Film

Kodak Ektachrome E100 – Shooting my First Rolls – Part 5 – The Journey So Far

October 14, 2019

Reading back through my posts about Kodak Ektachrome E100 so far, and indeed the comments on them, I do feel a little like I have somehow led people to believe that I’m not satisfied with the progress I have been making or have somehow found the process of learning this new film overly challenging. Of course there have been hurdles, but actually, as someone who had barely even shot reversal film before I feel like this film has treated me quite well. I’m very happy with a lot of the results and after a total of 9 rolls, I now have what feels like a full grasp as to why I didn’t get what I was expecting out of others.

As such, I thought I would write a bit of a post summarising my experiences and findings so far, as well as talking a bit about my latest 3 rolls and where I am going next. So just to bring you all up to speed…

First experiences

In my first post I talked about how I made the mistake of thinking I needed to underexpose this film slightly. In the comments and elsewhere it was recommended that I try using an incident meter rather than a basic iPhone meter and guessing. Regardless of the method of metering I was going to use moving forward, I concluded that I should stop concerning myself with hearsay about how to best expose reversal film, and just concentrate on exposing it accurately.

First Roll of Ektachrome

My favourite image from my first roll

Easy exposure with familiar cameras

In my second post, I talked about shooting Ektachrome E100 in cameras that I’m comfortable with when it comes to metering. I got some great results out of both Konica Hexar RF and my Olympus XA4. Both cameras have light meters that I’m familiar with and so both gave me mostly well-exposed images without me having to tweak my usual techniques for obtaining good exposure.

Midland Road

Using the light meter in my Hexar I was able to read this higher contrast scene and get a result I was happy with

Two further things came out of that experience, the first was that I was sometimes getting more of a shift to blue than I expected – which I suggested at the time might be a combination of underexposure and colour balance.

Tom

The second was that I preferred my results from higher-quality more modern glass.

Allotments

Taken with the Zeiss 35mm 2.8 ZM C-Biogon

Incident experiments

In my 3rd post, which documented my 4th roll, I began my experiments with an incident meter. I am aware of the concepts of incident metering, but I’m not well-practised. As such, my feeling was that if I combined learning how to better incident meter when shooting reversal film I would increase my knowledge of how to expose Ektachrome E100 as best as possible as well as also bettering my incident meter skills.

The results proved a few things. The first was that if I’m going to experiment with an unfamiliar meter, I need to take notes else the experiments don’t make any sense. I also learned that sometimes bracketing is the best option to get the ideal exposure when shooting in slightly more difficult lighting. And finally, I discovered that Ektachrome E100 is absolutely STUNNING when shot in the evening sunshine.

Ektachrome experiments

Colour balance

In my 4th post I showed a video I’d made of my travelling to meet Duncan from Silverpan Film Lab. In the video, I talk to Duncan a fair bit about what I’d already learned about the film in terms of how to accurately expose it for the results I wanted. I also shared a whole series of images that I took as I walked around Bristol. The most notable outcome of those shots was how blue-shifted they were. This initially confused me slightly as I was 100% happy that I’d exposed a lot of them correctly and as they’d been shot in daylight, I wasn’t sure how it could be a colour balance issue. That was until Terry commented on the post.

Now, I’m quite aware of colour balance and the impact it can have on my results both in stills and video shooting. As anyone who has shot video will tell you, even in the digital age, it’s a lot more important to get the colour balance right in-camera as unless you’re shooting some crazy uncompressed video format, your ability to make adjustments later is very limited. As such, I’m quite used to getting colour balance correct. Despite this, something I didn’t realise – or at least have never really noticed – was just how cool the light can be on a cloudy day. Terry linked me to a very useful source of information on the Gossen website called “Exposure Metering Compendium” within which can be found this page:

Copyright Gossen Foto

Note by the daylight, overcast line it says 7000k and by the cloudy day line it shows that the colour temperature can be as high as 8300 Kelvin. With Kodak E100 being daylight (5600k) balanced, no wonder I was getting such a blue shift from the parts of the day that were cloudy…

Bristol

This brings me up to the couple of rolls I shot on holiday in Wales. Actually, as I say in my post about my Pentax Espio 80, by the time I went on holiday, I was feeling a little down about photography and just wanted to point & shoot. As such, I resolved that I wasn’t going to think about metering with an incident meter, and that I’d just snap and see what I got. As it turned out, the meter in the Pentax Espio 80 is very good.

Wales 2019

I also got some cracking results in the evening sun with my Hexar RF. Note the warmth of the evening sunlight compared to the coolness of the shaded light in the background here.

