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06-28-2010, 06:43 AM   #1
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Super Program and Ektar

I just received a very pretty Super Program body from KEH. (It has a problem with the lock on the exposure knob, but I'll deal with that later). I ran it through an exposure comparison with my recently CLA'd bodies, and took it out for a spin. It happened that what I had handy was a roll of Ektar I had just bought to try. Though it is probably not usually a great idea to try a new body with a new film, that's what I did.

A few observations:

1. I may be becoming an EK guy, because I seem to like the calmer, cooler color rendition in Kodak's films. I find myself dialing back more of the yellow and green in Fuji film than I add in Kodak's films. For ISO 100, this latest version of Ektar is preferable to the lush, green world of Reala for my palette.

2. Shooting Ektar is like shooting digital or slides to me. I exposed at ISO 100. Based on the one morning of shooting, I don't quite get the advice to shoot it at ISO 80, because when scanned, this film seems more sensitive to blown highlights than other print films. Many of the highlights on the shots below are not recoverable in the scanned files, though there is plenty of room in the shadows. It could also be the metering of the Super Program. Perhaps I'll need to use it in another body.

3. The Super Program does make DA lenses quite useful for film. The shot of three women at the soap table was taken with the DA40 Ltd. The dog people and the little girl were both taken with the DA 55-300. Only the colorful "jumper" was taken with a true "full frame" lens--the M20mm/4. The dog people shot was the only one that required correction for vignetting. The way the Super Program works, it is not possible to shoot a DA lens in AV mode, so I believe the aperture on the dog person shot went larger than F8. However, the correction was within the capabilities of PS for a full frame, or could be easily cropped if shot for "ideal" format wet prints.

My favorite color film for scanning is still Fuji 160s, Fuji pretty much nailed the interaction between the two techologies with 160s IMHO. Ektar may be a close second with Porta NC third. If I could get control of my highlights, Ektar might become my favorite. I like the super-fine grain which allows a scan to be sharpened up nicely.

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Last edited by GeneV; 06-28-2010 at 04:36 PM.
06-28-2010, 08:14 AM   #2
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+1 on number three...the DA 40mm should be referred to as a DFA. The Super P is certainly very versatile, and it's my favorite film body as it's provides the ultimate blend of classic metal body design and automation.

Adam
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06-28-2010, 08:32 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
+1 on number three...the DA 40mm should be referred to as a DFA. The Super P is certainly very versatile, and it's my favorite film body as it's provides the ultimate blend of classic metal body design and automation.
And best of all, a viewfinder fully optimized for manual focus.

My little Super P may have to go back to fix a stuck control, but I like the body.
06-28-2010, 08:33 AM   #4
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The images look certainly very nice and the DA40 seems to be good for film. I never really used Ektar, as, contrary to you, I preferred Fuji films, with the exception of the old Kodak 160 portrait films grainy, but nice, natural colours.

The scanning alos looks good to me, though the small size is focourse not the ultimate test.

Ben

06-28-2010, 08:48 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ben_Edict Quote
The images look certainly very nice and the DA40 seems to be good for film. I never really used Ektar, as, contrary to you, I preferred Fuji films, with the exception of the old Kodak 160 portrait films grainy, but nice, natural colours.

The scanning alos looks good to me, though the small size is focourse not the ultimate test.

Ben
Thanks. You are right that scans are hard to judge in posting-size formats.

Actually, like you, I always preferred Fuji until lately. Perhaps it is a change of outlook on life from middle age, but my internal palette seems to have changed.
06-28-2010, 01:19 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
2. Shooting Ektar is like shooting digital or slides to me. I exposed at ISO 100. Based on the one morning of shooting, I don't quite get the advice to shoot it at ISO 80, because when scanned, this film seems more sensitive to blown highlights than other print films.
You are absolutely correct -- Ektar has less latitude for overexposure than films such as 160S or Reala.
I shoot Ektar as rated, and sometimes compensate -1/2 EV or so for scenes with highly saturated colors (flowers and such). I'd never intentionally overexpose it.

FWIW, If Ektar is under- or over- exposed, the skin tones go totally nuts (too orange or magenta) and can be difficult to correct. Based on the photos in your post I'd say the exposure is about right (and the skin tones are about as good as they're going to get).


QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
3. The Super Program does make DA lenses quite useful for film. . .
Same situation with the MZ-S . Program and shutter-priority mode are usable in most cases but shutter-priority can lead to underexposure problems (on any camera) at shutter speeds where the lens close-to-wide-open.
06-28-2010, 03:08 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by troyz Quote
You are absolutely correct -- Ektar has less latitude for overexposure than films such as 160S or Reala.
I shoot Ektar as rated, and sometimes compensate -1/2 EV or so for scenes with highly saturated colors (flowers and such). I'd never intentionally overexpose it.

FWIW, If Ektar is under- or over- exposed, the skin tones go totally nuts (too orange or magenta) and can be difficult to correct. Based on the photos in your post I'd say the exposure is about right (and the skin tones are about as good as they're going to get).




Same situation with the MZ-S . Program and shutter-priority mode are usable in most cases but shutter-priority can lead to underexposure problems (on any camera) at shutter speeds where the lens close-to-wide-open.
Thanks for confirming my impression. I do also see how skin tones could easily go toward red. By the way, many of the people shots (but not the ones posted) were difficult to print when scanned.

