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Rihard

Help! Film / Classic Astrophotography - Rolls Question!

27 posts in this topic

Hi all,

I wish to try some classic (film) astrophotography with my beloved Praktica MTL3 Film SLR. I would like to buy some film rolls from Amazon.co.uk but I have no idea what's the right thing to buy.

Searching google I did find some names/brands (it seems that Fuji Superia are highly advised - but what ISO?) but I'd like to hear from some more experienced people what are the generic rules for selecting a film roll suitable for Astrophotography. I.E. is it better B/W or Color ? High or Low ISO? Fine / Low Grain? High sensitivity to red? Are Near IR BW rolls like ILFORD SPX of any use?

Also, most of the articles that I found are naming film rolls that are not available anymore. Which ones, currently available on Amazon UK, would you advise to buy?

What are the recommendations for developing such rolls?

Bear in mind that I'm an "intermediate beginner" so I do not have extreme expectations :)

Thanks all & Clear Skies

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the best person on here to help you is nightfly hes fantastic with film AP another option is the forum over the pond who seem to like the clouds, they have a whole board dedicated to film AP

im going to be giving kodac colour gold 200 a go, as its £1 in poundland :p but theres also seem to be the fuji 200 colour as well,

the best ones like kodachrome sadly dont get made any more so only old stocks of film still exist

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the best person on here to help you is nightfly hes fantastic with film AP another option is the forum over the pond who seem to like the clouds, they have a whole board dedicated to film AP

im going to be giving kodac colour gold 200 a go, as its £1 in poundland :p but theres also seem to be the fuji 200 colour as well,

the best ones like kodachrome sadly dont get made any more so only old stocks of film still exist

Thanks :)

I know Nightly, he's the king of Film AP on the web :D when googling for Film AP his name (and his wonderful pics) pop up rather frequently..I'll give him a ring through Flickr :)

I bought 2 Kodak Gold 200 rolls a couple of weeks ago in a discount shop for Euro 1,49 :D I've got great results with portraits.

Where do I find the over the pond forum? Is it another forum or a section of SGL? Google didn't help : P

Cheers

Clear Skies

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Hello. Did someone mention film? O.k. To get started I will list off what I consider to be films worth working with. Not every film works well for AP, but several do really well.

Kodak Negative films:

Kodak Gold 100 (GA) and Kodak Gold 200 (GB) The best traditional color print film from Kodak available in my opinion. Really nice for daylight work as well. I would expose for 15-20 minutes at f/2.8 under moderately dark skies or 30 minutes at f/4 for telephoto lenses. My standard exposure with my 300mm Takumar is 30 minutes at f/4 under very dark skies.

Kodak Slide Films:

Kodak Elite Chrome 200. If you can find some, buy it! The best film for astrophotography, period! Very high sensitivity to Ha light with bright cherry red nebulae. Very good stability of color while being the least sensitive to green light. A plus under light polluted skies. I've captured wonderful images of the Milky Way with exposures as short as 2-3 minutes @ f/2 or try 7 -12 minutes at f/2.8. The lagoon nebulae records well with a telephoto at f/4 and 20 minutes exposure. This film can be pushed for higher effective speed, but not advisable unless you have very dark skies as this film is very sensitive.

Fujifilm Negative films:

Fujicolor 100 (CN): A very high sensitivity film with very low reciprocity failure. Records all colors equally well and picks up skyglow in brief exposures. This might be a poor film for light polluted skies. Use standard exposures of 15 minutes at f/2.8 or 20 - 30 minutes at f/4. Under dark skies this is an amazing film.

Fujicolor 200: Very similar to the 100 speed Fujicolor but with more grain. A good film, but Fujicolor 100 beats it in long exposures. It is easier to find than the 100 version. Use it if you find it!

Fuji Slide Films:

Fujichrome 400X: A great film if you cannot find Kodak Elite Chrome 200. It is fast and very sensitive to blue light. I recommend 5 minute exposures at f/2 under dark skies or 10 minutes at f/2.8, less in light polluted skies.

B&W Negative film:

Fuji Acros 100: The best b&w film for astrophotography. Extremely good reciprocity, but does not record Ha nebulae very well. There are no truly good Panchromatic films out there since the demise of Hypered Kodak Technical Pan, but Acros can be hypered with great results. It does work wonderful right out of the box. I recommend 10-20 minutes f/2.8 or 30 minutes at f/4. Perhaps less under light polluted skies.

If light polution is severe, do not even try film AP as it will disappoint.

