Topic: Super 8 - Retro 8 - Provia 100 - My Review (Subjective)
Expert Film Handler
From: Bath, UK
Registered: Sep 2012
posted December 23, 2017 04:16 PM
I am going to be reviewing different film stocks as I use them for the benefit of all to read.
I have uploaded a video sample to youtube, a simple 4K film of the wall on my phone, not zoomed in. A proper telecine is needed which i will have done in due course, as I do not have telecine equipment.
Video is here: https://youtu.be/7XD4pzIVHMc
I have ensured the sound of projector mechanism is audible.
First of all, this one worked out cheaper than any other current reversal stock from retro8, £142.69 for five cartridges, BUT rather than 15m of film, you get 12m by the label, it seems thicker in my hand. I found only 2:20 of usable film at 18fps, so you lose nearly a minute compared to most others. If you insist on shooting with this, carry a spare film as you may get caught short.
Film was shot at 160ASA in camera, and push-processed by hand in a normal 35mm dev tank with the film carefully coiled inside with intense agitation, some marks of this treatment are evident pushed 0.5 stops by experimentation. Typically you do not push half a stop, but i worked out the times to do this. Careful chemical temperature control.
Shot in an elmo camera, i first noticed this is the only film which has ever jammed in this camera. It however, unjammed and gave no problems after removing and reinserting the cartridge.
Film developed as stated after shooting, and cleaned. Hand processed imperfect look on this sample. I should really attempt to dry in a more dust-free environment
First impressions playing the film, is i notice the claw is slightly louder than on other kodak films and velvia 50 films. A subsequent playthough after filming using filmguard reduced this minor issue. However, it ran through the projector without any other problems and a slightly louder claw may be due to thicker stock. Projector is generally kept clean in good order.
The subject was me and my partner trying to play with my cat and pick her up. She refused to play most of the time for this one and instead chose to attack us although typically she purrs in this event. I have always lived with cats and love them, and like to give them endless amounts of cuddles and love and care, this one is more moody than previous ones but still cuddles up usually I was expecting her to attack my feet at one point but she didn't for the camera.
The colour pallette is not far off ektachrome 100D, with the colours slightly restrained. Ektachrome 100D will have exaggerated the colour of the cupboards more, wheras this one restrains it. Blacks like the blacks on ruby is good. Solid, rich. Better than 100D blacks. Greens are more restrained but balanced. You can see on the tiled floor, perfect reproduction of the subdued reds and greyish colours. Colour of the decking balanced. I would say this is as close to any neg stock when you want a lifelike reproduction, with just enough 'pop'.
You can see where i film daniel and ruby with the sky, the lighting variation was handled very well. I would say visually, this film has great dynamic range. It looses some shadow detail in this instance but holds its own.
When underexposed a stop (despite a 0.5 stop push) like a couple of the indoor bits dyanmic range will fall through a hole fast, you can see this from the first 30 seconds. This was done purposely, to examine how it handles it.
Oddly enough, i filmed a few seconds at night and some at the end. I am astonished that under orange lighting it kept reasonably accurate colours despite lack of daylight.
Skin tones with this film are accurate. More accurate than velvia, still with that reversal film 'pop' in the image, but accurate.
Grain is tight, and hard to notice much when properly exposed, noticeable on the first scenes when under exposed. Does not detract from the viewing experience. Despite the 0.5 stop push, i was astonished at when it was enlarged to 40+ inches, how it did not fall apart and was hard to notice.
Pushed a full stop, i think this could be used for indoor evening shooting at F1.4 with a 220 degree shutter angle under reasonable lighting. You can see how it is 'trying' to render a good image, when my partner who is an avid cook is demonstrating his new top of the range knives when he is cutting chicken. I got caught short with the length of film here, wrongly planning for just under 2:40 minutes, it seems its capped at 2:20 (18 FPS). Bad maths Even so, despite the underexposure, it rendered a reasonable image.
It would wipe the floor with the AGFA 200 stuff grain-wise i think, while being able to sustain a good picture. If this could be had in 16mm, i am betting you could produce some insanely high quality results.
I noticed when focused properly, detail in the skin on this and individual hairs in me and my partner could be seen and differentiated.
I am going to attempt a 1.5 stop under exposure and push on this 1.5 stops at some stage as well to see how it responds. I have never had good luck pushing velvia two stops, but i seem to think this film may be able to handle it, but i will see.
