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the kodak film professional s
guide to motion picture film
eastman kodak currently manufactures many different motion picture films. these
products vary by "film code," that is, the emulsion type, and format; the width
of the film. lengths of camera films range from fifty to two thousand feet.
camera film types include "negative," which is the general choice among
professional users, and "reversal" film. negative film cannot be projected after
processing. it must be printed in the laboratory or be transferred to videotape
on a "telecine" for television applications. reversal films can be projected
immediately after processing because they duplicate reversal film. kodak
manufacturers a whole series of materials for reversal film applications. more
on this later.
choosing a film:
there are very definite reasons for selecting a negative or a reversal camera
film. special applications aside, a reversal film is generally used when:
* there will be no need for more than one copy of the film.
* time between photography and projection (or transfer) is critical (as in
* economy. it is less expensive to shoot reversal film and develop than to shoot
negative and develop and print.
* black and white reversal films tend to be a bit sharper for their given speed
than he negative / positive process.
disadvantages of reversal films include:
limited selection of products available
limited number of laboratories that process reversal film
reversal films generally require very accurate exposure techniques
if the original is damaged in handling or projection, there is no negative
from which to reprint.
prints (duplicates) made from reversal originals tend to vary in contrast from
the camera originals.
negative films offer a wide selection of products and a choice of several
different "looks." the concept behind the kodak "family or films," especially in
the vision series, is to provide a consistent "look" across a large range of
a quick review of film "speed":
"speed" is an old photographic term that relates to how quickly a photographic
material reacts to light during exposure. this meaning dates from a time when
exposures were measured in terms of minutes, not fractions of a second. the
description of "timing" a print has the same origin. in either case, we are not
really discussing the movement of anything, but rather an amount of light
striking the film. as in still photography, the volume of light that reaches the
film is controlled in part by the camera s "shutter speed" setting.
in a typical movie camera, the "shutter speed" is usually about half of the
frame rate; that is, if the camera is running at the standard 24 frames per
second, the shutter speed is about 1/50th of a second.
a typical shutter consists of a rotating disc in the path of the light with a
"cutout opening" of almost 180 degrees. while the solid part of the shutter disc
is covering the light path, the film is brought into place in the "film gate,"
where it will be exposed. once this happens, the continuing rotation of the
shutter brings the cutout area in front of the film gate, letting light strike
the film. once the cutout passes, the light is blocked, and the next frame of
film is moved into place. this process is repeated 24 times per second under
ordinary circumstances. since the cutout is about half the disc area it is equal
to about half the time, or 1/48 of a second. by making this cutout larger or
smaller, the shutter speed can be varied. unless the camera operator
specifically changes this shutter speed (on cameras that have this ability), or
changes the frame rate of the film, such as in "slow motion" cinematography, the
1/50th of a second stays the same.
as in still photography, the amount of light striking the film is also
determined by the "f-stop," or lens opening selected, and of course, the actual
the idea behind kodak s offering so many choices of color negative film is to
provide a film that is ideal for every lighting situation. decades ago, when
there was only a single type of color negative, the cinematographer faced with a
low-light situation would have to have the laboratory "force develop" the film
to increase its speed. this can be overheating the chemistry being used. this
practice offers limited success and sometimes-unpredictable results.
force-develop film tends to have increased contrast and graininess, degrading
the image. the current color negatives from kodak offer a range of speeds from
e.i. (exposure index) 50, to e.i. 800; suitable for conditions ranging from
bright sunlight to night exteriors.
the "color" of light:
the source of light will determine the color of the light. the color of light
will influence the color of subjects photographed in that light. the color of a
table lamp will appear more "warm" than light from a morning sky. candlelight
will look "warmer." although the human eye readily adapts to different types of
light, film will record the colors of a scene very accurately. what we consider
"daylight," that is, the mix of light from the sky and sun from two hours after
sunrise until two hours before sunset is very different in its "color" than
typical household lighting. florescent lighting has its own pallet of colors.
the color of a given light is expressed as its "color temperature." simply put,
the redder, or "warmer" a light source is, the lower its color temperature. the
bluer, or "cooler" the light source is, the higher its color temperature.
household light typically measures at about 2,900 degrees kelvin on a color
temperature meter, and is considered "warm." what we consider "daylight" is
about 5600 degrees, and called "cool."
