Also, this information mostly applies to landscapes, as that is my expertise. If a film gives me the results I want for a certain situation then it's a winner in my book. Since I first created this blog post back in and updated it a couple years later, it's time to revisit the topic as I've created many new images using several of these film types and have a deeper experience with most of them.
There's also different news when it comes to certain film availability so it's worth another update now that it's Firstly, there are two basic types of color films I'll go over.
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Then I'll go through the brands and lines of film that I have used. In the image above, I have two sheets of 4x5" film sitting on my light table. The one on the left is a color positive also called a transparency or slide and the one on the right is a color negative also called print film. As you can see, they are quite different.
Positive film gives you an image the way you saw it when you snapped the shutter. It also produces rich, saturated colors and strong contrast. Due to these characteristics, it is very important that the exposure is perfect when using positive film. There is not much room for error, overexposed areas will quickly become completely white and unusable, underexposed areas will be very dark or even black and only recoverable with some very expensive scanning equipment, if it can be done at all.
When using positive films, it's important that the scene not be too contrasty, or that it be controlled using graduated neutral density filters. However, when the scene is just right for positive films you get rewarded with fantastic colors. This type of film is also typically easier to scan and work with digitally.
Negative film looks like an orange mess when viewed on a light table, with only very saturated colors showing up as odd purple and cyan tones.
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It is meant to be inverted during the scanning or optical printing process to get the correct colors. This film creates softer, more natural colors and lower contrast than positive films, allowing for a much greater latitude with exposure and dynamic range.
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Highlights in the scene are usually handled wonderfully and these films can take quite a bit of overexposure. They tend to require a little more care when scanning to get the colors to match what you remember when you took the photo. It will typically appear too cyan for my taste and need some corrections. Now on to specific lines of film, starting with positive films:. They discontinued it in all markets except Japan in large format a couple years ago and it's always possible they will be doing the same with other formats soon.
It may take a while before you can get exposure down perfectly with this film, but I think you should get some and keep it in the fridge or freezer, just so you have the chance to use it someday. Velvia 50 is a fantastic film when the scene isn't too contrasty to handle it. It's great at bringing out the vibrant detail in intimate scenes that are in open shade or overcast conditions. Typically if there is going to be sky in the photo you may need to use a graduated ND filter to darken it or Velvia may not be able to handle the range, depending on the time of day and the scene.
Only use Velvia when you really, really want strong colors. While I find the colors to be very accurate in hue, it's easy for it to go over the top with saturation. The longer your exposure the more saturated the colors will become, particularly in those minutes well after sunset or before sunrise.
Expose it very carefully, and I think it's true speed may be closer to 40 than If you overexpose the highlights just a tad they will be completely lost.
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Most exposure times will be rather long if you're using this film during golden hour, so plan on using a tripod. In the last year I've taken a liking to how this film deals with twilight hues well before sunrise. In the image above there was that special predawn light where the peaks begin to glow before any direct light has hit them. There's just a few minute window where it's light enough to pull off an exposure on Velvia - if you wait too long the sky quickly lightens and the peaks appear darker in comparison.
With this two minute exposure Velvia gets very saturated and brings out the warm purple hues in the sky that exist during twilight hours. Filter Usage: I typically don't recommend using any color correction filters with Velvia It tends to shift to the warm hues and doesn't need a warming filter unless the light in open shade is exceptionally cool. It's very rare that I use a warming filter with Velvia 50, aside from the very subtle warm tone that's built into my polarizing filter.
Other Notes: It's worth mentioning that Velvia 50 has a rather extreme reciprocity failure as the exposures get longer than a few seconds which is quite easy given the slow speed of this film. If your meter reads 4 seconds you'll need a 5 second exposure, if you meter 8 seconds you'll need a 12 second exposure, and by the time your meter reads 32 seconds a correct exposure is already 64 seconds. It's definitely worth keeping this in mind as the light fades.
