film choice for landscapes : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Looking for transparency and negative film for 4x5 landscape. Prefer fine grain. Can anyone share good/bad experiences? Also, is rated EI accurate? Need response ASAP. Thanks.

-- Terry Lorch (, September 29, 1999


Fuji Velvia (vivid) and Astia (natural) are good choices, and I use them at their rated EI's of 50 and 100 with no problem. I think Astia has 1 - 1 1/2 more stops of contrast range than Velvia, which makes it rather more flexible in practice.

Black and white - I like Tri-X and Plus-X rather than the T MAx's / Deltas T-grain technology, but this is a matter of personal taste.

-- fw (, September 30, 1999.

As soon as you go out and shoot something important without testing the film first, you are in for disappointment. Try Velvia. The first answer says he shoots it as its rated ISO, I shoot it at 32. As far as Astia goes, it is excellent for people & products but for scenics it sucks big time. For snow & ice it is fine as it handles the contrast well. The new Provia F looks good but lacks the punch of Velvia and isn't as good on pastels. Try a batch of one of the major brands (10 sheet box) and get it processed quickly to help you decide what works for you. Any recommendation from others only tells you what they like. Heck, I still shoot a number of things on Ektachrome 64 & like it.

-- Dan Smith (, September 30, 1999.

I shoot RVP at ISO 40. Dan shoots more landscapes than I do, but my feelings are that in terms of color and color contrast Provia 100F (RDPIII) is not as intense as RVP but is a bit more saturated than RAP but has the wider overall contrast range (i.e. more shadows and highlights detail) of RAP. RDPIII, in my experiences so far (about 30 35mm rolls in a Nikon F5) is a true ISO 100 film.

-- Ellis Vener (, October 01, 1999.

Forgot to mention: RDPIII is every bit as sharp than RVP, extremely fine grain for an ISO 100 film.

-- Ellis Vener (, October 01, 1999.

Without knowing how you'll reproduce these shots it is impossible to give you a recommendation, other than Dan's admonishment to test for yourself.

I get excellent results using T-Max 100, and prefer E100S over Velvia. I shoot T-Max and its rated speed but have refined my development procedure to give me optimal results. E100S at 80 ASA works for me, but may not suit you style.

I print my black-and-white with a cold light head. My color work gets drum scanned anticipating digital output. This is why I prefer a less contrasty film than Velvia. However, one of my friends (who has a drum scanner in his office) gets excellent results using Veliva.

It's all a matter of taste and style.

-- Darron Spohn (, October 01, 1999.

This has been a hard question for me and I am still try to nail it down. At this point I am favoring negatives over transparencies. Here is why:

1. I do primarily shows with my work and negatives make much better prints than slides can make prints.

2. I use PRN 100 color film (which is being obsoleted). It has almost a perfect straight line characteristic curve. There is very little degradation in tones at the heal or shoulder. I can record almost 11 stops of information which is comparable, if not better, than many B&W films. Velvia is only capable of recording about 3 to 3.5 stops. What this means is that I can shoot under much more adverse and varied conditions then I could using Velvia. My productivity is about 10 times that using PRN 100 vs Velvia.

3. I can practice the Zone system with color negative film. Contrary to current paradigms, I can do contracted development with PRN 100. If you call Kodak, their people will say you cannot do it because you will get huge color shifts and unpredictable results. I have done extensive testing, and I am able to get a N-1.5 stop reduction in the highlights with no color shifts and with very predictable results. When I couple contracted development with pre-exposures I can achieve a 3 stop compression of the original scene, and a 6 stop compression if I also employ GND filters. When using color negative film and these techniques, I believe I can take on high contrast scenes that most color photographs would walk away from. This further increases my productivity.

4. To get the color saturation and brilliance that color slides are known for, I print all my negatives on Fuji Crystal Archive Super gloss paper. This paper makes incredible sharp prints and really punches up the colors. It is very expensive, and it can only record about 3.5 stops of information (which means you have to do some dodging and burning) but the results are worth it. However, by using the compression techniques I noted in (3) above I have had very good results at producing negatives in the 3.5 stop range.

5. Kodak is replacing PRN 100 with Portra film. I have done some preliminary testing with it and found that its characteristic curve does have a pronounced toe and shoulder. I do not know if I can do contracted development with it (which make me nervous). Kodak claims they have done something to the film so that it can be easily scanned unlike most negative films. If this is the case then we may be converging on a solution (driven by the wedding market) that will print on papers and also be used for publishing.

Well that is my 5 cents worth. Good luck.

-- Stpehen Willard (, October 01, 1999.

I miss read the question in my previous response and answered the question slides vs negatives rather than slides and negatives.

Perhaps there is still something in my response that is applicable to the initial question.

-- Stephen Willard (, October 01, 1999.

Terry: I just got back from 5 days at Bryce Canyon and the north rim of the Grand Canyon with 60 sheets of exposed Provia 100F (RDP-III). I go to these parks every year. The short answer is: I may never use Velvia again. The sharpness is exceptional, as good as Velvia. As Ellis mentioned, color is not as vivid as Velvia but is better than Astia; it seems just right. Plus the contrast range is wider than Velvia, and Provia F is 100 speed. Provia F will be the film to beat from now on.

-- john costo (, October 13, 1999.

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