Tag Archives: Kodak

The Sony A7iii Is Technically Advanced But Hard To Love

My first Minolta 600si was my Dad’s last camera before he passed away.  I inherited it and put in in the very large office closet where all my camera gear is stored.  It stayed there for quite a while and then I loaned it to one of my wife’s friends for about 3 years.  When I got the camera I was in a digital only phase and just did not want to use it.  But then when I got it back I had started using film again and tried it out the first day I got it back.  It came paired with a 50mm f2.8 macro lens.  It also came back with two 24 exposure rolls of Fuji Superia 400.

I did find and download a manual for the 600si.  After looking at that and then checking with the internet to see what people thought about this camera I shot the first roll mostly around our house.  Then the next roll we went to the zoo with my daughter and her two kids.  About half way through the first roll I started to think things like, “wow this is really easy to use”.  “What a great bright viewfinder”.  “No menus Yeah!!!!” “It even loads, advances, and then auto rewinds film rolls” “Boy is this auto focus fast.  It works about as quick as my Nikon D5500”. “This Minolta viewfinder is soooo much better than the Nikon.”

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And then those first two rolls came back from the developer and I was in love with this camera.  For a while I preferred the 600si to my long standing favorite the Olympus OM2n.  Now I am about evenly divided between the two.  I use the 600 when I think there will be kids, action, or low light and auto focus helps.  Or when I am lazy.  The 600 just does everything for you when you want or nothing at all and you can use it manually.

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Minolta thought a great deal about how someone would use this camera body and then made it simple and easy but effective.  My biggest complaints are that the plastic body does not look as good as the Nikon and the viewfinder is not quite as good as the Olympus.  But in every other way this is a great shooter.  Very quick to set up and then make changes when shooting.  All the controls are visible at a glance and changeable with just moving the individual controls changing a setting.

Sony bought Minolta in 2006.  This camera was made around 2000.  Sony must have fired or not listened to any of the Minolta people that made the brilliant 600si.  Even camerapedia calls this a cult camera because of the ease of use and capabilities.  But of course by the time it came out the hey day of film cameras was ending.  The Sony A7iii is a technical tour de force.  However, to set up, adjust when using, and love, not so much. And  I don’t just like older film cameras.  I loved my Nikon D5500.  The D5500 has some of the same advantages of the Minolta 600si, easy to use with it’s capable touch screen, very intuitive adjustments, and gives good photos.  A terrible video camera though.

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Notice all the single purpose controls.  A little secret is that when they all are aligned the same direction the system is on full automatic.  The Sony has pretty much no such thought given to the actual operation of the A7iii.  It’s all there from a technical standpoint, but using it is a jumbled up mess of mostly unmarked buttons, dozens of menus not set out logically, and very difficult to use in the hand.  The Sony is very hard to use quickly, one handed, or fast.  You can set up many of the controls but then you have to remember which ones are which.  If you have a dozen special buttons or controls and only a couple are marked you have to remember which is which quickly sometimes.

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The Sony A7iii turns out really good jpegs.  I always used raw with my Nikons because editing the raws gave better results usually than starting with jpegs.  But Sony adds to my confusion by turning out raws and jpegs that are almost indistinguishable.  That is nothing like Nikon.  Nikon raws are unedited and easily developed in Lightroom.  Sony raws out of my camera look the same as the jpegs.  The Sony is developing both in camera even though I would prefer raw, raws.  One of the problems I have encountered is that the A7iii knows through AI that we are near large bodies of water like the ocean.  When it knows that it adjusts the scene towards the blue side.  And that means you have to go through and edit white balance for every shot you want to use.  That said the Sony A7iii with it’s EVF and histogram in the finder you can control exposure much better than on a DSLR with OVF.  The Sony jpegs and raw so far as I have used this camera seem to be able to handle mid day harsh sun and give better files than Nikon.

