I’ve now shot a couple more rolls of this film (following the initial usage, chronicled here), and I think I can now draw some more conclusions.
The first roll went through my Rollei 35, a camera I’d just recently acquired. I felt it would be good to try it in both my Olympus PEN EES-2 and my Pentax SFX; both cameras are metered, so this should remove the human factor to some extent. The Pentax in particular has always benefited from accurate TTL metering, and I left it at ISO 400 to see how it would behave at box speed. The Olympus uses an older selenium meter which has been OK, but occasionally produces some odd results; I shot this roll at ISO 320, figuring that going over by a third of a stop might mitigate the underexposure problem I documented in the first round. The results were interesting, but generally tended to confirm my initial assessment that this film is pretty darn touchy about exposure.
First, the good. The Pentax did pretty well. Most of the shots on this roll were macros, so the lighting was pretty straightforward for the meter. The vivid colors really showed up well here, but there was still a rapid fall-off in shadow detail. (These pictures are straight off the scanner with no processing whatsoever in order to show as close as possible what the film is recording.)
Given the subject matter and near perfect exposure, the results are nice. As I’ve said before, I like vivid colors, and the loss of shadow detail is not a major issue here. This is all well and good if you’re shooting an entire roll under ideal conditions, but this is often not the case.
On to the Olympus. This camera has much less precise metering, and the photos were taken over a much wider range of conditions than those with the Pentax. Still, as a half-frame I was able to get a lot of examples to see just how much latitude there was in this film.
The answer, I found, was not much. Shooting at ISO 320 obviously allowed a little more light than if I shot at box speed, but a lot of exposures appeared quite washed, much moreso than I would expect from a third of a stop of overexposure.
These photos show well the washed out look. The actual colors were considerably darker than what is shown here. While the shadow detail is good, the highlights are way overexposed. Both were taken at roughly the same time on the same day, in direct sunlight. The light situation is not complicated here, which suggests that the meter should not have had too much trouble.
Some brightly-lit indoor shots from the same roll were better exposed; perhaps the meter is too sensitive in bright natural light. I may try a UV filter on this camera to see if that produces better results. Nonetheless, latitude of the film seems to be quite narrow. If you use it in a camera with excellent metering, or have an accurate hand-held meter, you may do well. I’m very hesitant to use this film in any camera with which I employ “sunny-16,” as the potential for blowing an exposure with a relatively minor error seems quite considerable.