Film Emulsion Review: Lomography Redscale XR 50-200 Color Negative Film (35mm and 120)

Lomography Redscale XR 50-200 is an odd, but pretty cool film

For years I’ve walked into Lomography’s shop and looked at Redscale XR 50-200 with disdain. I’d wonder why any hipster would want to try something like this! But then I tried it myself, partially out of curiosity, part out of needing to do this review, and part out of just trying to understand it. Lomography Redscale XR 50-200 is a film that you expose anywhere between ISO 200 and 500: the results depend on how you expose the film. Some are more normalized, others more random and super orange tinged. While proper photographers may not love it, ordinary folks think it’s pretty darned cool and fun.

Perhaps that’s all this film was developed for.

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Film Emulsion Review: CineStill bwXX Black and White Film (35mm)

CineStill bwXX film is gorgeous in so many ways

I’ve forever been on the hunt for a black and white film I’m truly, madly in love with. While the Ilford Delta lineup of film is more my taste, CineStill bwXX comes really close! I can’t find any major fault with CineStill bwXX: it’s more or less a film designed for cinema and repackaged for 35mm still film camera consumption. Photographers who want the look of classic old time cinema may really enjoy what CineStill bwXX offers. Is it sharp? It can be. Is it grainy? Oh yeah. Does it have those deeply inky blacks I enjoy? Heck yes. In fact, photographers who like to max the contrast of their images after a black and white conversion will really enjoy CineStill bwXX. The film also pushes decently well and most of all, I feel like it has a distinct look vs Kodak T-Max, Tri-x, and much of what Ilford offers. Oh yeah, and CineStill recommends rating it between ISO 200-400: but I’ve pushed it to 800 with decent results too.

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Vintage Camera Review: Leica M4-P (Leica M Mount)

The Leica M4-P is one of the most beloved Leica cameras and it isn’t too expensive either!

If you ever happen to stumble on a deal like I did with the Leica M4-P, then snag it as soon as you possibly can. In many ways, the Leica M4-P is one of the most perfect analog cameras. Although the Leica M6 goes a step further and incorporates the inclusion of a working light meter while allowing the camera to operate completely and totally mechanically at all shutter speeds, the Leica M4-P is essentially the Leica M6 without a light meter. And if you’re like me, you don’t always need a light meter because you’ve shot so often that you know and understand how Sunny 16 works, or you’ve got an app on your phone that will help you figure out your lighting with ease.

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Film Emulsion Review: Kodak Portra 800 (120)

Kodak Portra 800 is a film that truly surprised me.

I cut my teeth in the photography world amongst some really old school people–these were folks who probably would have never used Kodak Portra 800. Why? Well, they swore by the fact that everything over ISO 400 is way too grainy. And that grain is bad no matter what. This is wrong; and I only wish back then that I hadn’t let folks like that try to mislead my mind and that I was more experimental. Kodak Portra 800 is a gorgeous film that is obviously still around for great reasons. It’s a film primarily designed for portraiture in available lighting. With that said, it’s beautiful in 35mm but even more so in 120 with fast lenses. And considering that so many photographers out there love to work with natural light more so than working with a flash, it could be one of the films that stays in your film camera on a consistent basis.

Indeed, it has to be one of the best available light films I’ve ever played with.

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Review: Lomography Lomo’Instant Square (Fujifilm Instax Square)

The Lomography Lomo’Instant Square is the first good camera to use the Fujifilm Instax Square format.

When Fujifilm came out with their own Instax Square camera, I found it to be a serious letdown; but now we’ve got the Lomography Lomo’Instant Square. This camera is far different; for starters, it’s actually analog. This will appease so many photographers who wanted something that wasn’t a digital photo being taken and then printed out onto a piece of film. On top of that, just look at it–it draws inspiration from a previously made Kodak Instant Film camera. Announced last year as a Kickstarter, the camera is starting to make its way into the hands of a number of people. I was able to play with a prototype awhile back; but the finalized production camera is quite a bit better.

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Film Emulsion Review: Ilford Delta 400 (35mm and 120)

Ilford Delta 400 is perhaps my absolute favorite film emulsion.

