Why I love Fuji slide film

I might shoot a whole lot of Double-X and Tri-X, but when it comes to color, Fuji still has my heart.  If you need a reason to shoot a roll of slide film, look below.  I mean, what’s not to love?

The price, I suppose, so I usually save this film for special occasions.  And it’s the processing costs that really can drain one’s bank account fast, around $20 for developing and scanning (plus $10-15 for the roll of film itself).  Yikes.  But then I look at a slide on a light table or scanned, and all misgivings go by the wayside:

I don’t shoot a whole lot of slide film, but that’s changing the more I get good results.  While I will shoot Ektachrome when it returns (and with Ferrania not too far away either), Fuji is still my first love for color film.  As I look through these pictures, I notice that a lot of them have very striking shades of blue, a favorite color of mine.  To be honest, Velvia 50 and I didn’t get on very well, but then I’ve only shot one roll and I probably need a bit more practice with it.

The modern slide films are remarkable.  Compared to Velvia 50, which is a bit of an older emulsion from the early-’90s, the more modern Provia 100F and Velvia 100 are pretty remarkable in their latitude, being able to survive one stop of over- or underexposure with only slightly noticeable differences in color.  Color, in fact, that is supposed to have an archival life of 300 years.  Color negative film doesn’t come anywhere close.

It’s a bit sad the direction that Fujifilm as a company has gone, and I don’t doubt that at some point in the next decade we will be holding the last-ever Fuji slide film.  I’ve been on the fence about whether or not to continue supporting their business when they have obviously abandoned film photographers.  Perhaps it would be better to not get attached to anything Fuji makes, because I know that whatever it is, its days are numbered.  But then I look back to the point when I knew Plus-X was discontinued, and only bought one roll to shoot, or when I passed up the opportunity to buy a few rolls of Provia 400X, or Superia 400 in 120 size.  Or the fact that I never got a chance to shoot Kodachrome (or Ektachrome, Astia, Sensia, Fortia, or Velvia 100F); I regret those things.  And so, like marrying a person with a terminal condition, all I can do is enjoy the time that is left, knowing that at some point all good things must come to an end.

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:

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.

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.



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

Slide film: bracket your shots

It’s Velvia week here at the Resurrected Camera.  I just couldn’t resist the pull of color reversal anymore.  As far as being affordable, I suppose that depends on how much the results justify the means.  For someone just starting out, no, I wouldn’t recommend it; even I had trouble and I’ve been shooting film for years.  With slide film, you either nail your exposure or you miss the shot; there’s very little latitude.

Bracket your shots.

Here’s something I’m pretty happy with (and that the light meter didn’t lie to me about):00010024
35mm f/8 1/60 Fuji Velvia 50

Now this is the same shot overexposed and underexposed by one stop (f/5.6 and f/11):

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Yeah I hang around areas where one can see Pike’s Peak quite easily.  The thing is of course that, considering how many times I’ve photographed it, makes it hard to keep it fresh for me, but hopefully not for you.  Here’s a view from UCCS campus:

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50mm f13.5,9.5,6.8 1/250 Fuji Velvia 50 (the one the meter said was correct is far left)

I never had anything to worry about with color negative film; it just pulls in all the light it needs, but unfortunately this just isn’t the case with slides.  This is one that just didn’t take; it’s a shame because it looked just fantastic on the day.  According to the guy at the camera store, I should look into getting a graduated ND filter (I think he mentioned Cokin?) to be able get good exposure for the entire slide, when going for these contrasty shots.  I think I’d agree with him, but it’s going to cost…

And speaking of the cost.  I used a different lab this time.  They sent it up their main location in Boulder, where they have their E-6 machine (plus a very nice Noritsu scanner edit: I’m no longer a fan of that scanner…I must have just been dazed by the beauty of color reversal film).  It was $20 for one roll (processed, scanned, mounted, and a set of 4×6 proofs…it was a package deal), and I had to wait 5 days to get everything back.  This new place does seem to be a bit more professional in some things and I would definitely use them for any time I’m not shooting 35mm color negative.  The film is about twice as expensive as well.  I got around that by buying a (refrigerated) roll of Velvia 50 that expired a year ago.  It’s still good, thankfully, and the price was much better.  The other option in slide film is what’s being called AGFA Precisa CT, which, being made in Japan, I’d assume is rebranded Fuji of some sort.  And who knows how much Ferrania will cost when it comes out?  I guess we’ll see.  As I said in the beginning, it’s all about the results.  (which I’m still working on getting…)