Kodak Ektar 100 was introduced in 2008 and shouldn’t be confused with the earlier Ektar that was available from 1989 to 1994. Kodak claims that Ektar is the finest grain colour negative film available and I have no doubt that it is. This is an example of the film shot at its native sensitivity of 100 ISO
While the image itself may not be the sharpest there is very little evidence of the film grain itself.
additionally I have found that Ektar has a great degree of exposure latitude that is it can capture a lot of detail both in image highlights and shadows without the need to sacrifice one or the other. This is a feature of film and it’s non linear exposure curve but especially so for Ektar 100.
With all this in mind ‘Fine Grain’,'great latitude’ and its scanability I thought I would try pushing it to 400 ISO as a test. What this entailed was changing from the default ISO of 100 to 400 on my camera which is the same as under exposing the film by 2 stops. Additionally I pushed the processing (Increased the development time) to account for this. The result is that you have a film that you can use for lower light conditions but what are the trade offs? Well the result is that the grain becomes more pronounced and there is an increase in contrast, additionally I found a loss of detail in the shadows and a colour shift towards magenta
So how does this compare to films with a native sensitivity of 400 such as Kodak Portra and Fuji Superia? Well I would say it doesn’t quite match up it’s more like using out of date Kodak 200. Not all of my testing results matched up because I found it necessary to under expose even a little more under the low light conditions that I had but when exposed properly at 400 ISO it’s a viable alternative in a pinch.
The following examples were taken with the Fujica ST801 and Kodak Ektar at 400ISO with a +2 stop push in development.
In many of my posts I reference and even lament the poor quality of some of the random outdated film I use. I’m a film agnostic, if the film fits I will try it. The results are often unpredictable but one thing I can say is that as film ages the way that it renders the light changes. It isn’t just that it looses some sensitivity it also can lose contrast and have colour shifts and is often far more grainy. Sometimes this can work to create interesting images but sometimes it just doesn’t work. What it does do is look different and that is a good thing. As much as I like beautiful well done digital images at times their homogeneity can be over powering. What’s wrong with a little randomness thrown in?
I discovered that the roll of Ektar 100 I had in my Contax RTS had not been exposed but had sat ineffectually waiting for the camera to show it the light. Rather than reloading it in the Contax I put it into my Pentax MZ-6 which has not let me down. The result is these random snap shots that I took in the same area. As I’ve probably said many times here on my blog if the images I intend to capture are important to me I turn to Ektar. Ektar scans the best and captures the most detail with the widest exposure latitude. The image on the right is the same as on the left but with -3EV exposure in Lightroom to show how much information is still lurking in the highlights and not actually blown out as might be with a digital camera.
Ektars only short fall is that it is 100 ISO which doesn’t suit every situation, that being said on an upcoming post I will test it pushed to 400 ISO.
The Pentax Espio 928M has for me a very desirable focal length of 28-90mm which makes it directly comparable to the Canon Z90W which I also have. The Pentax has the slightly slower lens at f4.8-10.9 verses the Canon at f4.5-9.9 either way if you choose to use one of these anachronisms your going to want to use a film of at least ISO400. It should be mentioned that the 928M is not the same camera as the 928 as the lens is slower and it does away with some great features like exposure compensation and multi-exposure mode. So if it were not for the fact that it has a wide angle of 28mm I wouldn’t have even bothered to pick it up. The thing is despite it’s short comings in the end it’s the lens in front of the film that maters and the lens performed quite well actually. Even the corners of the frame are reasonably distortion free when compared to other similar cameras. So with good light and fast film the Espio 928M is almost a camera worth using but really if your still shooting film at this point there are going to be better options. P.S. the Konica Lexio 70 is not one of them trust me.
The Vivitar Pocket 35 is a chunky little camera, it’s like someone took a Yashica T3 and squeezed in its sides.
The camera is turned on by sliding the lens cover the same as the Yashica T3 but unfortunately that is about the end of the control you have over the camera. Well aside from the self timer and the shutter button that’s the extent of it. There is no way to alter the ISO or override the flash two of my favourite things. There is a green LED inside the viewfinder presumably to indicate that you have half pressed the shutter button. It’s far too promiscuous to be indicating focus, it will turn on for anything. Vivitar made a lot of cheap cameras over the years so it would be easy to dismiss this as yet another but really its lens sets it apart. Rather than being some fixed focus plastic abomination the lens is a very good 35mm f3.5 Vivitar Series 1 lens. I can’t find much information for the camera but based on the focal length and aperture and outward appearance I believe it’s likely a Tessar lens with 4 elements in 3 groups like you would find on the Yashica T3 and Olympus XA. Interestingly the camera can be powered either by a CR123A battery or 2 AAA I guess that chunky grip is good for two things, It fits the batteries and makes the camera comfortable to hold one handed without fear of dropping it.
There is something very appealing about this little camera. The only thing that keeps it a notch bellow something like the Olympus Stylus Epic is the inability to suppress the flash.
I shot the following images with the Vivitar Pocket 35 and Kodak 400 film.
I happen to have three lenses that purport to have some sort of macro ability and fit my Pentax Super Program. From left to right are the SMC Pentax-M 1:2.8-4 40-80, Takumar-A 1:3.5-4.5 28-80 and the Vivitar 70-150 1:3.8 Macro Focusing Zoom. For convenience I am going to refer to them as the SMC,Takumar and Vivitar for the rest of the post. Obviously they bring different qualities to the comparison with the SMC being the fastest, the Takumar the widest and the Vivitar the longest but they all claim some close focusing ability.
