Kodak Ektar 100 Test
Mamiya RZ67 Pro II, 65mm L-A; Kodak Ektar 100 (at ISO 50)
Being that Ektar 100 is Kodak’s cheapest professional film, I’ve always shrugged it away. I was a big fan of Portra 160VC in the 1990s. So when I came back to film photography a few years ago, I naturally picked up the new Portra to shoot with. Now that I’m thinking “larger”, as in large format, I’m leaning to Ektar because of it’s slight economy over Portra films.
I find that a lot of my students use Kodak Ektar 100 for their homework assignments. To be quite honest I’ve seen some Kodak Ektar work that is nothing short of fabulous to work that is just plain dull. It’s been said that Ektar should be exposed like a slide film, so I set out to find this film’s sweet spot. I tried exposing for shadows, highlights, and mid-tones during the day and at night with a Minolta IVF ambient light meter and with my Mamiya RZ67 Pro II camera’s spot meter. In most cases the camera’s spot meter on neutral tones and the Minolta IVF were agreeing.
I metered this film at box speed (ISO 100) and also bracketed +1 stop in over exposure. It’s my conclusion that the extra stop (ISO 50) is needed to bring more shadow detail, but is a tiny bit too much in dynamic scenes such as this one. Because film does have a nice overexposure latitude range, I could easily rescue the highlights with some extra Photoshop work. However, if I aim for an exposure at ISO 64, I believe I can tame those highlights and have enough shadow detail that I can get a perfect scan with bear minimal Photoshop alterations.
My current workflow makes for a pretty darn good test print.
For all my test scans, I use my Epson V750 and Betterscanning holders. I’m scanning as a positive (ugly color negative orange) linear scan (all adjustments turned off) with Epson Scan then converting the scan to a positive image using the ColorPerfect plug-in and films settings for Kodak Ektar 100. Little or no color balance is needed and I add a slight bit of contrast for taste. In my opinion this is as close to an optical print enlargement as is possible with my workflow. For large exhibition quality work, I’ll resource scanning via the Nikon Super Coolscan 9000ED, Hasselblad scanner, or even better a wet drumscan.