Thursday, 15 March 2012

Kodak Ektar 100

Yashica Mat 124
Kodak Ektar 100
+ the sun

I'm off to France tomorrow, Beziers, in the south, just along the coast from Catalonia. I'm going to take my Yashica Mat, because women love twin-lens reflexes and France is famous for its women. But, just in case the weather is nice, I decided to make sure it works, and that my lightmeter works, that I work, that everything works. Not necessarily stoned, but beautiful.

I used Kodak Ektar 100, a negative film that's made out of gold, and the drums start off backwards. It came... I mean it's not literally made out of gold. It's made out of silver. But somebody's bound to write in and say eww, I think you'll find film's made out of silver. I'm quoting from Jimi bloody Hendrix's Are you Bloody Experienced, heaven's sake. Some boring narrow-minded man is - always a man - is bound to say eww, you made a mistake there. Oh go away.

Ektar was launched back in 2008 and is probably going to be Kodak's last ever negative film. It will be replaced by silence. At the moment Kodak also sells Portra, which has a lighter palette aimed at portrait photographers. Who tend to shoot digital nowadays.

NB this was shot with Fuji Provia - a slide film -if I recall correctly

What's it like? Internet wisdom has it that Ektar is very contrasty and saturated, and it's supposed to be "scannable" - there's almost no grain - and so it's easy to digitally massage the colours. I've kept the images pretty much as my lowly Epson V500 chucked them out. Judging by this interesting article I might have erred slightly on the side of underexposure. In days gone by conventional wisdom had it that you should underexpose slide film by a tad to get extra saturation, and overexpose negative film, but judging by the examples in that article Ektar turns into a cartoon when overexposed.

In comparison the next two shots were taken at the same time with Fuji Provia 100F, which to my eyes has a slight greeny-bluey tint. I used the same metering:

Bear in mind that the roll of Provia expired back in 2007. It's from the same packet as the cross-processed shots in the previous post, but developed normally. Back to Ektar:

Kodak has used the Ektar name before, for different things. There was a range of Ektar films in the late 1980s, early 1990s, with speeds from ISO 25 up to ISO 1000. Very obscure nowadays. Before that, many years ago, the name was used for Kodak's top-quality large format lenses, and is apparently an anagram of Eastman Kodak TessAR. Tessar is a type of lens, see, and it's also an anagram of stares, which are what you get when you take your trousers off in public. There will come a time, if it has not already come, when these names are worth more than Kodak's physical products.

Ektar won the 2009 TIPA Award for best film; surprisingly the TIPA people still have an award for best film, which was won last year by Portra 160. Given that new film doesn't come out very often, I surmise they'll retire the award at some point.

Could I have got these colours with a digital camera and Photoshop, carefully processed with an appropriate colour profile? Probably. With the right actions, the right workflow it would have been less faff that sending off film to be developed, and then scanning it. But, dammit, I'm not a robot, Jim. I'm a human being. With feelings! I sweat, and I have hair. I shake my fist at the robot men and shout I.

So, Kodak Ektar. An anagram of raket and krate. Next stop: France.