Exposed for film

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  • #202780

      I would like to ask any of you who ever shot on film. I have no experience of that. Some DP suggest me put a digital camera side by side with film camera. Looking at the exposure on the digital one, and overexposed 1 to 2 stops on the film camera. That make sense but not my way of doing things. I like doing it more scientifically.

      First of all, how to set the right aperture to get well-exposed image? What’s the readings that light meter told me? What will happen if I set the aperture the same as the reading on meter?

      Second, different types of film perceive colors differently. Some may sensitive to blue, and some work well with red. Speaking of test, it sounds like I need to test every situation and every color to find out the characteristic of the film, which means a lot of work, and plenty of time. Is that the way how you test the film? Every time doing a movie, it takes the DP a lot of work to do. Any efficient way of doing the test?

      Third, I think testing with the print is also necessary. However, is there any possible that the result will be different if I work with the same lab with same process? People said printing is a variable.

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    • #202954

        Before burning any film I would really try to learn how a lightmeter works, what exposure is and how expose for the desirable effect. Because at the end of the day you expose the same film or digital. So you can start practicing exposure with any digital camera.
        It’s a very broad and intricate issue to explain it here in a post. So the DP that told you that was actually giving you a valid shortcut in case you don’t want to go to the long and hard way of learning all is needed to know how to expose.


        Roger Deakins

          I don’t understand the suggestion to look at the digital exposure and then add 1 or 2 stops to the film. That makes no sense. An exposure is an exposure. Of course, that will vary depending on the speed of the film verses that of the digital camera and you may prefer the look of a ‘thick negative’ but that you can only find out by personal experience.


            My suggestion is that before you try and get tricky by overexposing film and restoring it to normal in timing (film or digital), if you’re new to film, you really should learn what it looks like exposed and developed normally. If you want a digital camera reference image, you can match the ISO being used by the film. For example, shoot 500T film at ISO 500, in tungsten light (3200K), and set the digital camera to the same settings, same shutter speed too.

            From a creative standpoint of shooting something, lighting and exposure should not be a science project. I think if you shoot some film and see the results, you’ll find that it is not as hard as you think as long as your base exposure for the subject is what you intend in terms of how bright or dark you want it to look.

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