Out of the various film stocks I’ve shot with, I have to say that my favorite color grain is Ektar 100. This is only one slot ahead of Vista Pro 200 because well, who doesn’t love it?
There are several defining characteristics of a color negative film that I look for. Of course, there’s the color aspect of it, ROYGBIV and grain however I often try and find how true the white and black levels are. In terms of the color science of Ektar, I find the Red and Blues to be unique; the reds are quite muted, almost a coral-like appearance while the blues are very loud yet gentle in saturation. The yellow and greens are very soft and gentle yet they’re simultaneously perfect. My eyes don’t receive certain colors too well, namely the blue through violet end of the spectrum. I often have a tricky time with telling the vibrancy of certain photos where there’s a dominant amount of blue sky or ocean blues. With that said, Ektar is very pleasing for me to look at because I don’t have to strain my eyes to recognize certain tones and vibrancies. I love the subtle differences between shooting inside and outside with this film because while outside you receive gentle and rich tones, you get warm and robust images when shooting inside. It’s almost the difference between having a cup of iced coffee versus having a well-brewed cup of Guatemalan coffee.
Most important photo to begin with is none other than this nice French press, f/1.7 Minolta XG-A. To start, I want you to take notice of how rich the wood of the table is along with the reflections along the press. The rich saturation of brown/orange tones in the grain of the wood is extremely comforting. As a frequent coffee shop attendee, and past barista, this image takes me to a solemn pocket of relaxation and comfort.
This photo is more artistic than I often shoot, but I wanted to see what I got from an out of focus shot, f/1.7. This was taken inside of another local coffee shop of mine. This space has nothing short of infinite wonders to capture. The best thing I can recognize here is how the red and yellows are treated inside of a darker interior space. If you’ll notice, the reds are much less saturated while the white and yellow tones are very true to their nature of color.
This rusty old post…f/5.6. Most noteworthy here is how mellow the rust is. There’s almost a bit of a haze to this photo, and while the grain is super fine, the rust truly pops.The shading on the left post still allows us to see the detail hidden within while retaining it’s masquerading nature.
This was the most interesting shot in terms of color science…f/8. The red of the American flag is rich and vibrant, very much unlike the rest of shots I took on this role. The blue almost appears as if it’s black, while the grey/black of the roof looks almost green to me. Then we have the taupe and brown brick of the courthouse; the vintage punch of color I get from this is the oddest yet most interesting shot I got off of the role.
The campus painter, f/4.5. Saving the best for last, this shot is in my top ten for the year—digital or analog. I find the level of detail and fine grain of the shot to be absolutely wonderful, and almost anti-film aesthetic. Fret not! The color here is where is gets interesting because take a glance at the red his brush was applying. There’s a taillight red sorta vibe I get from this. The wood-grain of the easel was rich and full again, just like that of the coffee shops table. Lastly, the blue and black saturation in this shot. Looking at his shirt, the bottle cap, and the black on the canvas really let me get a feel for how black is captured in this film stock. It’s a perfect gentle touch of dark, while retaining slight hints of lightness from exterior lighting. The blue of his cap absolutely jumps off of the page. I love how there’s an almost metallic appeal of his top.
Overall, Ektar is an amazing stock of film. I’ve yet to shoot with my roll of Portra or buy a roll of Ektachrome. But in my mind Ektar is definitely the one to beat. The fine grain, the color saturations and vibrancies, lights and darks, AND most importantly the warmth of the images makes this my favorite color stock out there. I’ll be excited for when I can get my hands on a roll of Ektachrome to compare the two. Until the next time, keep shooting and keep it analog!