Wales 2019

No need to correct the colour balance there, the resulting mixed colour balance has a wonderful aesthetic. I did have some quite pronounced blueshift on the beach though. Not surprising looking back up at the Gossen chart above…

 

The two frames above are before and after my attempts to correct the colour balance with my Noritsu and Lightroom – which leads me neatly on to where I am taking my experiments next…

It occurred to me right at the beginning of this process that using a digital camera to digitise my Ektachrome E100 might lead to better results than using my Noritsu. But, before I went down that road, I decided to focus my efforts on getting the best out of my Noritsu – it is after all the scanner I use for other types of 35mm film, and as I have said before, it felt sensible not changing too many variables in my workflow.

With a bit of experimentation making some subtle tweaks in the Noritsu interface, and then some more slight tweaks in Lightroom in post, I’ve been able to largely overcome the colour balance “issues” I’ve been having.

Here you can see Noritsu dialogue before and after my in-scan corrections +1 yellow and -1 cyan works a treat…

 

… and below is one of the final post-processed images.

Wales 2019

I’m really happy with the outcome, but I can’t help wondering if the NEF raw files from my Sony A7R3 will give me a bit more room for manoeuvre and/or give me better control.

Next steps

As such, since we are now going into autumn and winter where I am likely to find myself a lot more cloudy weather, I’ve decided to do a bit of a controlled experiment. I’m going to shoot a few bracketed frames on a cloudy day then try scanning the roll with the Noritsu and then with my A7r3 and see what gets the best results.

Holiday Successes

As I’ve alluded though, either way, I’m pretty much entirely satisfied with my ability to expose this film and get results I like. I’m absolutely over the moon with some of the results I got from my holiday:

Wales 2019

Hexar RF shot at ei100 – metered by taking a reading off some bushes that the sunlight was falling on.

Wales 2019

Hexar RF shot at ei100 – just pointed and shot

Wales 2019

Hexar RF at ei100 – I used the camera’s meter to judge the scene picked an exposure that felt like a good balance for some sky and foreground detail.

Wales 2019

Pentax Espio ei100 – pointed and shot

Wales 2019

Pentax Espio ei100 – pointed and shot

Wales 2019

Pentax Espio ei100 – pointed and shot

Words of thanks and recommendation

Finally, I just want to say a continued thanks to both Kodak Alaris and Duncan from Silverpan Labs. Kodak is supplying the film for this series, and Duncan is doing an excellent job at developing the films and giving me consistent results as well as useful and insightful feedback – this being a service he offers to all of his customers.

If you want to buy this film, I also recommend Analogue Wonderland as my chosen film supplier. They stock E100 here, but also supply something like 200 other films making the website interesting to explore as well as purchase from.

Finally, you can find all my photos taken with this film here, and see this whole series of posts here

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25 Comments

  • Reply
    Julian Love
    October 14, 2019 at 10:14 am

    Back in the glory days of E6 film in the 1990s and early 2000s when it was used for almost all magazine and commercial photography, outdoor shooters would carry a whole range of 81-series warming and 82-series cooling filters to correct for the colour balance of the light. I shot a lot for magazines at the time and had a stack of them in my bag. If you’re always going to scan the slides and colour correct in post you may not need to use them but if you ever want to project your slides you might need to invest in some soon!

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      October 14, 2019 at 10:10 pm

      Thanks Julian – I have been having this convo with Terry B (comment below) behind the scenes. I might well try filters at some point, but I have decided I should try and iron out my digitisation before I throw another factor into the mix. I suspect I will give it a go though – maybe with the lumu colour meter in tow…

  • Reply
    Terry B
    October 14, 2019 at 10:38 am

    Hi, Hamish.
    I look forward to your next instalment(s). I’d be particularly interested in viewing your comparison shots scanned by your calibrated Noritsu and digitised via your Sony.
    I’ve nil experience of the Noritsu, so I’ve no idea how convenient it is to tweak between scans, but using your Sony should certainly be much quicker in experimenting with its different WB settings being readily accessible.
    Good luck! It may not always be straight forward, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, as the saying goes.😊

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      October 14, 2019 at 10:11 pm

      Quite! And thanks again for you sage advice behind the scenes

      • Reply
        Terry B
        October 15, 2019 at 11:12 am

        Anytime.🙂

  • Reply
    Martin South of France
    October 14, 2019 at 11:38 am

    Great article. I have literally thousands of Ektachrome slides, from the mid/late fifties right up into the 90’s. I love the way this film replicates skin colours. As you say, a lot will depend on the equipment and the lenses used as to the finished product. The cameras from the 50’s and 60’s were generally a lot less accurate machines and so the results vary far more than with a later 35mm. There is a big difference in the colurs saturations etc if I shoot a roll on my Contax RTS with Zeiss lens than if I shoot one on one of my Agfa Silettes from the late 50’s, due to a combination of lens coatings, shutter speed accuracy etc. The Agfas give me far more retro colours., which I like, but the Planar cannot be beat for sharpness and accuracy in the final image. Overall though E100 gives me the results I want from slide film…..bang the results in the old Leitz projector and they are fantastic. For the dark years in between I was using Precisa 100 which again gave great results, sadly stocks are running out. I have used Fuji many times but always find the blues far too strong for my liking with an almost unatural saturation. Pleased to see Ektachome back on the shelves. Thanks again!

