Not only do we develop film here, but we are also film photography enthusiasts and love making our way through as many available film stocks as possible! Along the way we will be sharing our best hints and tricks to get the most out of the analogue experience.
Follow our journey and share your own film experience by tagging us in your favourite shots using #apffeature!
THE TEST ROLL
There are a number of reasons to shoot what is often referred to as a ‘test’ roll of film.
TESTING A NEW CAMERA
If you have just acquired a new film camera and are either a.) unsure whether it works or b.) unfamiliar with shooting it, then shooting your first roll as a test is a great way to gain confidence in either your camera or yourself!
What should I choose?
We recommend opting for a 400-speed consumer film like Kodak Ultra Max rather than anything super fancy or experimental to minimise the disappointment if the roll does end up being unsuccessful. As film shooters this is something we must be prepared for – but we weigh up the risk. If you are super stoked about a camera then it’s worth giving it a shot (or 24)!
What to shoot?
On a test roll we recommend shooting a variety of subjects and across different lighting conditions i.e. indoors and outdoors.
I personally like to check how well my lens performs so I will find something like a big sign with text and focus on that. Bracketing comes in handy here as well as I will often take a couple of consecutive shots at different apertures so I can see how the sharpness falls off. This was how I discovered that my nifty fifty on my Pentax was struggling wide open which is unfortunate for me since I favour portraiture over landscapes.
Another thing to take onboard is to identify what it is you really want to use the camera for. If you want to shoot portraits – then make sure you take some casual shots of your friends or family on the roll. Have some fun with it and don’t take it too seriously.
Essentially the gist is: don’t photograph someone’s graduation day with your test roll!
PREPARING FOR A GIG
If you have a particular shoot in mind whether that be for band photography, fashion or even an indoor birthday celebration, then you might want to shoot a test roll for the conditions that you expect to experience. In lower light situations you might have to turn to faster films than you would normally shoot and even then, that might not even be enough.
In the film market now, we are limited with super-fast colour emulsions maxing out at 800 in Kodak Portra and CineStill 800T. That may mean you turn to black and white which can expand up to 3200 and can easily be pushed in development. Consider Ilford’s Delta 3200 or Kodak’s T-Max P3200 which can give you peace of mind if you are shooting at 800 and it might not be working out. These films you have the option to shoot at 1600 if you just need one more stop of light.
A test film in this case lets you know whether your shoot with a particular emulsion or setting is going to be possible or if you have to amend your original plan. This preparation means you don’t end up disappointing other people who might be depending on you for some incredible shots.
CONCLUSION: Shooting a test roll can ultimately save you blood, sweat and tears!
This black and white film produced by Agfa is an affordable slow speed emulsion packaged by Rollei (another old name that exists long in the mind of film users!)
A recommended use for this film is landscape photography, given the unique extended red sensitivity of the emulsion which can eliminate haze and if used in combination with a red filter, can mimic the effects of infrared film!
Rollei also suggests this film for general shooting in bright conditions so that’s exactly what I decided to put to the test!
In taking this film for a test run, I chose not to shoot with a red filter and just see how it rendered scenes without it. I set my ASA/ISO to 100 on my camera just to see how it might compare to other 100 speed black and whites (Kodak T-Max 100, Ilford Delta 100, Fujifilm Acros 100 II).
A lovely slow speed film should ideally render subjects nice and sharp with minimal/fine grain so in my mind, ideal for portraits.
In typical photographer fashion I coerced my best friend to impromptu model for me.
In order to try and accurately capture her skin tone I did have to slightly overexpose the shots, but I deliberately positioned her under the shade for more flattering even lighting. It is very easy to blow out the highlights with this film, so I do recommend shooting portraits in more overcast conditions or controlled lighting scenarios than for out and about snapshots.
Though I mainly prefer shooting portraits, when trying out a new film, I force myself to shoot for a variety of applications including landscapes, street, and wildlife to get a better overall feel.
Verdict: This film has lovely contrast with true blacks & whites plus assorted midtones throughout which keeps it interesting and dynamic. I would highly recommend lovers of landscape photography to try it with a red filter and experience some of the incredible features associated with infrared film (black skies anyone?)
If I were to shoot this film again, I would likely choose it for environmental portraits as it does have a ‘soft’ finish which is very much what evokes the ‘vintage’ its name suggests.
For a super affordable black and white, it’s great fun to experiment with!
To be fair, this was shot at a time where there was not a lot of green, instead a lot of fallen leaves resulting in the more pinky colour).
Our second roll we experimented at varying speeds to see how it affected the hues in the image.
Shot at 100, 200 and then 400 speed
It became clear that the super purple tones across the whole images were best achieved shooting at 400 speed, whilst the most subtle was at the lower sensitivity of 100 - affecting mainly the highlights whilst leaving a lot of the existing tones cooler. Our personal favourite result is the happy medium; shooting at 200 ISO which rendered most of the scene in both rich and lighter shades of purple whilst allowing a peak of the cyan to come through.
Shot at 200 ISO resulted in a pleasing result that included both the cooler purples in the foreground and the richer tones up the hill.
This film is designed to preserve red tones so you can still enjoy the colour shifting effects without jeopardising your subject.
Verdict: If you love shooting landscapes, we definitely recommend giving this film a try! Personally we weren't a huge fan of the film for portraits but think that if deliberately styled and being vary aware of the colour scheme - some incredible images could be captured that way!
Give it a try yourself!