What are positive film, negative film and slides?

Discussion in 'Photography' started by cindi, Sep 13, 2004.

  1. cindi

    cindi Guest

    New to photography. Need some experts explain to me what positive film,
    negative film and slides are? Thanks.
     
    cindi, Sep 13, 2004
    #1
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  2. cindi

    brian Guest

    Positive and slide are one in the same, also known as transparency, gives
    much better results than negatives, also makes it a lot easier to decide if
    the image is good for printing. the image can be viewed by simply holding
    the slide in front of any light source. The favoured being a projector and
    screen.
    Slide film is also much less forgiving if you get the exposure a wee bit
    wrong, as little as half a stop either way can ruin a shot.

    Negative is your standard everyday snapshot film that everyone uses, look at
    the film and you see an image that is a "negative" image of the final print,
    much more forgiving than slides, its possible to get a good print from a
    negative thats been wrongly exposed by 2 stops.

    Brian...................
     
    brian, Sep 14, 2004
    #2
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  3. cindi

    Rob Novak Guest

    Positive film produces a positive image when developed - when mounted,
    the frames are called slides.

    Negative film is what it sounds like - the colors and light/dark areas
    are reversed.
     
    Rob Novak, Sep 14, 2004
    #3
  4. cindi

    Hunt Guest

    As an historical aside, the term "transparency film" is usually applied to any
    format larger than 35mm, regardless of whether it is mounted, or not, i.e. 2-
    1/4 transparencies, mounted in cardboard, or plastic. "Slides" have always
    referred to 35mm, or smaller formats, i.e. 126, 110. For practical purposes,
    as you say, they are one and the same.

    Hunt
     
    Hunt, Sep 14, 2004
    #4

  5. Are those sentences truly accurate descriptions of the two film types,
    Brian? Print/negative films generally have greater exposure latitude, lower
    grain, and more variety. As such, they are far more than just "everyday
    snapshot" films. Most portrait photographers, for example, use print film to
    produce truly outstanding results. Indeed, many of them would argue that
    nothing today can match the soft grain and subtle skin tones of a fine
    ISO-160 "portrait" print film. The photographic art market is also heavily
    dominated by print films.

    Slide/transparency films do have their advantages, including greater
    accuracy when shooting unusual subjects and slightly cheaper processing. But
    a good processing lab can lessen the first advantage and processing prices
    are coming down for all films.

    Stewart
     
    Dwight Stewart, Sep 14, 2004
    #5
  6. cindi

    cindi Guest

    Thanks for detailed explanation.

    I'm sure you've been to those fast-food restaurants or pizzerrias. On
    the menu board we see pictures of sandwiches or pizzas. Lights on the
    back make the pictures vivid. Are they called transparencies too? I
    have two large tiff images need to be developed into something like
    that. Where do I go to have it done? Photo stores or print shops?
     
    cindi, Sep 14, 2004
    #6
  7. cindi

    brian Guest

    My meaning here was that, if you go into any high street store that sells
    film , then you will find, print/negative film on the shelves and if you
    want positive/slide, you will normally have to search the shelves, ask if
    they stock it, or go to a more specialised photo shop.
    This is mainly because of the extra time, and the fact that its a wee bit
    more difficult for your local store, and in fact even photo stores to
    develop, or even to print, from slides, as an inter-negative would usually
    be needed in order to make a print.
    So most people send their slide film away to be processed and unless you get
    the really good mail order labs, it takes about a week, whereas you can get
    your negs, with prints, in under an hour at a local shop.
    Having said that, there is photo store near me, that can develop and mount
    slides in just under 2 hoursI assumed , possibly wrongly, that as she didn't know the difference between
    these types of film, that there was a very good chance that she wouldn't
    know the intricaces of using these films in their "best light" if you'll
    pardon the pun, and was giving a simplified answer for her benefit.

    Portrait photographers do prefer print films, whereas, for instance,
    magazine or fashion photographers are probably more likely to use slides, as
    they can more quickly assess the image.
    All films have some form of advantage over each other, it really all depends
    on thier usage, coupled with the photographers preferences.

    Brian....................
     
    brian, Sep 14, 2004
    #7
  8. cindi

    Hunt Guest

     
    Hunt, Sep 14, 2004
    #8
  9. cindi

    Hunt Guest

    My meaning here was that, if you go into any high street store that sells
    film , then you will find, print/negative film on the shelves and if you
    want positive/slide, you will normally have to search the shelves, ask if
    they stock it, or go to a more specialised photo shop.
    This is mainly because of the extra time, and the fact that its a wee bit
    more difficult for your local store, and in fact even photo stores to
    develop, or even to print, from slides, as an inter-negative would usually
    be needed in order to make a print.
    So most people send their slide film away to be processed and unless you get
    the really good mail order labs, it takes about a week, whereas you can get
    your negs, with prints, in under an hour at a local shop.
    Having said that, there is photo store near me, that can develop and mount
    slides in just under 2 hoursI assumed , possibly wrongly, that as she didn't know the difference between
    these types of film, that there was a very good chance that she wouldn't
    know the intricaces of using these films in their "best light" if you'll
    pardon the pun, and was giving a simplified answer for her benefit.