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      October 14, 2019 at 10:15 pm

      Cheers Martin – I am the other way around, I love the higher contrast look. Each to theirs, of course! So are you shooting the new stuff?

  • Reply
    John Squillace
    October 14, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    Hi, Hamish – one trick we long- time slide film shooters employ is to use a slight warming filter – such as an 81A or 812 – when shooting Ektachrome under cloudy or shady conditions. Cheers and happy shooting!

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      October 14, 2019 at 10:16 pm

      Hi John, can I direct you to my reply to Julian at the top 🙂

  • Reply
    Graham Coad
    October 14, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    Crikey!
    This reminds me so much of my experiments using reversal film in the 1970s! Cracking results from my Pentax SLRs in sunny daylight, but often unsatisfactory in duller conditions. There used to be a “warming filter”, stronger than a “skylight”, (I can’t remember its designation) but it was a decidedly amber/ brown tone.
    I never got the filter.. I simply decided photography was meant to be fun, not a chore, and stopped using pesky reversal films!
    Graham.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      October 14, 2019 at 10:18 pm

      With all the choice of film today, for me this comes down to finding what I like for what. The evening shots are the enjoy the most, so if that’s all I end up shooting it for, then so be it. I do think I can perfect my scanning even more though.

  • Reply
    Roger B.
    October 14, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    The Ektachrome emulsions of the late 1960s thru the 1970s were well known for imparting a blueish – greenish cast to photos, especially landscape shots. Perhaps the fact that you’re experiencing the same “color shift” in 2019 suggests that Ektachrome is deliberately designed to render colors that way.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      October 14, 2019 at 10:18 pm

      That might well be the case, or at least a part of it…

  • Reply
    Matt
    October 14, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    Hamish,
    Thanks for this post. Have you experimented with a warming filter on the camera? In the days of yore, every serious transparency user kept one or more at hand, and the projected transparencies benefited from it.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      October 14, 2019 at 10:19 pm

      Hi Matt, can I direct you to my reply to Julian at the top

  • Reply
    Mark Alan Thomas
    October 14, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    I’m enjoying following your experiences with the new Ektachrome. I shot a lot of Ektachrome in the late 80s and 90s, and I dare say the new formula seems improved. Or maybe you’re just a better photographer than I was.

    I haven’t shot any of the new stuff yet, but you’ve inspired me to give it a try.

    Mark
    Santa Barbara CA

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      October 14, 2019 at 10:20 pm

      Hi Mark, good luck with it – let me know how you get on!

  • Reply
    Murray
    October 14, 2019 at 6:52 pm

    Anticipating the metering complexity, narrow exposure envelope and cost (sadly, Kodak has not provided me with the film gratis) I chose a camera with a sophisticated metering system, namely, a Leica R8 to shoot my first role. Every exposure was correct. I’d rather not go through the (expensive) learning curve using my FM3a and FM2-T.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      October 14, 2019 at 10:20 pm

      I was sorta hoping people could learn from my mistakes 🙂

      • Reply
        Murray
        October 16, 2019 at 3:12 am

        i was concuring with you choices in that I went straight to a sophisticated metering camera to reduce the inevitable misses.

    • Reply
      Mark Alan Thomas
      October 15, 2019 at 6:40 pm

      With the old Ektachrome, I always found it was best not to overthink exposure. Center-weighted metering, keyed off the mid-tones, nearly always did what I wanted.

      Mark
      Santa Barbara CA

  • Reply
    Baz
    October 15, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    Thanks for pointing out the color (colour) cast issue and possible solutions. Very helpful, as always!

    Looks like you have E100 figured out though. Some awesome shots in there.

  • Reply
    Bent_Brent
    October 16, 2019 at 2:48 am

    I always really dig your photos, Hamish. These are lovely.

  • Reply
    Trevor
    October 29, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    WARMING FILTERS
    I routinely use 81A 81C and 81EF filters with slide film….it is a game changer.

  • Reply
    Ektachrome E100 in 120 & 4x5 imminently available! - 35mmc
    December 11, 2019 at 10:57 am

    […] to grips with just how wonderful it can be. I posted a bit of a roundup post of those experiences here. The short version is that this film, especially given a little bit of evening sunshine is […]

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