quite anti-flash for someone who claims to use flash. I use Metz flash, and monolights, not Vivitar. So I agree that a flash without variable output is less useful. However, the Vivitar 283 does have variable output if used in 'Auto' mode. So things aren't quite as you present them.

    I've shot a lot of indoor basketball, often at ISO 6400, so I am well aware of the capabilities of digital sensors. And I've dealt with non-black body lights. Fluorescent is not ideal, but passable results are possible with a WB adjustment. But the color problems become obvious when compared to a shot using flash. Sodium vapor is the worst - a WB adjustment will never produce anything approaching natural colors. About the best course is to convert to B&W.

    Speedlights are underpowered when flash is needed in bright sunlight, but that isn't when most people use flash. Yes, on-camera flash can look bad, but why would anyone restrict themselves to the hot shoe? Shiny skin and cartoon-like black outlines are a sign of an incompetent photographer. And it's why people hire wedding photographers who can produce excellent results using flash.
  18. Profile of Jayroberts (the OP)
    "Member Since: Wednesday....
    jayroberts was last seen: Wednesday at 3:54 AM"

    So I think we're wasting our time replying further to this thread.

    Bob, the OP showed no interest in, nor ability to use flash. They simply asked about shooting film in ambient light. And if they can't be bothered to check back after the first reply to their question, then I suspect they're not going to be bothered to learn to use flash. Especially off camera flash to a professional level.

    FWIW: Their OM2n apparently has an X synch shutter speed of only 1/30th second. Rather limiting, and making it difficult to completely lose the ambient light from a flash exposure.
  19. Just stick to the classics: Tri-X and Portra 400. Both can be pushed to 800 really if you need more light.

Share This Page