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|| News Item: Posted 2000-11-21

New Transparency Film Pushes the Limit
By Don Smith

Photo by
Three weeks ago I received my first shipment of Fuji's new Provia 400F transparency film (RHP III). The timing was perfect as we had just set the clocks back an hour and on the West coast, that meant full shadows by mid third quarter on 1:05 NFL kickoffs. I was covering the Kansas City Chiefs / Oakland Raiders game for Fleer/Skybox and was eager to run some rolls through my EOS 1v.

I remember asking fellow staffer Lou Sauritch how the film looked. He had shot it the prior week in Pittsburgh on a cloudy day. He said it worked great. When I asked if I should compensate my exposure or go with my standard metering, he replied to not change a thing. When I asked how far he was pushing it he said plus two (EI 1600). When I finally asked the million-dollar question, "How was the grain?" he said with a nonchalant look, "what grain?"

As most of you know, this time of year can yield a 4 to 5 stop difference between sunlight and shadows. In the past, when the shadows took over, it was E200 pushed and nothing longer than a 400mm 2.8 lens. Fleer gave us the option of switching to Fuji 800 color negative and shipping our film to Dale Labs for their negative to slide transfer service. The results were very good, but it meant shipping film to two different labs and waiting an extra two days to get film back. It also added to the edit time, as we had to label the negative and the corresponding slide. In short, it was kind of a pain.

Photo by Don Smith

Photo by Don Smith
When I got my film processed (I use Data Chrome film lab in Irvine, CA 949 - 863-0873) the results were stunning. I could not believe I was looking at a 400 ISO slide film - let alone one that was pushed two stops. Lou was right, the grain was minimal, the exposures right on the money and the colors pretty true to form. Any slide film will turn somewhat blue under the cool shade of late fall light, but this film did a great job of minimizing the resulting blue cast.

Not only was I able to continue shooting slide film to the end of the game, but I shot with my 400mm 2.8 and a 1.4x extender. The final two minutes of the game still gave me enough light to shoot at 640 f4! For those of you who have ever worked a game in Network Associates Coliseum, you know the sideline is full of short glass shooters (where they come from I have no idea - that's a topic for a whole other Sports Shooter column). I personally love the freedom of shooting football out of the end zones. Being able to shoot with my extender allows me that freedom. Without the new Fuji 400F, it would be back to elbowing in with the short glass shooters.

If you haven't yet had the opportunity to run this remarkable film through your camera, don't hesitate, I think you will be truly amazed at what this film can do.

(Don Smith is a Bay Area photographer whose clients include the NHL San Jose Sharks and the Fleer/Skybox Card Company.)

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