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Photography Question 
Jack  Glasser

Which is the Best Film?

I have been shooting Fujicolor Superia. Is this a good film or is there something better I should be shooting? I am in high school and shooting for the school paper. I usually shoot 400. My images aren't the sharpest. Is that because I am having the lab put them on a CD? Or am I doing something wrong or using the wrong film?

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11/27/2004 10:35:49 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  Are your prints un-sharp, or is the digital transfer not of equal quality? If it's the prints themselves, the problem MAY lie in the optics of your lens, but more often than not, sharpness of photos (or lack of it) can be linked to human error.

What shutter speed are you using ... with what size lens ... and in what light? Are you using auto-focus, or focusing manually?

At 400 ASA, you should be able to comfortably hand-hold your camera outdoors on a sunny day at any aperture setting. And you should be able to shoot indoor scenes with a wide aperture without camera support in "normal" lighting conditions. If your un-sharp images were taken inside, maybe it was too dark and a tripod was required to eliminate camera movement.

Transferring film to digital (CD) will always result in a little "softness." This is inevitable, but a lab can usually correct these deficiencies to a degree where they are hardly noticeable.

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11/27/2004 3:10:50 PM

Carl Grainger   Your first step is to identify the problem correctly. Check your negatives with a magnifier - or get a professional to do it. If your negs aren't sharp the possible reasons are:
  • Camera shake
  • Incorrect focus
  • Narrow depth of field caused by too wide an aperture
  • Combination of a moving subject and a slow shutter speed
  • Dirt or condensation on lens
  • Camera problems

If the negs are sharp there is obviously a problem with the printing or the transfer to CD. Using 400 ISO film will not cause lack of sharpness but you might be confusing its slight graininess with lack of clarity. The faster the film the more you will see this grainy pattern in your images. If you see the grain (again check with a magnifier) and don't like it, you will need to use a slower film.

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11/30/2004 2:12:01 AM

Maria Melnyk   I have found that Fuji Superia is not as sharp a film as is appears. After extensive testing, I found that the absolute sharpest one out there is Kodak High Definition Color. (I switched to this one from Kodak Royal Supra - an even better one - but it's now discontinued in the U.S.) If you can get by with 200 speed, use HDC 200. If you need 400, use HDC 400. If you want to use Fuji, use Fuji Press film, not Superia. (Press is a professional photojournalistic film, available in 200, 400, and 800 speeds.)

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11/30/2004 11:43:55 AM

David King   The best resolution in color comes from the transparency films, with Fuji Provia F 100 leading the race. Slide film is inherently sharper and less grainy than neg film - all things considered. However, over and over again, the most common reason for unsharp prints in my students is camera shake. An easy way to tell if it is a focusing error is to look at the print. If you tried to focus somewhere out in the scene then unless you have a really poor lens, optically something has to be in focus -- maybe not what you wanted, but something. If absolutely nothing in the frame is sharp, then it is most likely camera movement during exposure. Digital will exaggerate this for two reasons; the slight softness mentioned above will have an effect on the whole image. But due to the way curves and diagonals must be "aliased" on the pixel grid, any softness in an edge is going to be exaggerated. Good post-processing can help but cannot make something soft truly sharp; it can only cheat the edges somewhat, which usually looks pretty unrealistic. Oversharpening is the dead giveaway to non-pro shooting. So it has to start right with the initial shot. Do everything you can to make the camera steady: a tripod or monopod if possible, use fast shutter speeds, and, if hand-holding, use anything stationary to lean on and brace against. Learn to use the neck strap like riflemen do their slings to lock into position and reduce vibration and movement. It's not easy, but then that's why the professionals who manage it with nearly every shot get the recognition they do.

