What is Kodak ColorPlus 200?

I found this at one of the stores in the Springs a few months back, and originally thought it might be something new, but it seems it’s something mainly for the overseas market.  I have no idea why the cartridge says Kodacolor and the box says ColorPlus.  I think Kodacolor was something that was sold back in the ’90s, had no idea it had come back.  Or has it?

 

As an all-around consumer film it does alright, especially with the blues.  It doesn’t seem to pull detail out of the shadows as well as some of the others, and I really hope this isn’t being brought in as a substitute for Gold 200, because I think Gold beats this by a significant margin.  Like with Gold 200, I shot it at ASA100.

Now the bad stuff: the first few shots were of wind generators in Eastern Colorado.  I don’t know what was up with the film, but there was some strange mottling that’s most apparent during those frames, plus reduced contrast, almost looks like it’s expired.  I suppose it has its uses as an effect, but I would have expected better from Kodak.

Unfortunately it wasn’t just that roll either.  I took my second roll to Durango with me and had the same problem with that one.

I spent $8.00 a roll on this.  Never again.

It’s growing on me…

I’ve always been more a fan of Fuji when it comes to color, even with Ektar, which really, I’ve yet to get the hang of.  However, I’ve seen so many good results for Kodak Gold 200, thanks to its popularity on the Pakon F135 users’ group on Facebook, and I decided to give it a go myself.

I have to say, I’m quite happy with what it can do so far.  As a plus, it’s readily available at the grocery store near my mom’s house, at a price of $9.00 per 3-pack no less.  I’ll definitely shoot more.

On vacation with a roll of JCH Streetpan 400

It seems like it’ll be every two years now, that my Ohio State friends from Blackburn House (now sadly demolished) get together for a weekend of shenanigans and nostalgic activity.  I’ve sort of appointed myself official weekend photographer (can’t trust anyone else anyway so why not?) and took more pictures with the SLR this time.  Not that they’re anything special, but it’s good to have some output to post here.

This roll of film is courtesy of my fellow blogger/film shooter (and really nice guy) Mark Ewanchuk. We were having some discussion over problems scanning it with the Pakon F135.  I’ve asked the Pakon group on Facebook, and they tell me that it has to do with being a polyester base, and that only machines with a true black & white mode can handle it (there are workarounds and patches to PSI for the F135, I’m told).  Well, my F335 is currently in storage while I try to thread my way through a housing crisis, but since the local camera store uses an F235, I wanted to see if they’d have problems with it.  I didn’t talk to them about it, but evidently it turned out fine.  They run the machine on automatic so the scans (especially those where the exposure isn’t quite on) probably aren’t quite as good as they’d be if I were doing them myself, but still good.  Mark, whatever problem you’re having with getting your F135 to scan it, I’m sorry, if you care enough to ask on Facebook, I’m sure that they could help you out.

JCH Streetpan 400 is an AGFA traffic surveillance film from the ’90s that has been brought back to life, not a brand-new film emulsion.  And in reality, we’ve probably reached the end of technological progression in chemical imaging with Kodak Portra 400 and Ektar 100.  No new R&D is being conducted so I don’t expect that there will be any more advances now.  I don’t necessarily consider this a bad thing, however: we have over a century of different films that have been gone for a long time, that my generation never got to shoot with, and the possibility of delving back in time with long-discontinued emulsions is an enticing thought for me.  That’s what JCH is, that’s what Ferrania will be.  The possibility exists of a Kodak Etkachrome revival (I hope this happens, I’ve never shot Ektachrome).  It’s interesting times we live in.  The Resurrected Camera meets The Resurrected Film.

My first thoughts are that it doesn’t handle incorrect exposures all too well, seems to be pretty high-contrast (at least in D-76 1:1 which is what the local camera store processes), and while occasionally grainy, is quite sharp.  Not unlike Double-X, but faster–a good film to shoot with older lenses.  The newest film on the market right now, JCH Streetpan 400 is lovingly brought to us by Bellamy Hunt of Japan Camera Hunter.  I’ve had thoughts about this film before, and that mostly revolves around the question of competition.  Off the top of my head, we already have: Tri-X, T-Max 400, Delta 400, HP5, Bergger Panchro 400 (on its way in 135 size), Bergger BRF400, ORWO N74, Kentmere 400, Ultrafine Xtreme 400, Rollei RPX 400, Rollei Retro 400, Fomapan 400.  Maybe more that I don’t know about.  Did we really, really, need another 35mm 400 speed black & white film?  Was that really what the majority of photographers expressed a need for?  I don’t know a lot about AGFA films, maybe there weren’t a whole lot of choices available, but I’d think something more toward the high or low end of the speed spectrum would do better and be more relevant, where there are much fewer choices.  Maybe a native-1600ASA film?  Or how about AGFA Scala?  Something more unique.  Something that fills an empty niche.