I go to this one beach park that is part of a National Park and have tested a bunch of digital cameras and film.  The Sony A7iii is the best digital in this tough lighting of the ones I have used.  That said Kodak Ektar, Kodak Gold 200, Fuji 200, Kodak Ultramax, and Fuji Superia 400 have all given very good results on this test even when using the cheapest photo lab to develop them.  The Nikon D5500 & iPhone both failed this test badly.

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The above shot was taken about a month ago and this was a full sun mid day shot.  The Sony did this with a jpeg.  What is really strange is that when I put on a UV filter later in the shoot I could not tell the difference in the files.  I got shots with unwashed out colors from several films, but no other digital. (I only tried a Nikon D5500, Sony HX 80, and iPhone 7+).

Conclusion so far.  My six weeks of experience with the Sony A7iii is that from a technical and performance standpoint it is excellent but hard to use and confusing.  Sometimes too smart for it’s own good.  Like when it turns water scenes blueish.  And, why is it editing the raws?  It is also expensive compared to the Nikon Z6.  A Sony A7iii with kit 24-105 f4 & 55mm Sony Zeiss f1.8 = $4,300.  The Nikon Z6 with kit 24-70 f4 & Nikon 50mm f1.8 = $2,895.  I don’t think the cheep Sony kit lens is worth having.  And 200 of them currently on eBay at half price says I am right.  Final thought – I may get really good results from the Sony but I don’t think I will ever love or even like this camera much.

Suggestion for Sony – Get those Minolta guys back to help you with handling and logical handling.

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.

Camerageddon = 2018 – Might Be The Biggest Year Of Change Ever In The Photo – Video Industry

This year has had one significant introduction after another in new camera bodies, systems, and film.  Sony has introduced the A7riii and A7iii.  Both mostly great and maybe the greatest full frame mirrorless cameras of today.  Nikon has put forward the A7 & A6 full frame mirrorless designs with new lenses.  So far to me this looks like the biggest contender of the Sony’s.  Canon EOSR.  A great camera, except, no ibis and big crop on video at 4K.  Both Nikon and Canon have only one data card slot.  This is a big omission.  Fuji XT3.  Another great camera, but crop sensor and no ibis.  Fuji again with the R version of their medium format camera.  This looks like a great landscape camera but lacks features that are in the full frames.  Panasonic now is talking about their S line for full frame mirrorless, but full specs are not available.  And then Zeiss and their ZX1.  Complete specs are not available and neither is the price.  As I said in my previous post I love this ZX1 concept.  I want one.  But I want one based on specs that I imagine but are not confirmed yet along with the price.

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Nikon D5500 – Using Lightroom to get B&W

I would like to buy a new full frame mirrorless camera.  I currently have a Nikon D750 DSLR and would like something smaller and lighter plus has an electronic viewfinder.  Of the ones above that we actually know the specs and price of I would say the Sony’s and the Nikon’s are the closest to what I want.  But here is the thing, I am not sure I like either enough more than the Nikon D750 to switch.  I like have tried the A7riii and did not like the way it felt in my hand and thought the menu-control system to be difficult.  I do like the dual SD cards.  The Nikon Z7’s are just now getting shipped to their buyers.  So far I have heard good feedback.  But I don’t really want to switch to XQD cards.  My three computers all have SD card readers but not XQD.  So dongle time would be the case with the Nikons.  And I like the dual card slots I have on the D750.  I don’t like the fact that Nikon is charging a lot more for a 50mm f1.8 than and F mount 50mm f1.4.  Actually I don’t like that a lot.

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Kodak Tmax 100 with Minolta 600si and 50mm f1.4

Or for that mater Nikon charging 50% more for the Z mount 35mm f1.8 than the F mount f1.8.  Even the 24-70 f4 is more than I recently paid for the F mount 24-120 f4.

And neither the Sony’s or the Nikon’s have settings adjustments for the all important aperture, shutter speed, and ISO dials.  Ones I can see at a glance like Zeiss and Fuji.  The Sony and Nikon do have quick change on aperture and and shutter speed but not in the elegant way Zeiss and Fuji do.

