By Curtis Joe Walker
As choices for film dwindle, especially in medium format, any new entrant to the market is greeted with open arms. Kodak Professional has introduced a medium-format version of their new Ektar 100 film, and it’s pretty great. Like the 35mm version, this film is exceptionally fine grained and colorful in an attempt to bridge the gap between analog and digital photography. While the priciest DSLRs are now shooting full-frame 35mm photos, full-frame medium-format sensors are still out of reach. The exceptional depth of field of pro cameras is still a film-only feature. Some pros are even using film with toy cameras to give a vintage imperfection to their images.
For this round of testing, I used a Mamiya RB67 with 50mm and 150mm lenses and a Holga 120S with open sunglight, overcast sunlight and studio lghting as the main sources of light. The film was lab scanned.
In the Mamiya, Ektar performed flawlessly and maintained detail in the highlights and shadow areas. It is hard to imagine a film better suited to a sunny day at the car show. This shot was taken at the Viva Las Vegas car show in Las Vegas, Nev.
©Curtis Joe Walker (Click for larger view. The full-frame image scans have been downsized for web viewing.)
Closeup of fender detail from same image. ©Curtis Joe Walker
At the same car show, using a Holga this time, the film does its job within the limitations of the camera. Because it has a plastic lens and only two f-stops (f/8 and f/11) the Holga isn't super versatile, but under sunny conditions at f/8, the film produced images with good contrast, nice color and silky smooth grain (below).
The photo below was taken under overcast skies using the RB67 with 150mm soft focus lens. Skintones remain warm and vibrant.
Ektar seems to be well suited to nature as well. This cherry blossom photo shows the exceptional smoothness of grain in the out of focus areas and the exceptional color overall.
Finally, using studio lights and a slow shutter to drag ambient light into the shot, a local model helped get this shot inside the abandoned Joplin Union Depot in Joplin, Mo.
Images ©Curtis Joe Walker; Model: Suellen Inocencio
Ektar is a welcome addition to the medium-format film world whether on a pro camera or a toy.
For more details, see our initial review of the 35mm format from March 2009, Review: Kodak Professional Ektar 100.