SLIDE FILM PRINTS?!?!?!

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by chris_antidote, Sep 22, 2011.

  1. I started shooting slide film. And I have some beautiful daylight photos, that are crystal clear. I was wondering after scanning them how large I could possibly go? I'm a fine art, landscape photographer... so big framed photos on walls are always what I'm looking for as an end result.
     
  2. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    Well you don't say how big the slide is, but assuming 35mm, and that it is perfectly exposed and very sharp----
    then if size really matters and you want the biggest and best you can get then I'd suggest that 30" x 20" wouldn't be out of the question. But you're going to need a drum scan or at least an Imacon scan to get everything from the original to do that.
     
  3. Slide will definitely get you better mileage negatives, in that regard. It is much finer grain and higher resolution.
    You never mentioned a format size or scanner quality. I'll assume 35mm as MF or above would not impose reasonable limits. This is a case where bigger is better and DMAX becomes as much as a concern as DPI.
    I switched to reversals about 6 months ago to take advantage of a much smoother grain and higher resolution. I was using a plustek 7200i for 35mm and noticed my v700 got more out of the scan, even though they are about the same (real, not advertised) resolution. The difference was DMAX; the V700 was 4 and the plustek was 3.2. This was why I am able to pull more detail out of the shadows. I am still a little stunned at the results. I have not felt the need to do much MF since.
    I print 13x19 and would not hesitate going larger. I have shot Velvia 50 and was impressed with the results, but never printed them.
    This is something that I get, and have printed with the above size.
    [​IMG]
     
  4. I'm working with 35mm Slide film. The first roll of film I developed a couple days ago was velvia 50. And I was astonished at the detail I got back.
     
  5. Also I'm planning on doing a little more research but I was thinking about purchasing the epson v600.
     
  6. To get that quality, you will be disapointed with the V600. I would suggest a V700 or a dedicated 35mm scanner.
    The V600 would be a good learning tool on how to get a good scan.
     
  7. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    You see this is where things fall apart. Having elicited the answer that you might well get up to 30" x 20" from a perfectly sharp (ie good tripod) perfectly exposed transparency with a top of line scanner costing thousands of dollars but where you can pay a lab for a one-off scan, you then introduce the idea that you might do it on a consumer flatbed scanner.
    You need to know that flatbed scanners in general do not offer the resolution, the dmax or the sheer quality to make wall-sized prints of quality from 35mm. A flatbed will not give you all the detail you can see on a light-table with a good loupe. Enlarging what you see on the light-table by a factor of 20 -or even 10- requires a great degree of quality and skill in making the scan and the print file. From a 35mm base then IMO flatbed scans are for web/screen viewing and proof-sized prints. I have an Epson 700 that I use for screen/web use and prints/book materials to say 12" x 12". But I start from medium format slides much bigger than yours.
    IMO if you want to make scans good for any print big enough to make an impression on a wall, you're going to need a film scanner and they are scarce and much more expensive. Probably the only one suitable for amateurs to own and run would be a Coolscan. Beyond that- and if you have ambitions to push the envelope on print sizes then you could easily be thinking beyond that - then as i said above you're talking Imacon (Hasselblad) or Drum Scan. These latter types are basically expensive machines bought primarily by labs with a high scanning throughput. Unless you really do know your stuff and want a large number of big scans, do not try those at home.
     
  8. I've always prefered the greater dynamic range of negative than the shorter dynamic range of transparency film. Transparency film is great if one is projecting but not so much for prints. The modern negative film (even the cheap drug store variety) has extremely fine grain and all of the characteristics desired for producing large prints.
     
  9. Agree with Brian. One kind of film was designed for projection, the other for prints.
     
  10. Correct me if I'm wrong but I always thought that 35mm neg had a greater dynamic range for screw ups. And 35mm
    slides exposed correctly had greater dynamic range.
     
  11. A review of almost any spec sheet for negative and positive film (or basic photography book from the "film era") will show you how the positive (slide) film has shorter dynamic range than negative film. That is why proper exposure is so vitally important when shooting slide film - to keep as much of the image within the dynamic range without blowing highlights and blocking shadows. Often one or the other simply cannot be avoided due to the characteristic of the film.
    The greater dynamic range of neg film, including B&W, is probably due more to the chemistry than an overt attempt to "allow for screw-ups". Whatever the reason, though, the greater dynamic range generally amounts to a more robust and interesting picture.
    "Back in the day" I shot slide film almost exclusively for a variety of reasons and still have a couple of Type R prints on the wall. They never looked as good as color prints made from neg film. One of the "problems" was a build-up of contrast, as well as the aforementioned blocking/blowing issues. If shooting 'flat" subjects or in studio envioronments where lighting ratios can be controlled this is a lot less of an issue, but with natural subjects the dynamic range of nature is often a lot greater than the eye leads one to believe.
     