And then the Fuji XT3.  What a great camera with dedicated settings for aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and exposure compensation.  And it is a beautiful camera, far more so than the Sonys.  And a bit prettier than the Nikons.  Plus it is cheaper than any of the full frames.  But no 35mm sensor.  What were they thinking???  The whole World is going back to the best image size ever invented full frame 35mm and they stick with crop size? And no ibis to top it off.  But I have to say the simplicity of the Fuji and quality of materials, and the smaller size have great appeal.

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Shot with iPhone X and it’s wide lens

I have no experience with Canon cameras except that several of my friends and relatives have and like them.  Most prominently my professional TV and Movie cameraman son who is about ready to go back to a Canon DSLR after having a Sony A7S for two years.  His reason, “Canon has better colors”.  And this is a person who uses $100,000 camera rigs in his work.  So maybe when the Canon R is in the stores I will take a closer look.  Right now I don’t like the one card slot of the Canon or the no ibis.  Plus it is big unlike the Fuji.  But Canon has an extremely good reputation so maybe more on it later.

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Shot with Nikon D750 and converted to B&W with Lightroom

Like Canon I have no experience with Panasonic.  Their two full frame bodies look quite good, but no final specs or prices yet.  So more to come on these two later.

Kodak Ektrachrome is finally shipping.  After the unexpected Zeiss ZX1 this Kodak announcement was the most exciting of the German show.  I like shooting with film.  I like the look of the results I get from my old SLR cameras (4 of them with lots of lenses) and one very nice Voightlander rangefinder with a set of 3 lenses.  On our summer trip this year I did not shoot as much film as I had planned as I bought the D750 just before the trip and was still experimenting with it.  But one of the rolls I shot was Kodak Tmax 100.  I used my Minolta 600si for this film and all of the shots turned out.  I was being lazy and did not use any filters for the whole roll, which was a mistake.  I should have used a yellow, orange, or red for daylight shots.

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Both of these above shots were from this roll of Tmax.  The second shot was a lean out the moving train shot with 100 speed film and an unstabilized lens.  The camera was set to auto focus and worked perfectly.  It has 3 auto focus points and not 500 like modern cameras.

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The above 3 shots are from Portra 400 film that was about a year expired.  All were shot on a 40 year old Olympus OM2n and 50mm f1.8.  One of the best film SLRs ever made.

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And the above three were from inexpensive Kodak Gold 200 that was expired two years. I used my second Olympus OM2n to shoot these.  The Kodak Gold really did it’s job, but if I had it to do over again would have shot with fresh film.  Keep in mind these were shot with a very simple old meter in the Oly and then put through medium priced developing and only mid range scanning (3000 x 2000).

So I am thrilled to be able to get Kodak Ektachrome fresh again.  I fully expect that Kodak’s new formulation will be better than the old Kodak Ektachrome.  This film is being made in the United States in Rochester New York and is shipping from the factory now.  The new Ektachrome is the “natural” formulation and not the old “vivid” formulation as per an interview I watched yesterday from a Kodak spokesperson.  Why am I thrilled?  Slide film has punch you cannot get from negative film.  And you can project slide film on a screen without electronics.  One downside is reduced dynamic range.  As you can see from the three color photos above, the Kodak Gold has tremendous dynamic range.  I have already called one of the local camera shops to get an estimate as to when they are getting the film.  Guess is second week in Oct.

Waiting For Good Light

If you cannot see the back LCD on your DSLR maybe it is not a good time to take pictures or video?  Or you should stick to film that has huge room for bright highlights in full sun?  95% of my best digital outside photos or video are taken when it is not bright overhead sun.  So instead of a new camera with EVF or reading the zebras to make sure your highlights are not blown you should just take your shots or video when the light is good?  Even if you turn down the exposure on digital so you don’t blow your highlights in full sun you have to pull your shadows up so much that you get a lot of noise.  The best digital cameras like a Nikon D850 only have about +2 stops of highlights before the pictures are unusable.  The best film like Portra have about +4 stops.  Many times when the photo is overexposed a stop when you try to improve it in post you just don’t get a good result even using raw.

