I’ve been in a committed ménage à trois with Ilford HP5 and Kodak Portra 400 for the last few years. There have been dalliances with others but these were one or two roll stands. I’m a pretty lazy when it comes to film. Most of the time I shoot Portra and take advantage of its wide exposure latitude, (it covers for slapdash metering in cameras that have no meter). It also converts to black and white nicely, has an attractive grain structure and all in all, does everything I need it to do, hence the lazy.
Last summer Kodak Alaris announced that a film that had been widely available in the ‘rest of the world’ for ages would now be available in the UK. This means that while Pro Image 100 isn’t going to be a new film for a lot of you, I shot my first roll back in October. (I traded something for it, probably a roll of Portra).
I figured that I should try and establish a baseline for its performance and so ditched my usual testing technique of just bashing away and seeing what happened. In this case I dropped it into my Canon EOS 3 which is one of my few film cameras with a solid metering system. (I should therefore get ‘properly’ metered shots without sacrificing spontaneity).
The colour is great, saturated but not overly so with glamorous and filmic skin tones. It has a pleasing balance of grain and clarity and handles contrasty light and shadows, it scans nicely too.
I immediately bought a 5 pack and loaded the Leica, this time to use it like I’d use it. This tested the love affair. The nights were drawing in, and I was hiding indoors to escape the cold. The ISO 100 film languished partly exposed in the Leica, waiting for a combination of subject and light, during which time my son threw my 50mm across my studio, and I bought a 35mm f/2 which I haven’t focus adjusted. Lazy.
Being so used to shooting Portra, I’ve grown used to the associated expense. As a result I’ve found Pro Image 100 to be refreshingly cheap in comparison.
The results are glorious, with greater pathos and tone than I’d normally expect at this price point. I want very much to get cracking on some summer reportage and to see how much latitude I can take. Now that the light is coming back to the UK the ménage à trois has, for the moment, given way to polyamory.