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In roll sizes it's easy to find in most markets but sheets are a real challenge outside of Japan. Fuji dropped the sheet film Velvia 50 line seemingly altogether in late , but it seems it was just a temporary production halt and a pull out of the global market. You can sometimes find group buys on Facebook or other channels to get some supplies of this film directly from Japan if you're a large format user. Be prepared to pay a steep price, it is Fuji's most expensive film and the difficult supply has amplified that problem. Velvia does a good job of filling in that gap, but it doesn't produce the same colors that Velvia 50 does at all and it is by no means a similar emulsion.
In my experience, it tends to have a strong magenta color cast, especially in the shadows that usually needs corrected after scanning.
Don't get me wrong though, it's a good film and has been used quite a bit by me for those times when there just weren't long enough breaks in the wind to be able to take the several second exposures I'd need on Velvia This would be a good example of Velvia 's strong magenta cast. It renders the deeper tones of open shade in a far more magenta tone that most other films in my experience.
As long as you know what results you can get out of your films it can work to your advantage. I think it worked rather well for a saturated sunset over these mystifying rock formations.
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I have come to find in recent years that Velvia seems to have the lowest dynamic range of any film that I've ever used. At first I thought it was perhaps just a bit faster than box speed perhaps more like , but then I realized that when exposed at that speed to save the highlights it still doesn't retain the shadow detail of a properly exposed sheet of Provia or Velvia This has made it a very special-use film for me as you must be even more careful to expose perfectly and use GND filters for the sky, it really can't handle much in the way of overexposure and those magenta sunset colors will quickly block up into and unusable mess.
I save it for those times when I think the colors will enhance the landscape like in the image below:. Filter Usage: As with Velvia 50, there's really no reason to use a warming filter with this film. Even in cool open shade where the white balance is naturally blue, Velvia will render it a purplish tone and a warming filter will not help with that at all. Availability: As of , it seems this film is available in most common sizes and most markets.
I've never cared for this film as much as the 50 speed version so I really wish the availability was the other way around. The F version is again a completely different film, one that I have never heard anyone mention a good word about.
To achieve the exact same wide-angle characteristics and field of view of 24mm on a crop camera, you would need to attach a 16mm lens instead. Generally speaking, the larger the sensor, the better the image quality. Typically — though not always — full-frame sensors boast better dynamic range, cleaner shadow detail, lower noise and enhanced tonal transitions. Also, while the crop factor can be advantageous to wildlife photographers shooting subjects further away, landscape photographers wish to retain the characteristics and large field of view of traditional wide-angle lenses. An increasing number of landscape enthusiasts are now favouring mirrorless cameras.
Fuji, Olympus, and Sony have led the mirrorless revolution, producing a range of innovative mirrorless models that rival the quality and versatility of a traditional SLR. As the name suggests, their design discards the arguably outdated and bulky reflex mirror and prism mechanism — instead, light passes through the lens directly onto the sensor. This enables a lighter, more streamlined construction. Images are composed via either an electronic viewfinder EVF or LiveView on the rear LCD screen — or in some instances a supplementary optical viewfinder similar to a rangefinder.
Sensor size ranges greatly depending on the model, with some mirrorless cameras boasting a smaller, micro four-thirds chip with a 2x multiplication factor , while others models are full-frame.
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While the quality of a mirrorless camera is undoubted, arguably the biggest appeal to landscape photographers is related to size and weight. Generally speaking, they are smaller and more portable — as are compatible lenses and accessories. Weight is a big consideration for landscape enthusiasts. The best vistas are often elevated or require a lengthy walk, potentially over rough or uneven ground.
The less you have to carry, the more prepared you will be to walk further and for longer in order to access the best viewpoint. So, having discussed some of the features to look for in a landscape camera, below you will find a handful of options that I believe are some of the best cameras for landscape photography. With its massive The camera captures extraordinary detail, boasts superb high ISO performance and is sharp, silent and handles intuitively. It is designed with a tilting touchscreen monitor, Focus Shift shooting mode to make it easier to focus stack and is one of the first SLRs to offer focus peaking.
It is a great all round performer — an ideal choice for photographers who enjoy shooting both landscapes and nature. And it is my choice for my very own photography. Highly recommended. With a huge resolution of A full-frame model, it is aimed primarily as a stills camera, lacking video-centric features like headphone sockets or HDMI output.