Kodak Ektar 100 - What did I do wrong ?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by brittany_marshall|1, Feb 25, 2015.

  1. [​IMG]I tried out some Kodak Ektar 100 over the weekend. It was my first time using this film. My shots are way too sharp, way too contrasty, and just look like bad instagram photos to me. What did I do wrong ? Would appreciate any tips. thanks ! Here is a link to the photos. http://shootfilmblog.com/2015/02/25/kodak-ektar-100/
    Shot on Nikon F100 with 50mm 1.4 lens, most landscape shots are f4, other shots are f2. Used the in camera enter, and probably overexposed a little too much.
  2. Ektar is known as a sharp, contrasty, saturated color film. That's what makes it so great!
    Oh. i see, you were being facetious. Haha, Good one! :)
  3. Bill, where are you getting the OP is being facetious?
    Brittany, do want post processing tips or where or how to get better scans?
  4. Hello, Brittany...
    I see some washed out areas, as well as the over-sharpening to which you refer. As someone who has shot a great deal of Ektar-100 in Nikon and Canon SLRs, I've come to love the film for its vivid colors - almost like shooting slide film, but far less critical as to exposure latitude - especially "over."
    Without seeing your negs, I'd hazard a guess these were processed at a drugstore or mini lab - by an experienced (or careless) printer. There is always the risk that the dreaded automatic factor is there, by which the machine "averages out" the tonalities, without human intervention, often leading to washed out prints. For example, I'd imagine in the last one, you'd rather the green railing etc were darker, so that your dog and his shadow were not so "blown out" and lacking in detail.
    If my guess is correct, the automated printing (and scanning) was given full rein by a "casual" operator. Scanning can be a whole 'nother Pandora's Box. That said, contrasty scenes - as some of yours are - are by and large more difficult to print satisfactorily - unless the person operating the machine brings a level of judgment to the process.
    Before giving up on using Ektar - or doubting either your Nikon's metering or your own skills - I'd have a serious lab take a look at your negs and perhaps run a few prints and scans.
    Good luck,
  5. Steve, thanks so much for your response. I actually got them developed and scanned by a local professional film lab Panda Photo Lab in Seattle. They are not cheap. But I have had some great scans from them and some not so great scans. I just like to support local shops and they are the only one in my area that develop film (besides drug stores). I have mailed film out to Indi Film lab, Photovision, and Richard Photo Lab but it always takes about 3-4 weeks to get anything back so my impatience brings me back to the local lab every time. I will try shooting this film again and send it to a different lab.
  6. I think you could improve your efforts if you use early or late in-the-day light....Ektar is excellent for that. In some situations you may need to use warming filter.
  7. Pretty place you visited. I see you're shooting at f2 and F4? At 10', your DOF is 9.3' to 10.8'. Everything outside that narrow range is out of focus. At f4, you'll get about three feet total in focus. It's hard to also get critical focus on your subject. Add to that you're on moving boat. Have you thought about a tripod? Check http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html
    Sharpness may be due to the scanner program. Who knows what the lab is doing with that? Maybe they're making up for the narrow DOF on the negative.
    I've shot Ektar 100 and find I like Velvia slide film better. with slide film you know exactly what you got. with negative film like Ektar, you just don;t know especially when you scan. One thing you could try is to bracket your negative film shots and experiment that way. Then get a contact print so you can compare. Good luck.
  8. Hi Brittany,
    You're most welcome. Here is a further suggestion - As you had these done by a local professional lab, why not take both the negs and scans (and, I'm assuming, prints) back to them and discuss the issues. Over the years, I have found that - especially when you've established a relationship with a real photo lab, there is no unpleasantness if you show them what you like - and don't like - about their work. Do NOT accept answers like, "Well, they're just machine prints." There is ALWAYS latitude in printing to taste and a caring lab will do that.
    Again, this advise is offered in the absence of actually seeing your negs, so please take that into consideration in terms of how hard-nosed you need to be. Ektar is a lovely film and unless you overexposed the #$%^ out of it, you should see better results than these.
    I applaud your desire to deal with local companies, but the other side of the coin is they need to earn your loyalty. As to having to wait four weeks for mail-order processing...for what it might be worth, I live on the East Coast and routinely send film (including Ektar!) to three labs on the West Coast. I typically receive my (very clean!) negs, lovely 4x6 prints, and large scans back well within two weeks.
    That, to me, is a fair trade-off for consistently fine work, as well as prompt customer service if I have a question. After all, when we buy into shooting film, we put instant gratification on the back burner, don't we ;-) I get all the instant gratification I need from my D-SLR (which almost never goes out without a film camera or three).
    Another note - I strongly agree with Les as to the sometimes unwelcome artifacts of Noritsu-Koki lab scans, with the issue sometimes being an over-sharpening that can make continuous tone areas like sky a bit too "granular," even with fine grained films like Ektar. This is mainly noticeable when viewing on your computer monitor (as opposed to the typical 4x6 print). I'm still working my way through that, either by re-scanning with my Nikon CoolScan V ED or doing some post processing (or both).
    Even so, ain't film grand...
    Best regards,
  9. @Les I wanted to try this film during the day in open sun since I have seen it work so well in that type of lighting for other photographers. My favorite film for almost everything else is Fuji 400h, but It doesn't do that well in bright sun with no shade around
  10. Here are some of the images I have seen online, (please excuse the provocative subject) but the colors are just dreamy and the look I would love to achieve (click link) http://www.flickriver.com/photos/vadimmorozov/7896002994/
    Also, here is a shot by one of my favorite photographers Wendy Laurel on Ektar
    I also love all of these shots, the color, the contrast everything about them, and they are all shot on a super sunny afternoon. http://letthekids.com/tag/maui/ although Im not sure what film was used.
  11. Brittany, I didnt think you were serious since your photos looked good to me and typical of Ektar. (which I like a lot)

