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Thread: Best film for long exposures

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    Member Herbert George's Avatar
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    Best film for long exposures

    After experimenting with long exposures in earlier days with my Nikon F65 I soon learnt how expensive CR2 batteries can be especially if you chew through a pair after only a handful of exposures. To combat this I devised a plan to first compose star trails/long exposures, attach lens cap, open shutter, remove batteries, remove lens cap ever so carefully, busy myself for however long for exposure, reattach lens cap, install batteries, listen to auto film advance wind on to the next frame.

    I probably did this to three frames out of the total 36 odd exposures available to the Fuji Superia ISO 400 roll (cheap and widely available...though evidently not very good for long exposures), only to find upon having my films processed I had three or so "empty" frames. I eventually discovered that my well thought out plan had included first testing the battery removal theory with film removed to positively establish that the mirror indeed remained open even with batteries removed. However the "blinds" behind the the mirror did not remain open and that my hours (literally) of patience had been almost a complete waste of time to the exception of gaining a better understanding of the inner workings of my camera.

    In answer to this remaining issue of chewing through batteries at a great rate, I researched, located and purchased a Nikon 'FM' fully mechanical camera and additionally bought a release cable with locking mechanism as well as a compatible wide angle lens (with integral aperture ring). Having done all of this I have successfully taken 'exposures' but still used Fuji Superia ISO400 film which produced very grainy images (as would be expected with the moderate ISO and the long exposures).

    My question is...does anybody know of a colour film that is relatively low in grain and that perhaps performs well under extra long exposures?
    Can such a film exist and is it going to be so exotic I have to ship it from a remote area of the Soviet tundra?

    Attached is a flatbed scan of a print from the aforementioned film. I know it's not ideal having a flatbed scan of a print...I'm working on getting a decent negative scanner.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Cheers,

    HG
    Pakenham, VIC.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    I think you can still get Velvia in a 50 ISO rating. Haven't seen it at Vanbar(the only fully fledged photographic supplies store) I frequently frequent tho.
    Because they didn't have any in the fridge the last time I checked, I did get myself a roll of Ektar100 instead(they also had Velvia 100 tho).

    Work is slow this time of year, so I may have the time to check on any other photographic stores I come across. Never checked at European Camera(Lonsdale St city) to see if they still stock any films tho.

    At least in 35mm roll terms, I can't think of any available sub ISO50 films.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


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    velvia 100, provia 100 sensia 100 kodak e100g
    all available from Vanbar or Vision image lab.

    David

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    Digital works well for very long exposures, sorry.

    JJ

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Nothing specific, but ditto to the low-ISO films. I recall getting very good results from Kodachrome 64 in regions of the MW with good contrast between light and dark. (I know it's no longer being processed, but it's the class of film I'm referring to.) Not comparing with the present crisis, but two floods occurred since then and now I can only remember the results. Am.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    I think you can still get Velvia in a 50 ISO rating.
    Yes I can get access to Velvia 50, I have used Velvia before (100ISO) and honestly didn't really like it. The less forgiving nature wasn't as friendly to my amateur abilities. I'm sure with more practise my shots would improve but when the rolls are $35 each and processing around the same I can't really justify $70 odd for 36 exp.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjphoto View Post
    Digital works well for very long exposures, sorry.
    Only by using multiple exposures and stacking the images. Single images are not much chop and my D70s automatically switches off after 1/2 hour for safety. Not a great interval for long trails. Besides there is still a part of me that is a bit purist, I like the idea of having the physical negative in hand plus I'm preparing a dark room setup in the distant future (have all the equipment, just need the space...and money) and I love the idea of printing the trails myself, blowing them up or whatever.

    I'm unsure of whether my D70s can actually utilise the automatic remote release setups. No pin plug.
    But yes, I agree digital medium can be very effective and useful for long exposures.

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    Velvia 50 can be bought and pretty sure it's still current... Plenty of great deals on eBay from reputable sellers. If you are comfortable with using expired film you can still find people selling 25speed film on forums and eBay as well... I'm still relatively new to film myself, still getting used to manually working out exposures etc

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    Who would have thought there would ever have been a time when somebody said "I'm new to 'film"

    Okay, I'll have a crack at sourcing the 50 Velvia. Thank you for your input darrenmars.