More on another post

Edited by Nightfly
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Film astrophotography with a common 35mm camera and strandard 50mm lens can be rewarding. With a suitable film and camera and telescope with piggyback bracket, or perhaps a custom camera mount like Astrotrac, you can make some fine images.

I recommend stopping the lens down from full aperture to f/2.8 or even f/4. This does several things. A lens at full aperture has many aberrations in addition to light fall-off in the corners called vignetting. Stopping down allows for a longer exposure and therefore you will record more stars before local light pollution fogs the film in addition to providing a good flat-field and sharp stars from center to corner of the frame.

Use a cable release and the "B" or Bulb mode on the shutter dial. Some cameras depend on the battery for long exposures. If this is the case, you might want to have a few extra around or find another camera body that is entirely mechanical.

Focus should not be a problem for a quality lens stopped down an f-stop or two. Set it at the infinity symbol. Compose your shot and release the shutter. If you feel vibration is a problem, use the "hat trick" to start and stop exposures. Polar alignment should be good, but not necessarily perfect for short exposures of 5-15 minutes.

Have the film developed at a reputable processor, even if you have to mail it in. Now here is where you need to decide what to do. If you have a film scanner, have the film returned uncut. Cut the film into strips and scan yourself. If you want prints, tell the lab these are dark frames and require a little extra attention. They will cut and make prints. If they are slides, start the roll with a few daylight frames so the lab has a good starting point for the cutting machine. Have the frames mounted at the lab. View them with a loupe or scan them. Prints are not usually made from slides at a photo lab.

Post your images for all to enjoy!

Edited by Nightfly
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An example of Kodak Gold 100 and 30 minutes exposure at f/4 and 300mm.

6271128664_f5f86f4c4a_b.jpg

Kodak Gold 100 Test: Messier 8 Region by Nightfly Photography, on Flickr

This was scanned on a cheap flatbed scanner. Kodak Gold 100 has very fine grain and with a better film scanner a good 8x10 or 11x14 print could be made from the negative.

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Fujicolor 100 (CN) with a 50mm lens, 20 minute exposure at f/2.8 under dark skies. The film easily recorded skyglow bands and this was perhaps overexposed. A 10-12 minutes exposure would have been fine. Negative films tolerate overexposure well. This frame would be better rendered if scanned on a better quality film scanner.

5847932601_d345939789_b.jpg

Fujicolor 100 Test: Summer Milky Way by Nightfly Photography, on Flickr

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Nightly, thank you for the wonderful answer(s).

I bought 3 Kodak Gold 200 film rolls at a discount shop the other day (Eur 1.49 each).

Later I will write you a proper reply, as I am at work now and can't do much.

Cheers

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Nightly, thank you for the wonderful answer(s).

I bought 3 Kodak Gold 200 film rolls at a discount shop the other day (Eur 1.49 each).

Later I will write you a proper reply, as I am at work now and can't do much.

Cheers

I meant NightFly - My stupid spell checker keeps correcting that, just noticed :D

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I'll just ramble about the use of film.

You can expose for as long as desired, cap the lens and take a break and then resume. Just make sure your tracking right before resuming the frame.

Faster lens openings will have a better chance of capturing meteors.

Fast films become slow films the longer they are exposed. I use primarily 100 and 200 ISO films and they keep recording well after high speed films simply fail. You get the benefit of the lower ISO film's fine grain as well. It's slow and steady with film.

Color films can record red nebulae quite well and in the case of Elite Chrome 200. It can capture Barnards loop in a single one minute exposure at f/2.

Classic film gear is cheap on the used market with older lenses trending higher as many are "digital ready". Monitor prices before buying as some very nice equipment can be found for very economical prices.

There is nothing trendy about film, it's been around forever. If you like what you get for results, keep shooting. It might seem difficult, but a great film shot is hard to beat. Remember, this is a hobby, have fun and share your results!

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Thanks again NIghtfly for the precious information.

Any big difference between negative and slide films? Is developing slides more expensive ?

Now all I need is a cable release for the bulb mode and I think I can actually buy on amazon most of the films you have mentioned, for a reasonable price. A local shop stocks several B/W Fuji Neopan films at different iso speeds, are they any good?

Very interesting the Barnards Loop thing :D I will give it a try after checking if summer is a good time to do so :p

About the equipment, I have a 50M mm F/1.8 lens with infinite focus and aperture ring. It's a cracking sharp lens made in East Germany. The Praktica MLT 3 camera still works like a charm after about 25 years. I think I will be using that atm, so I won't be taking any telezoom pictures as for now, even though I would like to get something in the range of 135 or 200 mm to image the Andromeda Galaxy on film. Have you ever tried this?

