Friday, November 24, 2017

Polaroid Originals - Polaroid is BACK

I’ve been a fan of instant photography for years. When I was a kid I enjoyed using several Polaroid cameras. Fast forward and about 5 years ago I got back into the genre when Impossible Project kicked off their line of instant films.

Although I regularly shot Impossible Project film it was VERY expensive and honestly the quality was just OK and not consistent. Sure, some people thought the lomo look was nice, but I prefer a bit more richness and saturation on the color and more contrast on the B&W. Therefore, I moved over to the Instax line.

With Impossible Project’s acquisition of the Polaroid brand and rebranding Impossible Project as Polaroid Originals came a big POSITIVE change.

The key isn’t simply the rebranding, but the quality and price. The IP film typically cost $23-24/pack before tax. I bought a pack of Polaroid Originals 600 Color for $18.99. Still pricey, but being less than $20/pack is reasonable in my book. Also, from my first experience the quality is better.

I shot my first pack last week in my studio during a model portfolio shoot.  I used a pack of Impossible Project 600 Color side-by-side with a pack of Polaroid Originals.  I used the same camera, a Polaroid OneStep CloseUp and similar lighting.  All photos were taken with the ambient lights in my studio & the camera flash. It’s fairly bright in the studio. The light dark slider was set to the middle on all shot.

Here is my opinion of the side by side quality.

  • Skin tones are more natural. Still a bit on the red/pink side but much better than the IP chemistry (note, this could be influenced by the lights in the studio),
  • Image is sharper. It appears almost as if I sharpened the Polaroid Originals in post editing, but not the IP shot,
  • Colors pop and have more contrast. I noticed this in the reds, yellows & blues,
  • Blacks are richer,
  • Shadows are cleaner,
  • Development time is faster (although to get full quality it still takes a few hours, but within 20+ minutes I had a useable image),

Here are side by side photos:

Impossible Project Color 600

Polaroid Originals Color 600

The quality & developing speed is still not up to Instax quality / speed standards, but I see Instax and Polaroid as 2 different experiences. I honestly don’t use them for the same purpose.

I’m back in.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Kentmere 400 Pushed to 800 - Olympus OM10

I regularly use 100' bulk film to keep my 35mm film cost manageable.  Recently I've gone through several boxes of Ilford HP5+, Ilford XP2, Arista EDU, Kodak TRI-X and now Kentmere 400. 

Harman Labs produces and sells Kentmere films which leads me to believe that Kentmere is a "cheap", lower QC version of HP5+.  Good enough for me to give it a go.

I brought several bulk loaded 36 exposure rolls with me to a street photography afternoon in downtown Louisville. It was a "murky" day.  Bright but extremely hazing and overcast.  No direct sunlight, or shadows.  It was like being in a giant softbox.  I wanted to do general street scenes.

Because it was overcast and I wanted higher speeds I pushed the Kentmere to 800. Ilford HP5+ is very push friendly, so I figured this would be as well.  I had hoped to push the film to 1600 but my camera mysteriously locked up when I set the ASA dial to 1600.

My camera of choice for the street shoot was an Olympus OM10. I purchased this camera at a New York charity shop for $20. Works A-OK (except the weird ASA issue) and is clean.

I shot 3 rolls in this camera. Once home I developed the rolls in Ilford Ilfosol3 for 6.5 minutes. I scanned the negatives with an Epson V800.  Imported them into Adobe Lightroom Classic and used the tool to crop & adjust the histogram only.  

Some results:

Overall, I'm happy with the film. It pushes easily to 800 (will test at 1600). The blacks are black & whites white. The grain at 800 with Ilfosol3 is very manageable and pleasing.  I'll be running a side by side with pushed HP5+ soon, so stay tuned for that.  Bottomline, a good general purpose B&W 35mm film.