It seemed like a good idea to drop a roll of 35mm colour negative into my camera and go and pop off 36 exposures in a couple of hours*, or at least it would have been two years ago. Two years ago you could choose from a number of budget films for under a fiver or posh films for a tenner. Now there are rarely any budget films to be had just the posh films at around £18 a roll, such is the shortage of 35mm colour negative film. Pretty much all that seems to be readily available in the UK, as I write, is Kodak Portra 160 & 400. Then there’s the used film camera prices which have steadily increased over two years, some extraordinarily so – a 1990’s Leica M6 35mm Rangefinder body was £1600 now £2850…what?!
So back to the title, I had a two year old posh Portra 400 that I bought for a tenner so I thought this would be very suitable for popping off in two hours. There I was thoroughly enjoying popping through my 36 exposures in Chester Cathedral. The lighting was low and it seemed a good idea to push the film +2 stops to 1600ISO, the first time I’d tried this on Portra 400.
The reason I’d gone to Chester Cathedral was to see the gigantic model railway taking up a large area of the Cathedral. I don’t own a model railway but I do like to see the skill of the model-makers. Ok I’ll own up I have built model rail layouts in my youth, which is a very long time ago.
I have but one lens, a 35mm, this should be ideal for most of the photos, however close-ups of model trains with a 35mm lens and a rangefinder camera was always going to be tricky, but I had a go. Having enjoyed the model railway and partaken of a coffee and a delicious fresh scone with butter, jam and cream, it was time to continue with photos of the interior and quadrangle of the Cathedral. You can see how I got on popping through the film below.
The negatives from the 1600ISO roll should have been push processed +2 by the lab, but were quite thin almost as if the film hadn’t been push processed, actually I doubt the lab pushed this film as requested, apparently a not uncommon problem with certain labs in my experience. I have had this before when pushing +1 with a different lab. I wonder why labs would offer push process on colour films and then not fulfill the service requested. Anyone else had this problem?
So we have Portra 400 underexposed by 2 stops at 1600ISO, it has handled the mixed lighting inside the Cathedral and the exterior lighting rather well I think. Inside there were red spotlights on the altar and organ and daylight through the windows and various other light sources of varying colour temperature. The exposures were all manually metered with the cameras in-built meter. You can see that the contrast, saturation and grain have increased but the film has retained its high definition, such a shame it wasn’t push processed +2.
* the reason for popping off the film in 2 hours was because that was the time I had between trains to and from Chester.
I hope this nonsense was of some interest to you…
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