Positive or Negative

Fully agree.

Manually converting a negative into a positive can be done, but will give colour and tonality which might be anything but what you get from a lab. Lab output will vary too and that’s a different story too.

I haven’t shot film since late in the 1980’s. I don’t recognize any of the color film names that I’ve now read about. I used to only shoot B&W seriously, then edit in my darkroom. For color, I bought the film at the local store, and dropped it off at places like CVS Pharmacy, and picked up my 4x6 color prints and the negatives shortly afterwards.

I never got serious about this, and if anyone wanted a print, I had ordered those at the same shop. I was satisfied, my family was satisfied, people I gave prints to were satisfied, and all seemed well.

By the time I was getting more “serious”, I was using digital.

When I needed large “poster” size prints, they were always done by a lab.

The only color print I ever made was a post-card size photo using “Cibachrome”. It worked, but it was far too much effort. Using color negative film worked much better for me.

I realize everything Joanna and you have said is good advice, but I’m retired, I’m doing all this for enjoyment, and even if I’m completely wrong, I’d like to find out for myself - taking some color photos, and scanning them, and processing them in PL4 just as I do now with digital. True, it might look quite different from what I get from a lab, but the lab is making prints, which I have no intention of doing. I just want to get a nice looking color photo onto my computer, so I can post it in my SmugMug gallery.

If someone were to ask me for a high quality 16x20 print, I would take the negative to the lab and have them make the print, which is probably what all of you are advising me to do.

I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing.

…which leads me to my original question, what film to buy. My new-found friend at B&H told me that based on the year, I was almost certainly buying film called “Kodak Gold”. He followed that up with telling me that the newer Kodak color films have been redesigned to work better with scanning. I know nothing about this. I think that’s what I started asking here, before things got overly complicated…

I have no idea of what I might have “expected from a lab”, as all my color printing came from places such as CVS Pharmacy at the film counter, where I ordered prints. That, and the machine made color prints that came from the same place.

My goal is to get the color images onto my SmugMug account, and if people want to order prints, the SmugMug labs will handle the printing for each customer.

If I were a professional photographer, I 100% agree with what you’ve written. Right now I post digital color images onto my account, m.smugmug.com, and I have started posting my B&W scanned images there. I would like to try photographing on film, and post those images to SmugMug, meaning I need to scan and edit the images until they look right. Anyone who wants a print can order from SmugMug, or download the image file and print it themselves.

I wouldn’t argue with anything you’ve written, and I guess I need to shoot several types of film to decide which I prefer. Yes, color balance will be yet one more issue, but PL4 can correct that if needed.

Maybe a year from now, I’ll feel very differently about this. You’ve probably forgotten more than I will ever know - you’re in college, and I’m in the first grade. And also, there is no logical reason why I intend to start shooting film again, other than that I think I’ll enjoy it.

(If I had a Nikon D7, with every imaginable capability, it would sell for maybe $6,000, and next year it would be obsolete when the D8 comes out, just as the D7 replaced a D6. I’m tired of that game, and I now that I’m retired, I can’t continue to play. My 1954 Leica M3 is just as good today as the Leica M-A which I could buy for $6,000. Film cameras don’t get old - and I can use any lenses I want on either, just like with my imaginary “D7” or my 25-year-old F4, or an F5, or F6. The electronics get better - which is one reason why the Leica M-A has no electronics, and doesn’t use a battery. …all of which leads me to wanting to use my F4 for a while, before seriously contemplating a M-A.)

Were I to get seriously involved in all this, then everything you wrote would become a real concern, and if I took photos for someone on assignment, the film would go to a lab, NOT my scanner. I doubt I’ll ever get that serious about film, but who knows…)

Added later - I used to enjoy motorcycles. If I were offered a choice of any motorcycle I wanted, free of charge, including all the new “super bikes”, I would ask for a 1960’s BSA Gold Star 500cc single. Ancient, not at all up to modern standards, requires more maintenance… but I love it! My Mazda MX-5 is the closest I can come to my 1960 MGA sports car. I know how “good” all the modern technology is, but I often enjoy the old stuff more - for a lot of things, but not all. My Leica M3 is off at DAG Camera Repair, being reconditioned. I now find myself with two Nikon F4 cameras. For me, photography is one of the best ways to enjoy life, and record it for the future. The type of photos you post here, shot in large format, of lovely scenes, is exactly what I most enjoy doing - but there aren’t too many scenes like that in Miami, Florida…

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This site lists films from many manufacturers:

I had found a list of Kodak film codes, but the site has gone, alas. The code is printed near the edge of film and reads something like “Kodak Safety Film 6789”. You might find your film type on an old strip of negatives (if you still have them) and search the web for what kind of film it was…

Thanks - I’ll go look if I have any of those codes. I do have old color negatives, if it ever got printed on the film stock, but it doesn’t really matter what I used to use. I never paid much attention back then, unlike B&W where I developed it myself. For color slides my favorite was Kodachrome, ASA 25 as I remember, very, very slow, and I usually got Ektachrome which gave me higher shutter speeds.