The flower below was taken with a digital camera about an hour before sunset and mostly in the shade.

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Nikon D750 taken late afternoon

The shot below is what happens to many digital photos when taken at mid day.

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Same camera as the above shot a D750 but full sun in North Dakota this summer.  This was taken raw but there is no way to get this into a good photo.  At least it is beyond my ability.

On the other hand here is some film shot at mid day with full sun.

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Inexpensive Fuji film and the lowest priced scan
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Fuji 200 (cheap) but a medium quality scan both of these taken at mid day
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D850 late afternoon in shade
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Fuji 200 mid day shot.  Medium scan.
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Black and white film works fine mid day but a filter either red or yellow would have improved the sky.  Kodak TriX 400
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This is Tmax 100 with no filters.  Again I should have added a yellow or orange or red filter.

Right now you have a ton of people switching to buy mirrorless cameras from DSLRs to get an EVF.  That way you can control your exposure better when you can’t see the back screen.  My suggestion is that if you cannot see your back screen maybe your camera is telling you it is not a good time to be taking pictures.

Now if you are switching to mirrorless because you want to take more videos with your camera then I think that is a good reason.  But if you are going to take mostly or all photos and not video there is no reason to ditch your DSLR or not buy a new one.  Both Nikon and Canon offer very good DSLRs at modest prices.  I have a several year old Nikon D5500 that takes sharp clear detailed photos and is half the price of a comparable mirrorless.

Using Film and old Cameras can Be very Enjoyable.

As I said in the last post I was headed out to use a film camera (Minolta 600si + 24mm f2.8) to take shots of a western styled old town.  I really had a good time and very much enjoy the fact that I got some really great photos.  Of course I have not seen any of them yet except in my mind’s eye as they were film.  Why was this really enjoyable?

  • I am now writing this post instead of editing my pictures.
  • The camera is absolutely a great high quality and easy to use film SLR.
  • I am currently have no regrets about what settings I did not get right for the pictures I shot.
  • I am confident that likely all film shots will give images and that some will be great.
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I shot this with a Nikon 750 and 24-120 zoom lens.  This was the day we got here and was lucky enough to have just a little break in the haze that has been around the last three days.  

A while back Ken Rockwell mentioned in his excellent extensive web site that a big advantage of film was that you did not spend your evenings after shooting during the day in front of a computer editing your shots.  Boy was he right.  After I go out and shoot for a day using a digital camera I edit them later in the day.  This can be a short time if I used my iPhone.  Or a long time if I shot raw and need to go through every one of them getting them to look their best.

Most 35mm film SLRs are really simple to use.  Even my fully automatic Minoltas have no menus.  All functions are operated with simple visual switches and buttons.  Plus it is very easy to go full manual or semi manual if you want.  Easy peasy no confusing crap like figuring out which of the choices I want to pick from either of my Nikon DSLRs.  I do think about what film I should use for the shoot though.  Today I mostly shot using Kodak TriX and then some with Kodak Ektar.  I thought the subject would match those two films characteristics best.  And I only took one lens, a 24mm f2.8.  I took that because it lets you get close and still get a lot in the shot.  Plus if people are around you don’t have to point right at them to include them in the shots.  And at 24mm almost everything is in focus.

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This is shot with a Nikon D750 and 24-120 f4.  Taken in Teddy Roosevelt National Park.  

I have no regrets from my settings as I have not seen any of the results yet.  In general I only change the meeter settings on the Minolta from spot to matrix or center weighted.  And I usually go back and forth between A and P on the mode dial.  The Minolta’s auto focus works so well with only 3 spots I almost never manual focus.  But if I did want to manual focus the Minolta viewfinder is bright and better than either of my Nikon cameras viewfinders.  Of course with a film camera the big setting you change is what film you use.  But that comes from learning which you like for what subject.

When I shoot film, which is frequently, almost all the shots provide an image.  If I use a good processor the quality of the images I get back improves a lot.  Usually when I shoot 36 exposures I get back 36 usable shots.  Mostly they need little editing or no editing unless the subject was in bad lighting.

