Kodak Ektachrome – Is Back – And Here Are Some Image Samples

After waiting a year and a half for the new Kodak Ektachrome I finally got some.  These samples are from the first roll of Ektachrome e100.  The featured image at the top of the page was taken last weekend and is totally unedited.  It did not need any editing and this is exactly as I got it back developed and scanned by North County Photographic in Carlsbad CA.  When I saw this shot on my computer this afternoon I just went “wow” look at those colors.  My second thought was, “I can’t improve this image and am going to leave it alone.

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Kodak Ektachrome e100 shot on Olympus OM2n with 28mm 2.8 – UV filter only 

The above picture just POPS with that pink animal costume for halloween.  The Olympus OM2n is a very good film camera.  It was the very first SLR that metered the exposure right off the film.  That was handy for this shot as I trimmed off a bunch of overexposed but not blown out image to the right.  Most positive film (slide film like Ektachrome) does not have the dynamic range of print film or digital.  My impression from shooting one roll of the new Ektachrome is that this film has more stops of range than most slide film.

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Ektachrome shot with Olympus OM2n & 50mm f1.4 & tungsten blue filter

And when I saw this people shot (of my wife) using a bounce flash, a lot of tungsten lighting, and using a tungsten filter it made my very happy.  It means that this Ektachrome gives good skin tones.  That puts this slide film ahead of Velvia 50 or 100 that I use for landscape but not people shots.  Both give what I consider unflattering skin color.

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Same as the last one but with me in the picture

I have to say I really like these skin tones.  I usually have to do some color tone editing with most films and on these two people shots I only cropped the photos and made minor exposure adjustment.

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Ektachrome with 28mm and UV filter

On the other hand this Ektachrome does not like it when I bring up the shadows in Lightroom.  When I used the auto setting on Lightroom Classic this photo got much too grainy.  So I went back to the original and increased the black table cloth just a little.

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same as the last one

I really like the colors of Ektachrome e100.  But this is my first roll and I have 7 more in the fridge to get some more experience.  You can see from the above photo that when you go from full shade to full sun that it holds up pretty well.  If I had been using a separate light meter I would have likely added a stop to the exposure and that shade of this shot would not have blocked so much and the full sun would have been just slightly overexposed.

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The above is a mixed sun – shade – and a tiny bit of skin.  When you look at this blown up you can see sharp bricks to the right.  And sharp photo overall until you get to full sun.  Very likely something like Portra 160 or 400 would have held on to the highlights a few stops longer but I do not think the orange in the T-shirt would have been nearly as bright.  Ektar would have worked but the skin would have had more of a red hue.  And the Ektar would have had a different overall cast to it.  But I think Ektar or Portra would have been almost as good with the details.  That said, with just my gut reaction I think for this shot I like the color rendition of the Ektachrome the best of all three of these.  I am sort of smitten with this film after one go at it.

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Look at this nice color and clarity.

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Good mixture of shadow and highlights.  The Ektachrome handles it all really well.

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These colors are just fabulous.  Bright, saturated, but not overdone like Velvia can get.  The above shot I only cropped I did not adjust the color at all.

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Very lifelike colors.  I did not post process this photo expect for crop.  The colors look exactly like what I saw in the field.

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I used a little dehaze on this to cut down the glare from reflections, but other than that this is right from the developer.

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I shot one roll of 36 and got back 36 images.  None were junk, but some were better than others.  My overall comment after this one roll is to say that my long wait for this film was worth it.  Kodak has a stunning winner on it’s hands.  The price is a little steep, $12.95 per 36 ex, but that is the same price as fresh Velvia or Provia.  If you are into film buy some and see what you think for yourself.  If you are not into film, give it a shot.  After just buying a Sony A7iii and a Zeiss lens I can tell you film is not more money than digital.  Get yourself a good quality SLR with a 50mm & 28 or 35mm and go enjoy.

Does The Sony A7iii Adapt To Minolta-Sony A Mount Glass Well?

Yes it does.  A couple of weeks ago after thinking about doing it for a year I bought a full frame mirrorless digital camera, a Sony A7iii.  I chose the Sony A7iii over the Sony A7riii because of price and the fact that the bigger files would overwhelm my current computer setup.  I chose the Sony over a Nikon Z7 or Z6 mainly because the 24 mega pixel Sony is available now and I have a number of Minolta/Sony/Sigma AF A mount lenses I like a lot.

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Shot with the Sony A7iii and Sony Zeiss 55mm f1.8

I also bought the Sony Zeiss 55mm f1.8 when I got the camera from a local camera store.  No surprise the Zeiss lens works great with the Sony A7iii.  The above shot was taken last weekend in full sun with a sun shade on the lens and a polarize filter.  This shot was taken in raw and converted to black and white in Lightroom Classic.