  12. Okay, I guess that's where I'm a little confused. Slide film, "what you see is what you get." I hear that everywhere. You scan your slides and that beautiful dynamic shot of whatever you were shooting looks identical, perhaps better, than you originally saw it. Now, I've shot 35mm negatives.. and they most entirely are never perfect. -It's probably a user error. However, maybe I don't understand the process going from neg. to print and on a wall. It seems like there are so many more uncontrollable variables. -By the time your on an actual enlarged print and in an art gallery.... What's your process, Brian? Because I just don't think taking color negs to a photo lab and having them print, as is, will justify the steps needed to ensue the quality of something that stands out.
    Just looking for some help. -thanks.
     
  13. Actually, even slide films as 'narrow' as the old Kodachrome have considerably more shadow detail in them than is visible to the naked eye at 'proper' exposure. Highlight detail, not so much.
    C/N films have still more latitude, but not so much more as you'd think. Post processing is a wonderful thing, now in 'everyman's' reach.
    I've been able to go to 13x19" (my printer limits) without a lot of trouble so long as you don't paste the tip of your nose to the print. :)
     
  14. Scanning either negs or slide material can only yield an image as good as the original. You can't fill in missing information from blown highlights or blocked shadows. If your image fits within the dynamic range of slide material and you exposed properly, then it will work. Otherwise it won't work so well - may be good enough but that depends on what you want out of the particular image.
    You ask about my method - well, in general I incident meter for slide material but only when I know the dynamic range of the scene does not exceed the capabilities of the film. To do that I either eye-ball, use experience, or spot meter. When I know I'm shooting a higher dynamic range image I meter similarly but more often use reflective measures than incident... and the appropriate film. Similarly, I make judgements about contrast and choose film that meets the contrast profile I am interested in, or that which fits the image.
    My methods are pretty much the "photography 101" kind of things that you probably already do. All I am saying is that shooting lanscapes with slide film takes a bit more attention, but as JDM says... it can be done.
    To get back to your original quesiton about how big, I think others have commented on resolution, etc. I'd just add that you should also consider the viewing distance as part of your assessment of final quality.
    Good luck to you!
     
  15. A 4000 PPI scan on a Nikon 5000 scanner will get you an image about 5500 pixels wide on the long side.
     
  16. SCL

    SCL

    Although over the years most of my work was printed in the 8x10 area, I've done some work specifically for much larger prints (20x30 and up). The photographic film "masters" relied heavily on master printers to accomplish the 2nd part of the equation. The same is true today, especially if you are contemplating large work. You first need the proper image, and yes the best ones for printing, in my experience come from negative films having the right characteristics. If you're serious about large work, you might begin thinking about medium format or larger equipment rather than 35mm. In any case,after film development comes the enlargement phase...historically that was done optically, today most of it is done digitally - meaning you need a high quality scan done by somebody who understands the process and capabilities of their equipment. While I can do 35mm home scans or optical prints for small sizes (yes I still have my old Leitz enlarger) for something in the larger sizes (think 24 inches up to a full wall) I rely on professional labs with whom I have experience...and I give lots of direction to them so things come out the way I want. With 35mm, as mentioned above, knowing viewing distance is critical to the scanning, printing process. Most professional photographers are good at one thing...taking the shot, and they rely heavily on good labs to handle the 2nd part.
     
  17. Some good points raised here.
    Brian, my negs are well past 4-5 stops in latitude. Especially when I develop with a pyro; a pyro compresses the dr at scan level and leaves a much broader DR when corrected at scan time.
    The DR in a pos will depend on how much shadows you can extract. I have a 4490 (V500 replaced that and the V600 replaced the V500) and a V700. The first thing I noticed when I powered up the V700 was how much brighter the back lite was. Combined with wet mounting, I can expose less and pull as much DR as I need to.
    I don't think the print process is capable of going beyond 6 anyway. Look at http://www.imatest.com/guides/image-quality/print-Dmax . It suggest that some printing a dmax as low as 1.7 (depends on ink/paper) is all that is obtainable. If that is the case, a V600 would certainly cover any density your printer could handle.
    But it all comes down to the idiot behind the lens; shoot with purpose. If you know DR is going to be an issue and you are using a high contrast film, the shoot to relieve the contrast. blah, blah,blah......
    At the end of the day, get the best gear you can afford and make the most of it. Skill can get you around most hurdles. Yes get out of the digital mentality (everything auto) and resign your self to learning the process and your head was made thick to facilitate "banging against the wall". Aim for mars, and you will have the moon. You will be fine.
     
  18. I have my slide film cross processed and that turns them into negatives and it makes for crazy wonky colors which is the effect I am after.
     
