"High definition" 35mm film

I recently purchased Kodak High Definition 35mm film (ISO 400). I shot one roll of it and, since I needed a couple of the shots right away, had it developed at a grocery store one-hour photo. I was very surprised when I looked at the prints – the colors were sharp and bright. In fact, the prints looked like they had been developed by a professional. (Well, not really, but compared to typical one-hour results, I was impressed.)

So what is this stuff, and what makes it “high definition?” It seems to be worth the higher cost, based on my initial success – but is it really? Since it’s “high definition” will I be able to make larger prints with 400 speed film without fear of graininess? Are there other similar, or better, (very) amateur-level options? Please enlighten me, all you photography studs out there.

Nothing in particular apart from just being a bit more fine grained than ISO 400 film used to be. As a general rule the lower the ISO number (lower sensitivity) the finer the grain and detail.

I’m guessing you got 4x6 prints in which case the quality of the color and grain of the prints doesn’t tell you much. I can print an aweseome 4x6 from a puny 1.3 megapixel digicam but that doesn’t mean it’s as good as any 35mm film. Print 11x14 or larger and look at it close then you’ll see what this film really does. Bottom line is you found a place with an automatic print machine that was setup correctly.

Right–to expand, a smaller grain (the actual silver chemical bits that change when exposed to light) yields a sharper, more detailed picture (just as higher image resolution does in a computer/printer). But the flipside of this is, such films are generally “slower”–you have to expose them to much more light to make them work, which causes problems if you’re not shooting in bright daylight or in a professional studio (or shooting something stationary). High-speed films (400 and higher) can yield pictures with much less light, meaning you can shoot pictures inside, in worse outdoor lighting, or with a very fast shutter speed (meaning you can catch action with less blurring). But these films usu. have larger grains. So the high-def. film uses, one would assume, more advanced (read = $$$) chemical and manufacturing techniques to yield a film that exposes quickly but has small grains.

I’m not sure what you’re comparing them to but a big factor is likely that your pictures were correctly exposed. Automatic print machines will usually try to correct for severly under or overexposed images but this doesn’t really fix them. An underexposed color neg has very little dye on it which means faded colors and high grain in the print. Ilford uses this property in a B&W film that uses color chemistry. It’s basically one dye layer of color negative film. The nominal ISO is 400 but it can be shot anywhere from 50-800 (the original version from 100-1600). If you shoot at a high ISO you’ll get more grain and contrast and less at low ISO.

Every now and then, you run into a minilab that’s manned by people who care. They keep it clea and refreshed and monitor the results. This makes a HUGE difference in your print quality. If you get good results at a place, stick to it. And tell the manager and lab operators.

Colour negative film today is much better than it was 20 yrs ago, but the improvement came in small steps. Each new film is slightly better.

So, it’s probably the minilab operator.

Kodak High Definition 400 or 200 is nothing more than renamed Royal Gold 400 or 200, according to a thread on photo.net.

It is definitely clearer- according to Kodak’s technical information sheets on their website, the High Definition 400 has a Print Grain index of 39, while MAX versatility 400 has a PGI of 48. The PGI is a measure of the graininess of teh film- in other words, how small the dots are that make up the picture.

As an illustraion of the tradeoff between speed and graininess, in an advanced optics class in college, I used ASA 3 film. That’s right – 3. But boy, was it high-resolution. You could look at the film negative itself in a microscope and see sharp corners where they were supposed to be.