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Marco Leoncino

Positive vs Negative

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Hello everybody, 

I have a question about film stock, in particular in 16 mm, which I will use soon.

The question is probably very stupid. Indeed it is amazing to show a self made movie taken with a positive film with a projector. But I think that, for digitalizing, it is better to give the telecine machine a negative and to invert it digitally. Am I wrong? I know that, in case of still photography, it is much easier to digitize a color negative film than a diapositive. The question now is: the present color film choice has (I am talking about Kodak) 4 negative (the Vision 3) and 1 positive. We have the Tri-x 7266 and the Double-x.

If you would imagine to digitize only, would you choose a positive or a negative?

 

 

 

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For a typical Di the common way is to use normal ECN2 developed negativer stock. It will give you more Exposure Latitude as a Reverse Stock. So you´ll have more possibilities of the exposure & color correction.

 

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Dear Philip,

thank you. Actually, I was trying to consider the Double-X instead of the Tri-X 7266 or Fomapan R100.

I can develop both, but a negative is much more easier to be processed. 

 

 

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Well ... I did not shoot any b/w filmstock for a while. Only use it for still photography nowadays because I can develop it myself. But if you go through a Digital Intermidiate-process, it's also more of a religious question - whether you want to go black-and-white in the post or use the more expensive b&w stocks and use color filteration in front of the lens. Sure you´ll have slightly different grain structures with every stock. and B&W Stock will appear sharper.

I mainly see the advantage of the reversal-film only in a bit better sharpness and in the art of making a straight projection movie. Which is fun btw. But i last time i did it is ages…

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On 10/29/2019 at 3:32 PM, Marco Leoncino said:

Hello everybody, 

I have a question about film stock, in particular in 16 mm, which I will use soon.

The question is probably very stupid. Indeed it is amazing to show a self made movie taken with a positive film with a projector. But I think that, for digitalizing, it is better to give the telecine machine a negative and to invert it digitally. Am I wrong? I know that, in case of still photography, it is much easier to digitize a color negative film than a diapositive. The question now is: the present color film choice has (I am talking about Kodak) 4 negative (the Vision 3) and 1 positive. We have the Tri-x 7266 and the Double-x.

If you would imagine to digitize only, would you choose a positive or a negative?

 

 

 

Hello Marco, in my experience in still photography it is a lot easier to digitise 'slide film' like Fuji Provia eg than any colour negative you can name. I have been scanning film since the early 1990s and scanning colour negative is VERY VERY interpretive and full of variables.....first you start with a ballpark 'profile' you attach to it and then you start adjusting the white point etc etc to get the look you want...and there's no getting away from having a colour chart in the image if you have to reproduce accurate colour

Back in the day when I scanned a lot Fuji Provia II was THE film to scan....the easiest!!

If you read the threads regarding The Lighthouse film, for 16mm the recommendation by its cinematographer is to shoot Tri-X and develop as a negative, rate it at 100 asa instead of 200 asa (1 stop over) and pull one stop in development....but of course thats what you have to tell the lab....Im doing that for my next project cos he knows better than I do x 1 million hahah

Edited by Stephen Perera

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positive (reversal) stock has lovely colours and contrast when projected on film but it can be a real pain to scan to digital to get most out of it. the contrast is difficult to handle to most scanners and you will get less room for any adjustments during scanning or post prod. this is specifically on motion picture stock. I have not done much still work but as I have understood the photo negative scanners are much more capable than most motion picture intended units so the stills scanner would get much more out of the similar contrast slide than a MP scanner could in reasonable time and effort. Additionally you could use considerable amount of time per frame when trying to get the best out of a stills frame whereas moving image has much more limitations in this regard.

It can be nice to be able to watch the camera original directly on a projector but realistically speaking no one really uses that option nowadays unless for home movies. It has no value on any kind of distribution application which is why reversal has never seen much use on MP use in the first place. Negative is much easier to handle and duplicate and it enables sound work and much safer editing.  When distributing digitally the negative enables digital grading but if using reversal you pretty much need to nail the look in camera because post adjustments are extremely limited and you will lose even more of it if the scanning is not top notch.

