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A miller

Why does it make any sense at all to use non-professional grade film stocks in this day and age???

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Clearly, people are free to do what they want. This is not the topic of this thread and thus bears no relevance to the issue that i am raising.

 

What i would like to know is what winning arguments are there that it is cost-beneficial to use non-professional film stocks on a regular basis with their LEICAs in this predominantly digital era.

 

It makes perfect sense to me that, before the prevelance of digital, film was the only practical medium to take pictures. Consequently, non-professional film stocks were largely cost-beneficial for most amateurs and even some serious enthusiasts. This is particularly so given the incredible variety and popularity of point and shoot film cameras.

 

But in today's digital world in which, through interpolation technology, iphone 6 photos (and certainly photos from the run of the mill digital slr) can be processed and blown up Billboard size, the convenience-centric point and shoot market is now largely served by these digital tools.

 

So where does that leave non-professional grade films (including the Fuji Superias

) ???

 

The film workflow nowadays - even the P&S variety - is the old "convenient and readily accessible" and the new "inconvenient and (relatively) scarce."

 

Combining the relatively serious amount of additional work and effort that is needed to make a film image, coupled with the use of world class expensive Leica optics, why would it be cost beneficial to continue to use non-professional grade film???

 

Based on some recent comments that have been made elsewhere on this forum, it appears that some Leica users are happily using these non-commercial grade film stocks as part of their regular workflow.

 

As i said before, freedom rules and horses for courses. I am just wanting to hear from people who think this is actuallly cost beneficial from an objective basis in today's world.

 

Best wishes and happy shooting to all, no matter what film stocks you use!

 

Adam

Edited by A miller

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Back in the ancient of days, Kodak had a line of "professional" colour films. The were kept a refrigerator at high end "professional" photoshops. My understanding is that their purpose was to guarantee greater colour consistency roll-to-roll. 

 

Kodak also had a "professional" Tri-X.

 

I suspect it may have made a difference to certain types of professional who needed a kind of process consistency. There was never a reason for me to worry about such things.

 

All films I have ever used have been totally consistent roll-to-roll, and if there had been an microscopic differences, I never noticed. These days I use XP2 almost exclusively. It is always the same. My suspicion is that buying "professional" film is pointless, unless you need measurable consistency to the 5th decimal place. If you are doing pictorial photography, you don't need to concern yourself with such things - if you do worry about such things, you likely have no time to worry about where to point the camera. I never met anyone who had an actual need to base their work on such ideas.

 

My view is - load the film, worry about where to point the camera and press the button. Any decent name brand film will be much more than satisfactory.

Edited by Michael Hiles

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Back in the ancient of days, Kodak had a line of "professional" colour films. The were kept a refrigerator at high end "professional" photoshops. My understanding is that their purpose was to guarantee greater colour consistency roll-to-roll. 

 

Kodak also had a "professional" Tri-X.

 

I suspect it may have made a difference to certain types of professional who needed a kind of process consistency. There was never a reason for me to worry about such things.

 

All films I have ever used have been totally consistent roll-to-roll, and if there had been an microscopic differences, I never noticed. These days I use XP2 almost exclusively. It is always the same. My suspicion is that buying "professional" film is pointless, unless you need measurable consistency to the 5th decimal place. If you are doing pictorial photography, you don't need to concern yourself with such things - if you do worry about such things, you likely have no time to worry about where to point the camera. I never met anyone who had an actual need to base their work on such ideas.

 

My view is - load the film, worry about where to point the camera and press the button. Any decent name brand film will be much more than satisfactory.

Michael - hi and thanks for being the first to enage

Quick question for you - do you own any digital Leica cameras and if so which one(s)?

 

Best,

Adam

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Hi Adam.

 

Thanks for this. I don't own any Leica digital cameras. My wife has a now oldish Nikon p&s, which I occasionally use when I want to see results instantly for some reason.

 

The 2-3 advantages digital camera offer mainly don't mean much to me. I am much more interested in honing my skills as a printer. I continue to be mesmerized by a silver rich B&W print, and I continue to be happy with the quality of the negatives I can make (usually on XP2). I am also interested and focused on B&W photography. I am much impressed by good colour photography, but I don't feel that a photograph is by definition better in colour. In fact I think B&W and Colour photography are completely different media - and for he last 20 or so years I have concentrated on B&W. 

 

I also have a minor and non-crucial niggle with Leica's digital M cameras. I like the wonderful viewfinder in my M3 and I am quite satisfied with the .72 viewfinder in my M2. The .68 viewfinder in the digital Ms is going in the wrong direction for me. A purely personal opinion. Back before the M8, I thought I would be tickled with a replacement digital back for my M3 and M2, a little like a mini version of the DMR unit - but that was always a pipe dream.

