COLOR FILMS – LITE
For nature photography, use the slowest, sharpest, most vivid slide films available!!
MY SLIDE FILM PREFERENCES
For landscapes and flowers: Fuji Velvia* and Kodak E100VS
For wildlife: Kodak E100SW
For people: Kodak E100SW and E100S
For push processing: Kodak E200 (see below)
* - When I use Velvia, I set the film speed on my camera for 40 (rather than 50) and get normal E-6 processing.
The amateur equivalents (if available) could be used for all of the above.
The sharpest slide films are Fujichrome Velvia (it is an ISO 50 speed slide film, but you should set your camera for a film speed of 40 when using this film) and Fujichrome Provia 100F.
Very close in sharpness to Velvia is Kodak Ektachrome E100VS, Kodak E100SW, Kodak E100S and their amateur versions (all true 100 speed slide films); and Kodak Kodachrome 25 and 64.
Close to the Kodak films is Fujichrome Provia 100 and its amateur version, Fujichrome Sensia II 100.
The most vivid color in a slide film are found in between Fuji Velvia and Kodak E100VS.
One notch down is Kodak E100SW and Kodak E100S. Both of these films have enhanced color, just not as much as Velvia and E100VS. Next in line is Fuji Provia 100F.
Next in line is Fuji Provia 100 and Sensia II 100. Compared to the above films, these are starting to look almost tame.
Next in line are Kodachrome 25 and Kodachrome 64 in both pro and amateur versions. These used to have the boldest color around but have long since been passed up by more recent films. Still, the Kodachromes have a certain "look" that many pro nature photographers love. Stored in the dark, Kodachrome lasts longer than any other film made. I wish Kodak would soup up the color of Kodachrome. Kodachrome requires a special K-14 process that is done by only a few labs around the country. Try these films some bright sunny day (they don't do as well in the shade or on cloudy days).
PROFESSIONAL AND AMATEUR FILM
Professional Film Amateur Version
Kodak E100VS Kodak Elite Chrome 100 Extra Color
Kodak E100SW and E100S *Kodak Elite Chrome 100
Kodak E200 Kodak Elite Chrome 200
Fuji Provia 100F and 100 *Fuji Sensia II 100
Kodachrome 25 and 64 Prof. Kodachrome 25 and 64
(* - approximate amateur equivalent)
Kodak professional films have a more consistent film speed, more consistent color balance, and slightly different color palette than the Kodak amateur films. These features might make the higher price worth it to you.
Kodak E100S has saturated (enhanced) color with a neutral color balance. Kodak E100SW has saturated color and a warm color balance. A warmer film is usually preferred for nature photography. Kodak Elite Chrome 100 is halfway in between the two professional films in color balance, that is, moderately warm.
Kodak E100VS has very saturated color and a moderately warm color balance. The amateur version, Elite Chrome 100 Extra Color, has the same very saturated color and a warmer color balance.
Provia 100F is superior in sharpness and grain to Sensia II 100. Sensia is still a good inexpensive film. Fuji may update the amateur emulsion without public fanfare.
Buy some Elite Chrome 100 Extra Color. If you like it, try the high priced version. Next try the Fuji Velvia. You will find that Velvia and E100VS are truly eye popping stuff. Try E100SW and Provia 100F for wildlife. Next try Kodachrome 25 or 64 on some bright sunny day for landscapes or flowers(especially with a polarizing filter). Decide what YOU like best.
HIGH SPEED SLIDE FILM
The sun has just set, and a huge bull moose walks out into the lake. Even with your lens wide open (largest aperture), your camera meter says you need a shutter speed of 1/15 second. Not good. What to do? Pop in a roll of Kodak E200. This is the best, sharpest, most colorful 200 speed slide film on the market. One stop faster than the 100 speed slide films, you are now at 1/30 of a second.
This is good, but you can do better still. Put in E200, and set your camera for a film speed of 320. Now you have a shutter speed of just about 1/60 second – much better than 1/15.
Why set your camera for a film speed of 320? Kodak E200 is designed to be push processed. When you finish the roll of film, take it to your favorite processor and ask for PUSH 1 PROCESSING.
If you really need extra speed, put E200 in your camera, set the film speed for 640, and ask for PUSH 2 PROCESSING when you take your film in for developing.
Push processing costs extra – you knew there would be a catch. Do you lose anything? With push one processing – not much. With push two processing, you lose a little in color quality and a slight gain in contrast. Try it, this is amazing stuff.
PROCESSING SLIDE FILM
Don't try this at home.
When I am in a hurry, I take my slide film to my favorite local lab.
When I am not in a hurry, I use processing mailers or labels and send my film to A&I Color in Hollywood, CA, or to Kodak in Fair Lawn, NJ, or to Fuji in Phoenix, AZ. A&I, Kodak, and Fuji mailers are available from B&H Photo in NYC. You can reach A&I at 800-883-9088. A&I labels cost $5.50 per roll. Kodak and Fuji mailers cost between $3.30 and $4.50 per roll.
PRINT FILM RECOMMENDATIONS
For landscape and nature: Fujicolor Superia Reala
All around slow speed film: Fujicolor Superia Reala, Kodak Gold 100
High speed film: Kodak Gold Max 800, Fuji Superia 800
My favorite people portrait film: Kodak Portra 400VC (rated at 200)
I usually rate print filmat 2/3 to 1 stop slower than the speed on the box an get normal C-41 processing.
If you use Portra 400VC, take your film to a good professional lab and ask for "video-analyzed prints." If you use a great professional portrait film, you want the best processing.
For more information, see the longer article on film.
All material is copyrighted. Do not reproduce without permission.
July 14, 2000
Copyright © Jim Doty, Jr. All rights reserved.