WHY TRI-X AND EKTAR?

I like black and white film when I want to show shapes and and not be distracted by colors.  And the subject was a western themed town and black and white suites that.  I like Tri-X for it’s contrast and starkness.  Tri-X will likely help this subject as it is mostly newer buildings made to look like the 1880’s.  I think they will look more authentic with Tri-X.  I shot a few photos with Ektar 100.  This is my favorite outdoor color film when not shooting people.  Ektar is OK with people but puts some red into their complexion unlike Portra which adds white.  To me Ektar just makes most landscapes better.  The colors pop.  It is very fine grain.  It loves the outdoor shots in the western USA.  It is the king of red rock photography.  Portra would have worked OK for this subject too.  The slightly faded look would have added to the “old” theme of the town.  Plus Portra is almost impossible to expose poorly.  And several of the Fuji slide films would have worked well too.

 

The Photo Film I Will Be Using Summer 2018

The films I have used in the last 12 months have all been either Kodak or Fuji.  In my opinion you can characterize products from both companies by just looking at the colors on their boxes.  Fuji – green and Kodak yellow-red.  My overall experience is Fuji tends green, Kodak warm yellows, oranges, and reds.  You can correct much of this in post but it is still there.

If I was to guess why, I would say that Japan is where Fuji is from and it is overall a very green place.  On the other hand the most iconic Kodak shots are of the Grand Canyon and southwest USA.  There is even a State Park in Utah named the Kodachrome Basin.  The color pallet of that park is orange, red, and yellow.

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Taken April 2018 with Fuji Velvia 50 – edited in Lightroom CC Classic
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Taken April 2018 with Kodak Gold 200 – edited on Lightroom CC Classic

I will start with lowest price first.

Kodak Gold 200 and Color Plus 200.  I have shot both in the last couple months.  Both basically the same price in California and very similar.

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Kodak Color Plus 200 – edited on Lightroom CC Classic
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Color Plus – Lightroom CC Classic – Color on car is accurate.  I blew the clouds out a little by metering on the car.
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Shot on Kodak Gold with a 1950’s Voightlander – Edited in LR CC
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Kodak Gold 200 in low light no flash old camera.  Edited LR CC
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Kodak Gold 200 indoors, natural light.  Edited LR CC

This is a very good low cost film except you need to be careful of getting too much grain in shadows.  Personally I cannot tell the difference between the two Kodak films on my large monitor except to say that color plus seems a little brighter.  In some cases when I get this film the box says Kodak Gold and the film can says Kodak 200.

Fuji 200.  – This is the Walmart 24 exposure rolls.

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Fuji 200 – Edited very little in LR CC

This is a beautiful detailed shot of my dog on my large monitor.  This hardly needed any editing.

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Fuji 200 – edited in LR CC

This one needed a bit of post to get something I liked, but the Fuji did very well in forest scenes.  Fine grain throughout even in shadows.

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Fuji 200 edited in LR CC

Even in the dark areas there is little grain.  I brightened this quite a bit in LR and still minimal grain.

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Fuji 200 edited in LR CC

This is a beautiful picture of one of my grand daughters with great skin tones and minimal grain in the out of focus shadows.

I bought this roll of film at Walmart for $250 a roll.  Only 24 ex.  There are 36ex rolls for sale at B&H and elsewhere.  I mention B&H because they sometimes have some very good sales on this film.  Currently 36ex rolls are selling for $4.

My comments.  If I was shooting the southwest or the beach I would prefer the Kodak Color Plus or Gold color rendition.  Both almost as good as Kodak Ektar.   Just this morning “The Darkroom” posted on my Facebook a comparison of Kodak Gold 200 and Fuji C200 with two beach shots.  To my eye I preferred the Kodak on their example a lot.  I have to say the Fuji 200 gave a much more elegant rendition of my forest scenes, far less grain, and beautiful skin tones, much better than Kodak.  So which is it?  These are both great low cost films.  I would only remember to buy 36ex rolls so you can save on processing and watch the shadows on the K Gold.

