I'm new to film photography and need help

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sciamwow

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Jan 9, 2015
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Okay, small question again:

The film came in on Saturday and yesterday I got to take some pictures with my girlfriend. I took a few pictures on the film camera and then put my DSLR on ISO 400 and the same aperture and shutter speed as the film camera, but the picture on my DSLR came out too bright. Will the DSLR and film camera with the same settings come out exactly the same? If so, I'll take a practice shot on my DSLR first to make sure it all looks okay. Also, is it better to have the image too dark or too bright on film? If it's better to have it too dark, I may set it to auto and then bump it up one notch past what it tells me to.

Thanks in advance!

Edit: Also, is it fine to leave the film in the camera while I'm not taking pictures? I plan on not taking any more with it for another week or so. I just didn't know if it was okay to keep it stored in there. And should I try to keep the camera in a relatively cool place?
 
Ha ha. It is fine to leave the film in the camera. Just be aware that accidentally opening the back of the camera while the film is in there will expose it and you could lose all your pictures (my parents lost all their honeymoon photos because of this and an uncle who was a little too curious about how their camera worked). I know Canon cameras would completely unwind the film roll when you first loaded it, then roll them back into the canister as you took pictures (basically using the film roll backwards). That way you'd only lose one photo at most if you accidentally opened it, because the rest of the exposed films would already be in the canister. I dunno if any other manufacturer did that.

ISO isn't an exact science. Well, actually it is an exact science, it's just that manufacturing film or camera sensors to a certain ISO sensitivity isn't an exact science. Even most digital cameras are off in their ISO ratings by about 5%-10% (usually they're overstated, making the camera sound more low-light capable than it really is). Same thing goes for lens aperture too - usually it's slightly exaggerated by about 1/3 or 1/4 stop on the bigger lenses when wide open.

The dynamic range of the film will also be different than the digital sensor. So while the photos should be similar, don't expect them to be identical.

As I said before, negatives can withstand a lot of overexposure - about 4 stops if I recall, but underexposed details are lost. Slides are the opposite - overexposed details are lost, while underexposed details can usually be recovered (with more noise/grain). In that respect, slides behave like DSLR sensors.
Edit: http://petapixel.com/2015/08/10/how-much-can-you-overexpose-negative-film-have-a-look/
 

sciamwow

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Jan 9, 2015
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Ohh, I got that backwards. I thought film was like DSLR sensors where it is better to underexpose than to overexpose. Thank you for the clarification!
So if I need to load film and I'm somewhere that I can't really get out of the light, I'll just try to hunch over and block as much as I can. You're awesome, thank you!
 

sciamwow

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Jan 9, 2015
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Alright, update again. I dropped the film off at Walgreens by my school this morning and picked it up after school. I'm pretty happy with how everything came out, it has a really cool look compared to digital. However, from Walgreens the prints are sort of low-res (1215x1800) and I wanted to try to fix that. I tried to scan the negatives with my DSLR by using an iPad as a light source with a piece of translucent plastic bag to block out the pixels and the film on top. It looks... Okay. I tried inverting it and fooling with the colors and I just couldn't get it to look as good as it does from Walgreens. Any input on that?

Here are some of the pictures. The ones that have no film visible are the ones scanned at Walgreens. I kinda opened the back (in a semi-dark room) after my first day of trying out the camera to check if the film was going as it should, so I think I messed up a few as you can see...

https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/0B3DgghGW2VAkTzJjbDB1RWVtMnc

So any thoughts? I'm thinking about using thedarkroom.com next time, but with the base of $11 + $4 for higher resolution scans + $6 for shipping comes out to $20 to get it developed as opposed to $10 at Walgreens (which is also cheaper). I'd like to be able to use the DSLR trick to save some money and be able to have a little bit of the edge of the film in the shot as well, but I just can't seem to get the colors right.

Thanks in advance!

Edit: I named one "Getting closer..." I think that one is pretty good, but just needs to be brighter.
 
An iPad is probably not the best choice for a light source. It is not white. it looks white, but it's not. The light it produces is from color filters which only let through light at 3 specific wavelengths. If you were to look at its spectrum, it would be 3 narrow peaks with little light at in-between wavelengths.

If the object you're viewing (e.g. the film grains on the negative) responds to different wavelengths than those 3 peaks, their color will not be the same. Use a broad-spectrum source light like sunlight, or a high-CRI LED/CCFL bulb. Worst case, use an incandescent or halogen bulb (they are sufficiently close to blackbody radiation, even if the color temp is too low). The light in scanners is specially designed with this in mind to be high-CRI.

As I said, inverting and white balancing is the quick and dirty way. It will give you something sort of close to what it should be. The proper mathematical way is to measure the orange mask, subtract it from the image, then invert it. I actually tried this once in PS and it was a major PITA (not to mention I lost a lot of bit depth from the subtraction because my scanner was only 8-bit). That experience got me to just pay the money for a real negative scanner. You might still be able to find software out there which does this properly. I know VueScan does it, but the price has gone up a lot since I got it, and I'm not sure if it'll work with images from a DSLR (it's designed for flatbed and film scanners).

And you can't just link files in your Google Drive. That URL only works for you. You have to make it public, then post the shareable link.

4" x 6" @ 300 dpi = 1200x1800 pixels, so that seems about right for the prints. You're saying the digital scans they gave you are also that low res? That's unusual. Guess you shouldn't print larger than 4x6 at Walgreens. Negatives contain a *lot* more detail than the 2MP they're scanning at. If you're seriously going to do this a lot, you may want to invest in a film scanner (or flatbed scanner with a film scanning accessory). It will also capture in full RGB, not the pseudo-RGB created by a DSLR's Bayer filter (each 4 pixels actually only contain 1R, 2G, 1B, or about 1/3rd the color resolution of a scanner). And I'll bet it comes with software for removing the orange mask before inverting (I never tried the included software, always used VueScan).
 

sciamwow

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Jan 9, 2015
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Thanks for all that info! And yeah, the scans that it came with it were 1200x1800, so kinda blocky when looking at it on my monitor. I only got the CD and no prints because prints would be much cheaper through Shutterfly

https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B3DgghGW2VAkTzJjbDB1RWVtMnc&usp=sharing

See if that link works. I made it to where anyone with the link could view it, but for some reason I guess the settings changed.

By flatbed scanner do you mean the ones built into printers sometimes? We have one of those where you pick up the lid, put the paper down, and the light goes back and forth over it. There are accessories for that for scanning film?

Again, thanks for the information! I might, if I feel okay with spending the extra cash, pay $20 to get higher res scans from thedarkroom.com
 

Yeah. But I don't think any multifunction printer has a film scanning accessory. It's a device you plug into the scanner and substitutes for the lid. It has a light inside, which lights up the slide/negative from the back (it shuts down the scanner's regular light). Basically lets you scan transmissive media like slides and negatives, instead of reflective media like books and paper.

The cheaper ones just use a reflective mirror or white surface and rely on the scanner's original light source. But that means the light you're scanning has gone through the slide/negative twice, and you have to do extra processing to undo it. Or maybe the scanner undoes it for you. I dunno, I've never used those cheap ones.

http://petapixel.com/2011/07/14/how-to-scan-film-using-your-ordinary-flatbed-scanner/
http://www.instructables.com/id/Scan-Photo-Negatives-Using-a-Scanner/
http://howtoscan.ca/scanning-tips/scanning-slides-negatives-flatbed.html

Edit: Yes the new photo link worked. You can test it yourself by signing out of your Google account and trying to view the link yourself. (Or just open a new Chrome incognito window and paste the URL there.)
 
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