 

I personally like the look of Fuji Vivid stocks but they have always needed more telecine time for being higher contrast (more adjustments needed on telecine/scanning) so that the transfer has been more expensive. On low contrast stocks like Vision line or Eterna 400T you could almost transfer one-light with only couple of adjustments per roll if having very hot highlights or dark shadows. It just costs more to transfer because of the time needed. Reversal is much more demanding and the lower end scanners can't even handle it properly without crushing everything

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On 10/29/2019 at 4:52 PM, Marco Leoncino said:

Dear Philip,

thank you. Actually, I was trying to consider the Double-X instead of the Tri-X 7266 or Fomapan R100.

I can develop both, but a negative is much more easier to be processed. 

 

 

Orwo UN54 and 74 are also wonderful stocks for diy processing though I have sometimes managed to get emulsion cracks due to using too cold water with it. The double-x is also good but I don't personally like the texture and shadow detail much though have only tested it with two developers and it could probably be possible to get more out of it if experimenting a bit more. 

At the moment I use Fomapan 400 negative film on 35mm bulk rolls and it has very nice retro look. They don't sell it in 16mm but I would try Orwo if you can get it from somewhere for reasonable price

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It is generally much easier to shoot negative films than reversal films as the exposure for negative films need not be super super accurate.  When scanned, reversal films can look very good when exposed very accurately, but negative films can look very good with some exposure variations.

For stills, as long as one can get a scan they are pleased with, it is enough.  But for movies, where all the takes in a scene need to look as if they were shot at the same time of day, it gets much trickier, as it's difficult to color correct reversal scans very far from the original representation.  So, to color match shots with different colors and camera angles, it's much easier and practical to shoot and scan negative films.  And B&W reversal films might just have too much contrast for the scanner to handle as well.

As a film still photographer, with a quite good film scanner, I started scanning reversal films, and they scan with low grain and good sharpness.  But, the more I got into it, I changed to shooting negative films as I can manipulate them far easier than a reversal film scan.

Sure, a negative scan will perhaps not look the correct color right out of the scanner, but with some practice, it's not very difficult to color correct the image.

If you really want to shoot b&w, I would seriously consider shooting the b&w negative film stocks.  Yes, one can convert a color negative film scan to b&w, and I do this with still photographs every once in a while, but... the look is different than a true b&w film original.

With all that said, there is a certain look to b&w reversal film projected directly from the camera original.  No other process really comes close to this look!  But, it's impossible to make a copy that looks anywhere as good as the original, which in any case, will be damaged after even one run through a projector.

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12 minutes ago, Bruce Greene said:

If you really want to shoot b&w, I would seriously consider shooting the b&w negative film stocks.  Yes, one can convert a color negative film scan to b&w, and I do this with still photographs every once in a while, but... the look is different than a true b&w film original.

absolutely... there is lots of differences in many areas, especially the grain texture. part of it is that the colour negative does not technically have "grains" anymore, they are just coloured stains on emulsion layers on the places where the original grains used to be before they were bleached away. additionally they can be on 3 to 6 separate layers (some films have double layers per colour channel, one with high sensitivity for shadow detail and one with low sensitivity for highlights) , this makes the texture look totally different from the b/w negatives which have one or two layers of real grain forming the whole image instead of the 3 to 6 layers of colour stains stacked over each other.

There is also something special in home processed films which can't quite be emulated easily. the additional benefit with home processing is that one can really get creative with the developing and try different approaches easily. the disadvantage is that there tends to be more scratches and dust, and also more variance between developing batches than with lab processing. This limits the applications for home processing (like the length limitations and drying challenges do as well) but it is a great experimenting tool and can be very useful for special projects or limited segments/scenes on a longer project.

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Hi all, I have just tried the Kodak Eastman 7222. I have taken a short footage and started the developing tests. I get very nice results with the usual D76.

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