    Portrait photographers do prefer print films, whereas, for instance,
    magazine or fashion photographers are probably more likely to use slides, as
    they can more quickly assess the image.
    All films have some form of advantage over each other, it really all depends
    on thier usage, coupled with the photographers preferences.

    Brian

    Those assumptions are probably correct, Brian, and for me, there was nothing
    wrong with them. Yes, they were generalizations, and probably didn't take a
    lot of uses into account, but addressing the OP's question got by well.

    The choice of film type should be dictated primarily by the end result
    desired. If one wishes prints, then negative film is the choice - whether it
    is consumer-grade, or pro. If one wishes to either project the images, or go
    to commercial (ink on paper) printing, transparency film is what should be
    used. Yes, prints can be made from transparencies, either in a one-step, or
    two-step process, but the results are never as good as with an excellent in-
    camera original negative. Yes, slides can be made from negative film, but
    again, they are never as good as an in-camera original transparency. Yes,
    commercial printers can do separations from negative film, or from the
    resulting prints, but again... you know the drill by now. There was a time
    when any retouching required had to be done on a print, so that was the route,
    even though CMYK output was going to be the result. Because of the better
    characteristics of a separation being made from transparent film v reflective
    print, dye-retouching and emulsion-stripping were developed, but there were
    limitations in the retouching results, and air-brush still ruled for major
    retouch jobs, regardless of the limitations of reflective prints. The results
    from the "wrong" film type are getting better all of the time, however I feel
    that these advances will slow, as digital imaging gets stronger.

    The reasons that one thinks of negative film as a consumer film is that is
    holds the largest segment of that market. Most folk want prints to pass
    around, though a smaller segment of that consumer group chooses slides to be
    projected to a larger group. On the photo lab end, it's more profitable to do
    color negative to print processing, as it is a two step process, where slides
    are only one and a half steps, and the machinery and chemistry for
    transparency film processing is far more critical and expensive. With negative
    to print, the lab processes the film, then prints the film for the customer,
    charging for both. With transparency, they process the film, and then probably
    mount it, charging basically for the processing only. The profit from mounting
    36 slides is far less than doing 36 4x6 prints.

    Also, in very general terms, color negative film's final output (to print) is
    much more forgiving, so the films are deemed more stable, i.e. a color shift
    from room temp storage of this film can usually be corrected in the printing.
    Color transparency film, where there is no built-in way for the lab to correct
    poor storage, must be refrigerated until almost the time it is used.
    Professional photographers will usually use the "pro" versions of either
    transparency or negative films, which have been tested by the manufacturer and
    "certified" with precision, then will run tests on that emulsion batch taking
    their lights, processing, etc. into consideration. The film is then
    refrigerated, or even frozen, until use, so everything performs as they expect
    to a critical degree. In a kiosk photo lab, there isn't room, or available
    capital for a film refrigerator, so they usually sell only consumer grade
    color negative —their most profitable film, with maybe a few rolls of consumer
    grade slide film for those few who might want it. A good pro photo lab, or
    retailer, will have plenty of large film refrigerators for the film, as will
    the photographers, who use the pro-transparency film. It all depends on where
    you look, as to what you will see. In the pro shops that I use, transparency
    film is in great abundance, and negative film sparsely represented. If I go to
    Ritz, or similar, negative is about all you can get.

    In the "old days" I'd shoot transparency, negative, and B/W negative for my
    architectural clients, because they had need for all types of reproduction for
    their advertising, marketing, and sales departments. Each film had a specific
    purpose, i.e. transparency for mechanical reproduction of color ads, negative
    for display prints in offices, and on-site sales, and B/W for usually
    newspaper production prints. With Photoshop, it soon became easier for me to
    take transparencies and output B/W prints, that would take hours in the lab,
    so that film fell into being relegated to "fine art" print production for me.
    As color prints from an intermediate step (inter-negs) got better, I stopped
    shooting color negative film, unless I knew the client wanted mural-sized
    prints.

    Now with digital, the output can be adjusted on the desktop with such ease,
    that a lot of what I just wrote is going to be only in the history books, not
    in everyday application.

    But still, it is the end use that should dictate the film-type used.

    And in clarification to an earlier post of mine regarding display
    transparencies, I stated that Duratrans was print-film with a diffusing
    substrate. That was wrong. It was originally a negative to print film with the
    substrate. Newer products are transparency to print with the substrate. Sorry
    for my inaccuracy. Dang, those "good old days," are just too long ago for my
    memory!

    Hunt
     
    Hunt, Sep 14, 2004
    #9
  10. cindi

    Hunt Guest

     
    Hunt, Sep 14, 2004
    #10

  11. Good enough. Then consider my comments a slight expansion on yours.

    Stewart
     
    Dwight Stewart, Sep 15, 2004
    #11
  12. cindi

    brian Guest

    No problem

    Brian......................
     
    brian, Sep 15, 2004
    #12
  13. cindi

    Lightsmith Guest

    If you intend to sell your pictures then (size aside) magazines tend to
    prefer transparencies and some will not accept negatives at all. Most will
    accept digital so long as a good quality camera has taken the image - large
    size, high quality.

    Malcolm
    www.lightsmith.me.uk
     
    Lightsmith, Sep 22, 2004
    #13
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