    As the others have said, you probably will like them much better with better scans. I scan a lot of film and avoid the auto

    Even in Photoshop, choosing auto seldom gives me what I want. Have to do it myself to be happy.

    Take care, Bill
  12. Brittany, I played with the dog picture and got the following image after reducing exposure by 2.65 stops. Highlights came back so maybe post processing could help.
  13. Bingo!
    Nice work, Randy. That's how I'd have wanted it to look, were it my pic and my doggie ;-)
    And, of course, it still looks like an Ektar! (and why couldn't a pro lab have gotten it like that?)
  14. My guess is that there is room in the negatives to reduce the blown highlights. I recently had bunch of shots taken in
    Tuolomne meadows (Portra 400) with white water, that the lab printed with blown highlights and too much contrast. I
    then scanned it myself with Vuescan and my Minolta Dimage III scanner and got better results than the lab.
    I second the advice to take your prints back to the lab and tell them your concerns. They can probably do a better job.
  15. Scanning issues aside, I think the subject matter was a factor here as well. You were using a contrasty film to shoot in contrasty light. Without moving to better light or waiting for better light or playing with the exposure, etc., you might have got these results with just about any similar film.
  16. @Craig Shearman, Are there any films that do well in contrasty light ? Im thinking about trying Potra 160. I am looking for a film that can handle this non ideal type of light. I want to shoot in contrasty light with relatively soft results. This shot below is either Ektar or 160, it is shot in contrasty light yet still giving a useable soft look with great colors and not too much over done sharpness.
  17. Most likely it is the scanning, even if it was done by a "professional" lab. If this is 35mm and you intend to shoot much more film, I suggest buying a film scanner, such as Pacific Image PrimeFilm XE http://www.scanace.com/scan_pd_1.php?id=39. It comes with SilverFast, and there are some good books on learning how to scan and also some books on using SilverFast. Unless I use a high-end scanning professional that spends time on each negative, I have never received scans as good as the ones I used to get from my Nikon scanner using SilverFast, particularly when it comes to color negative film. And BTW, if you want less contrast, use Kodak Portra 160 or 400.
  18. thanks @Benny I will look into that scanner. I shoot a lot of medium format film as well so I will probably just send the majority of my negatives to Oregon or Utah to some really great labs I have heard of (Im in WA). But would be nice to have the option to scan on my own for other things. I will try the Portra 160 as I think that is closer to what Im looking for.
  19. "Are there any films that do well in contrasty light"

    The short answer is no. Portra has lower contrast and less saturated colors. But it really comes down to the light, not the film. For outdoor photos, photographers generally prefer to shoot when the light is nice -- usually early in the morning or in the late afternoon/evening. With its harsh, contrasty light, midday is usually avoided. For people pictures, you can move your subject into an area that is out of the direct light -- under the overhang of a porch, under a tree, the shaded side of a building, etc.

    When you have to be in direct light, there are a couple of things you can do. With people, for example, keep the direct sunlight beyind them or to the side, using it as a backlight or rim light. Fill in the shadow side with flash or a reflector. For landscapes, use a polarizer -- it will darken the sky, which is often overly bright. The secret in both cases is that you need to bring down the bright parts of the scene or bring up the dark parts in order to reduce the contrast to the point that the film (or digital camera) can handle it.