"tungsten" studio lighting is about 3200-3400 degrees kelvin. there is a type of
studio light called "h.m.i.," which is designed to have the color temperature of
daylight. kodak manufactures films that are balanced for either "daylight" or
"tungsten" light sources.
"tungsten" films can be shot easily in daylight with the use of an "85 filter,"
an orange piece of glass or plastic that changes the quality of the light
entering the lens to "tungsten" color. there is a slight loss of speed, about
because about 1/3 of its overall speed has been lost. 1/3 total value. thus, a
film with an e.i. of 200 must be rated at e.i. 125 with the filter in daylight
"daylight" films can be shot in tungsten light with the use of an "80a" filter,
but this is not recommended because this technique reduces the amount of light
striking the film by about two-thirds! an e.i. 250 daylight film, like kodak
vision 250d then loses so much speed that it must be rated at e.i. 64 with the
80a filter in tungsten light.
applying the film to the situation:
when choosing or selecting a film, the first question must be, "what is the
lighting situation under which the film will be exposed?"
what is the color of the light?
generally speaking, these two issues will be the determining factors of the film
selected. just as in operating a car, the proper gear is the one will that
provide good power and speed at the proper engine revolutions. thus, the film s
looking at the numbers:
lenses are marked according to the amount of light that is allowed to enter.
these are referred to as the "f-stop" or "t-stop" numbers, and they are
mathematically related. typical "stops" include f: 2, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, and 22.
for each "stop," or change in lens opening, the amount of light allowed to reach
the film is either doubled or halved. the larger the "f" value, the smaller the
amount of light that may pass. thus, "f-11" allows half as much light to pass as
the speed rating of the film is related in a similar fashion; each doubling of
the film speed means twice the sensitivity to light. this means that if a film
with a speed of e.i. 100 requires a setting of "f-8" for a given situation, a
film rated at e.i. 200 would call for the setting of "f-11," which is one "stop"
more closed. conversely, a film rated at e.i. 50 would require a "stop" of
"f-5.6" for that scene.
the difference in e.i. 50 to e.i. 100 is one stop. from e.i. 100 to e.i. 200 is
also one stop. from e.i. 200 to e.i. 400 would be one stop, also.
in the chart above, the bar at the top represents typical lens openings. the bar
below shows the film speed (a.s.a. or e.i.) that would provide the corresponding
correct exposure. for example, for a given light situation, the use of a
200-speed film would require f 5.6. if 100-speed film were used, the lens would
be set at f4. the use of a film with a speed of 500 would require setting the
lens betweenf8 and f11.
slower is finer:
all things being equal, the "slower" the film, the finer the grain and the
better the sharpness of the image. vision technology has minimized the
differences in quality between film speeds, but for cinematographers who desire
the best overall image quality, the film with the lowest e.i. than can be used
is the best choice.
bigger is better:
the first rule of image quality is that the bigger the negative area, the higher
the quality of the image. this rule assumes that the quality of the cameras and
lenses used are equal. that is not to say that a 16mm film cannot look quite
good. but the use of 35mm film under identical circumstances will almost always
yield a sharper, finer-grained picture with better contrast.
filters and image quality:
modern precision filters generally do not detract from the quality of the image
being photographed. still, it is usually desirable to avoid unnecessary layers
of glass or plastic in the light path. as a result, the use of "daylight" film
in daylight or h.m.i. light is preferred to the use of "tungsten" film with an
sometimes, the added flexibility of using a single film, a "tungsten" balanced
type, in all situations may override the difference in quality a "daylight"
product might offer. the outstanding performance of a film like "5/7274" in many
different light situations with proper filtration is one reason for its
there is a color negative product that differs somewhat from the rest of the
product line, and warrants discussion here. kodak vision 320t, 5/7277. this film
is designed to have a lower overall level of contrast and color saturation,
which will provide:
*greater exposure "latitude," that is improved ability to handle extremes of
brightness and shadow in the original scene.
*more room for "error" in exposure
*a "softer," look, with less brilliant colors
this film might be the choice for the cinematographer who seeks an "alternative"
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