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Sony A7iii with Sony Zeiss 55mm f1.8 shot at f8 at 1/60th sec ISO 125

The Zeiss does a good job with color too.  But this is a well reviewed lens from one of the best suppliers that was designed for the A7 line of cameras and cost $1,000.  So you expect it to be good.  It is also light and smallish.  Plus has a 49mm filter size which I have a lot of lenses that size.  In fact that is the standard filter size of many of the Minolta lenses.

But when I got this camera the real question in my mind was how well my favorite Minolta – Sony A mount glass would work.  These lenses are;

  1. Minolta AF 50mm f1.4.  A splendid lens at least as good as my Nikon 50mm f1.4 G lens or my Olympus Zuiko 50mm f1.4.  But not as good as my Voightlander Nokton German Made 50mm f1.5.  The bokeh on the Voight is beyond beautiful.
  2. Sigma 50mm f2.8 Macro.  I have loved this lens since I first got it with my Minolta 600si film camera a few years ago.  It is very sharp and goes to 1:1 or short focuses to .18 m or .62 ft.
  3. Sigma 24mm f2.8 Macro that is also able to focus down to .18 m.  A great wide angle lens that is quite sharp with little distortion.
  4. Minolta 35-70 f3.5 – 4.5.  A shockingly sharp unexpected gem that I got for free when I bought a Minolta 70 – 210mm from ebay.  When I got my first samples back from this lens I immediately looked it up as the results were so good.  This is a plastic excellent light small mid zoom.  Don’t laugh till you see the photos.
  5. Minolta 70 – 210mm 4.5 – 5.6.  Both this lens and the 35-70 were made in Japan.  This is a very good plastic lens.  It is very light and very small for the zoom range.  This is not the same as the all metal “beer can” Minolta with similar zoom range but f4.  This lens is also quite sharp although not quite as good as the 35 – 70.  But it will fit into your pocket if you are wearing cargo pants.  Try that with the Sony 70-200 f2.8.
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Sony A7iii with 24mm at f8 1/100 ISO 4000

I also bought the Sony LA-EA4 adaptor that is designed for the Sony A7 series of AF lenses with screw focus.

As I found out immediately the A7iii with LA-EA4 adaptor worked very well with both the Minolta lenses and the Sigmas.  As you can see in the shot above the 24mm gives a very good still shot.  I used center focus and center exposure for this shot.  It was taken a few minutes before sunset.

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A7iii with Minolta 35 – 70 f3.5 – 4.5

This shot above of the purple geranium is about a 50% crop and was shot at 55mm f8 @ 1/00 ISO 800.  It is very sharp, good color, nice bokeh, and I got this lens for free.  This is my best purchase yet.  I got the 70 – 210 zoom and this lens for $32 dollars plus shipping.  A laughable amount.  This 35 – 70 focuses almost instantly with the A7iii and adaptor.  As with all of the adapted lenses I am reviewing here I would suggest manual focus if you are going to shoot video.  The adaptor and lens will just be too noisy for video in AF.

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A7iii with Sigma 50mm Macro f2.8 

Above is my Macro 50mm 2.8 Sigma.  A well built lens that is quite sharp and can focus as close as .62 of a foot.  I have used this lens a lot with my first Minolta 600si as that camera came with this lens.  I have seen this lens on ebay recently for around $75.

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A7iii with Minolta 70-210 f4.5-5.6 ISO 1250 f8 @ 1/100

And finally we have my Minolta mid range – longer zoom.  This is a very small compact zoom for the 70-210 range that might be 11 or 12 oz.  Is it as good as one of the large 70-200 2.8 lenses, no.  But I already own this lens and it works up to a very good standard and you can own one too for less than 50 dollars.  Here is another example below of this bargain.

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A7iii with 70-210 

The above is not a good photo but does show that the lens can give a sharp and acceptable result.

My point is that the Sony A7iii is a very flexible tool for getting high quality stills with a wide variety of expensive and low cost lenses.  Sony bought Minolta in 2006 and still makes cameras that use the Minolta A mount plus A mount lenses.  There are a lot of A mount lenses for sale now at attractive prices.  The ones I have work fine for still photos. And for that matter there are quite a few used E mount Sony lenses for sale too.  Although so far I have found some of the better E mount glass to sell at relatively close to new prices.  I have been looking for a 35mm Zeiss and in a couple of ebay auctions found the used sold for about 80% of new.  If you want to use video without the noise of the older style auto focus you are going to have to get some native quiet glass.

