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Photography Question 
Matt Smith
 

graduation


My wife will graduate this weekend. I'll be using a Canon AE-1 with a Vivitar 80-200mm f4-5.6 zoom. The ceremony will be in a basketball/hockey arena. I won't be able to get too close. Should I use Fuji 1600 speed film or should I shoot an 800 speed film with my camera set at 1600 or 3200? If so, what kind of film pushes well? Thanks in advance for your help.


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5/14/2001 6:15:35 PM

 
John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
  Matt,
Yet another user of a classic emerges! Glad to see these good workhorses have not all been retired. I use older hardware from the same era (and earlier).

If the basketball/hockey arena is fully lit as for a game, you should be able to use ISO 800 and exposures of 1/60th @ f/4 and 1/30th @ f/5.6 without pushing the film. The problem will be possible camera shake. If you can brace yourself very well, you can shoot 200mm even at 1/30th, although a monopod is highly recommended (assuming using a tripod is not at all possible). I've used a 200mm lens at 1/30th hand held. It's possible, but not very easy. It requires some practice with posture, stance and how to brace arms and elbows. In an arena you can use backs of seats, railings and support poles to rest the bottom of the camera against also.

At ISO 1600 you obviously gain a stop (1/125th @ f/4 and 1/60th @ f/5.6). Still not the best for camera shake at 200mm, and ISO 1600 films are grainy (pushed films are too). Since this is a graduation and not likely to have a huge amount of fast motion (like a sports event), 1/60th and 1/30th can easily stop subject motion _if_ you can keep the camera steady.

Another possibility is renting (or borrowing) a faster telephoto or zoom lens . . . if Canon FD lenses are still being rented by anyone in your city or region. Call the large camera stores that cater to regional pros. Don't get your hopes up very much but it cannot hurt to ask. At worst, they'll say "no."

I recommend taking both a roll of 800 and 1600 and meter the inside of the arena when you first get there . . . then load up with the 800 if you think you can get away with it; otherwise use the 1600.

I don't recommend pushing a color negative (print) film. With most of them it tends to cause color shifts giving all the images a "color cast" that can be difficult to compensate for when printing. Transparency (slide) films are much easier to push. Either way you will undoubtedly have to use a pro lab to process a pushed film.

-- John


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5/14/2001 9:53:44 PM

 
Jeff S. Kennedy   Good advice. Here's another option. Have you considered using b&w film? Not only is it very pushable it is also more archival than color negative film. This being a very special occasion you might want to think in terms of archival qualities so your decendants can see the images for years to come.


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5/15/2001 12:14:57 AM

 
Matt Smith   John and Jeff,

Thank you both for your advice and suggestions. I'll probably carry the two different rolls as you suggested, John.

I've had the AE-1 for less than a month and it's my first SLR. My wife will only get one masters degree and I want to try to get some good pictures of the ceremony and weekend.

Because I'm so new to "real" photography, I'm hesitant to try b&w film. Are there any peculiarities that would make shooting b&w under those conditions more difficult than color...or would it be even easier given the lighting conditions?

Do either of you have any suggestions on using the built-in light meter in this type of setting? I'm thinking that once I've decided which film to use, I'll meter on someone's face and set the aperture and shutter speeds manually using that reading so that I'll be ready to shoot later...unless, of course, the lights change. Wouldn't this be better than just leaving the aperture set to Auto? Based on the reading I get from the meter, would it be better to underexpose or overexpose (ex: if the reading is between 4 and 5.6 with a shutter speed of 1/60, should I set the camera at 4 or 5.6)?

Thanks again for the help. I've been reading a lot on the Internet about this stuff and I just want to make sure I'm not too confused.


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5/15/2001 11:36:57 AM

 
Jeff S. Kennedy   My opinion is that b&w would be simpler to use. Not only is it more forgiving (for example Tri-x has at least 10 stops of latitude, if not more, compared to 7 stops on standard print film) but you won't have to worry about correcting for the color of whatever lighting you will be shooting under.

Your idea on metering beforehand and setting the camera manually is the best. Be aware of any changing light and watch for areas that might not be as bright. When metering caucasian skin tones remember that white skin is one stop over 18% gray so you should take the reading and then open up a stop. Negative film handles overexposure much better than underexposure so err on the side of overexposure.

Tri-x is a great all around film. It is rated at 400 and I know of people who have pushed it all the way to 3200 with good results. In fact many prefer to do this than to shoot the ISO3200 films on the market. When I use a new negative film and don't have time to test it I will normally rate it at half it's ISO. That gives me a stop of overexposure in case I make a mistake in metering.


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5/15/2001 3:27:20 PM

 
John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
  Yes, among negative films, B/W is much friendlier to being pushed, and Tri-X probably runs near the top of the list for not only "push friendliness" but exposure error too.

Remember this applies to normal B/W films, not the "chromogenic C-41 process" B/W (Ilford's XP-2, or Kodak's T400CN and B&W Plus 400). The "chromogenic C-41" B/W films are much like color negative in structure with all three color layers. This makes the subject to the same problems that can beset color negative when pushed . . . just a little less obvious in the gray-scale.

If you push film, remember to push the entire roll by the same number of stops. You will also have to use a pro lab to process it and tell them how many stops you pushed the film before they develop it. For a little more cost you can also have the lab to a "snip test" before processing the rest of the roll. About the first 3-5 frames of the roll are snipped out and processed first. Based on how those look, the developing is tweaked for the remainder of the roll. You have to be willing to shoot about the first half-dozen frames of something representative of what will be on the remainder of the roll and be willing to give them up . . . the snip is almost always in mid-frame. They cannot tell exactly where the cut occured until the film is developed. On a 36 exp. roll this gets you about 30 usable frames.

-- John


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5/15/2001 7:37:26 PM

 
 Vasko   Hey, dude,

Good for you for buying an AE1! That's all I have to say. The way I feel about that camera is like getting a '64 Ford Mustang or something. I hope you were able to get some good shots with it!


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7/22/2001 7:42:25 PM

 
Matt Smith   The shots turned out well. I used Fuji Superia 800, but had to shoot it at 1600. I chose 800 speed film on the advice of a local photographer that shoots sporting events at the arena. Unfortunately, the arena wasn't lit as well for graduation as it normally is for sporting events.

All in all, the pictures turned out well. Everyone I've shown them to has been impressed...of course, they all use point-n-shoots and disposable cameras.

Thanks again, everyone, for all of the advice.


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7/23/2001 11:07:41 AM

 
John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
  Matt,
Glad you were able to make some good photographs at the event and that the advice here helped with it.

BTW, all my gear with the exception of one very old camera (although not Canon) is from the same era as your AE-1 and still functions perfectly. Wouldn't think of trading it in; it does everything I need it to.

-- John


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7/23/2001 1:28:00 PM

 
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