Traveling with one film SLR -- strategy for film and other tips wanted

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by James Cloud, May 27, 2004.

  1. James Cloud

    James Cloud Guest

    I have a newbie question.

    I am going to New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona in late summer and am
    wondering about the film to carry. On the trip, I expect to be in
    very bright sun at high altitude outdoors and be inside caves or
    churches all within the timeframe of shooting the same roll of film.
    Since I only have one film SLR camera and the primary focus of the
    trip is traveling and hiking (in other words, I want to enjoy the trip
    and make reasonable efforts with photography), I am debating what
    print film to use as a comprise to accomdate a wide range of lighting
    conditions. I have a Maxxum 50mm f/1.7 lens that I plan to use in
    indoor situations (like shooting inside a church without tripod and
    flash). For outdoor landscape shots, I expect to use a 28-300mm
    f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens.

    Your tips are much appreciated.

    James Cloud, May 27, 2004
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  2. take a iso 200 or 400 normal negative film. It is very forgiving if you have
    to under or overexpose it...

    Venlig hilsen/best regards

    René Ernst Nielsen

    +45 66122111
    +45 28722962
    René Ernst Nielsen, May 27, 2004
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  3. (James Cloud) wrote in
    Tip: Dump the ultra zoom. (It wouldn't be the 'highly acclaimed' Tokina
    model, would it?) ;-)
    Richard Cockburn, May 27, 2004
  4. It seems you are on the right track and have some good ideas.

    The best ideas and film choice is a personal choice. What is best for
    me may not be best for you.

    With that in mind, rather than make any specific suggestions, I will try
    to offer some ideas to think about.

    First slide or negative film. Negative film is likely the safe choice,
    but if you really like the results you get with a certain slide film and
    have not been all that impressed with negative film, you may want to
    consider slide film. What you have been using may off the advantage of
    being more familiar to you.

    Only you know if you and your equipment can hold the exposure accuracy
    close enough for slide film.

    I suggest something around 200 speed is a good compromise.

    For indoor photos of buildings consider that your zoom at 28 mm f 3.5
    will be almost as easy to hand old as the 50 mm 1.7 since it is wide angle
    and wide angle lenses are almost always more useful in those situations that
    a standard focal length. (24 mm is my choice).

    Good Luck and have fun.
    Joseph Meehan, May 27, 2004
  5. James Cloud

    Roger Guest


    Ahhhh, my favorite parts of the USA - enjoy! My all purpose film
    (one-film) for travel is usually Fuji Superia ISO400 or Kodak Portra
    UC400. For high altitude you will want a UV filter (I prefer a
    skylight or warming UV filter at altitude) and a rotating polarizer. I
    would also recommend a sturdy pocket tripod (like the
    bogen/manfrotto) to extend your picture taking. You might also
    consider something like an Olympus Stylus Epic (also loaded with
    ISO400 film) to take as a backup, very light hiking unit and flash. It
    can make a big difference for those times you want to take a short
    distance strobe illuminated shot. The 35mm lens is often as wide as
    you will need in these wide open spaces. When traveling light, I use
    the Olympus for my strobe and don't take an extra for the SLR.

    My three lens kit for open spaces is a 28, 50 for low light and 105mm
    for isolating details in landscapes. In my kit these all take the same
    filter size. My all-around one-lens is this setting is a 35mm f2.0,
    but if I'm carrying the Olympus (or my T3) the 35mm is covered and I
    choose something else for the SLR. It's usually the 50mm for absolute
    speed. A lot of wide-angle shots in the mountains IMO gets very
    redundant and there is so much detail that it's hard to emphasize
    points of interest and variety. When I lived in that area, the 105mm
    spent a lot of time on the camera. However, with any magnifying lens
    at altitude you really need to be aware of the contrast deadening
    atmospheric haze and lens flare. Hoods are a necessity and the right
    filters (especially a polarizer to cut some of the valley haze) is

    For those times when you know you will be outdoors all day, you might
    want to carry some ISO100 film. I usually use Fuji Reala 100, but have
    been experimenting with Kodak UC100. Too early for final results, but
    the preliminary stuff looks good.

