This first impressions post is likely to also be a last impressions post as this emulsion was discontinued by Fuji several years ago. Its been sitting in my fridge / freezer / fridge along with the rest of a stash of film I overbought a while back that has since expired. This is actually the first high speed colour film I’ve tried. Keen to finally try it out (some 5 years after buying it) I loaded it into my Nikon F5 for some snapshots on the farm when recently visiting my family in Shropshire.
I used the Epson Scan software with my v500 to digitise the negatives. This is my normal process after getting a dev only service at Aperture UK (my go-to lab now for colour film in central London which does C41 dev for £6). The first thing I noticed was the excessive grain. I wondered if this was due to the film being expired and perhaps because of the multiple (at least 4) freeze/unthaw cycles (plus probably the same number of X-Ray scans when I moved from the UK to NYC and back). Perhaps these were a factor, but I realised that it could be the unsharp mask that the Epson scan applies by default. Unchecking this and applying a lesser amount of sharpening in Lightroom gave me much more pleasing results.
Overall I can’t say I’m enamored with the results with this film. Most of these shots didn’t need 800 speed and I prefer the tones of lower speed colour films I’ve used like Portra 400. I also find the grain a little much but I acknowledge that fresh unexpired stock would probably perform better so its not a fair test of the emulsion. I also think that a fair few of the frames were underexposed. This no doubt compounded the less than satisfactory results so next time I try a high speed film I’ll make sure to add some exposure compensation to see if thats garners better images.
As for the gear, the F5 was very enjoyable to use. Despite its heft and size the ergonomics of the camera are so good that these to me detract from its operation. I used two lenses for this roll – the 80-200mm f2.8 afd (push/pull) zoom and 50mm f1.8 afd prime. Both felt completely natural on this body in their use and I’m looking forward to using this combination again in the future. Whilst the Ai lenses I used on my first test roll of the camera worked quite well, the autofocus and matrix metering of afd lenses was much appreciated. I’m looking forward to shooting more with the 80-200mm on some fresh film.