Sunday, September 25, 2005

What's going through the Mamiyas and Nikons

I've finally found a film that really gets me excited again!

A few years back I started shooting on Portra 160NC and feel in love with how it deals with colour. I have a love/hate relationship though with neg films as the commercial printers (even pro-labs) can vary so wildly.

It's all a little too subjective for my liking. I'm not so sure about the grain of the 160NC - it unnerves me somehow. It looks ok on the MF but the 35mm is a bit problematic and out of it's depth over 40 x 60cm.

I spent years shooting on slide (even cheap Sensia II) more because of the discipline it required and the absoluteness of it. If I get a print or scan done it's as easy as saying 'match it as close as possible or do it again'. Luminosity and colour depth in final printing are obviously limited - irrelevant of start material - but the feel was 'reachable'.

When we moved to Perth it became apparent that I simply couldn't afford to shoot on slide anymore. The prices are totally disproportionate and even with a relatively cheap development cost (found after a long search) you get up to around $0.80-$1.00 per image. On MF even more! Then on top of that even simple prints are pricey.

So ... I was reading around and decided to roll off some Velvia 50 MF for a photography job that had to go up to a few two metre wide enlargements. Results were great. Really sharp and rich - if maybe a bit oversaturated. The higher end films are much more 'sensitive' so one stop REALLY was one stop. On neg I could be a bit off and still get results.

Someone suggested I roll off some of the new Velvia 100 (not the 100F) and that's real gold! I shot some images of a burn-off out at Pinjar road and it even handled the subtleties of the flame and smoke with genuine depth in the shadows. Dito under the studio lights ... bounced a 500W off the ceiling and had a softbox on 90 degrees and the results were really spectacular!

On the black and white front I've been experimenting a bit with the Pan F which I've decided I don't like after an initial sparodic bout of happiness. Have since returned to the Delta 100 (with a red filter) and really enjoy the tones more after the detour. REALLY miss the APX25 I was using when studying ... sigh!

Rolled off my first Astia 100F this weekend (portraiture) under studio lights so hope that does something interesting as well.

It's really hard for me to sometimes accept that what the human eye differentiates far exceeds any film. Colours, tone and contrast are essentially unattainable. I suppose the challenge is to find the film that captures what you like the most.

The search continues!

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