Lomography 100.  Lomography sells 100 speed print film.  It is in the same range of price as the Kodak and Fuji products but a slower speed.  I have been giving some thought to buying a 3 pack and trying it out.  I have looked at the samples on Flickr and they look good.

Kodak 400 and 400 Ultramax 400 & Fuji Superia 400.

I have had very good luck with both the Kodak and Fuji.  Kodak has kept their prices level on this film to the same range as the Kodak 200.  Fuji used to sell at the Kodak price but now is usually about 2 dollars more.  At 2 dollars more I will always buy the Kodak, but this past Christmas I snagged 10 rolls at under the Kodak price.  That said here are some samples.

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Great shot on Kodak Ultramax 400 – a tiny bit of editing on LR CC
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The Ultramax shots came out way better than the Nikon digital ones.  At least I like them better.  This shot was slightly edited on LR CC
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Kodak Ultramax 400
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Ultramax
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Fuji Superia 400
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Fuji Superia 400
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Fuji Superia 400

In the end I think I prefer the Kodak Ultramax for landscape and Superia 400 for people and green.  The Fuji seems a bit finer grain, but not much.  The issue with Superia is that at $6.00 a roll it is almost up to Ektar 100 price and I think Ektar is one of the two best landscape films you can buy.  And the Superia is also right in the Portra price range.  Portra just outclasses the Fuji on skin shots and anything not in bright desert sun.  But you cannot go wrong on either the Superia 400 or Kodak Ultramax 400, buy on price and depending on subject.  I plan to work through my supply of Superia 400 this summer but since I have several film cameras I can load them with black and white plus some Kodak for punchier “National Park” type shots.

Pro films.  

The ones I have used in the last 12 months are Fuji Velvia 50 & 100, Kodak Portra 160 & 400, Kodak Ektar 100.

Velvia 50 – A classic slide film that is known for highly saturated colors.  If you like this level of saturation it does a great job on landscapes and not good at all on skin tones.  The speed is a slow 50 but in full sun this works fine.  I have used this film often in all of my cameras with built in light meters.  It is somewhat fussy about exposure, but I really have not had that much problem with ruined shots except when I ran a roll through a very old mechanical camera from the 50’s with a slow shutter spring.  The other thing to watch out for is limited dynamic range.  If you average your exposure and have a great variety of shadow and highlight it is easy to underexpose your shadows.  Two summers ago I had problems with the bodies of bison against bright backgrounds.  The animals had mostly blocked shadows which I could not correct well in Lightroom.  Since the big animals were up close and scared me a little I did not change the settings fast enough on my manual Olympus OM 2n.  My more auto Minoltas would have worked better.  I used Ektar 100 shooting bison and had much less problem with blocked shadows due to that film’s wider dynamic range.

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Velvia 50 shot with Minolta 600si edited in LR CC Classic
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Velvia 50 & same camera as above
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Velvia 50 

These were taken a couple of months ago and as you can see Velvia pops the colors but then does not do a great job on the skin tones.

Velvia 100

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This is a bad picture but this is the best skin tone example I could find of Velvia 100.  You can see the 100 does a much better job with it than the 50 but still pops the color of things.  
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This is a good example of Velvia 100 showing this slide films limited dynamic range.  The two people in the foreground a a little under exposed and the highlights in the background blown.  

But on landscape you can’t fault it.

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Velvia 100 using LR CC to edit.  Olympus OM2n & 50mm f1.8 

Ektar considering everything might just be the best overall landscape film available.  It is 100 speed which is about what you should have for daytime landscape shots.  The landscape color is similar to Velvia 50 without quite so much excess.  The grain is very fine.  It handles exposure better than Velvia.  And it costs about half as much as Velvia.  I have shot a lot of rolls of it.

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Ektar using a Minolta 600si.  The best color I have ever been able to get at Zion was with Ektar.  
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Ektar using Minolta 600si and 50mm f2.8 macro
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Ektar using Minolta 600si & 50mm f2.8 Sigma macro 

I have had some issues with Ektar going red on skin but as you can see from the next two pictures it is OK with skin.