 

I have a working darkroom that gets used 8-8 times per year. I like the process and challenge of making a silver gelatin print and getting it better and better. And then dry mounting, matting and framing it (it is important to get to a finished show-able picture). I understand about imaging software - I use PSE and SIlverEfex Pro to play with images before making a silver print. But what I get from a negative in my focomat 1c projected onto Ilford Multigrade paper continues to generate both joy and prints that cannot be duplicated nor replaced, I believe.

 

I should have begun with "Don't get me started" - too late,

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Combining the relatively serious amount of additional work and effort that is needed to make a film image, coupled with the use of world class expensive Leica optics, why would it be cost beneficial to continue to use non-professional grade film???

 

Adam, I think you are mistaken in implying that "non-professional grade" film is necessarily (and meaningfully) inferior to film which says "professional" on the box. When I shoot colour film, I choose the film based on the colour characteristics and look that I am after (taking into consideration the light that I am shooting in). This means I might choose £1 "Poundland" film instead of £7 Portra. If I am prioritising minimising grain, I may choose Ektar. (As a sidenote, I have been experimenting with converting Ektar to B&W and am considering using it as a relatively grain free C41 alternative to XP2 or Fuji Neopan 400CN.) I really don't think there are any duff films out there nowadays, at least not ones made by Kodak or Fuji, just different palettes and grain characteristics. In fact, were I keen on a "lo-fi" aesthetic (a perfectly acceptable objective, if that's someone's thing) I'd probably be a bit disappointed that what is generally available is all a bit too good. 

Edited by wattsy

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What i would like to know is what winning arguments are there that it is cost-beneficial to use non-professional film stocks on a regular basis with their LEICAs in this predominantly digital era.

 

With all the sophisticated post-processing tools, the answer is "Why not use so-called non-professional film stock." Motion picture people do it as a regular practice.

 

Think more, type less.

.

Edited by pico

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I think there are a few factors which make this a decision that is not just down to the individual, but may change in either direction over time and according to circumstance. Some random considerations:

  1. Opportunity cost (i) - How much disposable income does the person have at the time that they are making their film purchase?
  2. Opportunity cost (ii) - What are they prioritising? Despite the argument that it is pointless to use commercial quality film in a professional quality camera / lens combination, they can upgrade film at any time.
  3. What is their current "focus" for their shooting? If just starting or getting back into film, they may place more emphasis on building momentum of shooting than on archival quality.
  4. What is their intended final medium? If it is print, there may be greater weighting to maintaining highest quality throughout the critical path. If it is e-mailing jpegs, maybe less so.
  5. What do they like the look of? What are they trying to achieve with their capturing of the light? My daughter has a plethora of film cameras available, but currently likes shooting Polaroids with her refurbished 600-Type. If you like it - use it (also I wouldn't dare tell her that she's whacko).

I'm sure there are many more factors that define what makes sense for an individual in a certain space and time. I know that, at 53 years old, what I like and dislike, and the reasoning that I apply to make such choices seem logical, varies by the hour. Some things are not particularly logical (like driving a car that is capable of +200km/h speeds on roads that are restricted to 90km/h), but may still bring pleasure.

 

On another note, what is the current definition of "professional" film (other than what is on the label)? My untrustworthy memory has it that Kodak used to define it by a combination of greater QA/QC in production (ie increased number of test samples per batch), and storage temperature control, but not by the emulsion itself. Any of you people who have much greater experience and / or less faulty memories? Is there a reference document (Google was not my friend on this one - Google suggested that I spend time watching Jean Reno in "Léon: The Professional")? As mentioned above, I don't see any dud films out there at the moment - Just different renderings.

 

Cheers,

Eoin

Edited by EoinC

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As far I can remember 'professional film' was cut from the center zones of the ~~1,5m wide layer rolls emulsion coated. Reason was a minimum lesser tolerance in layer and emulsion thickness. But it must have been less to zero compared with 'non professional', I never mentioned one.

Thomas

Edited by duckrider

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...

What i would like to know is what winning arguments are there that it is cost-beneficial to use non-professional film stocks on a regular basis with their LEICAs in this predominantly digital era....

I think your premise is flawed. 

 

When using legacy technology, why would cost be an overriding factor? People use old lenses for the very reason that they "taint" the image. Why would not someone like the way a so-called "non professional" film renders? 

