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armanius

Noob needs help - choosing film

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Hello everyone!

 

I am a film noob (photography noob too), and I am expecting my first ever film Leica M to arrive tomorrow. It's a M6 "classic." I haven't used film since ... the 1990's. My film camera back then was a fixed lens, fixed focus, point and shoot that I paid either $10 or $20 for at Walgreens.

 

I am trying to figure out which type of film works for which type of lighting situation. On my digital M (and any other digital camera that I've used), I just dial in the proper ISO to get the desired shutter speed at a given aperture. For film, it would appear that I can't really do that. Once you put in a roll of film, you are stuck with it until you are finished using the roll.

 

Obviously, for sunny days, I want to shoot with a low ISO film so that I can shoot the lens wide open. But for indoor use, would 400 be sufficient? Or should I move to 800? On the M9, even in low light conditions at night, I can stick the M9 in ISO2500, leave the lens wide open at f1.4, and still get 1/6" exposure. Can such a thing be done with film?

 

I've read people talking about "pulling" and "pushing" film. What does that mean and how is it accomplished?

 

Any help you can provide is deeply appreciated. Thank you very much.

 

-Armanius

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Do you want B&W or colour?

 

Pushing a film is shooting it as if it were a faster speed (e.g. shooting a 400 film at 1600) and pulling a film is shooting as if it were a slower film. You need to take this into account when developing the film (i.e. tell the lab what speed you shot it at).

 

A B&W film like TriX, while a 400 speed film according to the box, is quite forgiving of being shot between 400 & 800 on the same roll and developed as if it were all shot at 400.

 

When shooting with film I think you quickly adapt to not being able to change ISO. It can often lead to some creative solutions (or expensive solutions if you buy a noctilux

)

 

Just pick a film and start shooting!!

 

Hope this helps

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Thanks for your help David. It definitely helps, but I probably need even more help!! I bought both BW and color film to use on the M6. M6 hasn't arrived yet though.

 

Are the metering systems of the digital M like the M9 pretty close to the metering of a M6?

 

So, if I set my M9 to ISO 400 at X aperture, will I get the same exposure recommendation from the M6 metering system if I use ISO 400 film at the same X aperture?

 

I would like to figure out what shutter speeds I will be getting at a certain condition, before I load the actual film into the M6.

 

Thank you for your help!!!

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M6 meter reads the white circle painted on the shutter curtain. The shutter must be cocked to see it.

 

M9 reads a strip across. Take offf a lens and you can see it.

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Regardless of opinions on his photography, the 3 books by Ansel Adams...The Camera, The Negative and The Print...are timeless sources of basic information. I suggest you pick up a cheap set.

 

Of course, the best way to learn is to practice...a lot. But, a grounding in the fundamentals will get you on your way more easily. And, if you eventually do any darkroom work, your shooting technique will surely improve in order to make it easier on the lab assistant (you).

 

Jeff

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So, if I set my M9 to ISO 400 at X aperture, will I get the same exposure recommendation from the M6 metering system if I use ISO 400 film at the same X aperture?

 

I would like to figure out what shutter speeds I will be getting at a certain condition, before I load the actual film into the M6.

 

Thank you for your help!!!

 

Essentially yes that is correct. 400 ISO is 400 ISO no matter what the camera. You would be using your M9 the same way that people use external light meters.

 

I suspect you are overthinking this whole matter and it will all make perfect sense once you start shooting. If you can drive an M9 then you can drive an M6. Just be careful when your M9 is sulking on the shelf when you keep taking your M6 out because it is more fun

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Guest ccmsosse

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I am trying to figure out which type of film works for which type of lighting situation..... I want to shoot with a low ISO film so that I can shoot the lens wide open. But for indoor use, would 400 be sufficient? Or should I move to 800?

 

Greetings

Sounds like we are in the same boat. I too went from a M9 back to the M6.

And I must say I am enjoying film a lot. In my simple understanding, the higher the ISO, the more grain you'll get. Film (White Balance) will also render different for indoors and outdoors. B+W handles different to Color.

So I just bought different films (ie cheep supermarket Fuji 200, Ilford XP2 400 B+W, Kodak BW400CN, Kodak Ektar 100, Porta 160NC; even a Rollei Pan 25) and am now experimenting which one I like etc.