This thread (and your flickr page) will be my mini guide and I just can't wait to make my several attempts until I get the right shots :) and surely I will share them with you all. I might make a thread with my experience with different films and even experiment with alternative films.

.... Clouds Willing :D

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Hi - If you're looking for film processing I can recommend 'Peak Imaging'. http://www.peak-imaging.com/index.htm

They will process, print, scan, whatever you like, from colour print film, slide film, or b/w. (They also do printing from digital media)

Good results & fast turnaround.

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Thanks a lot MJWales, that looks like a very interesting service, especially the Process + Scan to CD service :)

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Thanks again NIghtfly for the precious information.

Any big difference between negative and slide films? Is developing slides more expensive ?

Now all I need is a cable release for the bulb mode and I think I can actually buy on amazon most of the films you have mentioned, for a reasonable price. A local shop stocks several B/W Fuji Neopan films at different iso speeds, are they any good?

Very interesting the Barnards Loop thing :D I will give it a try after checking if summer is a good time to do so :p

About the equipment, I have a 50M mm F/1.8 lens with infinite focus and aperture ring. It's a cracking sharp lens made in East Germany. The Praktica MLT 3 camera still works like a charm after about 25 years. I think I will be using that atm, so I won't be taking any telezoom pictures as for now, even though I would like to get something in the range of 135 or 200 mm to image the Andromeda Galaxy on film. Have you ever tried this?

This thread (and your flickr page) will be my mini guide and I just can't wait to make my several attempts until I get the right shots :) and surely I will share them with you all. I might make a thread with my experience with different films and even experiment with alternative films.

.... Clouds Willing :D

I have not tried the other Neopan films, but know that they have higher grain and lower reciprocity in long exposures. I shoot 35mm and medium format (6x7) with lenses from 35mm-300mm focal length.

You will want to wait until early moring this autumn or a winter night before tackling Barnard's loop as it is in Orion. My recommended targets would be Cygnus, Scutum, and Sagittarius as they feature wonderful star clouds and nebulae. If you cannot see the Milky Way you cannot capture it with film. The quality of the sky will directly effect the quality of the captured images.

We are approaching the dark of the Moon. I would recommend using what you have right now. Take good notes and have fun are the two most important pieces of advice I can give you.

Clear Skies

Jim

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Here is an example of a very brief exposure using a standard 50mm lens, Elite Chrome 200 and a 2 minute exposure at f/2. The film was pushed to EI 320.

ED200033_50_1_1024.jpg

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thanks nightfly you have answered alot of my questions! and iv been looking for a decent photo company too!!

poundland have switched supplys of kodak colour 200 to agfa vista plus 200 :( any ideas how that will work?

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thanks nightfly you have answered alot of my questions! and iv been looking for a decent photo company too!!

poundland have switched supplys of kodak colour 200 to agfa vista plus 200 :( any ideas how that will work?

I have no experience with AGFA films. It might be interesting to see if it does work. Not all films do well and some do absolutely nothing after a 1 second exposure. I've dedicated much time into testing the untried films, but now I am less inclined to do so, I've got images to produce!

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sorry to jump in and hijack the thread like this hijack.gif, but i too am just starting into the 'classic' Film Astrophotography avenue with my Canon EOS500 and 35-80mm f/4.6-f/5 lens.

My question is really for Nightfly, but if anyone else knows please do step in. I just wondered if tracking is always necessary when taking 2 or even 5 minute exposures on film. I know that, generally, anything longer than 30 seconds will often lead to star trails on larger focal lengths, but is this the case for shorter focal lengths also? for example if untracked, what would the probable maximum exposure time for a 35mm fl at f/4.6 with 400iso film be?

thanks in advance!

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sorry to jump in and hijack the thread like this hijack.gif, but i too am just starting into the 'classic' Film Astrophotography avenue with my Canon EOS500 and 35-80mm f/4.6-f/5 lens.

My question is really for Nightfly, but if anyone else knows please do step in. I just wondered if tracking is always necessary when taking 2 or even 5 minute exposures on film. I know that, generally, anything longer than 30 seconds will often lead to star trails on larger focal lengths, but is this the case for shorter focal lengths also? for example if untracked, what would the probable maximum exposure time for a 35mm fl at f/4.6 with 400iso film be?

thanks in advance!

C3PO, I will try to answer this :)

Check out this picture: http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream

It is a digital picture taken with a 18-55 lens on a Nikon D3100. I think it was F/3.5.

The exposure time was 25 seconds at ISO3200 from a dark site (Sardinian Beach).