Maybe I don’t want to judge too quickly having only shot one roll of the stuff, but it’s not going to replace Tri-X in my camera.  And that’s the main problem.  I think it’s an uphill battle to convince people that they need this film, and with the rising exchange rate of the Yen, it’s going to get more expensive to buy.  Right now, expect to pay somewhere around $8.50 a roll.  I’m not saying it’s not worth it to buy, it’s just that I don’t see why we needed it in the first place.  So why should you buy it?  Because it’s there.  Because it’s there at all.  Because someone cared enough to pull a long-discontinued film out of the pages of history and give it another chance at life.  I plan on buying a few rolls soon and putting them away, just to have them, and also because I want to support Bellamy in his efforts.  I hope he is successful, and that more emulsions follow.  I just hope that next time, it’s a film that’s actually worth making is a bit more unique.

Ektar 100+Summarit 1.5

My first two rolls through my new (2nd) Canon 7, which I bought to be able to use some nice German-made lenses for Leica cameras.  These lenses are quite old even by my standards: the Leitz 5cm Summarit f/1.5 that I have is a relatively modern copy from 1953, and while it is coated (single coated), the contrast is not nearly what I’m used to with my Pentax lenses (younger by approximately 20 years).  The Summarit also has a reputation for being rather soft, though shooting as much as I could at f/8, I think it’s sharp enough for what I’m doing here (not as sharp as my Takumars though).  I’d still like to pick up a screw-mount collapsible Summicron for landscape pictures, but in a pinch the Summarit does nicely.  I’ve wondered about getting one of the modern Voigtlander lenses (or Lomography’s new Jupiter 3+) for color work, as I wasn’t sure how the low-contrast Leitz lenses from the ’50s and earlier would handle color film, but I was also curious what an ultra-saturated film like Ektar 100 would look like, and here are some of the results.

I need to shoot in the sun more, most of the time I was out it was overcast and that didn’t help much, but also I wonder if they weren’t underexposed a bit too.  I don’t have enough experience with Ektar to say if this is indeed the case, but roll #2 (the last 5 pics) show much improved color to my eyes.  I might just buy a few more rolls and continue testing this film/lens combination at some point.

I processed these pictures the same way I’ve been doing black & white, which is taking PSI output at -30 contrast and adding contrast back in using Photoshop.  I also have the regular PSI output, but prefer the added control.  This film captures quite a lot of information, and as someone who has more experience with black & white, it’s hard to get the color I think this film should have while still retaining detail in highlights/shadows.  But I’m learning.

I’ll probably be going back to black & white next for this camera and lens, but the experiments with color will continue!  I plan to shoot a roll or two of Provia and Velvia through the Canon 7 this Summer, and I hope that I’ll like the results of that, as I’m more used to Fuji’s color than I am to Kodak’s.  And Ferrania is coming soon as well, I hope.  I will say this about Ektar though: it handles different and mixed lighting extremely well!  I shot about half of my 2nd roll indoors and usually under fluorescent lights, and was quite satisfied with the colors even working straight out of PSI; very little tweaking was needed, and it was quite easy (a few examples are here).  Yes it was a bit slow for that purpose, but it has me considering Portra 400 for occasional indoor work now

The Snow in Black & White

I’ve been busy scanning things.  Well, actually the scanning part is easy, it’s the getting things just perfect afterwards that really chews up time.  Unless someone is in a big hurry, I’ve found so far that with black & white and the F335 it’s best to just take the raw files and do all the corrections myself in Photoshop instead of relying on PSI to do it.  Unless they’re really low contrast images PSI will overcompensate, and while it’s feasible to just turn down the contrast right there, I’d rather get my black & white images just right.  And it takes lots of work.

This is Arista Edu.100/Fomapan 100 which I developed myself in the school darkroom (first roll in a year!) using D-76 1:1 developed for (I think) 9min.  I had already bought my Pakon F335 so I waited until it arrived and this was the first roll through the scanner.  edit: I forgot to add, most of these shots are in my local neighborhood, just took them as I walked along one day.  #4 was taken from the Wal-Mart parking lot.

I shot this roll in the Olympus Trip 35, more from the same roll as this.  I have to say, that little camera is quite handy to have, especially in winter.  It’s simple to use, even with gloves on, and it fits quite nicely in a coat pocket.  This is only my first roll through it, but I could already tell it wouldn’t be the last.  It’s got a sharp lens and I don’t think the Fomapan does it justice, I have a feeling this would be a great camera for landscapes with Ektar 100.  With a 40mm f/2.8 lens I would have thought that it would be exclusively an outdoors camera but reading this post has changed my mind a bit.  I suppose that with the right film, you could get away with just about anything.  Cinestill 800T, anyone?