 

Of course, there could be operational reasons as well, for instance if you live in a part of the world or even the country where the processing of the so called professional film is overly inconvenient to come by.

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Use a higher grade low grain film that gives good accurate colour reproduction and you can add grain or an alternative impressionistic colour palette in post processing. If you are working on a body of work ( as opposed to making disparate individual photographs) this has considerable advantages as it means you can tweak each image to conform to the overall look you want while at the same time being able to use a wider variety of film stock. So yes, use better film.

 

And you get up in the morning and spend a day shooting, always with the prospect of an exceptional image, but you shoot on cheap film to save £3. How much is your time worth? You can make an image more grainy, but you can't make it less grainy. You can make a sharp film stock softer, but you can't make a soft film stock sharper. So is cheap film fundamentally worth it, basically no. Is it worth it for fun, put it into a P&S as a second camera, yes. But if you are putting any sort of effort into your photography I think you need to use the best you can, you only get one chance.

 

 

Steve

Edited by 250swb

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Of course, for anything "serious", it makes sense for a photographer to buy the most suitable film (not necessarily the most technically optimal) that he or she can afford. However, trying to impose an accepted orthodoxy on things like film choice strikes me as part of the same drearily competitive, technically orientated, mindset that insists upon APO lenses and high megapixel digital cameras before anything is considered worthwhile. In short, it starts to suck the fun out of photography for many people who thought they found something they could simply enjoy doing and share with other like-minded individuals. 

Edited by wattsy

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.........And you get up in the morning and spend a day shooting, always with the prospect of an exceptional image, but you shoot on cheap film to save £3. How much is your time worth? You can make an image more grainy, but you can't make it less grainy. You can make a sharp film stock softer, but you can't make a soft film stock sharper........

 

I agree with most of your post, but I disagree with the above if we are considering films in the context of  a process, scan, edit/fiddle and print workflow.  Suppressing grain and sharpening (an abused art if ever there was one) are simple processes with any of the more controllable plug-ins.

 

However, you probably answer the op's question in the context of a tradional workflow of process and optical wet print where those options aren't availble and the different characteristics between film emulsions are marked.

 

I have dozens of 35mm rolls of Fuji Superia, all long out of date,  that were given away free with every film I used to take to a now defunct mini lab for processing and these films are perfectly good enough for a 'hybrid' workflow. 

 

It's ironic that with Ektar and the Portras we now have some of the best emulsions ever made.

 

.

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I agree with most of your post, but I disagree with the above if we are considering films in the context of  a process, scan, edit/fiddle and print workflow.  Suppressing grain and sharpening (an abused art if ever there was one) are simple processes with any of the more controllable plug-ins.

 

However, you probably answer the op's question in the context of a tradional workflow of process and optical wet print where those options aren't availble and the different characteristics between film emulsions are marked.

 

I have dozens of 35mm rolls of Fuji Superia, all long out of date,  that were given away free with every film I used to take to a now defunct mini lab for processing and these films are perfectly good enough for a 'hybrid' workflow. 

 

It's ironic that with Ektar and the Portras we now have some of the best emulsions ever made.

 

.

Ektar + M6 or R6.2 = a great combination..

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As you told Adam, people do what they want 

 

Personally you do not believe me , I love the colors that are closer of M8 and M9

(CCD Kodak sensors) and even if Kodak Portra 160 and 400 or 800 are expensive.

I buy them anyway because the pleasure of seeing beautiful colors and true color
is so great that I forget the price.

Why Kodak has a color sensor as the color of his films according to you ?

 

Same remark for the b&w Kodak TX400 ?  why Leica offers a TX roll when you purchase

a new M-A  according to you ?

 

All Kodak film rolls are marked "Professional"
The quality is priceless !

 

 

That said , Fuji  and other film brands are also professional grade.

Just pass on our thread "I like film" to see the colors !
 

Best regards

Henry

Edited by Doc Henry

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Professional film is made to be bought in batches - from the same batch number - so as to ensure consistency for the pro who may be shooting 20 rolls of the same subject and can't have a photo from roll one that looks (colour/grain) different from the photo he took with roll 14.

 

It's kept refrigerated to maintain that consistency until it's used. I sometimes saw Pro film stocks at dealers just on the shelf with the regular film, which basically renders it useless for its intended uses.

 

It's not 'better' film as such, it's simply a case of consistency for each batch.

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I am a newbie when it comes to shooting film, developing film, and printing so I make a lot of mistakes, and I experiment somewhat. Because of that I use cheaper film for my day to day shooting and I'm happy with it. When I'm aiming for something more, (like flying 2000 miles to attend my moms 85th birthday in May) I'll certainly use the more expensive stuff.