No tracking involved (the camera was just left on the top of a car with the lens up :D - I randomly shot Andromeda, the faint think in the centre of the pic)

As you can see, at 25 seconds the Star Trail is already evident. Mechanically the same thing would happen with a film,

especially as you won't be shooting at ISO3200 and, at a relatively slow F/4.6, a shoot at 35 mm would still take a longer exposure time,

increasing the Star Trail. As I am learning from NightFly, I believe you might still be able to take some reasonable pictures

with that setting with about 1 or 2 minutes exposure (taking account of the ISO 400 - unless it gets over exposed?), but

you won't be able to get away without any star trail, and I think 30 / 35 seconds is already over the limit at 35mm.

Anyway, generally speaking, the more you close up the more the star trail will be evident.

I hope this helps.

NightFly might say something more useful and out of better experience in this regards. :)

Clear Skies

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The only thing you can do to lessen star trailing is shoot as wide as possible with a lens as fast as possible with a very short exposure. This is where very fast film works best. In this case I recommend Fujichrome Provia 400X and push to 800 ISO. A 28mm f/2 lens wide open and a 30 second exposure will show slight trailing when enlarged. My brief exposure example above was only 2 minutes, but it was shot at f/2 and I still needed to track. Slight blurring of the trees is evident. Better the trees than the stars in my opinion.

A modern tracking system like Astrotrac or even a barn door tracker works well for brief exposures. For this type of work I happily yield to digital cameras for this is what they do very well.

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Hi Jim,

Provia 400X were on my Amazon Basket, however, they are very pricey and processing them will be pricey too.

Is there any negative film you would suggest as a valid alternative?

Is Ektar 100 any good? How about Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400 or 800 ?

By the way, I have checked the films I have, not sure if they have anything to do with the ones you have mentioned (Kodak E200) as mine

are actually "Kodak Color 200". Would these be any good? I have taken a few portraits and I found them to be superb, not sure

if they are any good for Astrophotography though :)

Cheers.

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How about Fujicolor C200 ?

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The only thing you can do to lessen star trailing is shoot as wide as possible with a lens as fast as possible with a very short exposure. This is where very fast film works best. In this case I recommend Fujichrome Provia 400X and push to 800 ISO. A 28mm f/2 lens wide open and a 30 second exposure will show slight trailing when enlarged. My brief exposure example above was only 2 minutes, but it was shot at f/2 and I still needed to track. Slight blurring of the trees is evident. Better the trees than the stars in my opinion.

A modern tracking system like Astrotrac or even a barn door tracker works well for brief exposures. For this type of work I happily yield to digital cameras for this is what they do very well.

Wow, thanks Jim, very much what i thought to be honest. I'm looking at building a motorised barn-door mount using an old CD-ROM stepper motor, but i'm having a few issues finding plans that incorporate just a motor as many of the motorised ones use an IC to control what's going on. If you, or anyone for that matter, knows of any such plans, please do let me know!!

Hi Jim,

Provia 400X were on my Amazon Basket, however, they are very pricey and processing them will be pricey too.

Is there any negative film you would suggest as a valid alternative?

Is Ektar 100 any good? How about Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400 or 800 ?

By the way, I have checked the films I have, not sure if they have anything to do with the ones you have mentioned (Kodak E200) as mine

are actually "Kodak Color 200". Would these be any good? I have taken a few portraits and I found them to be superb, not sure

if they are any good for Astrophotography though :)

Cheers.

In my 35mm photography days i used Provia and found it to be excellent film, but as you say expensive to develop properly. Now i'm re-igniting my photography vein with AP, i've been looking around and, from a few places (including Jim's blog and the Yahoo! Astrophoto group mentioned earlier) I've been suggested to try the 35mm XTRA 400, although JIm's test using 120 format XTRA 400 didn't come out too well, so who knows what we'll get with that. As for getting stocks of the E200, unless it's on ebay and has expired date wise (remembering that you'll never know exactly how it's been kept) it could prove costly!

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Here in the States we have Kodak Gold 200 (GB) that works well for astro, but for tripod shots faster film is better. I say this one caveat. Fast film is slower in very long exposures, but with shorter exposures (under 128 seconds) the faster film may win. Try the Superia X-tra 400. It may do fine. The 120 version did not do so well, but I was exposing much longer looking for that long exposure performance. As for the C200 by Fuji, I believe it is the same as Superia 200, which does rather well. Google "Superia 200 Astrophotography" to find bits of discussion on the web as I have done some work with this in the past.

Expired E200 may be fine if only a few years old. Look for film that has been frozen for storage as this stops the aging process. Yes, Fuichrome is expensive, but it has performance beyond typical films. Cut your teeth on cheaper films, then go for the 400X once you have mastered your methods.

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