Magazine article American Cinematographer


Magazine article American Cinematographer


Article excerpt

Careful tests shot of the same scenes would tend to indicate that the new Eastman 16mm color negative (7247) is superior to the old 7254 and ECO 7252 in almost every significant respect

A new Eastman color film has excited many filmmakers with its wide versatility and promise of technical superiority, especially in the 16mm format. It's been more than a year (Feb. 1974) since Eastman introduced the fine-grained, medium-speed color negative stock, Eastman Color Negative Il (ECNII), 7247 and 5247, replacing 7254 and 5254. Though still available in 35mm, 54 has been discontinued in 16mm and is no longer available from Eastman.

"7247 is the result of a never-ending program of technical improvement," says Fred Godfrey, Eastman's Sales and Engineering Representative in Hollywood. "Its development was interrelated with that of Kodacolor II."

Though constantly improving, Eastman's negative color chemistries basically had not changed since 1951.

"The old system had leveled off in terms of continuing improvements," added Godfrey. "Now we can see other improvements in the future." One nice thing: the new chemistry puts less pollutants into the environment.

The new chemical process is a shorter one for the labs. The approximately 20-minute processing time for 47 is half that of 54. This has been accomplished in part through the use of a high-temperature (1060F) process, greatly shortening wet time. To handle the new chemistry, labs have installed expensive, sophisticated equipment. Consolidated Film Industries, for instance, has invested $350,000 in new processors.

What about those of us who have to use the new film? For 35mm production, the new stock means relatively little change. The 47's purchase price is the same, though its lab costs are slightly higher. The 47's finer grain and increased resolution (see tests) hold little advantage to the 35mm producer, for whom 54 was already sufficient.

In terms of technical or broadcast quality, there is no substitute for 35mm. But the improved and very acceptable quality of 7247 has attracted the interest of television producers. An excellent reason for this is the lower costs involved with 16mm. Wolper Productions, on their six-part one-hour series about Lincoln, saved $100,000 on film and lab expenses.

What does the new stock mean for other areas of 16mm film production, like industrials, documentaries, and features? How does this new film compare to Eastman's reversal workhorse, Ektachrome Commercial (ECO) 7252?

To help answer these questions, Mark Griffiths, David Fein, and I shot a series of comparison tests with 7247, 7254, and 7252. The tests of the 54 are academic now that Eastman has discontinued the old stock, but it is interesting to take a look at the resolution and contrast comparisons.

Armed with film generously supplied by Herb Lightman, Editor of the American Cinematographer, equipment loaned us by Derek Scott, Director of the Motion Picture Technical Office at UCLA, and processing donated by Sid Solow, President of Consolidated Film Industries, we set about the task of photographing the tests. We used an Arri 16S, shooting all the tests with the same camera and 25mm lens. All the stocks were rated at Eastman's recommended ASA and exposed at 24 frames per second. In addition, all the tests went through an internegative stage. The two negative stocks went through color reversal internegatives. …

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