Reddish Egrets at Sunset Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

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Bird Photography FAQ 4

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RTP-26: This Northern Flicker image was made on the very first roll of Fuji Velvia that I put through my camera.

General Bird Photography
Frequently Asked Questions

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What films do you use?

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I currently use only two films, Fuji Velvia (RVP), and Fuji F-100 (RDP III).   As one who has made a wonderful living shooting Velvia pushed one stop for more than a decade, I'd like to say that Fujiís latest film, Provia F100 is a fine one--no pun intended. It is the 200 speed film that I've been dreaming of, and also pushes well two stops. Rated at its nominal ISO (100), I use this film in bright sunlight when shooting more than two hours after sunrise or more than two hours before sunset on clear days because it is far less contrasty than Velvia. I push it one stop (at EI 200) when I am in need of additional shutter speed, and two stops (rated at EI 320) when I am desperate for extra shutter speed.

Velvia still offers a vivid color palette, mind boggling color saturation, unequaled rendition of the earth tones, and incredible sharpness and I try to use it whenever possible.  It performs beautifully in low light, especially with greens. But the speed of Provia F pushed one or two stops is addictive. And the slides virtually grainless; the backgrounds look like satin. It is a much more neutral film than Velvia, handles contrast better, and has a somewhat wider exposure latitude. Most importantly to me, it is the only pushable 100 film that I've used in overcast conditions that does not render white skies (or water reflecting white skies) with a horrific magenta cast--see especially Ektachrome 100 SW and VS. .Now that I'm utilizing the both the Canon EF 500 and  600mm f/4L Image Stabilizer lenses with the EF 2X teleconverter quite a bit (and stacked multipliers to boot), Provia F is an even more attractive option.

I use Velvia:

  1. As much as possible.  For my taste, its brilliant color palette is simply unsurpassed.
  2. In low light and on dreary days when I am NOT using flash.
  3. In warm light (when I have sufficient shutter speed, and subject movement is not an important consideration).
  4. From 1/2 hour to roughly 1 1/2 or two hours after sunrise on clear mornings and from 1 1/2 to 2 hours before sunset on clear afternoons.
  5. Right at sunrise, and then again right at sunset (again, when I have sufficient shutter speed, and subject movement is not an important consideration).

I use Provia F100 often pushed 1 stop to EI 200 or 2 stops at EI 320 (Yes!  Rate the film at EI 320.  Compensate as you normally would, then tell the lab to push the film 2 full stops (not 1 2/3 stops).

  1. On dreary days when I am using flash. 
  2. In warm  light when I need extra shutter speed and subject movement might be a consideration.
  3. At normal (ISO 100) two hours after sunrise or before sunset on clear days.  Provia F100 handles the contrast in bright scenes better than Velvia.
  4. In extremely low EV situations where Velvia simply has no chance to even register a flock of birds in flight on the film.
  5. Often, when I am using the 600 IS/2X TC combination, or when stacking TCs.

Remember, however, that film choice is strictly personal.

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