 

it works for me.

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(James posted as I write this)

 

The difference between "professional" and "consumer" films is/was mostly about marketing and distribution channels. And by marketing, I don't mean just a sham to kid people - although that plays a small role.

 

Technically, there is very little difference between, say, Fuji Provia 100 and Sensia 100 (as was). I mean, E6 and C-41 are pretty precise processes in which you have to combine specific chemical dye coupler A (film) with developer chemical Z to get cyan. You can't really source a different chemical B instead of A, to make the film "cheaper" - or you don't get any dye at all.

 

But - Sensia was sold in large orders to chain stores where it sat on shelves for months, by one part of Fuji's sales force - and Provia is sold by different sales reps, in smaller orders, to a different customer base (pro-oriented stores) that could keep it refrigerated.

 

All films age continuously, reaching a "peak" of quality (color accuracy, primarily) some time after it rolls off the coating machine. Consumer films were shipped "unripe" direct from the factory, on the assumption that 8-20 weeks sitting on a Walgreens'/Bootes' shelf before purchase would take care of the "ripening." Pro films (in their heyday) were held back by the manufacturer until test rolls showed they had reached that peak, and then refrigerated to minimize any further ages before shooting. (The old Paul Masson/Orson Welles "We will sell no wine before its time" idea.) Additionally, each batch of "pro-packaged" film was shipped with unique data sheets, that would recommend an exact ISO, and color-correction filter recommendations (based on factory test rolls) - for that specific batch. E.G. Ektachrome 100N - "This batch - ISO 80, use a 10M CC filter".

 

(Part of the idea of "pro-packs" was that the photographer knew that all 5 or 50 or 250 rolls had come off the same machine sequentially, and had consistent "inconsistencies" within that package. You could shoot 20 rolls or 100 sheets of 4x5 of - say - heavy machinery, and know that the "Caterpillar Yellow" or "John Deere Green" would look identical in all of them**).

 

It is the smaller volumes and additional handling and the expectation of consistency (not quality per se) that make Pro films more expensive.

 

The lines have been blurred even more with the economies required today. Even before the digital onslaught and "peak film," Kodak reorganized all B&W film in 1998 to fall under the management of the "professional division" that handled E6 films. B&W as a product line was already too small to rate its own sales force. No practical change to the film itself - they just slapped the word "Professional" on all the boxes, not just TXP 320.

____________

** Those companies are absolutely anal about how their "colors" appear in media. My college photo classes were in Illinois, and you could not pass the commercial photo classes unless you could nail those colors perfectly in your pictures.

Edited by adan

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I am a newbie when it comes to shooting film, developing film, and printing so I make a lot of mistakes, and I experiment somewhat. Because of that I use cheaper film for my day to day shooting and I'm happy with it. When I'm aiming for something more, (like flying 2000 miles to attend my moms 85th birthday in May) I'll certainly use the more expensive stuff.

 

it works for me.

Cheapo film in a Leica/Lens -- it's a bit like putting lowest grade fuel in a high performance car.... Sad..

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Cheapo film in a Leica/Lens -- it's a bit like putting lowest grade fuel in a high performance car.... Sad..

 

  You do realize that personal preferences are neither right nor wrong don't you? If you like putting a certain films in your camera good for you. What is sad is that you can't tell the difference between what is right/wrong and what is a preference.

 

 To use your reasoning: I certainly hope you bought the most expensive Leica camera ever made, coupled with the most expensive lens Leica ever made, otherwise you're shortchanging your photography,...that's  sad.

 

see how dumb it sounds?

Edited by rpavich

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Cheapo film in a Leica/Lens -- it's a bit like putting lowest grade fuel in a high performance car.... Sad..

 

I keep it simple and use top tier gasoline when I can. It is not about octane, but about the additives. It bothers me a lot when I'm committed to driving West on the Interstates where gas-a-hol is predominant, however with a late model vehicle it 'learns' to cope.

 

Adan mentioned 'professional' B&W which reminds me that Tri-X pro in 120 was a favorite film of mine until I found, many years ago, that Kodak shipped it raw to Ireland where it was packaged and sold on the Continent. It was cheaper to buy from Europe and have it flown, packaged, back to the USA than to buy it here. My confidence in the product was lowered, but its base was so good in development. *Sigh*, Tri-X is dead. Of course, Tri-X today is not the same as it was in my youth. Kodak 400 BW film have been messed with so much I don't know WTF I'm dealing with anymore.

.

Edited by pico

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