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Pre-Exposed colour negative film - I don't "get" it

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I have just received my monthly newsletter from the Film Photography Project. This month's big splurge is on pre-exposed colour negative film with weird colours.  I am afraid I just don't see the attraction of these weird films. Marco Barbereschi and Cinzia Cancedda I think Lomography sell them as well. It seems like an analogue medium trying to ape Instagram and I cannot see the point. 

 

Does anyone else understand what the makers of these films are trying to achieve? I can see that one or two images might be fun but 36 of them? You would also need to be carrying another camera with you with regular film in it, in case you spotted something, where you did not want it reproduced in rainbow hues. 

 

Wilson

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I think if these films satisfy someone's creative inclination or provide a means for experimentation, then where's the harm?  You don't have to use them.

 

Actually, I'd go further and say the more diverse films that are now available, the more creativity we are seeing  Photography should be about experimentation, discovery and creativity and not bound by rules.

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One of my younger brothers used to go through my darkroom trash can, pulling out half-fixed test sheets, age oxidized emulsions and abysmal failures to make art. Today I dearly wished I was smart enough to do the same then. Certainly in my mind the images were failures but to new eyes they were an adventure.

 

So perhaps it is with the strange film that Wilson mentioned.

Edited by pico

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I know several people who use these films, Lomochrome Purple etc. They use photography as an art form and will happily shoot 36 magenta exposures, often in a series to tell a story. If they see something they want to record with a regular camera they have a phone in their pocket.

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I would just so much rather people put their efforts into resurrecting or making new colour reversal film, where there is a big shortage and since the retirement of the CEO of Fuji Film, who has been a big champion of reversal film, even Provia and Velvia are in doubt and my favourite, Agfa Precisa is now dead. I gather that Ektachrome may be back to the drawing board after the very negative reaction to their bleached out and faded looking test shots. I don't have a clue what was going through the minds of the the development team at Kodak: "We will look for everything that most folk did not like about Ektachrome and emphasise those characteristics." A quite extraordinarily insular view. They should have been aiming to get as close to Kodachrome as they could, if they wanted a commercial success. Any photographer who regularly used both films in the 1960's and 70's could have told them that. 

 

Wilson

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Kodak: "We will look for everything that most folk did not like about Ektachrome and emphasise those characteristics."

 

Of course that could be read two different ways. It is a shame that Kodak has, among other failures, terrible copy writers.

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It sounds like the films Wilson is describing won’t produce something predictable. I like predictability – when I point the camera and press the button, I would like a picture that is close to what I intended – photography has enough variables without pre-exposed film. Unpredictable colours implies a crap shoot – even if it is an experiment, my suspicion is that it is likely to be a failure – unless you are one of those who believe that everything they do is by definition wonderful. Since I wouldn’t know what was going on, I would have no means of control of the product. That may attract some people – but not me.

 

Ektachrome that looks like Kodachrome (plus a greater dynamic range) - I might buy a roll.

Edited by Michael Hiles

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[...] Unpredictable colours implies a crap shoot [...]

 

That reminds me of a short conversation with an IIT student who studied the first couple of throw-away winding-on frames from his 35mm camera and declared, "These are art!" I suggested that they are not art but nature. Art transcends Nature. Somehow we remained friends.

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Some of the best photographers I know are not afraid to experiment with new (to them) films and two in particular are creating a beautiful body of work with Polaroid Originals and Impossible Project instant films, with all of the associated unpredictability it entails.  It would be a sad day if the creative undercurrent of photography hit the buffers because Kodachrome is held as a benchmark for what film-based photography should be.

 

I'm unlikely to use some of these oddball emulsions myself, but I would not deny anyone else to opportunity to do so.  The only rules within any creative expression should be those that you set for yourself alone.

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Does anyone else understand what the makers of these films are trying to achieve? I can see that one or two images might be fun but 36 of them? You would also need to be carrying another camera with you with regular film in it, in case you spotted something, where you did not want it reproduced in rainbow hues. 

 

Wilson

 

The answer is FUN!

 

For many even just using film is an adventure and the mystery of what the photo will actually end up like intrigues them. Add an extra variable to that mix and it makes it even more so.

 

Want a straightforward record shot? Use the phone!

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Fun = great (broach no argument). But fun is available in different ways for different folks. 

 

Certainly Kodachrome was IMO pretty close to what a transparency film should be. No one can argue that its colours were pretty great, and its was sharp and fine grained. So it was an ideal tool if that is what was needed and wanted. But film is a tool, and I personally like my tools to be predictable -  an opinion that won’t catch on with everyone. Neither will my view of  creativity.

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I have just received my monthly newsletter from the Film Photography Project. This month's big splurge is on pre-exposed colour negative film with weird colours.  I am afraid I just don't see the attraction of these weird films. Marco Barbereschi and Cinzia Cancedda I think Lomography sell them as well. It seems like an analogue medium trying to ape Instagram and I cannot see the point. 