    Ektar is more a landscape film than a people film -- it's too contrasty and the colors are too saturated IMHO. As I mentioned above, film intended for portraits has lower contrast and lower color saturation. Actually, I find portait film like Portra better for pretty much anything. You can also bring up the contrast after the fact. It's much more difficult to lower it.
  20. Ektar is indeed a saturated and high contrast film. It also has a strong blue bias. Your shots have been taken during the bright day light under cloudless blue sky. Probably the worst condition to use Ektar. For such type of photos I would prefer less contrast emulsion such like Protra 160, Superia 200 or Vista. I never have much troubles scanning Ektar on my Coolscan V. The MF scanning I outsource to local pro lab and they are using Fujifilm Frontier. The result is just great.
    A couple rules I usually apply toEktar usage: avoid shooting Ektar in overcast day or in midday under cloudless blue sky; always use a warm up filter something like 81A or 81B; it doesn't like underexposure; the best time to shoot Ektar is early morning or late afternoon hours (so called “Golden Hours”). And remember Ektar, unlike Portra is not a general purpose film. It’s more like Velvia - you have to find perfect conditions to unleash its beauty. So keep experimenting.
  21. How long was the film sitting there without being developed ? I just shot my first roll of Ektar 100 and it has been sitting inside the camera for about 2 weeks .
  22. @Harry Joseph it sat in the camera for about 5 days before I was able to shoot it. I was planning on using it that Monday but then the person I was going to shoot had to cancel. So I left it in the camera until the following Saturday and just decided to shoot it when we went away for the weekend.
  23. For many years VPS, and later Porta 160, was my favorite C41 film.
    I have only used Panda for E6, and not had problems. (Except for the roll that sat in the camera for about seven years.)
  24. I am partial to Portra but just got my first roll of Ektar 100/35mm developed and was pleasantly surprised with some of the people shots/skin tones... As others have said, it took lower light to turn it on.... These are the lab scans (Noritsu)...
    [​IMG] Camera QSS-32_33 Camera QSS-32_33

    [​IMG][​IMG] Camera QSS-32_33
  25. The suggestion above about a polarizer would work best in these conditions, IMO (especially because your scenes are full of water and sky). It would drop you a couple of stops and help tone down hot photos. If I'm shooting outside anytime from mid morning to late afternoon, I have one on my camera. Comes off during golden hours.
  26. I have never shot Ektar but I have vast experience shooting slide films of old. Along with current Porta stock, which I love.
    I will be shooting Ektar for the first time this week, I am excited to see what comes out of it. As a commercial photographer shooting film, Ektar intrigues me.
    I played for about 30 seconds with your gorgeous puppy picture. I post process everything, so I am use to seeing minor issues. It looks to me as it should now.
    I exclusively use Richard's Photo Lab...
  27. I just stumbled onto this thread and am curious how you've gotten along with Ektar since, Brittany. I am also in Seattle and adore Ektar (though I'm still very partial to Velvia & Provia) and it's become probably my favorite overall color neg film - I've run into a few problems with it but it's very forgiving overall.
    I'm local in Seattle as well and it's been years since I've used Panda, but I always have great dealing with the folks at Moon Photo in Greenwood - Bob's been around since 1974 (WELL before I was shooting since that's my dob hehe) and he's just great. They scan on Noritsu as well, and some of their work they actually send of to Panda (I can't remember precisely what - I think for slide mounting and some other things). Anyhow, if you'd like to try a different lab locally give'm a ring. He's even pushed Ektar 3 stops for me... though he practically begged me not to. :)
  28. The problem with scanning film is the strong possibility of not ending up with the actual look of the film. Once you
    introduce the digital step to film shooting, the unique characteristics of the film, and film in general, can easily be altered.

    For example, the most obvious thing that could happen is that all the colors could end up being equalized, yielding a
    typical digital camera image which is typically neutral in color biases. While that makes for more accurate color, film
    typically has color biases that give each film type a particular look. Back in the film days before the digital labs of today,
    the only things that could be adjusted for was color balance and exposure, and contrast by the use of different papers.
    The unique color biases of the film used could not be altered.

    The key is properly using the right scanning software that preserves the unique look of a particular film. That applies to a
    person doing the scanning at home or a commercial service doing the scanning. I see a lot of young film newbies getting
    excited over shooting film but I have to wonder how many are even aware of the digital obstacle that exists that is likely
    preventing them from actually seeing film as it really is.

    Other things that will ruin the look of film is sharpening and noise reduction. If you are looking to retain the look of film you
    shouldn't apply either.

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