Looking for advice on slide film

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Hi to everyone on the leica R forum. I bought an R4Smod2 with 50mm summicron when in Belgium over the summer (an impulse buy at the time subsequently augmented with a 1st version 28mm Elmarit. Haven't put it down since). I have been shooting on a range of Fuji negative films and have been particularly impressed by the results with Fuji press 800 and 800 superia for their versatility in a range of light conditions. So far I have been delighted with 6x4 prints produced. However, my next project will involve shooting inside cathedral interiors (big light contrasts, occasional difficulties with tripods being erected) and I want to produce some larger prints - up to 18x12 - of the results. Clearly slide film is the way to go... but which one? I don't like the super-saturated colours of Velvia or Elite Chrome and want to play to the subtlety of these great leica lenses. I have a decent tripod, but nonetheless would like to be able to push process if neccessary. So, in short, I need a film which gives naturlistic colours, which can be uprated if needs be and will look good at 18x12. I think that maybe Provia 400 may be a good choice, but haven't experience using it with the leica. Does anyone have relevant experience of this film, or any other they think may be up to the job?

Many thanks in advance for any advice given, Andy McLean

-- andrew mclean (andrmcln@aol.com), December 17, 2001


I've gotten some great enlargements from Fuji 100 speed Reala negative film. I find negative film generally prints better than slide film (unless you're planning on going with a drum scan digital print). Slide film is a poor choice for high contrast subjects in my opinion.

-- Andrew Schank (aschank@flash.net), December 17, 2001.

Yep, if you want to preserve detail in both dark shadows and bright highlights when there's a huge difference in light levels, negative film is a much better tool for the job.

-- Mike Dixon (mike@mikedixonphotography.com), December 17, 2001.


As others have recommeded, you should stick with color print film due to the high contrast lighting. Print film generally has a wider exposure latitude; although some professional print films tend to bias towards over exposure, rather than under exposure.

I recently photographed in the cathedral in St. Paul, MN (http://www.archspm.org/html/cathedral.html) using E100SW (it's all that I had). For areas that were evenly lit, the E100SW acquitted itself quite nicely. When photographing stained glass the surrounding areas went completely black. Most of the light in the cathedral was from the windows; there were very few lights turned on.

I was there in the middle of the afternoon on a Monday. Since the cathedral was empty, I would have set up a tripod if I had one. There was no signage indicating that photography was prohibited. I also threw a pile of money in the collection box, just in case (I was raised Catholic, so the guilt thing kicked in for a while).

If I get the chance again, I will be sure to take print film (minimum ISO 400) and a tripod. The widest lens that I had was the Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8. A 24mm would have been ideal, I think. The Elmarit-M 90mm f2.8 was very handy for stained glass and statues. I don't believe that a longer lens would have been of much value. The 50mm Summilux-M f1.4 was handy for it's speed and for framing shots around the alter and in various chapels. However, I could have gotten by with just the 90mm and the 28mm.

Good luck.


-- Nicholas Wybolt (nwybolt@earthlink.net), December 17, 2001.

Unless you specifically need slides, go with Reala. It handles high contrast and mixed light beautifully and will make 20x30s that must be seen to be believed. Since you're using a tripod, film speed isn't really an issue in this kind of work.

-- Dave Jenkins (djphoto@vol.com), December 17, 2001.

However, my next project will involve shooting inside cathedral interiors (big light contrasts, occasional difficulties with tripods being erected) and I want to produce some larger prints - up to 18x12 - of the results. Clearly slide film is the way to go...

First of all, slide film is the way to go if a) you really like dragging out the slide projector and screen, or b) a publication insists on it.

For what you are talking about - static subject, need for big prints - I would recommend a medium format camera.

-- Jeff Spirer (jeff@spirer.com), December 17, 2001.

If you want prints, you should really think about shooting print film. Unless there is some specific reason that you HAVE to shoot slides (like wanting velvia saturation or some such thing).

Slides are great if you want to give slide shows, or if your editor says, "Look, if you don't shoot chromes, you aren't getting paid"

-- Josh Root (rootj@att.net), December 18, 2001.

Having said that, Provia 100f and E100sw are my two favorite slide films.

-- Josh Root (rootj@att.net), December 18, 2001.

Andrew: for the subject you specify unless you want slides for projection or need them for publication I would stick to negative film. Give a try to Kodak Portra 160NC. A little more speed than Reala, moderate contrast, good tonal range. The 400NC is only slightly grainier, whether this will be objectionable to you is a matter for your personal taste. In any case, be careful not to underexpose color neg film. Even 1/2 stop, IMO, has a degrading effect on grain and shadow areas.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), December 18, 2001.

Many thanks for the advice. It looks overwhelming - do not use slide unless absolutely neccessary (which, in this instance,it isn't).

I think I will try the Reala 100 although I do like idea of the little faster Kodak Porta NC 160 for tripod shots and my beloved Fuji 800s for the handheld (and also because I know them well). My original question was driven by my recently viewing some big, beautiful cibachrome prints... on reflection the best of them were in less contrasty situations. I was also concerned about too long an exposure - the churches and the Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium are stunning spaces the scale of which I want to try and capture a little of. Too much movement of people will limit me a little, although sometimes that can produce good effects too. I have a wide range of Minolta gear, but am really looking forward to using my more limited (in the sense of focal length range) Leica outfit. While I was more than happy with the former, the latter has completely taken me by suprise. I thought it would be good, but not THAT good! Once again many thanks for the friendly advice - I will post results on the web upon my return.

-- Andy McLean (andrmcln@aol.com), December 18, 2001.

I don't think slide is necessary even for publication nowadays, is it? Neg seems to have won out over slide by now. But slide is still lovely stuff and much easier to file and review.

-- rob (rob@robertappleby.com), December 18, 2001.

Are prints for display or publication? If for publication, image editors at my newspaper prefer print film now, NOT slide because they say there is more scope to manipulate contrast and colour using Photoshop. If for display, either slide or print film. I was pleased with an interior of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul I took, camera braced on railing, exposure about 1/8, using 100 amateur print film (Agfa Vista bought at the airport because I was running out I think). Blew up to 12 x 8 no trouble.

-- David Killick (Dalex@inet.net.nz), December 19, 2001.

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