wimpole hall

Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100

Up to this point, my experiences with black and white film had been purely with Ilford stock.  HP5+ and the different Deltas were what I started with, but many people regularly recommended Fuji Acros.  Silverprint UK is usually my go-to site in the UK for film, and once again their price for 120 rolls of Acros was too tempting.  Being a 100 speed film, Acros is generally known for shaprness, fine grain and great detail.  It is also of course best used in bright conditions.  During my visit to Wimpole (see also Kodak Portra 400 and Fujifilm Pro 400H) I tested out a roll of Acros to see what it could do.  Of course, being a test I did take some images in less than ideal conditions (think dark pig sheds) to see if you could still have this film in your camera for a general, versatile walk-about film. acros-124acros-123

Shooting into the sun, the film still retains a great amount of shadow detail, but the sky also still retains texture - it's not blown out as it likely would be in a digital file.  (Note - doing this did lead to some light leak onto the following frame. Not a big deal but definitely noticeable...)

Heading indoors, I had to deal with some pedestrian shutter speeds with my Yashica, which only has a maximum aperture of f/3.5.  Luckily, the design of a TLR means it is relatively straightforward to brace the camera against your body and take a shot with a shutter speed less than 1/15 (the main time to look out for in terms of technique is pressing the shutter).  In some shots I got the exposure a little bit wrong, with one or two images being a little dark - this is recoverable in Lightroom though.

acros-116

With more unusual lighting, the contrast of Acros can be amazing.  For this image I shot into a barn, waiting for the goat to pass by the little door into their outside area.  Even in this extreme dark (metering for the highlights of course) there is still detail on the barn wall - the edges of the planks are clearly visible.  This is pretty incredible, considering how bright the goat is (there is also detail here too, it is not blown out).

acros-125

So, what are my impressions?  As you can probably tell, I'm a big fan of this film.  The latitude, contrast (in the right conditions), great detail, sharpness, pleasing but unobtrusive grain makes this a fantastic film for a wide range of settings.  I wouldn't hesitate to put this film in my camera when on the street or at a location such as Wimpole.  I would perhaps stay away from it in indoor settings (unless brightly lit), but this is as much to do with the slow film speed as it is to do with the aperture that can be achieved by my Yashica.

There wasn't much information out there in terms of development.  I used this method (Ming Thein blog) - Ilford DD-X, 6.5 minutes at 24 degress water temperature, then standard 1 minute of Ilfostop and 6 minutes of Ilford Rapid Fixer.  Seemed to work very well, so I ill be sticking with this in the future.

Go on, get some.  You won't regret it...

 

Kodak Portra 400 and Fujifilm Pro 400H

For the last few weeks I have been experimenting with colour film.  The first rolls I picked up were the muted, pastel options from Kodak and Fujifilm.  Both are 400 speed films, but I had read on various sites that they tend to look a little better (perhaps a bit more dreamy) when a stop over-exposed.  So, all the images you'll see were metered at 200 ISO.  I tried out the films during two main trips, Cambridge city and Wimpole Hall estate (a National Trust property to the west of the city), and luckily I had sunny, bright conditions!  It will be interesting to see how the films perform in more dull conditions. I processed the films myself at home using a Tetenal 1L C-41 kit.  The results have been fine, although I have had some problems with chemical spots and the occasional streak.  This is a bit weird, as I have had no such problems with my black and white development.  I know my technique and steps are OK, so maybe it's a curiosity specifically related to the C-41 chemistry...

The sharpness of both films is great, with minimal grain (much less compared to a 400 speed B&W film e.g. HP5+), but less contrast compared to other film stocks and formats.  The main difference between the films is the colour cast you get straight from the scanner.  The Portra is much, much warmer, much more yellow than the Fuji.  The colours are muted in both, but the Portra images seemed much more summery - perfect if you are going for that look.  Take a look at the images below and decide for yourself which film you prefer.  Let me know in the comments below.  [Again, I have only edited the images to remove dust and hairs from the jpegs, I have not corrected colour, contrast etc]

Kodak Portra 400

Fujifilm Pro 400H