The M9 is instant and fantastic and I love my M9, but the M6 is fun and exciting - in part due to my lack on knowledge.

So good luck and just try it out. Afterall we learn from our mistakes.

Cheers

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Hi

 

The choice of film speed (for B&W) is not like the ISO dial on M8/9, e.g. a slow film like Ilford Panf is very contrasty with normal development so it may be more desirable to use a neutral density filter to allow control of aperture, with a faster but less contrasty film like a 400 iso..

 

If you needs clouds you need a yellow filter

 

If you are worried about exposure you can use a film like Ilford XP2, which will allow the meter to be set to 200 or 1200 in middle of a cassette, without too much of a problem.

 

You need to read film books, as recommended above.

 

People give away the kit to home process monochrome or colour, when they go to dig or die...

 

People give away enlargers and dishes to good homes, a toned wet print will last a century, and is impressive.

 

Noel

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Guest ccmsosse

If you are worried about exposure you can use a film like Ilford XP2, which will allow the meter to be set to 200 or 1200 in middle of a cassette, without too much of a problem.

 

Do you tell the lab the standard ISO setting of 400 or do you specify otherwise when turning in the Ilford XP2 for processing?

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Other than the Ansel Adams books noted above, any other recommendations on film books?

 

Thanks!

 

Hi

 

The choice of film speed (for B&W) is not like the ISO dial on M8/9, e.g. a slow film like Ilford Panf is very contrasty with normal development so it may be more desirable to use a neutral density filter to allow control of aperture, with a faster but less contrasty film like a 400 iso..

 

If you needs clouds you need a yellow filter

 

If you are worried about exposure you can use a film like Ilford XP2, which will allow the meter to be set to 200 or 1200 in middle of a cassette, without too much of a problem.

 

You need to read film books, as recommended above.

 

People give away the kit to home process monochrome or colour, when they go to dig or die...

 

People give away enlargers and dishes to good homes, a toned wet print will last a century, and is impressive.

 

Noel

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Do you tell the lab the standard ISO setting of 400 or do you specify otherwise when turning in the Ilford XP2 for processing?

 

Just have it processed as normal - i.e. as an ISO 400 film.

 

Personally I never really got on with XP2, I tended to use Ilford FP4 in good light, Kodak Tri-X in poor light, and Fuji Neopan 1600 in very poor light or at night.

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If you are worried about exposure you can use a film like Ilford XP2, which will allow the meter to be set to 200 or 1200 in middle of a cassette, without too much of a problem.

 

You can go 200-800 with a film like Tri-X or T-Max 400 pretty easily as well. If you are shooting a whole roll at one of those speeds, you'll get better results if you compensate for it when you develop, but you'll get perfectly useable frames with out doing so. Heck, the same goes with a quality ISO 400 color film too. Portra 400, both of them, is useable at 800, 200, and even 100 with no adjustment in development. Useable, but not perfect.

 

If you are going to be shooting in different situations, a 400 speed film is probably the most flexible. You can either go 1/500 s at f/16 in daylight, or use and ND filter. In poorer light you should be ok too. You'll have some problems in really dim light, but that's the way it goes. I doubt you'd be happy with pushing 400 speed film 2 stops to 1600 or using something like Delta 3200 or Tmax 3200 at 1600 *all* of the time, even in broad daylight.

 

I'm not a firm believer of using 1 film and 1 dev for a long time to 'get to know the film.' On the other hand, it does make sense to go with one or two films and one dev at the beginning so you can learn how the whole process works. Once you understand some of the fundamentals better, you understand what to expect when you change a variable, i.e. what's going to happen when you push a film, or use a higher ISO, or extend development, etc.

 

There's a lot of advice people can and will give you, and it can get a bit overwhelming. I'd look into picking up a book or two on film shooting and developing to get an idea of some of the basics. David Vestal's book can be picked up very cheap used and is a good place to start. Horenstein's book is a bit more basic, but covers a lot of fundamentals and wouldn't be a bad choice either.

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Thanks for the help everyone. I really appreciate it. My M6 should arrive today. I have a LOAD of film waiting for it.

 

As a quick recap, just so that I am clear, I can use an ISO 400 film but set the camera film selector at ISO 800 (or higher or lower). That would give me faster shutter speed.