A7iii.  So far I like the Sony A7iii quite a bit.  Since I have had several previous compact Sony cameras including a HX80.  I am used to the menu and find the A7 easy to operate.  Now I have set up buttons to operate all of the major functions directly and adjustments a very quick.  This camera with reasonable size lenses makes for a package of camera and lens similar to my film SLR’s like my Olympus OM2n, Voightlander Prominent, and Minolta 600si.  The Minolta is now my largest body.  But it is only a bit bigger than the Sony.  I have no plans at this point to buy huge heavy glass for this camera so that it is hard to travel with and carry around.  If I had not had any of the older glass that works easily with the A7iii I might have made a different choice of a full frame mirrorless body.  I like the fact that Nikon with the Z mount has come out with some pretty light and smaller glass.  But the Sony already has done this.  The Sony 55mm f1.8 like I bought is about the same size and weight as the new Nikon Z 50mm f1.8.  But the Nikon 35mm f1.8 is over 13oz.  The Sony 35mm f2.8 is 4.4 oz and the Sony 28mm f2.8 7.1 oz.

Enough for now.  I have a bunch of rolls of the new Kodak Ektachrome and am waiting for the first finished roll to come back from the developer.

Vinyl, CD, or Digital On Line, Which Is Better

Up until recently we produced recorded sound using analog technology.  The technology was to take and analog source like a wax cylinder or flat plastic disk with sound groves in them.  Run a “needle” down the groves and amplify the sound produced.  In the 50’s vinyl LPs we produced first in mono and then stereo.  Stereo recordings started in the late 50’s.  Beginning in the 60’s very high quality sound reproduction could be had from high quality analog record players.  I bought my first higher end system in the early 70’s. In addition to a record player I had a reel to reel tape recorder/ player.

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In the early 1980’s the music CD came along and it took the industry by storm.  Sony made the first CD players that I ever saw and were over $400 dollars back in the 80’s.  Soon lots of people made players and millions bought them.  The CD changed music from analog to digital.  CD’s do a very good job of it and very soon CD’s generated more volume than LP’s.  Some record stores stopped selling records and only sold CD’s.

 

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And finally around the year 2000 on line music became popular with Napster and Apple’s iTunes and iPod.  I knew 15 minutes after using a borrowed first iPod that it was going to change the music industry, and it has.  In 2018 a lot have people get their music with on line subscription services like Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, and Pandora.

So today I use LP’s, CD’s, and iTunes and on line services.  So which of these types of music delivery sounds best to my ears when it goes through my best audio system which includes very large JBL speakers and a high quality amp.  I like vinyl LP’s the best if it is a well mixed record.  I have a number of times played records, CD, and iTunes on the same music and every time I like LP’s the best.  It is very hard to describe why, but very easy for me to hear.  The best I can do is to say that the LP’s have more sound.

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CD’s provide very detailed sound that can be excellent, but just like digital photos, CD’s can be perfect, but sound clinical / dull / without the color of LP’s.  I suspect that when sound is converted to digital that the imperfections are scrubbed off and even though CD’s synthesize the analog sound at a high rate it is not the same as pure analog and our brains can sense that.

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iTunes and other on line mp3 type music has come a long way in the last 15 years.  I think that Apple music through a late model high quality DAC gives sound quality very similar to CD’s.  5-6 years ago this was not the case.  I could easily tell the difference.

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The fact that lots of people have recognized that the old LP system of sound reproduction was to many people better, has lead to a major expansion of the analog record business.  In our local area there are all of a sudden quite a few record stores where only 6-7 years ago there were only a couple.

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So do we keep vinyl, CD’s, and on line/ iTunes?  Likely.  I am going to continue to use all three.  But in the future I will likely buy more records and not so many CD’s.  I use a couple of the on line music services plus iTunes every day.

For sound quality I like vinyl best when I can take the time to sit in the room with my big sound system.  I also like the additional benefits you get with LPs like,

  • You actually own something that is tangible
  • The last for a very long time.  I have many LPs from 40-50 years ago that sound fantastic
  • You get the pleasure of the cover art front and back.  Sometimes you get a custom decorated inside liner with maybe the words to the songs on it.

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For on the go I like using an Apple device with a good DAC and using either a wired connection or bluetooth.  Bluetooth has good fidelity in my home system or car system.  Additional benefits are,

  • With Apple Music I can listen to any artist or song Apple has
  • Easy
  • The sound is pretty good

A big negative of on line is you only can listen as long as you pay the monthly fee to the service.  I actually know what music my grandparents liked in the 1920’s because I have about 75 of their 78 records from that era.  90 years from now no one will know what I liked on Apple Music.

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CDs are somewhere in between.  I have several hundred of them.  I have uploaded them to iTunes and so can use a mobile service to listen to them. Some CD’s that have good mixing are really startling at how good the sound is.  CDs you can also do portable.  I still once and a while take a few with me in the car and use them.  No internet needed.  Simple no complications like with on line stuff.  You own CDs and don’t pay every month.  CDs can be bought for about the same price as iTunes albums.  And you can buy used CDs.