Kodak Ektar 100 Medium Format

Kodak’s Ektar 100 film is ideal for pros and advanced amateur film shooters for nature, travel, fashion, and architectural photography where the subject’s emphasis is on detail and color. Kodak suggests that professional photographers will “prefer Kodak Professional Portra films for their natural reproduction of the full range of skin tones” but I found while skin tones captured in studio while vivid they were quickly and easily adjusted into something more natural and neutral by using PictoColor iCorrect Portrait. On the other hand, Portrait shooters eschewing digital manipulation and going directly from negatives to prints might heed Kodak’s advice but, for whatever reason, all of the portraits I made outdoors using only natural light exhibited natural looking skin tones.

I tried scanning Ektar 100 using my old (in Internet years) Canon desktop scanner but the film retained a slight curl produced during processing, probably during the drying cycle, that made Canon’s film holder refuse to hold film when it was inserted the proper direction. It fell through the holder! Even though it was an inexpensive scanner, it produced acceptable results partially because of large size of the medium format negative and would have produced superior results if I used specialized scanner software such as LaserSoft’s SilverFast.

My initial studio tests where made using my ancient Pentax 6×7 and a 75mm lens that I borrowed from Adorama’s Used Department but I also shot some frames with my gold-trimmed Seagull TLR. It was during a studio shoot with a new model that I made a few discoveries. I forgot that the Pentax 6×7 has an oh-so-slow top X-sync speed of 1/30th sec and I shot the session at 1/60 sec giving me beautifully exposed half-pictures. The other part of the discovery is that half of a 6×7 cm film frame is bigger than a 35mm film frame.

Reciprocity may be unknown in the digital world but is a fact of life for film, yet Kodak recommends no adjustments for long and short exposures or even any filter correction or exposure compensation for exposures from 1⁄10,000 second to 1 second. For critical applications with longer exposure times, Kodak hedges their bets and suggests you “make tests under your conditions.” I made my own tests under low light conditions and found that with exposures up to five seconds I didn’t experience problems with color shifts or variance in exposure and even when over or underexposed the grain structure remained fine, tight, and controlled.

When testing this film I ran into a several film shooters and talked with one major retailer who told me that many weddingspros were “going back” to shooting film,but none of the ones I spoke with was loading their 120 film into Hasselblads. Nope. Instead I heard about them shooting a litany of vintage or funky cameras, including Holga, Seagull, and Yashica. There’s no doubt that Kodak Ektar 100 in 120 rolls will be the top choice for fine art photographers shooting film. Its super color saturation and microscopic grain make for a formidable combination.

Author: Joe Farace

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