Film recommendation

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
Olifaunt Contributing Member • Posts: 809
Re: Film recommendation

tassienick wrote:

Olifaunt wrote:

The most commonly used all-rounder film by enthusiasts nowadays is Portra 400. Despite its name it is general purpose. It has very fine grain. At 35mm it will record more detail and microcontrast than common digital APS-C sensors when scanned at large enough resolution for sure; I shoot both. Its dynamic range and latitude are enormous compared to any digital sensor. It certainly has much more resolution than common slide films (there are studies and specs that you can find online if so inclined).

Respectfully, I'm a bit skeptical of this response.

I love Portra400 (largely for it's latitude and realism, as you mention), but in my experience its a long, long way from the detail and microcontrast of any contemporary APS digital (with a comparable lens), and has significantly less resolution that most popular slide films today (Velvia 50, Provia 100F, E100).

I've had a look for the studies and specs that support your claim and can't find anything. Can you point me in the right direction?

Eh, maybe I was misremembering. None of the sources I was thinking of discusses the New Portra 400. In any case, here is an interesting paper:

http://www.tmax100.com/photo/pdf/film.pdf

Some data from the paper is (this is for a particular contrast):

Kodak Ektachrome EKT 160 35 lp/mm

Fuji Astia RAP 45 lp/mm

Kodak PORTRA 160NC 73 lp/mm

Fuji Velvia RVP 80 lp/mm

Kodak VR100 Color Neg 100 lp/mm

Kodak T-MAX 100 160 lp/m

Another interesting source that has (incomplete) tables of various films I found was here:

http://www.cacreeks.com/films.htm

Note that it is complicated to give numbers to film resolutions. For example, the lp/mm numbers depend on contrast and other considerations. Grain size is only loosely related to resolution. Grain depends on exposure and varies across the same frame (more and larger grain in less exposed areas of the frame with Portra 400, for example, while lighter areas have practically no noticeable grain at reasonable viewing distance). Film can resolve detail smaller than grain size. Different layers of film can have different-sized grain, etc.

You also need a lens that can actually keep up with the resolution for the film. see the first source I mentioned for how much this affects the real resolution you can actually get out. Of course digital has the same problem.

Comparing color detail is also complicated by Bayer interpolation algorithms (a real deal-breaker for me with digital color detail) versus overlapping dye clouds in the film case. It is rather difficult.

In any case, not many people shoot 35mm film because they are obsessed by resolution, but you can enlarge pretty much to whatever size you like from 35mm and get a pleasing result. For the more detail-oriented, there is medium and large format film, the amount of information in the latter of which I don't believe has been as cheaply (or at all?) attained by digital.

I shoot film for esthetic versus cost reasons. I am not actively trying to create grain but I actually do like the texture of it where it appears at magnification, compared to the Bayer mush of digital at large magnifications. I am just taking part in this discussion at all because I am locked in with not much better to do

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