While I really enjoy the look of Kodak Tri-X 400, almost nothing in black and white has made me drool like Ilford Delta 400. I’ve always felt Ilford Delta 400 delivers those inky, beautiful black levels I’m smitten with. It’s a beautiful film for street photography, portraits, candids, etc. It’s simply a gorgeous film that consistently delivers everything I want in a photo. What makes Ilford Delta 400 even better for me is that it pushes and pulls well and looks good no matter what ISO you’re shooting it at. I’ve shot it in both 120 and 35mm and found both types of results to look pretty fantastic. Ilford Delta 400 doesn’t have the characteristic grain Tri-X does, but a very classic look instead. It isn’t as gritty as Tri-X, and for that reason you shouldn’t necessarily use it as such.

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Film Emulsion Review: Fujifilm Velvia 50 (35mm and 120)

Fujifilm Velvia 50 is a gorgeous film when printed; but make sure you’re careful about the scans!

Perhaps one of the most magical films out there is Fujifilm Velvia 50. It’s one of the last slide films available for purchase and is a favorite of landscape photographers everywhere, not only due to its beautiful, vivid colors, but its low ISO which allows for incredibly detailed images. Fujifilm Velvia 50, like many other films, is better at medium and large formats; but arguably the most popular option is the 35mm film. Why? Well, it’s the format most amateur and hobbyist photographers know. Talk to them about medium format and they’re not sure what to think or do. Either way, Fujifilm Velvia 50 still looks great at the smaller formats.

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Vintage Camera Review: The Polaroid SX70

The Polaroid SX70 is one of the most iconic and well known analog film cameras ever made. It was designed to be simple to use, compact, yet versatile. In today’s culture, it is a camera often associated with the hipster culture, and many people don’t even know that film is still made for it. Using film from the Impossible Project and Polaroid originals, your Polaroid SX70 is an option bound to not only look great on a bookcase, but also will be fun to use. Many companies tend to buy them up, refurbish them and then flip them for sale.

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Film Emulsion Review: Ilford Delta 3200 (35mm and 120)

Ilford Delta 3200 is the highest ISO black and white film on the market. 

Ilford Delta 3200 is a black and white film perfect for photographers shooting concerts, street photography at night, or anything that requires you to shoot in near darkness like a wedding reception. Like the other Delta films, it’s fairly contrasty but perhaps the least so of the bunch. Characterized by a strong grain in the images and a fair amount of sharpness, Ilford Delta 3200 deserves to be used with your fastest lenses and while using a camera that is handheld. You can surely use it any way you’d like, but in most other situations it would be more logical to use a slower ISO film. Instead, Ilford Delta 3200 should be brought along when you want to go out at night.

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Vintage Camera Review: Olympus XA2

The Olympus XA2 probably isn’t as famous at its predecessor, but it is quite a beautiful and simple camera to use. In some ways I think about it as Olympus’ version of the Lomography LCA camera. It’s characterized by its simple operation, its very interesting flash design, its small size, and its pretty darned good image quality. These days, I’d strongly recommend it as a compact film shooter for anyone who loves street photography or even just wants something incredibly pocketable. Where the Olympus XA had aperture priority control, the Olympus XA2 doesn’t. Instead, you’ve got ISO control and zone focusing. That’s it. Otherwise, you’re at the mercy of a very good light meter. Of course, you can always trick the camera using ISO changes, but you may not want to do that all the time.

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Instant Film Review: Fujifilm Instax Wide Monochrome

We’ve waited a long time for Fujifilm Instax Wide Monochrome film and it’s finally here!

One of the best things to have happened in the Polaroid/Instant Film world in so many years is the arrival of Fujifilm Instax Wide Monochrome. Announced earlier this year, the new film is a highly needed item that shows Fujifilm’s commitment to the Fujifilm Instax Wide format. The company has Mini, Square and Wide–and for a while the Wide format hasn’t been shown very much, if any, love. Perhaps this is because the other formats are much more portable, but Fujifilm Instax Wide has an appeal to photographers on the higher end. It is the largest format of all the Instant film formats and when put into the right cameras, the images sing.

