What aperture did people tend to use in movies in the 1940s?

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  • #176430

      I know you needed a TON of light in these films that were shot on slower film stocks, does that mean most movies would be shot wide open? Thinking of films such as Casablanca.

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    • #176443

        A “ton” is relative… In 1938, Kodak came out with Plus-X (80 ASA) and Super-XX (160 ASA).  Super-XX was used on “Citizen Kane”, sometimes pushed one-stop (so 320 ASA), and a few rare shots, pushed 2-stops (so 640 ASA).

        “Casablanca” would have been shot on Plus-X and probably lit and shot at an f/2.8 to f/4 as was common back then. But after “Citizen Kane” the interest in using more light and stopping down for more depth of field began in earnest for b&w films, though usually not to f/16 like “Citizen Kane” did on some scenes. Also, Super-XX was not commonly used despite the extra speed (it probably cost more to buy too.) It was replaced by Tri-X negative (1954, 320 ASA) and then Double-X negative (1959, 250 ASA). Stanley Cortez used Tri-X on films like “Shock Corridor” and “Night of the Hunter”. Plus-X was by far the most common b&w film stock used back then, though in the 1960s, Double-X started to be used more and more.

        Keep in mind that if the lighting is mostly hard and direct, you can get an f/2.8 on smaller units using Plus-X — you can key a close-up on a direct 650w or 1K tungsten fresnel at f/2.8 on 64/80 ASA film. Wider shots you’d get into 2Ks and 5Ks, maybe 10Ks outside windows.




          Wonderful, thank you for the info. Given me some things to research!

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