Why I love Fuji Superia

This is my favorite product coming out of Japan, over even Nintendo or Studio Ghibli.  It may just be a cheap consumer film to a lot of people, but the colors it gives me are just fantastic.  That affordability really is an asset to me, especially when I was just starting to shoot film.  I had no job, no money, and I really took my time with my shots.  It was a great way to learn, but I’m glad I was paying $2-3 a roll instead of $10.  One of the bargain marts down in Colorado Springs used to get expired Superia in from time to time so that really helped me out, and it’s readily available at Wal-Mart as well, in 4-packs that might have gone up in price a bit, but still don’t break the bank.

Using this film almost exclusively for my first 3 years as a photographer, in a lot of ways I grew up with it.  I certainly cut my teeth on it, I learned more about film using Superia than I did in my photography class with Tri-X.  I’ve used it indoors, outdoors, in all different kinds of weather, overexposed, underexposed.  The results I’ve got just make me so pleased.  In saying why I love Superia so much it could almost be why I love the Takumar lens so much as well.  I counted: there are exactly 3 shots down below that are taken on a non-Pentax camera and lens.  I’ve read on other sites about alchemy as pertaining to film, and I can say without a doubt that I believe every word, because I found it here with the combination of Pentax’s SMC lenses and this film.  It’s how I create gold.

A few months back I came across this post from Cinestill regarding a comparison test between 800T, Fuji Pro400H, Portra 800, and Fuji Superia 800.  I was a bit surprised to see Superia on that list, it didn’t strike me as a film that pros would fall back on (maybe they used it after Fuji discontinued Pro800Z).  Looking at the results, it’s obvious that Cinestill 800T comes in first, but what came in second?  That’s right, according to their test, Superia 800 comes out looking better than either Pro400H or Portra 800.  i was so proud to see my beloved Superia perform so well compared to films that cost 2-3 times as much.

Superia 400 (as well as Reala) was originally available in 120 size as well, a fact I only found out after Fujifilm discontinued it, sadly.  I’ll bet it looked wonderful in medium format, but there doesn’t seem to be many examples posted on the net.  Other products in the Superia line that have recently been axed are a 1600 speed film and Reala 100.  Back in the day there was also a line called Fujicolor Press that was really just Superia that had been cold-stored since its manufacture, and they say it gave some really vivid colors.  It’s really sad to see the line dwindling, and sometimes I wonder just how long Fuji’s going to keep making film at all.  The only new film Fuji’s come out with lately has been Natura 1600 which I have yet to try.  Hopefully Fuji’s stabilized enough that they’ll start adding new films now, not taking away the classics.

I’ve used all four variants of Fuji’s consumer film line, Fujicolor 200, and Superia 200, 400, and 800.  Below are examples of all of them in no particular order.  They’re all great, so enjoy this collection of my favorite shots taken with this wonderful line of films:

Well done, Fujfilm.  Long may this film be made.

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Ferrania erects founders’ wall

Yup, yesterday Ferrania put their founders’ wall up yesterday.  I’m so proud to have been a small part of this.  We helped restart a film factory.  This is what victory looks like.  If your name is on that wall, stop by and celebrate.

http://www.filmferrania.it/founders-wall

In other news, my old alma mater won the college football national championship as well.  So much victory in one day.

Contemplation

20c
From the first roll of Tri-X I ever shot

This is from one of the rolls from Summer 2013, and the first one that I sent through my Minolta F-2400 scanner.  It took a hell of a long time to get a routine down on that scanner, and while the results are good enough, the hassle just wasn’t worth it in my book, especially when the scanner sensor accumulated dust that started leaving lines on the scan.  And after that the Windows 98 machine I’d been using with it decided to stop working.  It wasn’t too big of a deal for me because I’d been pretty happy with the scans I’d got from the local camera store.  Just look at this.  Hopefully I’ll be getting a new scanner in the next week or two.

By the way, I really wanted to love the Minolta Hi-matic 9, but mine ended up being pretty trashed.  The shutter only ends up firing about half the time, so out of a 36-exposure roll, I got a little over 20 actual pictures.  What really killed me is that I paid more ($25) than for any other camera I’ve ever bought.  I was really looking forward to getting into rangefinders but now that’s been put on hold.  While the 1.7 lens it has is nothing to sneer at, I learned of the Yashica Lynx 14 which is a fixed-lens rangefinder with a 1.4 lens, so that’s the one I’m looking out for now, but it isn’t a huge priority, I’m still loving the Spotmatic.

edit: back in December 2015 I gave this camera away to my classmate Reggie.  He has a big thing for rangefinders and some experience fixing leaf shutters as well. I told him that if he ever got it fixed I’d take it back from him, but I have a much nicer rangefinder camera now and don’t miss it much.

An uplifting message for 2015

I’d like you all to go listen to this short message from the Figital Revolution:

http://figitalrevolution.com/2015/01/01/new-years-message-2015-film-is-back-baby/

Last year was hard, but the worst is behind us, and film survives.  While I’m not happy about how close we came to losing Kodak, we might be able to look back in a few years and say that that was film’s Dunkirk.  And now that the worst is behind us, there’s plenty of things to look forward to in the year 15, the most significant being Ferrania rising from its grave.

I’ve got a lot of things going on in 2015 myself, including signing up for the photography Alternative Processes course, and also will be taking Film Scoring.  Part of the fun of that class is that we will have to make our own films, then trade with other people.  I originally planned to start shooting over the break; it hasn’t happened yet, but I’m gathering ideas at the very least.  There’s no way I’d want something as blase as digital video for my work: I’ll be shooting film, probably in a similar format to what I did here.  It might not be a motion picture, but I’ve seen trailers from the ’60s that weren’t too dissimilar, and it also has the heritage of Chris Marker’s La Jetee to look back to as well.

Blu-ray finally made its way into my life after being something I merely dreamed of for almost 10 years now.  It’s wonderful to see how much detail there is that I’ve been missing, that can now be reclaimed, and I think that TV is where film is really making a big difference.  To experience the majestic combination of motion picture film, blu-ray, and television shows for myself, I picked up Arn: The Knight Templar and the first four seasons of Mad Men.  But not only do we have shows on the air today like True Detective and The Walking Dead that are shot on film, but a rich history of it going back all the way to I Love Lucy, that can can be brought back in hi-def glory thanks to modern digital technology. (it does have its uses!)  In fact, thanks to the process of going back to remaster Twin Peaks for blu-ray, David Lynch has hopped off the digital bandwagon and is back to using film again. Fantastic news keeps coming.  For the last year or two, I’ve been reading Kodak’s series of articles with directors and cinematographers talking about shooting modern productions on film.  It’s hardly a definitive list, but still really fascinating and informative.  If you’ve never come across this before, check it out.

With so much good news out there, let no one say that film is dead.  It’s alive and breathing, and it’s thanks to everyone out there who picks up and uses an old camera.  May all who shoot film prosper and thrive.