In the same order here are samples from each of the lenses set to their closest focus and f5.6.
The SMC Pentax-M wins this hands down with the best image quality and the least chromatic distortions. When not at their closest focus and set to 70mm focal length it’s the Vivitar that comes out on top. The Takumar comes last in all the tests but it also has the most ambitious and useful focal lengths. The Vivitar sports an awkward set of focal lengths which might be suited to portraits but it’s not particularly fast at f3.8 It is compact though. The SMC Pentax-M also has a limit range of focal lengths but within them is the best of the bunch and the fastest too. The 28mm wide end makes the Takumar the most versatile but you give up some speed and image quality. So my verdict is that none of these replace each other and I should use them all…the end.
When mounted on an APS-c DSLR such as the Pentax K-3 the Vivitar makes a nice medium telephoto that renders out of focus areas in a gentle buttery bokeh. Wide open at f3.8 it tends to be a bit soft but at f5.6 it does a decent job.
After two rolls of questionable film I finally loaded my Yashica T4 Super with a decent roll of Fuji Superia 400. The results where predictably better than what I achieved with the outdated Kodak 800 Yashica T4 Super. Results that are more in keeping with the cameras abilities. I find the Yashica T4 to be good for all around general picture taking. Partly because of it’s 35mm focal length but also because of its good handling and controls. I shot this roll over a variety of conditions from bright sun to shade and even night time and it performed well in every case.
One of the features of this camera is that it has a lens shield that only slides back when you turn the camera on, the earlier T AF had a similar shield but that only slid out of the way when you took the actual picture. This is a fantastic feature when your shooting in drizzling conditions or outright rain as it helps keep water from getting onto the lens.
One thing about one camera: When you lock focus with a half press of the shutter the meter is also locked so you can use that to manipulate exposure as long as the focus is the same.
I loaded an Olympus XA with Lomochrome Purple film and set the ASA to 200. The film is rated at 400 ISO but over exposing is supposed to render darker purples. Shooting it during a mostly dreary winter time may have not been the best idea, perhaps spring when everything here is green would be better. I found that not every image caused the same degree of shift. I believe this is a combination of the metering from the XA and that darker greens seemed to be effected less than yellower greens. Also shaded light had much less impact on the shift than direct sunlight.
additionally blue is shifted to green and while you don’t tend to find that much purple out in the real world it is shifted to green as well.
Here is a little chart of how some colours are effected. The original colour is on top with the Lomochrome Purple shifted colour just bellow.
I have another roll that I will shoot when there is more foliage and new growth as well as using a different camera with a little more control.
I went to the movies to see paintings. It sounds counter intuitive but Cineplex has been putting on a series of documentaries called In the Gallery.
‘In The Gallery is your cinematic tour of exhibits around the world, bringing you up close and personal to the greatest art exhibitions and galleries across the globe.’
They are like events in that the have a very limited number of showings, in the instance just two for The Impressionists. So what was my ‘Impression’? The documentary was good and shed new light for me on the role that the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel played in establishing the Impressionists in their place in art history. Your left with the sense that without Durand-Ruel it’s possible that they may have just been a footnote in art history or at least not have had the impact that they did without his support both financial and commitment in the face of opposition to change and outright derision. The documentary itself spends the first 30 minutes setting the stage for the Impressionists as you might expect. After this though as the story continues we are presented with wonderful close-ups of their work that form part of the exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay. These close-ups provide an opportunity to see the brushwork of the painters that even seeing a painting in person does not provide, you just can’t get that close in any other way. This is where the theatre as a venue is great. Perhaps watching a 4K video from 10 feet on a large TV would be similar but of that I’m not certain. Seeing the weave of the canvas and the strokes of paint pulled across it was wonderful. What detracted for the experience was the movie format itself. A movie by nature is a linear experience curated for time. There are no opportunities to linger on a particular painting, the tour must move along. Also rather than using translation when French is spoken subtitles are used. The problem with this is two-fold it requires you to move your gaze from the imagery to reading if you want to follow the story and the text overlays otherwise exquisite images. While others I spoke to after the show liked the cinematography I found selective focus was used more than I would have liked. I think the paintings speak for themselves as presented and did not require this particular effect. I found the experience good despite these caveats with the giant close-ups providing the element that no other medium provides.
Even a high quality book will only get you so far such as this detail above of a Monet painting.
Try to imagine this Berthe Morisot painting 50 feet across and then imagine that a small detail is enlarged to that size and you get a sense of the experience.
Again unfortunately there are only two showing and those are only separated by three days so the opportunities to see this are limited. I will keep an eye out in the future for similar movie events but that said a good documentary on Blu-ray can be watched more than once. And on that note this documentary is produced by Seventh Art Productions where they appear to make these available for sale.
Originally I hadn’t intended to take the K-3 and the DA* 16-50 and DA*50-135 but it was a terribly rainy day and if its going to pour then this is the gear to take. Besides the weather sealing the lenses are great optical performers and the K-3 is an amazing photographic tool with more technology packed into it than you can use in a day. More images from this day trip are here K-3 Signs
Update: Pentax has announced and is soon to release an updated K-3II with even more features. I’m particularly interested in the new pixel shift technology.