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grain with 200/400 film

9 Jun 2011 10:09AM
I've noticed that with some photos taken with 200 or 400 film, they may come out grainy. What are the kinds of conditions that can cause this (eg, lighting, distance from subject, etc) and can it be rectified at all?
Thanks for any advice.


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User_Removed 14 17.9k 8 Norway
9 Jun 2011 10:35AM
Welcome to EPZ Colin.

The resulting grain evident in a negative is predominantly down to

a) the emulsion choice itself (some are inherently more grainy that others - and the higher the ISO, the higher the grain will be evident no matter how well developed))
b) the development process - the choice of developer used, the temperatures used during the development process itself.

Can the grain be rectified?

Possibly by scanning the neg and then running the digitised image through some post-production noise-reduction software. The grain itself in the film cannot be reduced.
Chazney 6 11 United Kingdom
9 Jun 2011 10:37AM
Have you got any examples? Is it noticeable in the print or just a scan? What type of film is it, could be poor quality film. I used a 200 film and it looked grainy. I have also used a 400 film of different make and that was very good, no visible noise really. So maybe just depends on type of film.
BillyGoatGruff 11 191 199 England
9 Jun 2011 11:34AM
Could be underexposure.
Could be poor quality film.
Could be poor quality (i.e. cheap) processing.
Film is generally machine processed, so it could be operator error too.
Negative (print) film is, I believe, grainier than positive (slide) film. Could be wrong about this, though!

My own experience would suggest that you should be fairly grainless up to around 400 ISO, with more and more grain visible as you go to faster (i.e. more sensitive to light) films.
As Mike says, you can't really alter the grain size. For greater sensitivity to light large grains in the film emulsion were used, and some photographer used this creatively as a feature of their images.
For finer grained images most people would use a very slow film - less than 100 ISO. This, of course, means that your shutter speeds will be reduced leading to having to the use a tripod if you want to maximise the quality available from your fine-grained film.
I think you can possibly still get slow films. Fujifilm Velvia ISO 50 is a favourite for landscapers and still available I think.
I'd also have recommended Kodachrome 64 but, unfortunately Kodak stopped making it (last year, I think) or Kodachrome 25 ISO which is probably also out of production. For black and white, Ilford made quality film stock, although I haven't shot any for about 40 years!

You may also have forgotten to change your camera's ISO dial to the correct setting for the film you are using, perhaps. Easily done, and would probably have some effect, leading to under- or over-exposure and therefore potentially more grain visible as the processing machine tries to compensate for an improperly exposed film.

I'm quite surprised that you've gone from digital to film, when everyone seems to be going the other way! Wink
With the huge move to digital over the last few years, I think you may find that getting good quality film stock to be increasingly difficult and expensive.
Another issue is that with film you are committed to shooting the whole roll at one film speed, whereas with digital you can change the sensitivity on a frame-by-frame basis - ultimately much less expensive and also having the benefit of enabling more creative choices since you can now alter ISO, aperture and shutter-speed. And, once you get your head around "all the technology," you have much greater creative control over the finished result.
Worth considering, perhaps Smile
jimthistle73 14 2.4k 1 United Kingdom
9 Jun 2011 12:15PM
I like grain, especially with Fuji Neopan 400, but if you really want grain free images, try this - Efke B&W 25 ISO Also available in ISO 50 flavour Smile
9 Jun 2011 1:41PM
I often use Boots 200 iso or Fuji 400 iso. Most photos are absolutely fine, especially landscapes and buildings; the graininess only happens when I photograph objects at close range or take photos as the lighting is dipping.

filmforever 10 749
9 Jun 2011 2:03PM

Quote:I'm quite surprised that you've gone from digital to film, when everyone seems to be going the other way! Wink

It's not necessarily just about quality or convenience. I've largely gone back to film, after using digital for years before retiring early from the profession. The reason being I happen to enjoy exploring country footpaths, sometimes for a few days at a time, so using a battery free mechanical film camera, is for me, the only realistic option. Also the "wind on one frame at a time" non-motordrive method of shooting, for me is more appropriate for this kind of photography, giving you the space to think about what you're doing.

As for film types. Kodak Ektar 100asa colour neg., for me is becoming my film of choice, replacing my former choice of Provia 100asa transparancy.

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