I noticed however, that when the film ends, there is the equivalent of two whole seconds nearly (at 18fps) unused film at the end of the cartridge that cannot be advanced as the film ending part has been cut out. Small, but unlike the kodak and other wittner stocks which end instantly. Would add up to wasted film at their production over many films unless its some kind of buffer.
I find it good value for money compared to other reversal stocks, although you get around 1/4 less film than another cartridge. Despite this, it still is good value for money in my opinion.
If exposed at box speed 100 instead of 160 and no push, I would expect even less grain. Sharpness seems to rival any other reversal film I have used using the default pressure plate. K40 might exceed it, but only slightly, based on K40 i have seen.
This film can be projected very large, i projected as large as i could go on the white back wall after filming this, around 40 or so inches if you measured it diagonally, and the grain does not even fall apart or become obtrusive or even barely noticeable at the properly exposed scenes. It has detail, and it shows it. Properly focused, it holds good detail and will not fall apart under most super 8 projection scenarios.
The film is shipped in foil-sealed packet, rather than a box with a packet inside.
I would say with a 160ASA shooting and 0.5 stop push:
Colour Accuracy: 9/10
Value for money: 7/10
Sharpness (220 Deg Shutter): 9.5/10
Chemistry Used - Tetenal E6 - 3 bath + stabilizer.
I am betting the sharpness might be even better with a 180 degree shutter, but it could resolve hairs at 220. I have put 9.5 out of 10 as i would expect slight increases in sharpness to 10/10 with a 180 degree shutter.
I say this is a great reversal stock that you can still currently get and probably one of the best I have tested. If you can handle less film, its a cheap entry into reversal stock compared to other option at £142.69 for five cartridges, that price included shipping to the UK. Accurate colours with good pop, good at indoor evening lighting as well as daylight.
Grain is better than I could ask. I Will admit, i prefer this stock to ektachrome 100D by a hair for the subject matter, as it did not have the slight cold bias, which i personally do not want when shooting in the UK winter although it is good for other topics. The blacks were excellent, as you can see on ruby's body. But the detail? It sold for me.
Overall, a great stock. Even when projected many times larger, the grain in the daylight outdoor properly exposed and developed for scenes DOES NOT fall apart and can be projected large. Just carry a spare film with you, trust me on this one, especially if you are a 24 fps shooter.
This concludes my review on Provia 100. I am very happy with this stock, and will keep plenty in the fridge. May this one long be available, buy some of this stock if your a reversal shooter, you will not regret it. Thanks to Marc Marti for mentioning to me how you can get this stock.
[ December 23, 2017, 05:29 PM: Message edited by: Jake Mayes ]
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Expert Film Handler
From: Bath, UK
Registered: Sep 2012
posted December 26, 2017 07:52 PM
Thank you for your suggestions. I love 50D printed to positive. I aim to write a review once i get my last 50D back from Andec with a positive print. Hope you had a good christmas
Your right re. the latitude, negative film will always trump reversal in that department. The vision stocks seem bullet proof.
I shot a second cart of the provia, with a 1 stop push on xmas eve day time. Came out a treat, tight grain, good tones not much difference, although had the film jam three times. This jamming seems an issue.
I shot a third cartridge of this film on christmas day along with ektachrome 100D. I did a two stop push on the pair. No jamming, i lightly tapped the cartridge before loading and turned the core a bit.
Two stops, it handles it. It was shot under tungsten coloured lighting, has an orangeish look but, skin tones and smoothness holds. Image holds perfectly. Grain is still tight, does not become obtrusive. Lower noticeable grain than 64T at a two stop push, absolutely smokes the agfa stuff even with a stop more speed than it and push processed, grain wise. I do not mind a bit of grain, but i like tight grain usually unless im shooting something in particular. It has no colour biases, it seems to hold up well.
I doubt this would go past two stops as it was a tad dark, but the 150W projector lamp gave me a large image that was enjoyable. The fuji documentation on provia states a 2 stop push is in the film's capability.
It indeed delivers. All round, a fine stock with better low light capability than i could have hoped, without the image falling apart, although I am going to message them on jamming issues, but first i will test some more cartridges in a different camera, although i have never had any cartridge jam in my elmo before.
Firstly, it handled the two stop push better than I expected. Reading Fuji's Documentation on it, I was pleased.
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