    Remember the polarizer is an effective ISO reducer and holding the
    camera steady after a strenuous hike in a rarified atmosphere with a
    lower ISO and a magnifying lens can lead to problematic results.

    Roger, May 27, 2004
  6. James Cloud

    Roger Guest

    Someone else put it a bit more succinctly, dump the ultra zoom.
    Reason... It's a f5.6 at 300mm, the minimum shutter speed for hand
    hold is 1/300mm or 1/500 second - I upped that because of the stress
    factor if you are not used to navigating at altitude. Most super zooms
    peak out in performance at an actual f-stop of f11-f16 so lets assume
    it's a great lens at f11 (with the polarizer that's and effective
    light transmission of f16). Using the f16 rule (probably f22 at
    altitude) and the ISO400 film (equivalent to the 1/500 for hand-hold)
    that gives you an effective working range of 1-2 f-stops (either side
    of noon). That's a pretty narrow working range to be boosting all that

    So with ISO400 film, hand-holding, a polarizer, at 300mm and working
    with the sweet spot in the lens (assuming f11 to be generous) you only
    have a 1-2 f-stop latitude (floor at f11) before something begins to
    fall apart in image quality, either due to lens imperfection,
    vibration, haze, etc. If working in that narrow range is in your plan
    then you are set.

    Anyway, just thought this might be of interest. This is just a harsh
    reality of slow zooms.

    Roger, May 27, 2004

  7. Can I talk you into getting a tripod? I've visited a number of caves,
    and none are remotely bright enough to shoot w/o some manner of support.
    As for hiking, I manage to drag a flimsy little Velbon POS into the
    backwoods whenever I go. When used with the camera's self timer, it's
    'good enough' for sunsets and allows proper depth of field use elsewhere.

    With a 'pod, just load up with 100 print/slide, with a roll or two of
    800 for the churches.

    Greg Campbell, May 27, 2004
  8. James Cloud

    ChrisJ9876 Guest

    From: (James Cloud)
    I've been to similarly scenic places in the past 3 years. One camera: Pentax
    ZX5N; one lens: Tamron 28-300; one film: Fuji 1600. Have gotten excellent
    results, both indors & out, standing still or from moving trains.
    ChrisJ9876, May 27, 2004
  9. With a bit of practice, it possible to shoot even with 100 ASA inside
    a church. (Depends on the church of course). 50/1.7 should be enough.
    is Kodak Gold 100 probably with a 180/2.8.

    I guess it is best to practice with some negative and some slide film locally
    to see if you like the results.
    Philip Homburg, May 27, 2004
  10. James Cloud

    Sander Vesik Guest

    I think you upped it a bit much - if his hands are shaking badly enough
    that 1/125 would be probelmatic while handheld, then he will probably not
    be trying to shoot.
    Why woudl altitude reduce teh available light? If anything, there will be
    slightly more light (and lots of more UV).
    You are rather over-optimising.
    Sander Vesik, May 27, 2004
  11. James Cloud

    James Cloud Guest

    Thanks Greg. I'll be carrying a pod, but not every place allows a pod.
    James Cloud, May 28, 2004
  12. James Cloud

    Paul W. Ross Guest

    I had a somewhat similar situation last fall on a trip to Europe -- a
    boat cruise up the Rhine. Took a Pentax ZX-M and the 35-85mmzoom,
    skylight filter, extra batteries, and about 15 rolls of ASA 400 color
    negative film, and a couple of rolls of tri-x for some B&W. I'm going
    to do a similar trip in about a month, but will take 2 bodies, same
    zoom, and a 50mm lens for the second body. Mostly so I don't have to
    deal with having the wrong film in the camera.
    Paul W. Ross, May 28, 2004
  13. The usual bet is the 100 ASA film.
    Considering everyone has a different point of view, you should do what YOU
    consider best.
    Tzortzakakis Dimitrios, May 28, 2004
  14. James Cloud

    Bandicoot Guest

    All my favourite films are iso 100 or 160 - but the film I most use in my
    P&S is Kodak Portra 400UC, because this camera gets used 'for whatever comes
    along' and this is a very versatile film. If you want a one film fits
    everything, this would probably be my choice.

