Announcing New Black and White Film Profiles

Great News!

Simple Film Lab is offering three new Black and White film tonal distribution profiles for black and white film sent in for processing and scanning.

The new tonal profiles are meant to be applicable to black and white film sent in for processing to normal contrast and is meant to provide a look similar to what you can get if you were to do an analog darkroom print using a split grade printing technique to punch in the shadows and blacks with a grade 5 filter and also control the rolloff of the highlights using a grade 0 or 00 filter.

So, let’s take a look. As a frame of reference, first a frame of Ilford HP5 in 120 format exposed (with an incident meter) to ISO 400 and developed to ISO standard 0.615 contrast and scanned in with a matching tone profile to make the straight line part of the characteristic curve land on Gamma 1.0.

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Contrast wise, it’s pretty much what I’d expect of a linear black and white digital image, and is basically what you’d expect to see if you just did a straight print at grade 2.5 in a darkroom.

There isn’t anything special about it, and in all honesty, the floating point DNG that you get from Simple Film Lab is insanely malleable and can have a huge amount of dynamic range that you could recover any number of ways in either Adobe ACR or Adobe Lightroom.

Profile BWSG1

So the first profile is called BWSG1, which is short for “Black and White Simple Grade 1”.

This tone curve starts with the standard normal contrast curve of the image above, but includes the equivalent of adding a couple of extra seconds of exposure at grade 5 if this where being printed onto paper in a darkroom.

This is what it looks like:
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Just like with adding a couple of seconds at grade 5 in the darkroom, the mid-tones and highlights are largely unaffected, but the blacks and shadows punch down a bit and make for a significantly more punchy looking image while still retaining the same contrast in the rest of the image.

Profile BWSG2

The second profile is called BWSG2, and is a progression of BWSG1. In this tonal distribution profile, we keep the same look of BWSG1, but include the equivalent of a grade 0 rolloff on the extreme highlights. The effect here in this image is very subtle, but in images where there are lights in the frame or very high contrast specular highlights, it provides the same effect of burning in the highlights at the lowest possible contrast so that you retain as much detail in the highlight areas as possible when printing in the dark room.

This is what it looks like:

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The difference in this image is admittedly extremely subtle, however, if you look closely, the cloud cover is not the same luminance level as the BWSG1 image because it is just at the bottom part of the grade 0 rolloff. So everything brighter than the cloud cover (i.e. light sources etc) would have a nice gentle rolloff to pure white.

Profile BWSG3

The third profile is called BWSG3 and is a progression of BWSG2. In this tone profile, we start with BWSG2, and add the equivalent of even more exposure time at grade 5 so the increased contrast amount moves a bit up the tonal scale and starts to effect what would be zones 4 and 5 if this were printed on paper in a dark room. Likewise, on the highlight side, we move the grade 0 exposure down the tonal scale ever so slightly and introduce an equivalent of a grade 00 exposure at the extreme top of the characteristic curve.

This is what it looks like:

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Again, the mid-tones are mostly intact, but the image is rendered in a significantly more punchy manner while still retaining very legible details in the important parts of the image.

Caveats

It should be noted that if you want maximum post processing flexibility, these three tone curves may not be for you, as they bake in a specific look that is meant to look similar to what you would get with a well rendered analog darkroom print.

These tonal distribution profiles also are not as good of a fit for films that don’t have particularly flat characteristic curves. For example, JCH StreetPan has a very S-Curve shaped characteristic curve, and so these profiles won’t necessarily render the same way.

These tonal characteristic curves are also meant for films that are developed to “normal contrast” (i.e. ISO standard 0.615 contrast), and therefore won’t have the same visual effect with films that are normally push processed like Kodak TMAX P3200 or Ilford Delta 3200.

Pricing

Since these are specifically developed looks, they are not available for free because every frame needs to be individually looked at and adjusted to provide the best rendering into the selected tonal profile, just like with doing an analog dark room print, where you have to adjust for every frame to best fit it onto the paper while still providing nice punchy blacks and lovely highlight rolloff to white.

So with that being said, I also want to provide affordable pricing, so if you’d like your black and white film that you send in for processing and scanning to have this look applied, it’s not a huge additional expense, so the pricing is an additional $5 per roll, and can be added to the straight scan through the deluxe scan options. I’ll be updating the downloadable order form to reflect the new profiles in the coming days, but if you want these looks sooner than that, just send me an email and request it and we’ll work out payment at that time.

In the future I’ll be adding a handful of new tone profiles that will provide a few more variations on what has been released so far, and to better address film developed to other contrast levels.

Till next time!

Updated Film Tech Sheets

Just a heads up, I’ve uploaded the film tech sheets for the following films:

If you plan to send any C-41 film into Simple Film Lab, feel free to check the tech sheets out and look at the downloadable sample images.

Enjoy!

September Special: two 35mm rolls developed for the price of one roll

Get your rolls of 35mm film ready! For the entire month of September, you can get two 35mm rolls of C-41 film developed for the price of one roll. That comes out to $2.50 per roll.

This applies to developing only of 35mm C-41 color negative film, so if you want us to also scan your film, then you will still need to pay the standard per frame cost for each roll.

This promotion is only valid for orders placed during the month of September 2018. There is no real hard upper limit to how many rolls you can send in, but if you do something like send in 500 rolls, then we’ll have to have a conversation.

When you see the 2 for 1 C-41 development special pop up in the store, you can start placing processing orders and send your film in.