I don’t know what to think about Fomapan.  Its grain isn’t too bad and it has a classic grain structure, but nothing really stands out to me about it, it’s hard to form an opinion one way or another.  With Kentmere 100, even though its grain is huge for an 100-speed film, I at least think that it has a fantastic character and look to it, and would prefer using it to Fomapan 100 for most things, except maybe landscapes like we have here.  I suppose the price being right, it was a good film to try out, and I do have another roll which I plan on putting through something I’m a bit more familiar with like a Spotmatic, but I don’t think it will become a standby for me.  It is however, quite cheap to buy.  One thing I remember reading (after the fact, unfortunately) is that it really should be pulled somewhere under 100, and also the developing times are too aggressive and if overdeveloped the highlights can bunch up quick.  The chart hanging on our wall said 8-10 minutes in D-76 1:1, I really should have gone for 8 (or less) instead of 9, especially with all the snow and overcast skies, but I suppose I’ll know for next time.

Was Arista Premium 400 really a good deal?

Let’s do some math: a 24-exposure roll of Arista cost $2.70 (rounded up 1cent for simplicity).  A 36-exposure roll holds 50% more film than a 24-exposure roll, so multiplying 2.7×1.5 we know that anything less than $4.05 for a 36-exp roll is a better value than 24-exp.  I’m looking at Freestyle Photo’s site right now and one could purchase an in-date 36-exposure roll of Kodak-branded Tri-X for $4.67 (normally listed at $5.49).  While I was writing this (02/08/15) I wanted to look up Arista Premium one more time and it looks like their stock is now depleted, so it’s a bit of a moot point (though I didn’t know that when I started writing).

It’s all speculation, but I’d think Kodak stopped supplying Freestyle with film because it became too hard on business trying to compete against their own product (though it was a popular practice back in the day so I understand–even Ampex used to sell off some of their 632/642 tape stock to Radio Shack who sold it as Realistic Supertape 1800ft/1200ft).  I bought a 10-pack of Arista Premium just last week, but was rethinking it.  Are we really so mercenary that we need to save $0.62 per roll of film, when it might be costing Kodak money it could really use at this juncture?  Freestyle Photo is just a retailer, there are many more out there.  If it came down to making a choice, which is more important to financially support and keep in business, Freestyle or Kodak?

As I said earlier, the point is moot now.

Shooting people with Velvia 50

I found an old post of mine that I never finished, just forgot.  These pictures were taken on Easter Sunday 2014From what I’ve heard, Velvia 50 isn’t supposed to be good for people.  Supposedly it turns their skin too reddish.  I think they’re right, but it didn’t stop me from trying, and I took a chance on our overcast Easter Sunday.

Unfortunately, like a fool, I used too low a shutter speed and ended up botching some of my better shots.  Let that be a lesson to you:

00010019a
100mm f/8 1/60  This man gave me a whole bunch of Canon FD lenses (used in the landscape pictures above) and a T-50 body.  As you can see, he’s now joined the enemy, but at least his old stuff won’t be going to waste.

00010014
100mm f/8 1/60  So maybe a bit unnaturally reddish, but not overly so?  These two guys actually work outside for a living, so without having them right in front of me they may look like this in real life, if they had just had a really bad sunburn.

00010016a

00010015

I assume that the day being overcast helped rein the colors in a bit.  Now that I know better, I’ll stick to shooting landscapes with Velvia 50, but still, it was worth a try.

Honestly, I don’t know if I’d consider color reversal film to be “affordable” in the sense that color negative film is.  For starters, rolls of film cost $15-20.  On top of that, processing on that one roll cost me $20 (a package deal that also included scanning, slide mounting, and a set of 4×6 proofs).  And I had to wait the better part of a week, too (the camera store had to send it to their main location in Boulder).  Add that to the fact that you really have to know what you’re doing…so not for beginners, then.  However, if the results justify the means (and that is one of the main reasons to use film), then it’ll be a good thing to use.

I kind of liken shooting Velvia 50 to making a bet double-or-nothing: get your exposure off and you miss the shot, but nail it and you’ll have a beautiful-looking image the like of nothing you’ve seen before.  Still, I’d keep this more for landscape work given the choice.  I’ve shot two rolls of Provia 100F which has a much more forgiving latitude (for a slide film) which looks great for people, and not too bad for landscape.  I really want to try Velvia 100 as well, from what I’ve read it’s like Velvia 50 but with less wild reds, much better for people but still more vivid than Provia.  Still, I’ve got 6 rolls of Ferrania Chrome that should be arriving sometime in Spring, so that’s the slide film I’ll be using for a while.

To make this as affordable as possible, I used (refrigerated) expired film that was half off; I think it looks great, nothing wrong with the film.  Except for the 100mm lens that I bought from the camera store, all my Canon equipment has been gifted to me.  Here are other posts that are from this same roll:

Slide Film: Bracket Your Shots
UCCS Going Green
Shooting Daylight Film inside (without a Filter) Pt. II