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Tungsten vs. Daylight film


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I do not understand why the majority of filmmakers chose to shoot with Tungsten balanced stock when most scenes in a film (both indoor and outdoor) are photographed with the sun as the main source of light. Why bother with the 85 filter (turning 500T TO 250D) when you can just shoot with Daylight stock? Daylight stock looks good in all conditions, even under practicals and flourescents (unlike Tungsten stock), and if you want to use Tungsten lighting you can always place a blue gel in front of the light and you're good to go. It is much more versatile and less of a hassle to use Daylight stock. Does anyone concur, if not, what makes Tungsten stock so appealing?

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...most scenes in a film (both indoor and outdoor) are photographed with the sun as the main source of light.




The lighting used depends on the scene, and the creative vision of the cinematographer. Tungsten sources are often considered to offer more control of the lighting, especially on a set. Outdoors or large expanses of windows may favor daylight balance. That is why film manufacturers offer both tungsten and daylight balance films.


Kodak's first motion picture color negative film was daylight balance:




1950: EASTMAN Color Negative film, 5247. 35mm. Daylight, EI 16. First Kodak incorporated-color-coupler camera negative film.


But tungsten balance films soon followed.


Here is information about color correction filtration:






Note the exposure increase required for converting daylight for tungsten film is less that that for converting tungsten for daylight film.

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A majority of night scenes, especially interiors, are shot under tungsten lighting. Not much sunlight at night!


The filter to correct a daylight stock to tungsten loses nearly 2 stops while the filter to correct tungsten stock to daylight loses 2/3's of a stop. Same goes for lighting -- you lose nearly 2 stops of light by correcting a tungsten lamp to daylight.


For people who only want to use one or two stocks and have some tungsten-lit scenes planned, they will buy tungsten-balanced stock and use filters for daylight scenes.


Personally, I like to shoot daylight stocks for daylight scenes but I always have some tungsten scenes in a movie so I always need some tungsten stock too.


I'm not sure why it is so much of a "hassle" to put an 85 filter on a camera, nor why it is more "versatile" to correct tungsten lamps to daylight with blue gel versus putting a 85 filter on the camera.


My only reason for preferring daylight stocks is that putting an 85 filter on a 200 ASA tungsten stock gets me 120 ASA, versus using a 250 ASA daylight stock. So for low daylight levels, I'd rather use a 250 ASA stock rather than 120 ASA stock (this is figuring that 250 ASA daylight stocks are a closer match in graininess to 200 ASA tungsten stocks, rather than comparing 250 ASA daylight stocks to 500 ASA tungsten stocks with an 85 filter.)

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From what you are saying, Tungsten stock is only useful in night interiors and exteriors. When I use Daylight stock in these settings without filters or gels, the image looks fine. Conversely, when I use Tungsten stock in daylight or under fluorescents without filters or gels, the image is off-key (unless of course you want a blue or green image). One could shoot an entire film using Daylight stock in practically all situations, one couldn't do this with Tungsten film without filters or gels being used in every set-up other then night Int's and Ext's which Daylight film captures fine without any color correction on set. This is why it is more versatile. Yes! The majority of scenes I see in movies are photographed in daylight, why would anyone want to work around the sun just to use Tungsten stock?

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First of all, shooting daylight balanced stock under tungsten lights at night is NOT artifact-free -- in some ways, it is a harder correction to make in post (taking out the orange) than the other way around, shooting tungsten stock in daylight and correcting out the blueness. I find it harder to get proper fleshtones when they are too orange and I am adding more blue to them rather than the other way around. Especially in digital color-correction.


Second of all, why do you keep insisting that most movies take place in the daytime??? Never seen a movie set at night? I'm in the middle of color-correcting an HD film all set around a dinner table at night -- 99% of the movie was shot with tungsten lamps.


I've shot plenty of features where half the script takes place at night.


Also, I shot all of "Northfork" on uncorrected tungsten stock in daytime, so it is possible. I left the image a little on the cool side and I wanted less strong reds, which is why I did it. "Barry Lyndon" was shot this way, as was "Heat".