Finding and learning how to use color film is a small part of what I’m trying to do. I dug out my old Leica M3, and fell in love with it all over again. It is now off at DAG Cameras making it like new again. And the people I respect most in the Leica forum think I’m better off shooting this M3 than were I to spend the $6,000 or so for the brand new Leica M-A. Essentially, they are the same - and many people I trust have told me the M3 is better because of the way it was manufactured.

Back to today, I dug out this beast of a camera, my old Nikon F4, and I find it’s exciting to be shooting with it again - after spending almost a week re-learning how to use it. Everything is controlled by switches or buttons or knobs or levers - there is no “menu”, and there are no electronics other than for the light meter. It’s still all mechanical, just like all the Nikon cameras before it. I got it in the 1980’s. It was my “main camera” before I got into digital. Joanna will laugh at this - but when I took it out of my drawer, I had no idea how to use it - none! My memory is pathetic, as I’m sure you realize from all the questions I ask about PL4 that I should already know. Anyway, after two weeks of reading the instruction book, and reading a separate book I bought long ago on the F4, I mostly know how to use it. Watching a dozen or so YouTube videos helped too. I doubt if anyone else in this forum would have the slightest interest in it… but what I think I now understand, is that unlike digital cameras, film cameras don’t go obsolete. My M3 Leica and were I to buy it, a brand new M-A Leica would do the exact same thing. A photo from one would be identical to a photo from the other. While the M3 is off being fixed, I got interested in the F4, and as far as I can tell, my B&W negatives are as good as I ever got in the past. I’ll know more once I start scanning.

What this is leading up to, is I want to start using the F4 again, which means buying film again, and now that I’m convinced it does a nice job on B&W, I’d like to see how well it shoots color. At this moment in time, that’s all I’m doing. …and this is in addition to digital, not instead of digital.

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That is nonsense – otherwise the F4 couldn’t handle your newly acquired VR lens (shown in → Can I apply PL4 lens corrections when I use a "known" lens on a film camera) at all, but it can e.g. like the autofocus – transmitted by ‘electronics’, while with the new generation lenses (no more aperture ring = so called G(elded) lenses), you have some limitations.

Oops, I meant to say the camera wasn’t controlled by a computer. What you noted is obviously correct, but I considered all that to be part of the metering system. Yes, about the autofocus. It’s the user interface that is all “mechanical”, and that’s what I meant to write about. Nowadays so many things are done by menus, not “mechanical” adjustments.

Sorry about that - you are correct, and I used the wrong words to describe what I was trying to say. I should have explained what I meant better - as I wrote it, you’re right, that was “nonsense”.

By the way, the camera can’t handle the VR lens. That’s not functional when the lens is used on a F4. That VR capability is ignored. And you’re right about lenses without an aperture ring - there is no way for the user to control the aperture.

Mike, I enjoy all your posts and fully identify with your sentiments and experiences!

I also have fond memories of way back in the old days when I shot film (usually Plus-X and Tri-X) and then went into the bathroom to develop and print the pictures. Watching the prints in the developer tray slowly appear was always a magic moment! Once I even tried doing some color darkroom work but it was expensive and quite a bit more difficult than B&W, and I didn’t have the money to do much of it anyway.

But things are different now; in retirement I just don’t seem to have the time needed nor the desire to go through all that effort again. Digital has me spoiled :slight_smile: .

I also think the implementation of so much complex technology has been poorly done on most, and more probably all, of the newer cameras. Though they have infinitely more power and features, NONE of the can even come close to matching the speed and ease of use of the older dinosaur film cameras like the Pentax Spotmatic and Nikon F.

Keep on going, you’re having fun with it!

That’s why I take my film to a good film lab, and let them do the processing. At this stage in my life, and no space to do it anyway, my “darkroom days” are history. On the other hand, scanning negatives is effortless, after which I do my usual processing in PL4 - at least for B&W. I haven’t yet tried color.

I agree with you about color - I tried it once, with “Cibachrome”, and while I got one decent color print, it was just too much for me to deal with. :frowning:

There is something SO true in what you just wrote. With all those hundreds of electronic menu choices, the old “dinosaur” cameras mostly let you adjust the focus, the shutter, and the aperture. Just like on a Leica M3. The F4 I have has already added a lot of things I’ll likely never use, like a switch to allow double exposure, or even triple exposure. It has exposure compensation, to go along with the exposure metering and auto-focus, none of which exist on a manual Leica. It’s the beginning of what turned into a Nikon D1, and more importantly a D2.