 

When the film is being developed, do I need to tell the developer to develop it at ISO 800 (or whatever else), or do I just let him/her develop the film at its native ISO 400? Would a drugstore photo developer be able to do that, or should I be going to a "real" professional photo place if I want to either "push" or "pull"?

 

One more question, if I change the ISO setting on the camera mid-roll, is there a way the developer can tell when he/she is developing the film?

 

Thanks again for all the help! It's very much appreciated!

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Hi

 

The Ilford XP2 film is just like a digtal camera 200-1200, see ilfords data sheets, etc

 

http://www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/20062102012331472.pdf

ILFORD PHOTO - Push Processing

 

But the quality does drop as you go high more than a dig camera, you only have to change the ISO setting on the camera.

 

The more normal film you need to keep the speed constant and tell the lab to push or pull it and the factor.

 

XP2 will spoil you rotton.

 

Noel

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Hi Steve

 

That is my normal advise to NOOB who want to process their own, e.g. join a camera club, confess to needing the dev equipment, and it normally works, the areas likely to be missing are the thermometers etc.

 

I just got a 35mm LPL enlarger admittedly without a lens, but with a large set of trays, masking frames etc for taking it away, including two packs of fixer remover. I already had a Wray 5cm lens from another free source.

 

When I wanted a 8x Patterson tank, magically one appeared and after a delay a 2nd & most of the bits for a third.

 

Noel

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As a quick recap, just so that I am clear, I can use an ISO 400 film but set the camera film selector at ISO 800 (or higher or lower). That would give me faster shutter speed.

 

When the film is being developed, do I need to tell the developer to develop it at ISO 800 (or whatever else), or do I just let him/her develop the film at its native ISO 400? Would a drugstore photo developer be able to do that, or should I be going to a "real" professional photo place if I want to either "push" or "pull"?

 

More or less. A couple of things:

- a drug store isn't going to do this. You'll need a pro lab if you want to push or pull.

- consider developing B&W yourself

- quality will go down a lot quicker with underexposed film than it will overexposed (for negative film)

- if you are going to only be scanning, especially if it's not traditional B&W film, I'd be tempted to not even bother with pushing and pulling and just correct it in photoshop.

- it's worth trying out different levels of under and overexposure once or twice so you can get an idea of what to expect, but...

- I'd concentrate on shooting a roll at the same speed.

 

Changing ISOs mid roll can get you out of a bind, but your pictures will be higher quality if you stick to one ISO. Getting out of the mindset that you must change ISO constantly can be liberating too and push you out of your comfort zone to try new things.

 

If I know I'm going to be shooting outside in full sun, I might purposefully choose a low ISO film or a high ISO film if I'm in crummy light. If I don't know what I'll be doing, ISO 400 goes into the camera. If you don't mind the grain, it really is a good middle ground for lots of lighting situations.

 

I have a couple sets in my flickr account of over and underexposure sequences on all of the Kodak Portra films and Ektar with normal development. I had lab scans made of them - you can see how they deal with varying amounts of exposure.

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You don't even need to change the ISO, you just know that you have a certain amount of latitude depending on the type of film you're using, apart from transparency film!

 

Google 'sunny 16', I'd also advise buying an incident light meter.

 

Us film photographers are used to loading a roll and working with a 'fixed' film speed, it's worked ok for 150+ years before digital came along after all!

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You don't even need to change the ISO, you just know that you have a certain amount of latitude depending on the type of film you're using, apart from transparency film!

 

Google 'sunny 16', I'd also advise buying an incident light meter.

 

Us film photographers are used to loading a roll and working with a 'fixed' film speed, it's worked ok for 150+ years before digital came along after all!

 

Thanks the advice. Any recommendations on light meter?

 

I keep forgetting that "film" has been around for ages.

It's the first time jitters for me!! I was loading the film and hoping I did it correctly. I'll find out soon. 6 frames down, 30 to go!!

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Hi

 

The easiest to use is Weston they were made from before WWII until very rescently.

 

They are not very sensitive, they are photo electric selenium cell meters but they have two significant advantages

 

- a large integrator for incident readings

- an exposure calculator that allows you to use the Weston/Ancell Adams zone system

 

with out having to memorize the whole ' book'.

 

The come in the 30-50 GBP range, from camera shops 2nd hand. Think mine is circa '46.

 

Don't forget you M6 already has a semi spot meter for which you will need to read the M6 user manual to be confident with...

 

Noel

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