Updated Fomapan 200 and 400 Film Tech Sheets

I’ve updated the tech sheet for Fomapan 200 and added an official tech sheet for Fomapan 400. Both films now are developed with replenished XTOL to the ISO standard contrast 0.62, so check out the available tech sheets if sending film in to Simple Film Lab for exposure guidance and sample DNG files so you’ll know what to expect if sending film in to be processed.

It should be noted that the tech sheets are just films that we’ve officially looked at. We develop all black and white and C-41 films, so if you’ve shot film that we don’t have listed, that’s not a problem. We can still develop it and scan it in for you, we just don’t have an official position on how to expose it and such because we haven’t officially looked at it.

Simple Film Lab: Announcing C-41 Color Negative Film Processing

Kodak Ektar 100 Sample Images
Kodak Ektar 100

Yes, it’s about to be here. Simple Film Lab will start accepting C-41 color negative film for processing and scanning in the month of June, 2018.

Color is a lot harder to do than Black and White, and it took a while for me to figure out how to do C-41 color negative film in a way that would be repeatable and have fairly accurate colors, but still allow the character of each film to come through once scanned in.

I’ve been able to process C-41 film for a long time and even had my own Adobe Photoshop based color workflow, but it really only worked for one film: Kodak Ektar 100, and it wasn’t really viable to do on a large scale or for other people. If this is to be a service I want to offer to others, then I need a way to provide an equivalent to what you get with RA-4 analog color prints, but digitally in Adobe Lightroom which is a fully color managed environment.

So, lots of research, lots of testing, lots of studying the DNG spec, lots of code tweaks to Simple Image Tools (the film scanning toolset developed by me for Simple Film Lab), and a lot later than I would have preferred, it’s done. And it works.

So, what do you get? Basically, the same as my Black and White film processing service, except the output is in full on, glorious, 32 bit floating point, linear light color, as an Adobe Digital Negative file. It is the color film vision that I’ve had for a while, and in my humble opinion, is the best hybrid workflow for color negative film. Bar None.

What you get from other labs is inferior if it is not at least correctly color conformed Adobe DNG files. Jpegs and tiff files have their uses, but frankly, if that’s what the lab you’re using is offering as the output of scanning your film after processing it, then they are not doing you or anybody else a favor. Like it or not, anybody who takes any serious amount of pictures uses Adobe Lightroom and should demand to get Lightroom native DNG files of their film scans. Anything else can be an option, but should not be the default. Period. End of Discussion. If you are a film lab and you are reading this, consider this post as a notice. The film scanning gold standard is correctly color conformed 32 bit floating point DNG files that behave the same way as a DNG file from a digital camera. If you don’t know how to do that, then please go figure it out and start doing it before your customers figure out that what you are giving them could be so much better and become my customers.

Film scans from Simple Image Tools does things like make Lightroom’s color temperature and white balancing actually accurate. A daylight film shot during the day has whites that look white. Did you shoot your daylight film indoors under fluorescent lights? No problem, just select that type of lighting under the Lightroom WB drop-down, or use the eye dropper to change it. Did you shoot your Tungsten balanced film outside during the day? Also, no problem. Just select “Daylight” in the WB dropdown tool. It actually works the way it’s supposed to work.

The same goes for the exposure. In fact, all of Adobe’s Lightroom Develop Module tools work the way you would expect them to work as if you shot the picture digitally, but in reality, it was shot on film.

So what is this going to cost? Well, I’m still crunching the numbers. C-41 chemistry is quite a bit more expensive than black and white chemistry and I’m still working out what the real cost per roll is, however, expect me to have it worked out and have an order form available for download within the next few days. I’m looking to follow the same model as I do for Black and White film processing, just to keep things simple.

With that all being said, yes, C-41 color negative film processing is about to happen at Simple Film Lab.

Kodak Ektar 100? Yes.
Kodak Ektar 100 Sample Images

Kodak Portra 400? Yes.
Kodak Portra 400 Sample Images

Kodak Portra 160? Yes.
Kodak Portra 160 Sample Images

Fuji PRO 400H? Yes.
Fuji PRO400H Sample Images

Pretty much any C-41 film? Pretty much Yes.
Kodak ColorPlus 200 Sample Images

The above image is super cheap Kodak ColorPlus 200.

Color checker charts are one thing. What about real pictures? I’m glad you asked. I’ve been uploading sample images to my Flickr account and plan to create tech sheets with full DNG sample files to download for all the Color negative emulsions currently on the market today.

I’ve already shot Ektar 100, Portra 160, Portra 400, PRO 400H, Gold 200, Ultramax 400, and ColorPlus 200. I have Portra 800, Fujicolor 200, Fujicolor 400, Fujicolor 800, Lomography CN100, CN400, and CN800 in my possession and queued up have sample images shot, developed, and scanned and plan to search out and acquire as many other C-41 emulsions as I can to generate sample images for.

If you have a preferred C-41 emulsion that’s not on this list that you’d like to see, then let me know via the contact form and I’ll see what I can do about it. That being said, C-41 is very standardized, and once you get one emulsion working with Adobe Lightroom, the same thing pretty much works for every emulsion. There are differences between the emulsions (just like there are differences between digital cameras), but once you understand what those differences are and how to deal with them in a standardized way, it stops mattering and just works.

So, keep an eye out for an updated order form, and I look forward to processing your C-41 color film really soon.

Japan Camera Hunter StreetPan 400 Film Review Published

Just a quick heads up: I’ve published the tech sheet for Japan Camera Hunter StreetPan 400 film in the Film Review/Tech Sheets section.

You can find it here.

If you send your StreetPan film in to Simple Film Lab, please refer to the tech sheet so you’ll know what to expect. It includes sample images along with downloadable DNG files to look at.

Enjoy!