I will definitely enjoy shooting Ektar for non-human subjects, but the 160 films (especially 160s) will still be my go-to for humans. I do enjoy that headroom. I will say that with Ektar, I saw more reason in the grain to drop the down in ISO than with Reala. That is not because the grain in Reala is not excellent, but because the grain in scanned 160s works so well that it takes a big improvement to make a slower film more attractive.
06-28-2010, 03:34 PM   #8
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Congrats on the SuperProgram and the really nice work with Ektar...it's funny but both are my second favorite camera/film respectively <g>. I had issues with the mode dial on one of my SuperPrograms and Eric had me put back together in a jiffy - apparently it's a common issue on the SuperPrograms. Lately, I've been spending most of my film time w/ the SuperProgram and it is a lot of fun to shoot; I'm particularly fond of the shutter sound <g> and it's been giving me some really good results. Hope you don't have to be without your new friend for very long.

Best,
Kevin

06-28-2010, 04:31 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by KJon Quote
Congrats on the SuperProgram and the really nice work with Ektar...it's funny but both are my second favorite camera/film respectively <g>. I had issues with the mode dial on one of my SuperPrograms and Eric had me put back together in a jiffy - apparently it's a common issue on the SuperPrograms. Lately, I've been spending most of my film time w/ the SuperProgram and it is a lot of fun to shoot; I'm particularly fond of the shutter sound <g> and it's been giving me some really good results. Hope you don't have to be without your new friend for very long.

Best,
Kevin
What is your first choice in film?

My SuperP is going back to KEH for an exchange. I thought of paying to send it to Eric because I purchased an Ex+ body which was really like new, and the next one will not be as beautiful. As usual, KEH was very nice about it. At least my next one will be cheaper. I will have enough money left over to have Eric work his magic if necessary.

I think that there was a reason why some of these pristine bodies did not get used. My LX is a museum-quality piece because I cared for it in the early years I used it, but also because it sat warm and cozy in the closet for a long time because of a minor problem Eric recently corrected.

I also like the sound of the SuperP. The viewfinder is great, as well. Other than the stuck mode dial, it was just what I wanted to bridge between my film and digital equipment.
06-28-2010, 05:17 PM   #10
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First choice in film is Reala 100; love the colors and maybe because I don't do many "people" shots, but I've been happy with the skin tones there, too. Film I seem to end up shooting the most is Ultramax 400, largely because it's readily available and cheap. I've only been shooting film for a year so I still feel like a noob (but the keeper rate keeps improving <g>). Still a little intimidated by "better" film so I tend to shy away from it unless I'm on a "mission" with something specific in mind to shoot. Past couple rolls I've also been shooting unfamiliar cameras. Fell into a Nikon EM for a whopping $35 and didn't want to waste a roll of good film to potential light leaks etc. (Turns out my fears were well-founded: light seals need to be replaced). Also had a friend give me a Minolta XG-1(n) - same drill - I'll find out what I haven when I pick up the test roll of Ultramax tomorrow.

Funny, because there's no shortage of good film in my fridge; couple rolls of Sensia, Fuji 160s, brick of Reala, Ilford 400 FP, Acros 100, roll of PlusX on my dining room table...damn, I gotta get out there and shoot .

Best,
Kevin
06-28-2010, 05:31 PM   #11
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Thanks for the mini review Gene. Did you do the scanning yourself or did the lab do it? I actually like Ektar at 100 in sunlight. In shadow or indoors I much prefer 64-80. I usually just shoot it at 80 because it's well within the films latitude and I like a little more shadow detail. Only problem is that it goes cyan when underexposed and magenta when overexposed.

Edit: This is not my test, but it echoes my results. http://www.flickr.com/photos/tgray1/4495894414/in/set-72157623780898802/
Ektar has been a funny film for me. Many times I really love it, but sometimes I think it just looks wrong. For me, the Portra line is still the king of consistent results, even though I like Ektar more when it works.

Last edited by Vertex Ninja; 06-28-2010 at 07:52 PM.
06-28-2010, 07:43 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Vertex Ninja Quote
Thanks for the mini review Gene. Did you do the scanning yourself or did the lab do it?
I scanned it on a Nikon Coolscan 9000. I don't have a lab nearby whose scans I like.

I think this is a dynamite film for landscapes, architecture and other non-humans in bright sunlight.
06-28-2010, 07:49 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by KJon Quote
First choice in film is Reala 100; love the colors and maybe because I don't do many "people" shots, but I've been happy with the skin tones there, too.....
For pure people shots, I'd pick Portra NC, but to make it easy on myself, I'd take Fuji's warm palette over Ektar.
06-28-2010, 08:04 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
I scanned it on a Nikon Coolscan 9000. I don't have a lab nearby whose scans I like.

I think this is a dynamite film for landscapes, architecture and other non-humans in bright sunlight.
I just wondered if the lab had clipped your highlights. Have you tried turning the analog gain down on your Nikon? The good thing about the highlights is that the shoulder in the film should make the roll-off nice and smooth.

I actually like what ektar does to my wife and son's light complexion. Warms it up a bit without making it too rosy, but my father-in-law is naturally pretty rosy and ektar makes him look like a lobster... not flattering at-all!
06-28-2010, 08:13 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Vertex Ninja Quote
I just wondered if the lab had clipped your highlights. Have you tried turning the analog gain down on your Nikon? The good thing about the highlights is that the shoulder in the film should make the roll-off nice and smooth.

I actually like what ektar does to my wife and sons light complexion. Warms it up a bit without making it too rosy, but my father-in-law is naturally pretty rosy and ektar makes him look like a lobster... not flattering at-all!
Perhaps I don't understand what that gain control does, but I thought it increased the intensity of the light or sensitivity to the light, so turning up the analog gain would help with the highlights on a negative. I wonder if there is enough detail in the highlights to make that work.

What I don't prefer about Ektar for people is not the color but the higher contrast. I needed quite a bit of pp on to see the faces of people in other shots I did not post. It is a bit like shooting a portrait with Kodachrome.
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