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[filmscanners] Re: Scanning negs vs. slides

> So gentlemen, if you would you shoot night
> scenes where there is fine night illumination
> surrounded by relative darkness, would you
> chose slides or prints for further scanning ?

If I'm shooting handheld, I use high-speed color negative film, usually
Kodak Portra 800.  All the Portra films are a dream to scan, usually
excellent results.

If I'm shooting on a tripod, I use Provia 100F slide film.  It is reasonably
rational in its rendering of artificial lights, and it has no reciprocity
failure for exposures shorter than 120 seconds, and it has fine grain and
the qualities you normally expect from slide film.  Scans are no more
difficult than daytime shots, and results are excellent.

The main challenge in nighttime scans seems to be preserving or coaxing out
the shadow detail without increasing noise too much (grain in the photo, or
noise from the scanner).  Light sources blow out on both slide and neg film,
but you can often minimize the damage in areas surrounding them.  As a
general rule, night shots require a lot of post-scan tweaking to get the
best results, much more so than day shots.

You can see examples of nighttime shots at


Most of the nighttime shots were shot with a tripod on Provia 100F, with
exposures of around eight seconds, then scanned on my LS-2000.  Lots of
tweaking is usually required to get the required contrast, detail, and "pop"
out of the scans.  The Moulin Rouge and Opera shots were on Portra 800; the
originals are much noisier than equivalent shots on Provia.  I'm not sure
which film I used for the Champs-Elysees shot, but I _think_ it was Portra
800, judging from the exposure time.

Most of these shots require color adjustment.  The nighttime Louvre shot,
for example, required tweaking to change the sodium-vapor light on the
pavement from a yellowish-green (a typical rendering of this light on
Provia) to the pinkish-orange that it appears to be in real life.  In the
Opera and Champs-Elysees shots, as I recall, I had to mask portions of the
image and correct light sources individually--the Arc de Triomphe looks very
greenish on Provia, and that had to be fixed without shifting the rest of
the image.

I've discovered that an amazing variety of nighttime shots seem to all boil
down to exposures of f/8 at 8 seconds for ISO 100 film.  I guess all lighted
cities look very much the same from a distance, or something.

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