This summer we left on an extended motorhome trip from the west coast all the way to an island in Lake Erie Ohio. We were gone for just over 2 1/2 months and I took about 30 rolls of film with me. I used Fuji Velvia 50, Kodak Gold 200, Kodak Ektar 100, Kodak Ultramax 400. In addition I had my iPhone 6S and Nikon D5500 with me. The film cameras were an Olympus OM2n, Voightlander Prominent, and Minolta 600si.
- Ektar 100. Ektar 100 is a professional quality fine grain negative film that I have shot a lot of in the past. As usual the results made some of the best pictures of the summer. The ultimate place to use Ektar is in any red rock country of the west. Zion or Arches National Parks are two good ones. When I got my shots back from Zion from this year shot on Ektar the results just jumped off the page saying, “wow these are the best Zion pictures” We were at Zion for a few days and I used Ektar, Gold 200, iPhone 6S & Nikon D5500.
The above shot is right out of the camera with zero editing. This is the Minolta 600si and Sigma 50mm 2.8 lens.
- Fuji Velvia 50. I have also shot many rolls of Velvia 50 over the last few years. As usual the colors were intense. But so were the shadows. The photo example I will post here is a beautiful towards sunset shot that was edited just slightly with Lightroom. Where I had problems was on a day in Theodore Roosevelt National Park we went from landscape to animal pictures all of a sudden and I had problems with the dark fur of the bison.
I shot a similar picture with my iPhone 6S which I will post here for comparison. The iPhone picture has more editing to get this result compared to the Velvia.
I like both shots, but prefer the Velvia.
- Kodak Ultramax 400. I had not used this film until this trip. It was really the surprise star of the films I used. I thought being a 400 the grain would be too coarse but it was not. And the colors are really great as far as my eye goes. Not quite as red or intense as Ektar, but more neutral than Ektar. And the colors pop just fine.
I tried taking the same shot with my Nikon D5500 and here is the result.
I played a bit more with the Nikon shot last night and was able to improve it a little, but to me it still does not look as good as the Ultramax with almost no editing. I find both Ultramax 400 and Fuji Superia 400 to be great films and very similar in results. Unfortunately the Fuji is now only in 24xp rolls. Since 24 and 36 ex rolls cost the same I will tend to use the Kodak.
- Kodak Gold 200. I shot this with my old but really high quality Voightlander Prominent. The pictures turned out well exposed but in many shots with more grain than I like. This happened the last time I used this film. It is the least expensive of the four films. About half the price of Ektar, but only a dollar cheaper than Ultramax. Likely I will drop this film from any future purchases.
So is film always better than digital. Not at all. For inside shots in places like museums the best camera is either the iPhone or the Nikon with my f1.8 lens. Neither one of those cameras seems to care about what kind of lighting is in the room. And the Nikon set up properly in most cases has more detail and can match the film for color. But if you leave the Nikon on auto white balance and auto ISO and so on the pictures are not going to be as good as the film cameras. Again I love using the Minolta 600si. It was easily my favorite film camera to use the summer. Not as pretty as the Voightlander or the Olympus but super easy to use.