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Photography Question 

Slide Film Basics

I just purchased my first roll of slide today, 200 speed, and I was wondering from what I've heard about it being completely different from negative film, can you still get the same results when your light meter is saying correctly exposed as you would with negative film? Or would you have to adjust at all?

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8/31/2003 8:30:22 PM

Kerry Drager
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  Hi Steve: This is an excellent question! Slide film is indeed different. Negative film, for example, has much more room for error than slide film ... meaning that you can "miss" the exposure somewhat when shooting negative film and still come up with a good print. That's because many exposure "problems" can be fixed in the printing process. With slide film, the slide itself is generally the "finished" product, so good metering technique and lighting analysis are important.

Because slide film isn't as forgiving as print/negative film, it takes a little practice. Here is my suggestion: Set aside one roll and plan to shoot several completely different scenes. In each case, however, "bracket" your exposures. Here's how to do it:

Shoot one exposure using your usual exposure technique or metering mode ... in other words, when your light meter is saying the settings are correct. Then, with the exact same scene and the exact same composition and lighting, make "insurance" shots both over AND under that exposure reading. Do this in either 2 one-half-stop or 2 one-third-stop increments (depending on how your camera's metering system) in each direction ... for a total of FOUR extra exposures. Repeat this "bracketing" process with other scenes, and be sure to take notes on exactly what settings and metering mode you used.

After you get your film back, compare your slides on, say, a light box. With this practice roll, you'll learn a lot about potential exposure problems and your camera's metering capabilities - and whether a particular scene required an exposure adjustment or compensation. Plus, you'll become more familiar with the colorful world of slide photography!

Good luck, Steve!
PS: Incidentally, many slide-film shooters use bracketing in difficult exposure situations (i.e., when shooting sunsets or silhouettes) as "insurance" ... to prevent losing the shot altogether.

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8/31/2003 11:24:21 PM

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