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Slide or Negative?

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    16 Mar 2012 - 10:15 PM

    Apologies if this is a really dumb question or if it's one of those questions that gets asked over and over again but although not a newbie to photography I'm very much a newbie to film having only used it when I was a kid in the 70's & 80's. I'm just 'getting back' into film having just bought myself a couple of 35mm cameras and am a little bewildered by the different types of film stock.

    Is there any real reason why you would choose to shoot slide film over negative film or vica versa? I've heard people say that negative is for amateurs whilst slide is for pro's but then others say that negative has more latitude than slide. Also does it make a difference if you are shooting B&W or colour?

    Ultimately my intention is to shoot on film (either slide or neg whichever is best for me), get it processed (I'm not yet ready to process it myself) and then to scan the negs or slides myself as I have a high quality dedicated film scanner. I would then do my usual Photoshop / Lightroom tweaks and print the occasional one or two from the digital files. Does any of that make a difference as to what film I should be using.

    Again, apologies if I've just asked the film equivalent of "does it make a difference if I use Lexar or Sandisk memory cards?" Wink

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    Snapper  93736 forum posts United States Minor Outlying Islands3 Constructive Critique Points
    16 Mar 2012 - 10:35 PM

    A couple of quick thoughts and others will be along with more. First off, you can no longer buy b&w slide film although there is a kit you can get to turn your negative to positive (slide) film during processing. To all intents and purposes, b&w is negative only. The importance of this is that it might make an odds to you if you get used to scanning negatives instead of positives and would then prefer negatives for colour. This has an additional benefit in that there are still some instore labs offering 1 hour processing of negative film but slide is always by post and waiting for it to return, unless you have a bigger lab on your doorstep.

    Slide is/was highly valued as it didn't have to be printed and it is viewed by light shining through it rather than reflected light as a print is, hence the tendency for a slide to look sharper and with "better" colour, although different iolms had their own saturations and colour balances.

    Last Modified By Snapper at 16 Mar 2012 - 10:36 PM
    duratorque  11413 forum posts United Kingdom
    16 Mar 2012 - 10:40 PM

    I think slide films scan well and are much easier to reproduce. Since most pros shot for publication, therefore used slides. Most portraits togs shot negatives because most people wanted prints. I think the photographers shot with the film type to suit their work rather than slides are for professionals.

    If you intend to scan, then shoot slide film. They are a lot easier to scan. You are right slide have less latitude for incorrect exposure. If you are going to scan the film, you can do the B&W conversion in post processing. I used to shoot films, scan and work on them with PS, but have not done it for a few years now.

    There are a lot of slide films around which have different characteristics. Its best to chose the film type to suit your subjects. But, since you are going to scan and work on them with Photoshop, I didn't think it make that much difference. Memory card brands makes no difference to the photos you take, but film type definitely does.

    16 Mar 2012 - 10:43 PM

    Two points.

    In the olden days, magazines insisted on trannie film (preferably MF) for coloured illustrations. The scanning technology of that era made a much better job of trannie than of neg. Today the opposite tends to be the view, although not universally.

    Secondly, if you are shooting film with a view to scanning to provide digital images, then don't even consider black and white film. Shoot in colour, scan the colour negs and then convert digitally to monochrome. That way you have hugely more control over how the colour channels in the digital data are represented as black and white.

    timbo  11591 forum posts United Kingdom
    17 Mar 2012 - 10:17 AM

    Agree with the above but if you don't shoot and process black and white negs you are missing out on, imo, the most rewarding and fun part of film photography.
    Developing black and white film is relatively easy and cheap. Once you have the negs they could be scanned and they produce good quality files but the real magic is getting into a darkroom and seeing your images appear in the dev bath.
    I would suggest doing an evening class where they cover film developing and printing if you're not sure about doing it at home or buying the gear.

    Nick_w e2 Member 73848 forum postsNick_w vcard England99 Constructive Critique Points
    17 Mar 2012 - 10:38 AM

    Quote: Secondly, if you are shooting film with a view to scanning to provide digital images, then don't even consider black and white film. Shoot in colour, scan the colour negs and then convert digitally to monochrome. That way you have hugely more control over how the colour channels in the digital data are represented as black and white.

    Generally I agree with this - however I've yet to see a digital print that quite matches the best silver halide prints - its something about the lustre of the Silver Halide that gives them the edge (just)

    Graflex  11488 forum posts United Kingdom
    17 Mar 2012 - 11:59 AM

    Film is better...
    Except the price goes up leaps and bounds making in the end,digital being cheaper to run.

    ...and of course,Kodak pulling the plug on Chrome.

    Time marches on...


    19 Mar 2012 - 12:07 PM

    Cheers all for your replies.

    I think I'll stick with negatives in the short term, purely over cost as there doesn't seem to be much benefit to me for shooting slide (although I agree that scanning slides is so much easier than neg).

    As for not shooting B&W film. I understand what you are saying but one of the things I like about 'going back to film' is the 'limitations' it imposes. The fact that you can't change ISO's between shots, the fact that if you shoot B&W you can only get B&W etc etc all just help to force me to really think about each shot rather than shoot first and then worry about how it'll finally look in Lightroom later.

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