When I first bought my Nikon FE I canvased a few people I know that have or do shoot film to find out what they recommend for a general use film. Something that I could use for whatever might come my way. Everyone said to look for a 400 speed film and a number of them pointed me squarely at this Fuji film. It’s a standard print film that can be handled and processed most anywhere. I bought a few 36 exposure rolls and went to town, so to speak.
I am pretty impressed with this film. It does have a healthy amount of grain to it, though it’s not distracting, and it does very well with shadow detail. Color rendition is very strong with perhaps an affinity for greens; I understand Fuji is known for that.
This first image was taken during a rain storm. I was trying to capture something interesting with the rain itself but since it wasn’t very strong that didn’t work out. It does provide me with a strong image to show shadow detail though. It was a bit on the dark side when the image was taken and because of that I was forced to shoot at a fairly large aperture. I don’t remember exactly but certainly less then F/2.8, hence the narrow depth of field. The image is very clear and you can even see the trails some of the rain drops coming in from the top of the image. More importantly, the shadow area under the wood is natural looking and holds a good bit detail.
This next image was taken under evening light with me looking down on my beet plants, inspecting what appears to be some kind of fungus. The detail in the wood grain is very good and the greens looks excellent, but not too green.
The images also, to me at least, have a sort of timeless look to them. The parts of the image that are in focus are clear and the grain is all but imperceptible. The out of focus parts of the image though are, can I say buttery? The lens used for the images above was the Nikon 50mm F/1.8 so you expect the out of focus areas to look pretty good but when you add in that soft, fine grain, they just look excellent. I’d rather see that kind of grain then the digital version any day.
Compare the images taken using Kodak Ultra Color 400UC Film, which I’ve reviewed previously, and it’s night and day. I shot both films with the same camera, a Nikon N80, and I made 100% sure that the camera was setup the same way in terms of exposure settings. Add in the fact that the Fuji film is $2 for a roll of 36 and the Kodak almost $5 and it’s a no brainer which film I now buy all the time.
These final images were taken using a focus technique where you focus at the Hyperfocal Distance which allows you to get as much of the image in focus as the lens can manage. These images where my first attempts at this technique and were done on a manual film camera, the Nikon FE. The images themselves, as are the others in this post, are nothing amazing but I believe they show how well this film does and doesn’t work.
I shot this with a 30 year old camera and lens combo and it was a 16 second exposure. You can see some lens deficiencies due to the sun coming right at the camera for such a long exposure but the grain looks excellent and the color is punchy without being comical, to my eyes. To keep load times low the image here is pretty compressed but it should be clear enough to see what I’m talking about.
This last one was shot with the same technique. The only real downside is that in an effort to get as much in focus as possible you loose a bit of over all sharpness. I think the image looks pretty good though, it’s more like how your eye sees the image.
In the end, this is my go to color film. Truth be told, I prefer it to my D300 and it’s so much cheaper to shoot film then is it to shoot digital; I find myself only grabbing the D300 when I need the flexibility digital offers. If I’m out shooting for fun, it’s film I reach for. If I’m outside, it’s this film that I grab. I get it developed and then scan it into my computer anyway so I’m getting the mega resolution of film mixed with the convenience of digital. It’s a win win situation for me.