Slide film vs print film for student

Discussion in 'Nature' started by andy_caulfield, May 1, 2000.

  1. I know this question has been asked before, here and elsewhere, but
    I'm still unsure of the answer for me.

    I'm a graduate student and have gotten pretty serious about
    photography over the last year. I particulary enjoy nature
    photography and have invested in some high quality canon lenses such
    as the 400 5.6L and the 100 2.8 macro.

    I currently only shoot print film, but I would like to eventually
    start publishing my images, so I am considering moving to slide film.
    I also have read extensively how slide film has a richer color
    pallette, and will give me feedback on my exposure and metering
    skills (which is impossible to figure out with print film).

    As I mentioned, I am a student with limited funds, and have already
    invested alot of money in my lenses, so I am trying to determine if
    buying a projector or light table and loupe is a wise decision right
    now. I have also read that projecting slides will fade the image
    over time, so a light table seems like the better option, but it
    obviously is less convenient when I want to show the images to

    I would appreciate any thoughts.
  2. Switch to slides if you want to publish and learn from your mistakes. Evaluate them with a color-corrected lightbox of the proper brightness (small ones sell for well under $100). You can get by without an expensive loupe IF you use something like a 10x jeweler's loupe to evaluate sharpness (a 50mm lens can be used for less magnification).

    As you mention, your biggest problem will be sharing your work. Perhaps as a graduate student you can get occasional access to a slide scanner or projector. If not, you can either print your very best slides or just sit your friends in front of the lightbox.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Since this is the Nature Forum and you mention a 400mm/f5.6 and a 100mm macro, I assume that we are talking about wildlife and macro photography here. If you are considering publication, definitely switch to slide film (until digital photography takes over). I rarely project my slides any more. Certainly for $200 and perhaps even $100, you can get a good loupe and a light table.
  4. i had the same question when i was graduating (about 1 year ago)...i choose slide film, because in the long run, it has nothing but benefits...

    it's cheaper (with wildlife, you're probably gonna shoot heaps of film...slide film + development is much cheaper than print film), you'll get better results (nicer colors, etc.), and you'll be able to file everything with much more ease...

    i calculated that with the money i was gonna save by not shooting print film, i could buy a decent printer, which i did...with this i printed my whole final thesis...

    whenever i want to show my friends my pics, i just show it on the screen (scanned images), or quickly make a print...

    take care
  5. I wouldn't worry about slides fading if you're just showing them once in a while to friends. The only time you really need to worry about that is if you are giving a commercial show over and over again.

    Get a good loupe and light box first. It's a much more critical way to judge quality than via projected slides. You can probably find a used slide projector for $100 or so for when you want to share your work. A light box will cost you maybe $50 and a reversed 50mm lens makes a great viewing loupe. You can find old, used 50mm lenses for $25 or so without much trouble. You can spend $100 or even $200+ on a name brand loupe of course, but I'm not sure they are really much better. I still use a reversed 50mm lens for full frame viewing and a fairly inexpensive 10x loupe for close examination of detail. I've looked through the really high priced loupes and didn't think they were really that much better.
  6. Andy,

    If you plan on marketing your work slide film is the choice. Some
    newspapers accept prints but almost all of the nature
    photography market requires color slide film for reproduction.
    While it is true that the color palette of transparencies is richer, it
    is much less forgiving of incorrect exposure and offers less
    exposure latitude than print film.

    If you have only been using print film until now you will need to
    learn the characteristics of slide film, how it handles different
    light situations, and that only comes with experience (meaning a
    lot of exposed film). Do not depend on your cameras evaluative
    metering, study exposure theory and learn to read the light (when
    I started out in photography I relied on center-weighted average
    metering and learned how to apply compensation).

    Experiment with different kinds of film than choose the one (or
    ones) that best suits your shooting style (film choice is a very
    personal decision). Look at the work of photographers that
    inspire you, see what they are using and than test it for yourself.
    Know that no one film is perfectly suited for all subjects and
    lighting conditions.

