BetterPhoto Q&A
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Photography Question 
Brandie Sanders

How do you get such bold and bright colors?

I have been looking at the gallery you have and when I look at some peoples photos the color on them are amazing, they're so bold! Are they using film or do they doctor them up on Photo shop? I know there has got to be a way that I can get my camera to make those kind of pictures but I have yet to figure it out. I have a PentaxAF Medium format (6x4.5), so do I need to use a slower film for more saturation or does the color have to do with the developing? I am very curious. Thanks!

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6/12/2003 12:21:20 AM

doug Nelson   Hold onto that camera! That's not your problem. I think slower film would help. Slight overexposure of print film and slight underexposure of slide film give you a more saturated image. Have you tried a good digital scan of one of your favorite negatives? I've had negatives look pretty washed out when printed, but great scanned and processed in Photoshop with only normal exposure/contrast done.

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6/12/2003 9:40:21 AM

Brandie Sanders   Are you scanning your negatives at home or do you have a pro lab to that? Because I went out on a limb and purchased this great camera, but I don't want to sink more money on scanners. Are there some reasonable scanners? And basically how I have been shooting is leaving everything on auto and I haven't really tried anything different. The reason being I didn't recieve a manual with this camera, the guy told me he would bring it to me but I have yet to see him. So when I got several of my shots back, I was greatly disappointed when the color looks the same as my 35mm. The only thing so far I like about it is the clarity of the pics. So when you say slower film your talking about 160? Also in my popular photography magazine some guy is using a camera like mine but he put a Singh-Ray color intensifier would this help? Thanks for your response.

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6/12/2003 10:29:39 PM

doug Nelson   Are the negatives you get back of normal density (definite range of tones between nearly transparent and very dense)? If so, your exposure thechnique must be OK.
Slower film would be 160 or 100.
Take heart-by shooting medium format, you can get by with less money for a scanner. Medium format, since it is so much larger than 35-mm, requires less reolution to scan. Many medium format photogs are using flatbed scanners that have a negative adapter. One good new one is the Epson 3200, about $400. Contarst that with the $1400 I paid for a Nikon 35-mm only scanner. Home and small business offices need a flatbed, anyway, so it will have many uses.
Try the Singh-Ray if you want, but it's a shame to put a piece of glass or whatever in front of a great lens. You may lose some sharpnes.

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6/13/2003 6:16:38 AM

Tim Devick   Many pros get intense colors by using slide film like Fuji Velvia or Kodak E100VS. Most of the pictures you se in magazines are scanned from slide film, and unless they're pictures of people, chances are they used Velvia or E100VS film. These films produce very highly saturated colors. If you haven't used slide film before, it is much more particular of exposure than negative film so you'll have to learn about the intricacies of shooting slide film.

If you use the same film in your medium format camera as in your 35 camera, you will get the same colors as in the 35mm.

If you're shooting with Velvia or E100VS, you probably won't need a color intensifying filter - it will probably be too much of a good thing.

If you scan negatives and have Photoshop, you can buy software over the internet that plugs into Photoshop and can give you the color saturation of Fuji Velvia. I haven't used this, but saw info about it at

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6/24/2003 9:12:35 PM

Brandie Sanders   I have a question about this slide film, I have a 220 back, does this slide film insert just like regular film? When I do take the pictures to have developed do they have to put them in slides then proofs or can they just print proofs like regular? And if I leave my camera on automatic would the exposure still be wrong? I have a lot of questions about slide film since I've just started and I hear alot about slides. Oh and one other thing, when I hear of film being less than 100 will that always be slide film or do they make negative film lower that 100? Thanks for any replies!

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7/2/2003 10:43:59 PM

Tim Devick   With either a slide or negative, all you're really getting is a piece of film from your camera. You take the film to the camera store to be developed using the chemicals appropriate for the type of film, and then they give you back the film when they're done. The negative is color reversed, and has the light and dark areas reversed. The slide is a "positive" - the colors and light and dark areas are (more or less) just as you saw them when you took the picture.
In order to see what you've got from a negative, you have to get a print or a proof sheet made - these reverse the colors and light and dark to make an image that looks like what you saw through the camera. A slide is exactly the same thing as a negative - it's just a hunk of film from your camera that has been developed in the appropriate chemicals, but instead of getting a negative image on your film - a slide.

I use 220 Velvia in my medium-format camera and it inserts just like any other medium-format film. With slide film you don't get negatives or make proofs; what you get out of the camera is a positive rather than a negative. You still have to get it developed using what's called E-6 process at your local camera store - not all camera stores develop slide film, so you'll have to check around to see who does in your area.

If you shoot slide film with your camera set on automatic, the results you get depend on how accurate your camera's metering system works. I gather than most modern cameras have pretty advanced metering, so you may get great results with your camera on automatic. You'll just have to experiment and see what kind of results you get. What a lot of pros and advanced amateurs do when shooting slide film is bracket their exposures - a lot of automatic cameras have an auto-bracketing feature built-in now that lets you take three exposures - on at the meter's best guess, one with a little more exposure, and one with a little less exposure. Usually one of the three pictures will be what you want.

Film speed, per se, does not determine whether film is negative of slide film. There are (or used to be?) negative films that were very slow. Kodak used to make, a few years ago, a color negative film that was, I think, ASA 25. There are probably some others too, but I don't know for sure who makes color negative film that's slow; there are a number of slower black & white negative films.

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7/3/2003 6:55:07 AM

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