The F4 does have auto-focus, with all of ONE focus point. Newer cameras have so many, that I find it difficult for me to use them effectively.

Back then, if the lighting was wrong for the film I already had in the camera, I had filters to correct for daylight or tungsten. I probably still have them! I don’t remember complaining about this.

Hey, please write more about what cameras YOU use, and why.

I guess most people call this “progress”. I’m not so sure.

use (old) tech with the appropriate lens – if you haven’t, get it

Two quick thoughts - first, I mostly agree with you, I already had the older lens before I got the newer VR lens. The old one is 28-105. The VR lens is 24-85. The old lens allows me to select the aperture manually. The newer lens has no way to control the aperture, so on the F4 I need to shoot in Manual or Program mode. I have read good things about VR, and the older I get, the less steady my hands feel, so the VR has a lot going for it for me. The VR function only works with the newer cameras, and is useless on an F4.

I bought the newer lens as it seemed more appropriate when using my Df and D750, as a “walk-around” lens. Carrying extra Leica lenses is no big deal, but Nikon lenses are huge, and the older ones are heavy. I prefer fixed lenses to zoom, but if I just have one lens on the camera, zoom gives me more options.

I mostly agree with your advice, but both of these lenses are useable on both my film and digital Nikons. (It’s a good thing for me that most people feel as you do, which allows me to get excellent older lenses at very low prices.). The majority of my lenses are “older”, as I kept using them as I went through my constant upgrades of digital Nikons, until I gave up on yearly upgrades.

(My Nikon Df (and for that matter my F4) will accept almost any lens manufactured by Nikon, even the ancient manual-focus non-AI lenses, of which I still have quite a few! Using some old Nikon lenses on some newer Nikon digital cameras may damage the camera. Non-AI lenses can damage most newer Nikon cameras, and some old lenses such as my 55mm f/1.2 Nikkor can interfere with the mirror.) I’m not sure what to do with that lens, unless I dig out my even older F2.

If you want an “old-fashioned” simple camera, use a new one and take an hour or so going through the menus, turning everything auto off.

As I have said before, I have a Nikon D810; and I can use it in exactly the same way as I would have used my Pentax ME Super.

  1. I can choose my ISO and colour temperature manually (equivalent to choosing film)
  2. I can use manual focus
  3. If I do want to use auto-focus, I can set the auto-focus to a single centre point
  4. I can select Manual exposure mode and set the aperture and speed to whatever I want
  5. It has a built-in exposure meter that I can use in spot, centre-weighted or average modes, or I can use my Konica Minolta Flashmeter VI.
  6. I can turn off the preview screen so I can experience the thrill of not knowing what the image looks like until I get it back to my “lab” (computer)

How “old school” do you want to get? :sunglasses:


I can’t disagree with the things you wrote, but while everything you wrote is true, your final question makes it very easy for me to reply.

How “old school” do I want to get? …I want to start shooting my Leica M3 again, as I enjoyed it so much in the past. My M3 “feels” like a paintbrush. My D750 “feels” like a machine. The M3 used to become part of me. The D750 (and earlier) became tools that I used.

(Since my M3 is off at DAG Camera Repair for a “C&L” (clean and lube), I took out my old Nikons for now. They may get put away again in a month or so when I get my M3 back.)

Once I select a lens, the M3 allows me to do only three things - focus, shutter speed, and aperture. There is no battery, no computer, no electrics, no electronics, no nothing. Long ago, my choice was B&W, color negative, or color slide, and I could buy films with a lower or higher ASA number.

To me, you’re being very logical.
As for me, I accept that I’m being “emotional”.

If my photo is good or bad, it has everything to do with me, and not the camera. As long as the lens is adequate.

I can’t say this about all my newer cameras, analog or digital, but the old Leica became a part of me, or vice versa. It’s like a fine sports car, that does what the person wants, with nothing to get in the way.

…I suspect all this will sound very silly to most people reading it. Most people would absolutely hate the M3, as if they don’t do their part, the images will be scrap. In today’s world, we want our machines to do everything for us.

(…and then there are people like you, who already know all of this stuff, and would get a wonderful result because of YOU, not because of which camera you used. Ken Rockwell explained that the camera doesn’t really matter…


…and if the camera doesn’t matter, what does matter? The PHOTOGRAPHER. )

Hi Mike.