    If you are not willing to spend money on film you will not grow as
    a photographer. There is no use investing in expensive lenses if
    you can not afford the film to use them. To market your work with
    stock agencies you will need to build a large image file which
    obviously requires a lot of film and if you are serious about
    making this a living it is not different than starting out in any other
    business. To make money you must spend some, but if you
    were planning on becoming rich I would recommend some
    other business than that of Nature photography.

    Although I sell my work I never think about what sells or not while
    I am out in the field. I create projects that I am passionate about,
    than later find buyers to compensate for my expenses (it helps if
    you can also write articles to accommodate your photos).

    To view your slides use a light table and a loupe, which is how
    editors will view your submissions. To project them use
    duplicates, the cheapest way is to shoot in camera dupes.

    To succeed as a Nature photographer you must become
    obsessed and possessed. Be clear about your choice and
    follow it through. If you need to eat noodles and rice for years to
    be able to buy film, than do so. Persistence will eventually pay off
    and being out in nature will reward you with experiences that will
    enhance your life. Or you could always get a secure comfortable
    job and keep this as a hobby. Eventually the choice is yours.

    Hope this helps.

  7. I'm also a graduate student (for the next two weeks, anyway), and I started photography while in school using print film. When I switched to slides, my photography got better, plain and simple. Slides help you learn the hard way what works and what doesn't. Consumer slide film costs less to buy and develop than print film does to buy, develop, and print. Pro-grade slide film is a bit more expensive to use than print film; I think I spend about a dollar or two more per roll using E100VS and Provia 100F than I did shooting Royal Gold 100. I'd recommend sticking with the light table and loupe for now; if you're like me your apartment probably isn't big enough to show slides properly anyway. A 50mm lens will work ok for a loupe; eventually you may want to give your eyes a rest and buy a loupe.
  8. Switch to slide film. It will force you to learn proper exposure, unlike print film. Also, it is less expensive to shoot, overall.

    If you want to submit your work for publication, most editors will demand slide film.

    As for the difficulty in displaying your work, save up and buy a projector and/or eventually get a slide scanner and/or photo quality printer and display your work on your own web page. Today, there are so many options, and they are getting cheaping every year.

    Good luck.
  9. I recommend slide film because with print film the local labs always make fuzzy, washed out prints and you can't tell if your exposure is right or not or if your picture was sharp or not. With slides you get what you took with out the lab trying to make every picture some average density. In my experience, it is very difficult to evaluate your results unless you use slides.

    Don't bother with an el-cheapo loupe that you see around for less than $10. They are really bad. I have a Peak 4X loupe that was about $50 mail-order that is nice enough for starters.

    Good luck!
  10. Hi Andy,

    For publication, you should use slide, although nowadays publishers can use both. For exhibition, you should use print film, unless you are doing digital then its a toss up. Print film has more tonal range and exposure latitude than slide film. Printing slides are always more expensive, either by Cibachrome/Illfochrome or Internegative. Cibachrome is very archival. But again, Fuji has Crystal Archive paper for RA4(negative)process is also archival. Print film is also cheaper, to buy. Developing should cost the same. All professional places will process film only without printing.

    PS: I don't know what school you go to, but at my school, I have access to all the printing upto 30". And B&W enlarging up to 80". Most university should have a decent photography laboratory.

    Good Luck,

  11. @Cliff Calhoun -- a few noob questions:
    • what is the difference between the scan/digitize of a print film versus the scan/digitize of a slide film?
    Switch to slide film. It will force you to learn proper exposure, unlike print film. Also, it is less expensive to shoot, overall.​
    • what is the connection between slide-versus-print and different exposures; and what do you mean by "proper" exposure?
    If you want to submit your work for publication, most editors will demand slide film.​
    • why will editors not want to deal with print film?

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