A Tale of Two Films

Two fast films. One long gone, one very much alive and kicking - raiding the freezer for a pointless last chance comparison. OK, so I was bored.

So I happened to have in my freezer a handful of Fuji Superia 800 X-tra that expired in 2018, some of the very last of the UK stock and had been casting around for something photographic to do - a mini-project if you must - so defrosted a couple in preparation. 


I loaded up one each of the Superia 800 and Portra 800 films into a pair of Zeiss Ikon rangefinder bodies, stuck a 28mm lens on each (yes I have access to more than one 28mm M mount lens currently but more on that at another time) and waited for a day with a bit of a sunny spell in it.


Then waited and waited, as you are inclined to do at this time of year. Then, on one particularly dull and misty day, low and behold the sun broke through and the weather cleared up for a brief spell. Seize the moment!


I grabbed the cameras and headed for a local lake. There I proceeded to snap a set of photos, working quickly-slowly if you know what I mean, alternating between the two cameras which were set up identically. I made pairs of images whose compositions were as close as possible given they were hand held, before the sun inevitable vanished once again which it soon did as suddenly as it had appeared.


I then had the films processed and scanned at high resolution (30 mp) by my usual lab C41.co.uk and proceeded to compare the results, see below:

Click the picture to see full size image.
Click the picture to see full size image.

Apart from the slight compositional difference, there is also a small exposure difference between the two. Equally the two films exhibit a different colour palette with the Fuji image above being flat with poor rendering of blues and reds in particular. The Kodak film in comparison provides exceptional colour saturation. The Kodak film provides smooth, fine grain whilst that of the fuji film is coarse and clumpy by comparison and the Kodak film is sharper too. 

Click the picture to see full size image.
Click the picture to see full size image.

The outcome confirmed, for me at least, two things. First, pun alert, Portra 800 is superior to Superia 800 X-tra in every way - though it's hard to illustrate this on images displayed on screen in a blog. Second, this was a futile exercise as you can't buy Superia 800 X-tra anymore anyway as Fuji discontinued it over two years ago here in the UK.


Well maybe not quite fruitless. It stopped me from being bored for a while, it was fun to do, it gave the processing lab some revenue in difficult times and I got some lovely pics.


Oh and I got to practice two camera working which is a skill to be maintained if you use cameras that are slow to load/reload and either want to swap between films at different ISO's on the same shoot or are working in a faster paced environment where you don't have time to reload immediately between films.


Then again you might want to work with two different focal length lenses and don't want to have to keep swapping them on and off one camera and also if you to use them with films with different ISO's as well, then two camera working comes in handy.


Anyway I enjoyed the whole experience and also got to write this pointless article :). Oh and if you haven't been able to work it out, the top picture was taken on Fuji and the bottom one on Kodak, obviously.

✧ Jokul Frosti ✧

A space containing the thoughts, experiences, photos and collected curiosities of a walkabout photographer with a snapshot style.