  19. Yes, Peter, I'm sure your negs are. Those numbers are approximate, of course, and were intended just to demonstrate a point. It is so inconvenient to always have to write all of the caveats, etc. so I dispensed with them.
     
  20. I'm a fine art, landscape photographer.
    Then really, if you want to use film, ditch 35mm and get yourself a medium format rig. These days they are dirt cheap; you can get a workable Mamiya 645 kit from KEH for as little as $200. Or for $400 and the trouble of lugging the extra weight, you could get a Mamiya RB-67 kit.
    Correct me if I'm wrong but I always thought that 35mm neg had a greater dynamic range for screw ups. And 35mm slides exposed correctly had greater dynamic range.
    Well the problem is that people use "dynamic range" very imprecisely, and even incorrectly. Negative film will capture a wider dynamic range--highlights can be brighter before they burn to white, and shadows can be darker before they fade to black. So if the subject has a lot of contrast / a wide range of brightnesses, negative film is a better choice. On the other hand, transparency film will exhibit a wider dynamic range; it looks more contrasty; colors tend to pop more; the actual density range on the film is considerably larger. You can see this pretty readily by looking at the exposure-density graphs on the film manufacturers' data sheets, which are on their websites.
    In general, color negative material is about 4 - 5 stops of latitude; sluide films are about 3 - 4 f-stops wide.
    Again, people are horribly imprecise about how they use the term. Some people use "latitude" to mean how much you can screw up the exposure and still get a usable image (answer: a lot with negative film, very little with transparency film). Other people use it to mean the dynamic range of the subject that the film can capture before highlights burn to white and shadows fade to black (in which case negative film can easily be 9, 10, even more stops, and transparency film might be about 4 to 7 stops).
    You want my view? If you want quality and you're going to scan on a flatbed and print large, you have to use 4x5 inch film. If you want to scan on a flatbed and use 35mm film, you are unlikely to get really good prints much larger than about 5x7 inches (with a 6x6 medium format camera, you could get 8x10's, 12x12's, maybe even up to about 11x14 inches). And if you really want quality, you might use a flatbed for proofing / web use, but you'll send your best frames for professional drum scanning.
     
  21. Dave, you are correct on most things. However since I started reversals, I get the quality I was looking for with MF. I have an abundance of MF gear that I am using even less. My 6x9 would be the only exception.
    The weak link would be getting a good scan. I get a satisfactory one for my 13x19 prints with my V700 (wet mount). But I don't pretend to produce fine art. If I did, I still think a drum scan of a good 35mm frame would suffice.
     
  22. Thanks, Dave. Spot on. what I needed to hear.
     
  23. Chris,
    An easy way to s is to buy an M645 or even easier, a Fuji GA645Zi which has a super sharp 55-90 somm lens. Pick up one of these, and a few rolls of slide film, AND a few rolls of Ektar or Reala negative film. Shoot both, and see what results you get. I think you will find why all the landscape pros back in the day shot slide film exclusively for landscapes. Even today, many of the cover page shots on the landscape photography mags are shot on Velvia (slide film). Read the small front cover credits, usually buried in the fine print.
    And no, it was not just so the printers could see what the true colors should be for color matching. THat is only 1 benefit. The reason is, the results are far superior to what you will get from negative film. Neg film is great for portraits and the like, but dont hold up to slides for landscape shots, not even the newish Ektar which was designed to give slide a run for its money.
    You will be waiting for good light, then taking your shots, so you will not need or in some cases even want the extra dynamic range. Case in point, sunrises or sunsets with striking silhouettes. You want those silhouettes a silky black, not some smoky gray with a bit of grainy/noisy "shadow detail". And when you do want the shadow detail, you will be using graduated ND filters to balance the range.
    I shoot digital, neg and slide. Every single time I shoot the slide and neg side by side, sadly even for portraits, I have found that the slide shots just look better. Slides scan sharper, with greater resolution and less grain than negs. They can be sharpened much like digital can, without the need to run a blurring filter first to tame the grain. Try a roll of each for yourself and see.
    Whatever you do, dont be like the guy I saw at the Porcupine Mountains last year during Fall Colors season, on an overcast day, with a 4x5 camera shooting Portra 160NC, because he had read that neg film has better dynamic range , and that saturation can always be added in post. Wrong on so many accounts. First off, a portrait film is designed to reduce facial blemishes, such as pimples or flushing, and so has reduced red sensitivity. Try shooting a sunset with a portrait film, and those reds will be bleached away. Same for red leaves in Fall! Second, it was a low contrast, overcast day. You want the extra contrast of slide in such cases for extra pop. Lastly, he had never tried out his film in advance, or experimented with film types before his trip. He took everything on the advice of what he had read online.
    Dont be that guy!
     
