Nikon F6 + Kodak Ektar

Here is a link to a collection of images on Zenfolio made with Ektar.

Mechanicsville, Iowa. Kodak Ektar + Nikon F6.
Mechanicsville, Iowa. Kodak Ektar + Nikon F6.

Kodak’s Ektar is a 100 speed, color negative (C-41 process) film. Kodak describes it as “the world’s finest grain color negative film,” with ultra vivid color, exceptional sharpness and extraordinary enlargement capability.

Riverside, Wyoming (2015) Nikon F5 + Kodak Ektar
Riverside, Wyoming (2015) Nikon F5 + Kodak Ektar

Recently I’ve been working with Ektar a lot, mostly experimenting with pushing it one and two stops. On our recent trip to Santa Fe I shot a good bit of 35mm Ektar; all of it pushed 1 stop to ISO200. I found the results quite nice.

Sunrise at Cerrilos and Saint Francis, Santa Fe, New Mexico (2014)
Sunrise at Cerrilos and Saint Francis, Santa Fe, New Mexico (2014)
Sunrise in Santa Fe, New Mexico: This old caboose meets you at the intersection of Cerrillos and St. Francis Roads and - facing South East - is beautiful at first light.
Sunrise in Santa Fe, New Mexico: This old caboose meets you at the intersection of Cerrillos and St. Francis Roads and – facing South East – is beautiful at first light. Nikon F6 + 28-70mm; Ektar pushed 1 stop to ISO200.

Though I often work off a tripod, having the extra speed while shooting hand held is a welcome bonus when shooting Ektar. I have also run a good bit of it through my Medium Format rigs. The results have been – in a word – spectacular.

Carpenter, Wyoming (2014) Nikon F6 + Kodak Ektar
Carpenter, Wyoming (2014) Nikon F6 + Kodak Ektar

In the past one of the things about Ektar I found less appealing was, it almost looked like a digitally-made image. The grain is so tight, the color and contrast so punchy and vivid that at first glance you almost couldn’t tell it was an image made on film. If you’re in search of a film that’ll produce an image that looks like it was made with a digital camera, Ektar is a great choice. But it’s also a great choice for other things and since my first experience I’ve figured out where it fits in the line up.

ShoeDini, Fort Collins, Colorado (2015) Nikon F100 + Kodak Ektar
Kodak Ektar. Virtually no grain, punchy, vibrant color. Expanded dynamic range compared to slide film, high-quality, easy to work with. What are you waiting for?
Kodak Ektar. Virtually no grain, punchy, vibrant color. Expanded dynamic range compared to slide film, high-quality, easy to work with. What are you waiting for?
Kodak Ektar + Micro Nikkor 105VR
Rustic Inn sign along Colorado Highway 14, Cache la Poudre Canyon, Colorado. Kodak Ektar.
Kodak Ektar + Nikkor 28-70ED/2,8
Cocoa Beach Pier, Cocoa Beach, Florida (2015)
Kodak Ektar is a great film for working with the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS).
Artist’s paint brushes, Santa Fe, New Mexico (2014). Ektar also takes flash well. This is lit by one tungsten bulb directly over the brushes at frame-right, and a SB-800 bounced off the ceiling to illuminate the left, white backdrop.
Carpetner, Wyoming (2014)
Last light on Carpenter, Wyoming’s oldest structure. Carpenter, Wyoming (2014). Nikon F6 + Kodak Ektar100

UPDATE: August 27, 2014

Having just concluded an experiment pushing Ektar to 400, please visit the latest Blog post about the topic. You’ll be surprised at the results.

Kodak Ektar + Nikon F6: The world's finest grain color negative film meets the world's best 35mm film camera.
Kodak Ektar, Nikon F6, 105mm VR Micro-Nikkor, Walden, Colorado (2013)

 

Kodak Ektar + Nikon F6: The world's finest grain 35mm color negative film meets the world's best 35mm film camera.
Kodak Ektar + Nikon F6: The world’s finest grain 35mm color negative film meets the world’s best 35mm film camera.

The first thing you need to remember about Ektar is, like so many films, it likes a lot of light. When Ektar is underexposed it gets a greenish or bluish cast to it that is to my eye displeasing. The great news about Ektar is it’ll handle that light beautifully. Much better than a chrome film like Velvia. Ektar is really the best of both worlds: vivid, punchy color and contrast – but maintains exposure latitude of the C-41 films. A well-exposed frame of Ektar contains an amazing amount of useable information.

Nikon F6 + Kodak Ektar
Cowdrey, Colorado

Ektar scans well in my Super CoolScan 5000ED.

Below are some medium format images made on Ektar.

Kodak Ektar, Mamiya RZ67
Morning at Adobe Town Rim, Red Desert, Wyoming
Kodak Ektar, medium format
Last light on Interstate 80, Nebraska’s Panhandle.
Loudy Simpson Park, Craig, Colorado
Last light in Loudy Simpson Park, Craig, Colorado
Iowa River, Iowa
Iowa River, just outside Steamboat Rock, Iowa along Highway 20. Kodak Ektar and a 2-stop graduated neutral density filter helped preserve subtle tones in the sky while also allowing the subtle detail of the fog to show.

If you haven’t shot Kodak Ektar yet and you love punchy color, definitive contrast and nearly grainless images – what are you waiting for? At last check a roll of Ektar sold from B&H Photo in New York for just under $5.50. A roll of Velvia goes for $10.64. That’s a $5 per roll difference -on top of the performance attributes: greater exposure latitude, no E6 processing and lower processing costs. I love Ektar and between it, Portra 160 and Portra 400, I believe I can shoot just about anything without missing chrome films one bit.