    You'll want a polariser along anyway, and maybe it would be worth adding a
    2stop ND as well, just so that 400 doesn't force you to use too small an
    aperture when you want to get shallow DoF out in the sun.

    Bandicoot, May 28, 2004
  15. James Cloud

    James Cloud Guest

    take a iso 200 or 400 normal negative film. It is very forgiving if you have
    I understand print films can be more forgiving when underexposed.
    However when I finish shooting a roll of film with half of the roll
    correctly exposed, the rest underexposed, would any photo lab actually
    care enough to adjust the printing exposure within a roll of film? Or
    do I need to reprint those under exposed negatives?

    Thanks again for all the advises.
    James Cloud, May 28, 2004
  16. (James Cloud) wrote in

    Line printers have a function built in that adjusts the print
    exposure automatically. In most cases this is a field meter that takes the
    entire frame and averages to 18% grey.

    Good technicians are able to recognize when this isn't going to work
    for the image in question, and compensate. Good techs can be tricky to come
    by anymore. When you find one, treat them right ;-)

    In short, never assume that a bad print is the result of a bad
    exposure. Learning how to read the density of negatives can help a lot, and
    allow you to judge when your prints have been warped in a bad direction.

    Good luck!

    - Al.
    Al Denelsbeck, May 28, 2004
  17. James Cloud

    Alan Browne Guest

    It's the other way around. Negative film is very tolerant of

    Underexposure tolerance of negative film is not very good at all.
    At best you get noisy, murky shaddows, bereft of any
    detail...any recorded color is dull-dull-dull.

    A competent, ordinary minilab operator will try to at least
    adjust the levels properly, and likely the colors... frame by frame.

    My SO rates her negative film one stop slower than rated. This
    all but prevents underexposure, and her colors are usually
    bright, well saturated and clear. She's coming to grips now with
    aperture priority, and being careful of what she is metering...
    when her negatives begin to look really dense, I'll wean her back
    towards the film rating...

    If you go to Costco, Wal*Merde and other high volume low cost
    processors you -might- be lucky.

    Alan Browne, May 28, 2004
  18. James Cloud

    Verdoux Guest

    I know that this is done, but why would I or anybody else want somebody
    else to correct the colours of my pictures? I would hate it if my
    intentionally greenish or orangey pictures would come out looking
    Verdoux, May 28, 2004

  19. Mostly, it's because the greenish or orangey pictures aren't
    intentional. People generally don't realize that there's a color shift to
    virtually all artificial light, and are shocked that fluorescents make
    their pictures green - in fact, most people don't believe it, because they
    don't *look* green.

    [Nowadays, of course, it's a hack fad, so some people think it's a
    neat thing to do. Somebody please save us from photographic fads...]

    And then there's film that's been heat-exposed or overaged, and
    nobody wants their last pics of Uncle Rutiger to be purple.

    Photo labs are basically they way they are because the majority of
    people do more fumbling than photography. You can keep their business if
    you make their pics look good, and conversely, if you make their pics look
    exactly they way they were taken, you get blamed. Trust me, I worked in a
    lab for a short while... ;-)

    Good labs can accomodate nearly everyone, and understand when the
    decent photographers don't want auto-corrections done. Which is why it's
    worth it to find a good lab, and pay a little extra for that.

    - Al.
    Al Denelsbeck, May 29, 2004
  20. James Cloud

    Alan Browne Guest

    If you want funky photos you have to tell them "no corrections"
    and they will print in the middle. (which I do when I'm playing
    with lighting schemes.)

    People use a variety of films in a variety of lights which expose
    in a variety of ways on the papers. The operator has no choice
    but to make adjustments, lest customers really complain. Few
    people using even the better SLR's expose properly. The minilab
    operator helps a great deal.

    Alan Browne, May 29, 2004
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