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11/30/2004 12:40:21 PM

Scott Pedersen   Well, what does the print look like? You will have to narrow down things here to isolate the problem. If you don't currently have prints (they just put them on CD for you) on the next roll I would ask for prints along with the CD. Now, on that roll, I would shoot some with a tripod and a remote shutter release. Yes, it takes time to do that. Do one handheld and one on the tripod; ask for prints and CD, and then you can determine where the problem is.
My personal thought here is you need to slow down, take your time shooting. The majority of the time that is the problem. Of course, I should ask you this too: Are you using a manual-focus camera?
It could also be in the focusing. You are not focusing the camera good enough, or it is not focusing on your subject. Another thing is not a small enough aperture. Is this an SLR or a point-and-shoot? Before I went SLR, I had a Freedom tele, and on a distant subject it had trouble rendering the image sharply. But as far as the film being the problem, no. I use cheap consumer film and have never had a problem that was caused by the fim. You can always trace it back to the operator or the camera.

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12/1/2004 4:43:57 AM

Michael McCullough   I always leave my options open when choosing film. I do use Fuji Superia 100 a lot and find it to be one of the best alternatives to pro film. When shooting portraits, I find Fuji NPC 160 to be a great film. For 400 speed, I usually always pick Kodak 400 Ultra colour, and for flowers some landscapes. And when I want the extra punch of colour I go with Agfa 100 Ultra. To each his or her own, though - go with what suits your needs. Good luck!!!

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12/1/2004 12:27:53 PM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  In a comment above, Maria advises you to use Fuji Press Film rather than Superia. Please be advised that at a given ISO, Superia and Press film emulsions are identical. I've confirmed this with Fuji twice (once as I left for a cruise of the Greek Isles armed with Press film that had been ordered as Superia.)
The only difference is the packaging - Press film is usually sold in packs of 20 cartridges (36-exposure rolls).

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12/2/2004 11:36:30 AM

Maria Melnyk   John, sorry, I didn't know that Superia and Press are identical emulsions. But I'll stick with my comment that Kodak HDC and Royal Supra are superior to both. My pro lab agreed. I just mistakenly thought Press might be better than Superia, because it's supposed to be Fuji's equivalent to Royal Supra, but it "ain't".

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12/2/2004 9:50:36 PM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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I "standardized" on Fujifilm several years ago, primarily because I found most Kodak results too blue - especially in landscapes, which I do a lot of.
Checking in one or more of the photo mags, Fuji is significantly cheaper also - both from a film cost and from a developing charge (slide mailers). My results, albeit at typically 8.5X12 prints and smaller, show little difference in sharpness, but I agree that with changes, some of Kodak's newer product may be better.
One of the things that has amazed me, Fuji saw digital coming sooner and more effectively than Kodak. So, now, Kodak no longer markets slide projectors and several ISO range Kodachromes, its print film seems much more limited, and we know of its interest in large SLRs and other digital products. While I don't own a digicam, I do use imaging products after scanning slides, negatives and prints. One can hope that Kodak's business changes won't be the bust that they were with 110 and APS films.

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12/3/2004 5:57:07 AM

Jacques G-L   Jack Glasser
I suppose you have a certain experiance in photo. It's critical to know the camera you got and the way you use it, every thing is there. Carl response look good. You probably cant imagine also the bad camera bunch on the market. I have 4 film cameras (35mm and 6x6)and fix 2 of them. Now I take most of my pic with my Bronica S2A Nikkor Kogaku lenss and trow away my Hasselblad Zeiss lenss. You have to be sure your camera is accurate.
1-On a tripod set lens to infinit and shoot a landscape scenic at F:(widest):1.4, one at F8 and one at f32.
If they are all crisp frame to frame in the intire surface you have a very good lens. Or you will see the F lack of your lens.
2-On a tripod pic a open mesuring tape perpandicular to the film plan (on a table). The tape should start to the film plan. You can perpandiculary to tape such tootpics at each inch and take note (note all the way every time every were). Then if you take a pic at 4 feet and the result is crisp at 4.2feet and your lens scale was show 3.8; you know your camera have to go to the hospital.
3-For others who have another ground glass, put that glass on the film area opening to easily compare what you see in the view finder to what the film take at a same focusing.
Don't be afraid to pic experiment in different way, YOU WILL KNOW YOUR TOOLS. take notes, take notes, take notes. Why you dont borrow digital camera at scool? If you want poor digital result?
Jacques form montreal Quebec can.
PS. each film got their specific usefull needs.

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12/7/2004 10:22:11 AM

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