I'm not sure what point you're trying to make -- you seem to be suggesting that the vast majority of experienced DP's who shoot on tungsten stock are somehow wrong. They have plenty of good reasons, the main one that (1) they almost always have some tungsten-lit scenes with tungsten practicals to deal with and would rather shoot them balanced-correctly and (2) they also have daylight scenes and it is easier to add an 85 filter and lose 2/3's of a stop rather than shoot the tungsten scenes under daylight and filter the lights or the camera (and that doesn't help the tungsten practicals much); and (3) they might not want to carry both tungsten and daylight stocks. And since it is easier to correct the tungsten stock to daylight rather than the other way around, it makes more logical sense to get tungsten stock and correct for the daylight rather than the other way around.


Plus daylight scenes tend to have a higher light level than night scenes, so you are more likely not going to have a problem in daytime with the 2/3 of a stop filter loss than the 2-stop filter loss at night by putting a blue filter on the lights or camera. Plus tungsten stock correctly filtered for daylight looks correct.


I don't get why you think putting an 85 filter on the lens is such a big deal, so much so that you'd rather be dealing with daylight stock in nighttime tungsten-lit situations and all the problems that ensue. That's a much more complicated solution than the other way around, correcting a tungsten stock for shooting in daylight.


> "One could shoot an entire film using Daylight stock in practically all situations, one couldn't do this with Tungsten film without filters or gels being used in every set-up other then night Int's and Ext's which Daylight film captures fine without any color correction on set."


Your logic is flawed. Daylight stock is correctly balanced for daylight scenes and tungsten stock is correctly balanced for tungsten scenes, so both have to be corrected to shoot in the opposite color temperature. You're implying for some reason that tungsten needs to be corrected to shoot in daylight but that daylight does not need to be corrected to shoot in tungsten. That's an incorrect supposition to base an argument on, just like you are incorrect to assume most films take place in the daytime.


However, should one shoot a film that all takes place in the daytime and were shooting on locations, not a soundstage, it would make sense to use only daylight-balanced stocks.

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I like the look of some daylight stocks in non-daylight situations, I say "non-daylight" as opposed to Tungsten because that could be easily sodium vapour, or candle or fire light

(in that case the CT is lower than either so it can be a matter of degrees: not of Kelvin but stylization).


OTOH some tungsten stocks (like 74) WITH an 85 filter will look, to me, a bit better in daylight than their Daylight counterpart (46).


No single rule covers all contingencies.



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Has anyone seen those new household bulbs in home improvement stores that project the equivalency of sunlight, has anyone used them as practicles?




What do you guys think? Could they come in handy as practicles if shooting near a window(s) during the day when using Daylight stock?


Back to the topic of Tungsten vs. Daylight


Reading about the Fuji 500D Reala stock, it does appear more versatile than our Tungsten stocks, that cannot be disputed. Daylight stocks handle mixed lighting much better than Tungsten stocks.

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The Sylvania bulbs appear to be a tungsten lamp with a bluish filter coating. Not sure how close they come to actually having a spectral output like real daylight, but I suspect they are not a perfect match to daylight, so some filtration may still be needed.


it does appear more versatile than our Tungsten stocks, that cannot be disputed. Daylight stocks handle mixed lighting much better than Tungsten stocks.


Other threads here have discussed the pros and cons of that approach. During the 1970's, Kodak developed a Super-8 movie film with "universal sensitization" for mixed lighting (EKTACHROME 160 Type G).

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I never liked the Type G Ektachrome much -- too grainy. But I did use it from some candlelight scenes in a Super8 film I made, before I stopped using Ektachrome altogether and just lit for Kodachrome 40.


You can get the same look by shooting with a half-correction, like an 81EF.


Sure, daylight films can be useful in mixed lighting situations, but if you're lighting a room at night, you don't necessarily have to use mixed lighting. You can just use tungsten practicals and tungsten film stock.


It seems you are going out of your way to justify not using tungsten stock in situations where it is best-suited, i.e. under tungsten lighting! What's the point of trying to make a daylight stock work in such a situation when you don't have to?


And have you ever lit a soundstage set? You'll quickly find out that it is much cheaper to light a set with tungsten units than HMI's.


And Fuji Reala 500D is grainier than their 500T stock as well as Kodak's 500T stocks.


Look, it's pretty simple:


In daylight situations, use daylight stock or tungsten stock with an 85 filter. Both are relatively just as easy to use as the other, with a slight advantage with daylight not needing a filter for day interiors (for day exteriors, it's not really much of an issue if you have to use ND filters anyway.)


For tungsten situations, use tungsten stock. Unless you want an off-color balance like overly warm firelight or practicals.


For mixed situations of daylight and fluorescent, use daylight stocks.


