Ektar 100 on RA-4: Rediscovering the "Wow" Factor!

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Michel Hardy-Vallée, Oct 12, 2009.

  1. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    I just finished a longish evening of RA4 printing at home, and spent my time with Ektar 100 in 120. I've been printing 11x14, so I can't really scan my prints, but I thought I would pass along a few comments:

    * Ektar 100 is an awesome film. It's so fine-grained that it's nearly impossible to properly focus on the dye clouds using a grain magnifier. It makes me want to print bigger and bigger, until the grain starts to appear. The saturation is also pretty much at the limit of Supra Endura's ability to render rich colours like red.

    * Compared to a scan, an RA4 print is a little bit softer, obviously because there is no artificial sharpening, but perhaps also because of the finesse of the grain (cf. Thornton' oft-quoted correlation between grain and sharpness).

    * If you only had scan-and-print prints from Ektar 100, you're missing something very tasty. I've always found RA4 prints from scans to be plasticky and without substance.

    * Filter pack was rather consistent between photos taken in comparable light, but every once in a while a photo revealed a subtle cyan or red shift. It's definitely a film for the blazing light of noon.

    * Shadows are very blue, something that is not always apparent on a scan.

    * I suppose the dyes of Ektar 100 are more modern than the dye chemistry of Kodak Supra Endura. Perhaps this would help account for certain discrepancy in hues: yellows are much less pure on RA4 than on a neg scan. Has anyone tried printing Ektar on Fuji Crystal Archive?

    * All that said, it's definitely a film well positioned for a hybrid workflow, since it scans so well, but properly printed on analog RA4, it will yield not just saturation and detail: it will also yield that Aha! moment.

    * My Mamiya 55mm f/4.5 (TLR mount) is a gorgeous lens.
     
  2. Cliffy13

    Cliffy13 Member

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    Having just returned to film I am awaiting the return of my first roll of Ektar 100 in 35mm and your comments have me drooling in anticipation
     
  3. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    I shot a roll recently and I've got the negs but haven't had chance to print in the darkroom yet. I'm keen to see what the film looks like when it's traditionally printed.
     
  4. fiducio

    fiducio Member

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    I have only done an outdoor shoot with studio flash, and in 120. As you said, all the above, it's so fine grain i had to judge it by eye to see if I was in focus when using the grain focuser.

    I tried to finish the roll inside with a 1/2 second f/2.8 exposure. It was terribly cyan. Which made me come to the same conclusion. Outdoors only. :tongue:

    But with sharpness, I came across a pretty acceptable amount of sharpness and was rather happy with it. I also printed on 11x14, and some 16x20 of it.

    What I'm anticipating now is printing my Ektar 25 film that's been frozen since '94!

    Ektar 100 is exceptional, I still have 10 rolls left I'm waiting to shoot!
     
  5. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Had a second look at my prints today in good daylight, and I'm an idiot: those blue shadows are just because I forgot to substract about 5Y. My whites were looking all dandy, but of course a faint blue cast on white is not always obvious to the untrained eye. When I noticed the neutral shadows of another shot, I realized my mistake.

    But it's true that this film does not like indoor or overcast days. Portra is a much, much better film for these situations. Ektar 100 is my new vacation film: it gives us the nice bright colours, and the greens of summer. Makes you think all the world's a sunny place.
     
  6. arealitystudios

    arealitystudios Member

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    I’ve been geeking out on Ektar 100 ever since Kodak made the fabulous decision to release it in 120. This stuff is absolutely WONDERFUL for pinhole work, which is my primary use of color film.

    Colors come out incredibly saturated with long exposures to the point where they really pop in the most delightful way. The film is also forgiving enough that I tend to get workable exposures about 80% of the time, which is quite remarkable for pinhole work.

    I very much hope that sales of this stuff is strong enough that it will stay in production for a long time.
     
  7. photomem

    photomem Member

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    Ektar 100 is the only color print film I use. One of my photo professors said that if you shoot it at ISO 64 instead of 100, the rendering of colors is pretty similar to Kodachrome, but I have not tried it yet.
     
  8. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Well, back from part 2 of my spend-the-RA4-1-Gallon-kit-before-it-spoils printing marathon, and I printed mostly 35mm.

    I'm not as thrilled as 120, perhaps because the smaller enlargement ratio of 120 helps with saturation, but I find 35mm colours not to be as nice. Based on my times, there appears to be a difference in base density between the two (in B&W, 35mm film and 120 do not usually have the same base). IDK whether this can have an effect on the final look, but for now, I think Ektar is a 120 film for me. (Cue to hybrid users: chuck your DSLR and scan this film!).

    My prints from 120 are closer to the scans I have in my gallery than my prints from 35mm are. I'll scan some 8x10 when I can to show the difference.

    For now I'm glad to have whittled down my film palette to 4 reliable films:

    1) Portra 400NC for speed and contrast, better flesh tones, good any day, anywhere;
    2) Ektar 100 for saturation, punch, and sunny scenes;
    3) Tri-X for the eternal B&W look and for the occasional extreme pushing (3200);
    4) TMAX 400 (TMY) for clarity, sharpness, exactitude, smoothness.

    In 120, I use Portra, Ektar and TMAX ; in 35mm I think I will stick to Tri-X, it's really what 35mm is made for. That or the occasional slide (E100VS, because what's the point of shooting slides if they're not saturated??).
     
  9. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    I agree. Ektar is my main film now. I printed 35mm Ektar to 11x14 and still had problems grain focusing. That stuff is very fine grained. I've only tried Supra Endura and I'm liking it so I'm not likely to change. My next goal is to go to 16x20 from 35mm for fun. It's a great film. I have yet to try it in 120. That's next.
     
  10. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    You'll love 120: the colours are richer, more "meaty." The fact that it's so clean really gives big enlargement an eerie perfection.

    Best way to experience it would be to use a wide-angle shot printed very, very large. I really wish I could print 20x24 and above in my kitchen!
     
  11. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    I gave up trying to print anything larger than 8x10 at home. My school has 16x20 trays but once I reach 20x24 I'm going to need a bigger sink...