Fujifilm Instax Wide Monochrome could be the absolute sharpest black and white instant film emulsion I’ve seen or used in years. In my opinion, it’s capable of outdoing even the old Fujifilm 3000B. Yes, I seriously never thought I’d say that. While I miss the excitement of the peel apart process, I’ll be the first to admit Fujifilm Instax Wide Monochrome is a superior film. And you can get Fujifilm Instax Wide Monochrome on Amazon now.

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Vintage Camera Review: Nikon N80 (Nikon F Mount)

For a really long time, the Nikon F100 was the best buy if you were looking for a Nikon film SLR at a good price that was compatible with most modern lenses. But then people discovered it, and like everything that gets discovered, the price got ruined. The Nikon FM2? Yeah, they’re really expensive now. It’s no secret second hand film cameras are on the up and up when it comes to prices and sales. Not only that, but they’re pretty. Well, most of them are. In the case of the Nikon N80, we’ve got the camera designed to be more consumer oriented and a step down below the famous Nikon F100. But for everything a professional photographer could want or need, it’s highly capable. And unlike digital cameras, all you need is some sharp film, good glass, and a lot of light.

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Film Emulsion Review: Lomography Color Negative 800 (35mm and 120)

Of all the color negative films Lomography sells, my consistent favorite has to be Lomography Color Negative 800. As the company’s highest ISO color negative film, you should expect to get good colors and some amazingly warm skin tones if you’re into that sort of thing. The film is designed for photographers who need a fast film for a variety of reasons. In some ways, I find it to be in-between both Kodak Portra 800 and Fujifilm Superia 800. Where the latter was the bread and butter for photojournalists for years, Kodak Portra 800 is instead meant for portraits in low light–but I’ve seen it capture some stellar Northern Lights photos. Lomography Color Negative 800 on the other hand works pretty swimmingly for both.

I’ve been testing and using Lomography Color Negative 800 on and off for the past few years in a variety of cameras. I can say with all certainty that it’s probably my favorite alternative to CineStill 800T when shooting at night.

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Vintage Camera Review: Mamiya 6 Medium Format Rangefinder (120 Format, 6×6 Square Format)

The Mamiya 6 is a camera that I’ve lusted after for many years; and when the opportunity to get one with two lenses for an absolutely unheard of price, I knew that I needed to spring for it. As one of the few great compact interchangeable lens rangefinders that use medium format film, the Mamiya 6 is in my mind one of the most perfect square format cameras ever made. While some may pledge allegiance to Hasselblad and other to Bronica when it comes to SLR cameras, still other will stand by some of the best TLR options on the market that shoot 6×6 format. In many ways, I want you to imagine a Leica M series camera but bigger and plastic. On top of that, this camera is collapsible and has a few features to it that could be considered quirks but in other ways are fail safes.

If you’re the type of photographer that needs a compact medium format shooter the way that I do, then there is almost nothing better.

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Film Emulsion Review: Ilford HP5 Plus 400 (35mm)

For some odd reason, I first picked up Ilford HP5 Plus because I was told it would be the perfect film for street photography. Why was I told this? I’m honestly not sure, but besides the work that I’m doing with film this year in 2017, I haven’t shot with Ilford HP5 since 2012. I’ve always had more of a liking for Ilford Delta and Kodak Tri-X; but my tastes have evolved over the years. Ilford HP5 Plus is a low contrast film–one that I’d like to equate to Kodak Portra 400. In fact, if you’re shooting in black and white then I’d like to call Ilford HP5 the Kodak Portra 400 of black and white film. That’s bound to either make you fall madly in love with it, or run for the hills looking for something else. Personally I think it’s fantastic for portraits, but when it comes to street photography I prefer something more raw, gritty, and contrasty.