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Ektar and my very old Voightlander with 50mm f1.5
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Ektar and Voightlander 

This is my favorite film but not if I am shooting mostly people.

Portra 160 and 400

Portra tends to be most peoples favorite film.  Here are some of my results.  It is one of mine too.  I find both 160 and 400 to be great with 400 having a touch more saturation.

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Portra 160
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Portra 160
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Portra 160
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Portra 400
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Portra 400

Portra 160 or 400 are both very forgiving of exposure error.  They both have tremendous dynamic range.  I do prefer Ektar for landscapes, but if you only want to take one film Portra is a better choice.  Very fine grain.  Much lower price than the competing Fuji product.  Only slightly more money than Fuji Superia 400.

Ektachrome.  I had planned to shoot some Kodak Ektachrome this summer.  The problem with that is I have not been able to buy any yet.  Ektachrome is not Kodachrome, but if I do see some Ektachrome soon I will buy some.

Black and White.  

I usually shoot color, but recently have used some TriX and Tmax.  I have beautiful results with both.  These are both gorgeous films and here are some recent shots.

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Tmax 400
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Tmax 400
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Tmax 400
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TriX
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TriX
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TriX

If I had to pick only one of these I would take TriX, but both are sure to give you B&W results you will like.

So what am I taking with me this summer on our long trip?  All of the ones mentioned with a couple of rolls of Ilford black and white.  I have just looked up the price of Velvia 100 and Provia 100.  They seem to be about $7 a roll.  I will call to see how long to expiration before I buy, but that seems like a good price.  I have never shot Provia and would like to try it.  I usually take about 5 camera bodies with me and I load them up with different films and take what I am in the mood for that day or fits the likely subjects.  If I shoot any new films before we leave I will update this post.

  • All around films.  Any of the ones mentioned in this post Kodak 200 or 400.  Fuji 200 or 400 will work well and not cost a lot.  But if you have to pay $6 for a roll of Fuji 400 I would pick the Fuji 200 for $4 or either Kodak for $4.
  • Higher end film.  I will not pay $15 for Velvia 50.  But Kodak Portra or Ektar make great images at about $6.50-7.00 per roll.  Fuji Velvia 100 seems like a good buy at $7 but I have to check the expiration.  Don’t forget that slide film is harder to shoot and costs about $3 extra to develop.
  • Black and White.  I love both Kodak TriX and Tmax.  Both run about $6 a roll.

 

Kodachrome and Ektachrome

I just listened to Sharky James Peta Pixel’s latest podcast.  He made some comments on Kodak, Kodachrome, and other Kodak products.  Just my humble opinion, but many people including Sharky say Kodachrome will not be coming back because the chemicals used for the old style film are too harsh for today’s standards.  So.  Update the product to today’s standards and make the film with the color rendition of the old film.  I mean think about it, Ford has been making a Mustang since 1964 1/2.  They don’t sell you the same vehicle they made in the old days.  They sell you the Mustang experience and look in a more modern car.  Kodak can do the same thing.

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So just to recap – Kodak should make the new Kodachrome to have the color pallette of the old Kodachrome that people remember and like, but use a more modern chemical set that can pass today’s standards.

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Ektachrome – Back in the day I shot lots of slide film.  Actually I still shoot some slide film.  But back in the day when I shot slide film I mostly shot Kodachrome.  Why, it did not fade like Ektachrome.  I also liked the color pallette of Kodachrome better.  I hope when Ektachrome comes out again this fall that Kodak has a new formulation that does not fade like the old Ektachrome.

Back to Sharky James – From his comments what I get is that film photographers are a small niche and digital photography is what is important today.  To me that is incorrect.  Film photography is a significantly different process than digital and looks different.  When you scan photographic film you scan the result of the chemical film and not the image itself.  So you get the digital image of the chemical image capture.  To my eye in many cases film gives a better image.  They are two different art forms just like black and white photos are different from color.  I would guess that both methods of image capture will be around for a while.