For mixed situations of daylight and tungsten, the Fuji Real 500D is not any significant improvement, nor are any of the other daylight stocks -- however, a more PASTEL stock will see the differences less strongly. You may actually see less of a difference between the color temperatures with Fuji F-400T, for example, compared to Kodak 250D.


But in general, it is easier to correct tungsten stocks to daylight balance than daylight stocks to tungsten balance because of the difference in filter factor comparing an 80A blue filter to an 85B orange filter. Plus you are more likely to be in lower light levels in tungsten-lit situations than in daylight-lit situations and therefore will more like be able to handle the light loss of a 2/3 stop filter in a daylight situation than a 2-stop filter in a tungsten-lit situation.


Also, you can read about Ellen Kuras' own recollections of the problem of color-correcting "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", shot on Fuji Reala 500D in tungsten situations.


From the AC article (April 2004):


..her photochemical tests had indicated that the resulting yellow cast could be timed out... "But what I didn't forsee was that when we began to take out those 12 points of yellow in the digital realm, we started to pick up video noise. ... Although I liked the Reala, I did notice that the whites had a tendency to be very grainy in the digital realm, even if the negative was well-exposed."


From the ICG Magazine article (March 2004):


"If we had confirmed the digital (intermediate) in the beginning, I might have made a few different choices, " Kuras admits. "I might have reconsidered the tungsten-based 5279, or ceretainly the 5218, now."


Look, I use daylight stocks ALL THE TIME. I love them. I'd rather use 5245 instead of 5248 in most situations. And 5246 instead of 5274 for daytime interiors. Or the Fuji daylight equivalents. But let's get real here and understand why we need tungsten-balanced stocks and why if you have both tungsten and daylight scenes to shoot and you only want to carry one stock, the majority of DP's will choose a tungsten stock for very valid reasons.

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I also shot alot of Super-8 Kodak EKTACHROME 160G. With the new fast lens cameras introduced in 1971, many home movie makers enjoyed the freedom from the blinding movie lights that typified indoor home movies until then. As David says, the EKTACHROME 160G was certainly grainer than KODACHROME, and had a desaturated color reproduction.

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Two stops loss by using daylight film filtered for tungstens is way too much for me. I need those stops for wide shots. I prefer using 200T for the whole production. Besides, I usually have to ND the lens to get the favored F-stop so what's a little more stopping down with a color filter going to hurt?


Paul Bruening

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I was given some daylight balanced stock to experiement with back in the early 90's for some TV station promos I was shooting.I was told they would work well for the mixture of sources I was shooting in in a TV newsroom setting.

While I found the results quite pleasing,flesh tones were a bit warm under both the ambient florescents and the corrected tungstens I was using for my tastes.It seemed to be more noticeable on fair skinned talent.


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I think that the shadows in exterior day situations look better if shot on Tungsten with 85 filter than with daylight stock (45 for instance). Looks like Daylight stock doesn't carry on so well with high TC, the shadows would look more light blueish. Looks like if Tungsten stock would render the high TC much better... Do you notice the same thing or is it just because it's been sometime I didn't shoot with Daylight stock and they would have improved nowdays ?


Also the definition doesn't look so good to me.


You often need filtering with ND in exterior day, anyway, and since you have combined filters 85+N series, it's really not a pain in the ass correcting the TC at the same time...


In most situations where you don't NEED HMI, it's much cheaper to use Tungsten anyway...

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I find the Kodak daylight stocks to be pretty sharp actually, probably because they are also slightly higher in contrast. The main difference is that blues are less grainy since that layer is slower in speed than with tungsten stocks -- so blue skies look better on daylight stocks in my opinion.


The Fuji daylight stocks are not higher in contrast; in fact, they tend to be slightly lower in contrast than their tungsten counterparts. Therefore they also don't look as sharp or saturated as the Kodak daylight counterparts.


There's no real reason that a daylight stock would be sharper or worse for shadow detail in theory -- the only difference between them and the tungsten stocks is that the blue layer is less fast to compensate for the difference in color temperature. Otherwise, they look like they were designed to look. Fuji designed the daylight stocks to be less contrasty simply because they figured that shooting in sunlight may present the worst contrast problems.


The only other difference may be that the 85B filter is also a UV filter, whereas shooting unfiltered in daylight will increase your UV exposure -- however, modern films are less prone to UV haze problems than they used to be. Plus you could also use a filter when shooting on daylight stocks...

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