The purpose of some of my arguments is not really to convince you, but to provide a counterpoint to your “feelings” that others might find either interesting or useful :sunglasses:

I really do understand. For me, there is nothing like getting the Ebony SV45Te out and taking an hour or so to set up a shot, adjust the movements to get what I want sharp or not, calculate the exposure, work out which filters, both grads and colour correction, that I’m going to need, remembering to close the shutter before pulling the dark slide (until you’ve personally got that wrong, you just can’t understand the sinking feeling as another €10 sheet of film gets ever so slightly over-exposed :woozy_face:)

But I come from a film background where I found 35mm film was getting in the way of my desire to make big, detailed prints. It was only when I went on my first LF workshop and someone lent me a view camera to try, that I realised that dream. It was also the start of spending far too much money gathering my ideal LF kit.

I know it’s the photographer that makes the image and not the gear but, good gear “feels” nice and I have a love of “old” engineering that still works the same today as it did before batteries were invented. Although I will concede to an electronic spot meter.

I hope they’re using Castrol GTX oil :crazy_face: :joy:

I know just where you are coming from - when a zoom lens meant walking towards or away from the subject. Which is why I went to the trouble of “de-autoising” my D810 and relying on my knowledge and experience rather than relying on someone else’s idea of what it takes to make a picture.

I could reverse the idea, that it doesn’t take a great camera to make a great image, to “a good photographer can get just as much satisfaction out of a modern camera, if they would only stop letting it dictate how they take pictures” :wink:

Unless you are a fan of Holga cameras where the lens is really naff but people use it for that reason :crazy_face:

I suppose, for me, it really isn’t just about which camera I used to capture the image, it’s about using the right camera, at the right time, in the right place, to enable me to produce a print that I’d be proud to hang on the wall and that somebody, somewhere, will one day love enough to offer me some money for it. I loved my Pentax ME Super but, when it came to make wall sized prints, it just didn’t have what it took and, rather than spend a small fortune on a Leica camera and lenses, I went even more “old school” because I knew the best way to achieve such prints was to “go big”

I have friends who use the wet plate Collodion process, pouring their own emulsion onto glass plates; something I would love to have a go at sometime. But, not being a fan of noxious chemicals, I’ll stick to that “new-fangled” dry sheet film :roll_eyes:

And yet, now I have an iPhone 12, I’m discovering that its 12 Mpx camera is possibly the best tool for large depth of field macro shots, one of which I just printed to 15" x 12" without even breaking into a sweat.

I can imagine the attachment you have to your Leica and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, for me, 35mm film, especially colour, never satisfied. I hope you get the enjoyment you are anticipating when it comes back to you.

But, don’t forget, you can make great images with whatever camera you decide to use, as long as you never forget that it wasn’t the camera that made the image, it was you :sunglasses:

If this forum had the ability to do so, the above post ought to be a “sticky”. So much common sense, and so much good solid information. I’ll accept every word of it as-is, no confusion, no “but how about”, just what you wrote, as you wrote it.

The second sentence up above has me wondering - I know I enjoyed B&W, while color stuff was something to give away. I almost always used B&W film, unless there was a good reason for color. I remember color film was very expensive for me, while with B&W I could buy a 100 foot roll, printing paper, and lots of chemicals. I thought that (cost) was the reason long ago, but maybe I’m wrong. I enjoyed shooting B&W, while shooting color was (for me) rather boring. Maybe that’s because with B&W I did the whole thing, including printing. B&W was more satisfying.

PL4 has become “my darkroom” now, even more so because of feedback. from you and others.

Could you please post a link to your gallery again? I had it last year, but I’ve lost track of it. I guess I could ask this of everyone posting here.

To put my two cents in, after decided about positive or negative, after developing the film. What I found out about processing my scanned old negatives (Epson v700 scanner) is that using Nik collection gave me much better results then pl4.

  1. Define 2 for Noise reduction.
  2. Color efex pro/remove color cast filter. For removing color cast.
  3. Then ether complete it with pl4, or keep on with “pro contrast” and/or “detail extractor”
    By the way, up until few weeks ago you could download the free version of Nik (nik2012 by Google) in dxo site. But not anymore.

Maybe you can post the original “Tiff” file, if that’s what you created, and the finished results from both PL4 and Nik Collection? Also, which film did you use to create these negatives?

I would ask why you use three different apps to do what PL can do in one?

Why not open the scanned tiff in PL4 straightaway? It can do everything that the others do, better and, since PL4 is non-destructive, and can remove dust as well.

@mikemyers & @Joanna
I will try to create a short video & add the source files (it would take few days, here in Israel we are on the holidays season right now)
You could edit them in PL4 and compare.
Since it’s tiff, you can’t use the Prime NR all you can use is the HQ NR. I realized that Define gave me better results. Moreover, in Define you have negative control points which helps you to disable NR in certain areas. In PL5 it’s a global adjustment.
About color cast- again color efex pro>remove color cast, removes it in one touch.
The most common issues with old negatives scanned on flatbed scanner, are these grains or noise and sometimes color cast.
After editing these two, I can keep on with PL4