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Film Review: Lomography Lady Grey 400 Black and White (35mm and 120)

With Lomography Lady Grey 400 Black and White film, photographers have yet another choice for black and white film photography. Indeed, the look that it delivers is also something pretty special. It’s not quite Ilford Delta, not at all like Kodak Tri-X 400, doesn’t even work like Agfa APX 400 and looks nothing really like Ilford HP5. Instead Lomography repackages film from FomaPan for Lomography Lady Grey 400, but earlier emulsions were apparently Kodak T-Max 400. The film has been on the market for a number of years now and has received not only a revamp but also more and more praise as we’ve delved deeper into the analog film photography world. With that said, I can say with confidence that Lomography Lady Grey 400 can be used to get great effects by many photographers out there for a variety of reasons.

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We’ve Updated Our CineStill 800T Review; Now Includes 120 Emulsion Tests

Hey folks,

This is an update to tell you we’ve finished reviewing CineStill 800T in both 35mm and 120. Our CineStill 800T Review has been updated accordingly. Besides obviously being a larger format of the film, we find CineStill 800T to be more forgiving with actual daylight. CineStill 800T is a tungsten based film and for that reason I believe it to be best for indoor usage and nighttime photography. It remains, in my mind, to be one of the best color films out there at the moment.

For the uninitiated, CineStill 800T is a tungsten film. It’s more or less Kodak Movie Film that was reformatted for C41 film processing. And it clearly delivers a look digital can’t give us.

Film Review: Fujifilm Superia (200, 400, 800 and 1600)

Fujifilm Superia is oddly enough considered a consumer film. Why? I’m not exactly sure–especially considering that it wasn’t so long ago in history that every photojournalist swore by Superia 800. But nevertheless, Fujifilm Superia isn’t considered to be one of the more professional grade films as something like say Fujifilm Pro400H. But if you head into various Flickr and Facebook groups, lots of photographers still pledge allegiance to Fujifilm Superia. The film comes in a variety of speeds including ISO 200, ISO 400, ISO 800 and ISO 1600. In some ways, you can perhaps liken it to being a bit like Ilford Delta–except that it’s color and from Fujifilm.

But one thing is for sure, if you want great general use film, Fujifilm Superia is a fantastic option.

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Film Emulsion Review: Kodak Portra 160 (35mm and 120 Formats)

When you work with a film like Kodak Portra 160, you get a pretty fine detailed film designed to be used more or less with controlled lighting. Though interestingly enough, I’ve personally had much better results working with many other films using controlled lighting and instead found that this film is one of the best to be used with natural light. Designed for skin tones in portraiture, Kodak Portra 160 has a very muted color palette but not as pastel as Fujifilm’s Pro 160 NS–its closest competitor which is now discontinued. Like many other films, it is available in both 120 and 35mm. But if you’re reading this website, then you’re probably only using it in 120.

I’ve been using Kodak Portra 160 for years; and even though I prefer to work with 400, 160 is surely a nice film in the right settings.

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Film Review: Lomography Earl Grey 100 Black and White (35mm and 120)

Years ago, Lomography introduced Lomography Earl Grey 100 black and white film and added yet another entry into a market looking for more 100 ISO black and white films. There are a few from Ilford, none from Kodak except for T-Max, one from Fujifilm and a few other manufacturers producing them. But slower ISO black and white films aren’t really spoken of except for Acros. Black and white ISO 100 films are great for studio and portraiture work but in many cases have the versatility to deliver great results when pushed.

Lomography’s Earl Grey 100 used to be an older emulsion of Kodak T-Max 100. But that’s changed over the years. It’s now a Fomapan emulsion. But in the end, who cares? All that matters is the results.

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Film Review: Lomography Color Negative 400 (35mm and 120)

Lomography Color Negative 400 is one of those alternative color films that unfortunately isn’t spoken about enough. And for some of us, that’s perfectly fine. I’m okay with all the haters of Lomography refusing to understand what the company is doing and saving more film for me. Walking into the West Village store in NYC to be greeted warmly by the employees and always having the ability to buy some simply makes me happier. And all the folks who only shoot digital and only care about shooting digital can keep doing so. They’ll never understand the awesome secret that the rest of us know that is ironically being published on one of the biggest indie photo blogs on the web.

That’s all just fine.

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