 

Does anyone else understand what the makers of these films are trying to achieve? I can see that one or two images might be fun but 36 of them? You would also need to be carrying another camera with you with regular film in it, in case you spotted something, where you did not want it reproduced in rainbow hues. 

 

Wilson

It's a plus. Either they have a market or they think there's one. In either case it's a sign of vibrancy, but I don't get it either. It's still good for film.

 

BTW, I just today took delivery of some Svema Foto 400 and Tasma NK-II 100 from FPP. Svema 400's base feels like it's half the thickness of Tri-X, or less. One could probably get 45 exposures in a typical cassette. I've got it in the M3 and 2.8 50 Elmar. Rodinal should complete the play-acting.

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I remember when W/A lenses were all the rage. They must have suddenly become affordable (?). Certainly they quickly became boring, then.

 

I suspect these 'funny colour films' may go down the same path.I may be wrong. I'm thinking 'fad'.

 

No harm in it, but please don't swamp us in the results. Just use it creatively and sparingly.

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I am not saying they should not be made and one has to applaud any effort (however misguided IMHO) to extend the range of films available. Some of the Svema films are really interesting, especially the technical films and they are so cheap, you don't mind buying a roll and only taking 12 photos. To come back to my original beef, is it really so difficult to make colour reversal film? In the 1950's there were dozens of companies making reversal, so why now, have we just the single source (Fuji) and that with far from certain longevity? I am afraid I would not be wholly surprised if Ektachrome never goes commercial, given the very fragile state of Kodak finances. I know it is a Kodak Alaris UK initiative but the actual film would still be made in Rochester, where the R&D is also being done. What do film movie makers use for making their prints? That has to be reversal. 

 

This is the time of year in the UK that we fill our freezers up with the produce from our fields and orchard and I am expecting to get squeaking any day about the amount of Agfa Precisa CT100 reversal film I have stored in our freezers. 

 

Wilson

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An ex-Fuji engineer i recently met in Japan was telling me a lot of these companies with specialty films actually buy Fuji c200 and similar films etc and "process them" re-package and sell

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The answer is FUN!

 

 

Only fun because the Lomo hipster crowd have no concept of missing a great photo. If their photography has always relied on accidents they don't feel the angst of missing or spoiling an otherwise great shot by having the wrong film in the camera. The thing is even with the wrong film something can usually be done to get the shot, but nobody is going to take you seriously if the Pulitzer Prize slips through your grasp because you have 'fun film' in the camera. I know life shouldn't be taken seriously all the time, but I'd question if the hipsters are actually doing photography, or are they instead searching through the pile of accidental trash for single accidental pearls?

Edited by 250swb

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Apparently, most cinematic films are negative films, to be exposed on intermediate films.

 

Stefan

 

Stefan, 

 

Does that mean they just use negative film twice? Once for the original film then print from the original negative onto a second negative film to arrive at a positive?

 

The other problem with movie film is that it often has REM-Jet anti-halation/anti static/anti scratch coating on the back of the substrate. I know this is supposed to come off easily with a pre-soak and wiping with a sponge, but when I tried with movie Tri-X 7266 reversal, I got in a horrible mess, with black gunge everywhere. 

 

Wilson

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Stefan, 

 

Does that mean they just use negative film twice? Once for the original film then print from the original negative onto a second negative film to arrive at a positive?

 

The other problem with movie film is that it often has REM-Jet anti-halation/anti static/anti scratch coating on the back of the substrate. I know this is supposed to come off easily with a pre-soak and wiping with a sponge, but when I tried with movie Tri-X 7266 reversal, I got in a horrible mess, with black gunge everywhere. 

 

Wilson

 

I have had the same issue with rem-jet, I long ago stopped believing the articles that say removal is easy, it's just a mess that gets you in trouble if you leave any in the sink.

 

I believe a lot of the issue with manufacturing slide film these days is environmental, a lot of the chemicals that used to be used are now no longer available and/or more regulated, Kodak are pretty much having to re-invent it.

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Mike,

 

Perhaps we should try to persuade TASMA in St Petersburg to start to make colour reversal film again, after all the Russians seem to have no qualms about handling nasty chemicals. There is a whisper that  SVEMA in the Ukraine may re-issue CO-50D colour reversal, which was an analogue of Agfachrome. They might even be able to push it up to 100 ISO which would be useful. Again the restrictions on chemicals used in manufacture, is I suspect, somewhat more lax in the Ukraine than either western Europe or the USA. The downside is that I don't think it was E6 process but the same unique process that the early Agfachrome used. A bit of a pain to have to send your film to Kiev for processing but I supposed no worse than sending Kodachrome to Dayton, Ohio was. 

 

Wilson

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