  24. What is the viewing distance? That is always the first question that comes to my mind.
    --Lannie
     
  25. With 35mm and a Nikon Scanner you can get good 20x30 prints with care - when I had a flatbed I found the results from 35mm disappointing. With MF you can go much larger - a scanned image on velvia from one of my Fuji GX680s (6x8) is significantly higher resolution than from my 5DII. If you are prepared to stitch two slides (the fuji has front lens movement so you can shift, shoot then shift again and join the two shots) you can go very big. With a panorama on my GX680 I have gone as large as 6 feet by three and the quality is still very high. The issue with scanning larger format film is getting it flat and avoiding Moire patterns. I found my Epson could get good results but only with a significant investment in time with the Nikon the process is much quicker but I scan wet. Be aware that MF high resolution scans are very large - a 16 bit Tiff at 4000 dpi from my Fuji is 500 - 600 MB so you need a powerful computer with a lot of RAM to process the images. Some of the panoramas I have shot are over 1GB. The image size form a 4000dpi Nikon 9000 scan of a Fuji 6x8 negative is almost 12000x 9000 "pixels".
    B&W is higher resolution but I have never found the scanning process with B&W as good as the wet printing process. With negative film a good scanner and workflow can get very good results from a low speed negative film although for fine art and landscape type stuff I prefer a film like Velvia 50 or 100 and tend to expose it slightly slower (e.g. 40 and 80 ISO)
     
  26. Great question, Lannie; I wish I had thought to ask it. ;)
    Seriously, folks... there are many ways to achieve the goal and many have been thoughtfully presented. But the viewing distance, and the definition of "good/acceptable" print really should be clarified.
    I really respect Dave's contribution (and, yes, I was being imprecise about latitude and dynamic range) but many great 8x10 and larger images have been made with 35mm. (I compeletely support, despite what I just said, the use of larger formats!)
    p.s. One of the comments/suggestions that may have come-and-go warrants reiteration: master printers have been a key to success in the past. They are getting more difficult to find but with good direction (meaning LOTS OF IT, and CLEAR direction) even a mediocre printer might get you what you want/need. My approach has always been oriented to good "capture" of my "vision" and then manage the skills of others to get it onto paper.
     
  27. I'm a fine art, landscape photographer.
    To Dave Redman's words:
    Then really, if you want to use film, ditch 35mm and get yourself a medium format rig. ... // ... Or for $400 and the trouble of lugging the extra weight, you could get a Mamiya RB-67 kit.​
    I will agree totally, ... with the additional suggestion: for the same $400, you could actually pick up a 4x5 and a few bits and pieces. Of course for colour you will have the processing problem to solve, until you do that yourself too. Scanning a 4x5 on a V700? Nice. For the time being, a roll film holder 6x7 or 6x9, and stick with your normal processing channels, just to keep things moving. But once you start working with image plane adjustments, even the benefits of modest lens tilt, you'll never look back. To cost of a good shift lens to provide the same function for either 35mm or medium format is way more than a good basic 4x5 now.
    I know this is a deviation from the original question, .. or maybe not so much.
     
  28. My own rule of thumb after years of printing: For 35mm I don't go any larger than 8 x 12 (inches). With 645 shots: 16 x 20. With 6 x 7: about 24 x 30. With 4 x 5...haven't met the limit yet. This is using Velvia slide film, scanned on a drum scanner and printed on a top-notch printer by a pro lab. There are a lot of otherwise decent photographers in my town that use their own scanners and try to print with their own printers, and their stuff looks like crap, pardon the french.
    I echo the above sentiments about going larger format....once you've seen a good 6 x 7 Velvia slide on a light table, it's hard to go back. The problem now seems to be that manufacturers may be about to pull the plug on 120 film.
     
  29. THIS +1! :)
    Whatever you do, dont be like the guy I saw at the Porcupine Mountains last year during Fall Colors season, on an overcast day, with a 4x5 camera shooting Portra 160NC, because he had read that neg film has better dynamic range , and that saturation can always be added in post. Wrong on so many accounts. First off, a portrait film is designed to reduce facial blemishes, such as pimples or flushing, and so has reduced red sensitivity. Try shooting a sunset with a portrait film, and those reds will be bleached away. Same for red leaves in Fall! Second, it was a low contrast, overcast day. You want the extra contrast of slide in such cases for extra pop. Lastly, he had never tried out his film in advance, or experimented with film types before his trip. He took everything on the advice of what he had read online.
    Dont be that guy!​
    Ok... my $.02... I just discovered that, with the right software, my V700 can supposedly produce some nice HDR type scans. I just upgraded to the latest version of Silverfast (v8), and it includes a multi-exposure mode that supposedly does a couple of passes over the slide / neg, changing the intensity of the bulb for each pass. I haven't actually _tried_ that mode yet, but am intrigued that this may actually solve part of the problem of gaining maximum dynamic range from an exposed negative or slide. Worth looking into if you're locked into a flatbed solution.
     

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