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    velvia doesn't handle very well when it comes to repricocity failure. expect green skies for anything longer than 20mins or so.
    a way around it is to use a flouro filter to balance out the greens....or use tungsten film to shift everything to blue which can make it more attractive.
    that said...I'd go with with provia 100f. the best in my opinion for this type of photography
    - or acros 100 if you want to go mono

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    Quote Originally Posted by sunny6teen View Post
    velvia doesn't handle very well when it comes to repricocity failure. expect green skies for anything longer than 20mins or so.
    a way around it is to use a flouro filter to balance out the greens....or use tungsten film to shift everything to blue which can make it more attractive.
    that said...I'd go with with provia 100f. the best in my opinion for this type of photography
    - or acros 100 if you want to go mono
    Are you suggesting using the fluoro filter with the Provia as well? I have taken some long exposures in mono and felt like I was missing out on all of the glorious colours that can come from the reciprocity of the film, having said that I have converted some of my digital long exposures to mono and found it gave more to the image than their colour counterparts
    Thank you for your input

    I've attached some images to compare mono versus colour variants.
    What is your opinion?
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    I think for memory my preference was always Fuji film for night photography for the brighter colours and blackness of the background, but was not my favourite for daylight
    Steve


    Equipment: A couple of Canons with some lenses and a heap of enthusiasm



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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    reciprocity failure!

    Wasn't sure about your issue, but I nipped into Camera Exchange the other day, and had a quick chat(strangely I remembered to ask!! ).

    One of the chaps there agreed that reciprocity failure is most likely your biggest enemy here, and that a more professional film may be a better option. Even something like Fuji 400 Pro film he was talking about(can't remember exactly which or what he called other than 400 <something> Pro, where <something> could be s or x or f or whatever
    He also made the comment that the ISO speed is nothing to worry too much about, you won't see all that much in grain detail over many lower ISO films.. there may be a touch more grain, but the unnoticeable grain is better than the weird colour losses due to long exposures, and that's where a more steady reliable professional film can help.

    I think I vaguely remember the 1/2 hour time limit on the D70s, but the way around this is to use an external battery pack(easily home made, from memory).. but more of an issue with the D70 is the 'amp glow' you will almost certainly see in your long exposures.

    Anyhow! I have no experience with reciprocity failure personally... never really done any longer than about 5 or 10min exposures from memory.

    The image of the seaside rock outcrop looks remarkably to Pyramid Rock at Phillip Island

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    provia 100f will be fine on its own. you'd need the filter for velvia.

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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    Even something like Fuji 400 Pro film he was talking about(can't remember exactly which or what he called other than 400 <something> Pro, where <something> could be s or x or f or whatever
    fuji pro 160s perhaps? my preference would still be provia 100f but I agree it'd be a good alternative.

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    Had to do long exposures a fair bit when doing my degree.

    Generally, Provia 100 was the winner, and don't be afraid to experiment with the development either (I assume labs still let you push/pull?).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Herbert George View Post
    My question is...does anybody know of a colour film that is relatively low in grain and that perhaps performs well under extra long exposures?
    Yes. Fuji T64. Its reasonably common as well, just don't use it during the day as it is tungsten balanced. It has very little reciprocity failure, low colour shift and bugger all grain. See here for an example: http://www.flickr.com/photos/doigal/3014824870/

    People have used velvia for star trails with great success as well> http://www.flickr.com/photos/danheller/319103267/

    Quote Originally Posted by jjphoto View Post
    Digital works well for very long exposures, sorry.

    JJ
    What?!? for single exposures???? Not unless you want to cook the camera or you have one of the specially modified astro ones. For this work the right film in a mechanical camera is far superior and more reliable than digital. No batteries to worry about in the cold, just set it up, click the shutter, set alarm for 2 hrs before sunrise to release the shutter, sorted.


    EDIT: when buying velvia, IMO the 50 is the only one worth buying. the 100 and the 100f just arnt anywhere near as good as the original 50.
    Last edited by doigal; 16-04-2011 at 2:26am.
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    Quote Originally Posted by doigal View Post
    Yes. Fuji T64. Its reasonably common as well, just don't use it during the day as it is tungsten balanced. It has very little reciprocity failure, low colour shift and bugger all grain.
    Just received 15 rolls of Fuji T64 from the states. Loaded the Nikon FM and now just waiting for those rare perfect nights where everything is in sync for some startrailing. Can't wait!

    Thanks Doigal.

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