View Full Version : Ektar 100 or 160VC to take to Africa.

10-Nov-2009, 22:20
I am reposting this from my blog...

'''I am more than likely going to be taking my hasselblad to Africa with me (I know, heavy, clunky etc. etc. but we get along so so nicely) and I need to figure out which film to take with me. I have been shooting 160VC for some time now and am comfortable with it but I really really like what I am seeing from the new Ektar 100. I have a propack here at the house that I need to test next week and get processed. Depending on those results, I guess I will make my decision but I am leaning heavily towards the Ektar 100. Nothing like a leap of faith into the Dark Heart of Africa with strange emulsions....'''

So, if only one film could be brought, which one?

10-Nov-2009, 23:11
I like both. Maybe 60-40, Ektar is the 60. Are you taking more than 1 film back?

If you held my feet to the fire, 1 film only............probably 160VC. For the extra bit of speed.

Bruce Watson
11-Nov-2009, 06:30
Easy enough: Portra. The Ektar stuff doesn't come in LF sizes.

Gene McCluney
11-Nov-2009, 07:02
Easy enough: Portra. The Ektar stuff doesn't come in LF sizes.

But it does come in the 120 size the OP was asking about.

Mark Sampson
11-Nov-2009, 08:07
I think they're both too contrasty and over-saturated. I'd take Portra 160NC, or 400NC if you're thinking about early/late shooting. You can always boost contrast and saturation in post-production, but you can't get back the subtlety of colors that you didn't capture in the first place. I think that this especially holds true with the ultra-contrasty modern Zeiss lenses, but of course it's a matter of taste.

Robert Fisher
11-Nov-2009, 08:10

11-Nov-2009, 08:29
The only experience I can relate is vicarious:

My brother went to deep, dark Afrika on a photo safari a few years ago. He took a Nikon F-100, about 500 pounds of IS zoom lenses, and 6 million rolls of "I don't remember which" E-6 film. (Perhaps I exaggerate a bit, but that's the impression I had when I saw his equipment pile up.) Two problems he encountered were: 1. luggage and carry-on weight limitations (I think he had to leave his shoes and underwear at home in lieu of the lenses/film; and 2. tremenous difficulty managing the equipment and film bulk whilst safari-ing

Most of the better shots he took were with really high-focal-length zoom; some of the wide-angle landscapes are really nice too, though. He had a similar experience with a trip to Galapagos. Now he is using one of the Nikon "D" cameras, the same 500 pounds of IS zoom lenses... but only has to carry 5 or 6 SD high-capacity cards. His total bulk has been considerably reduced, and he can now skip the scanning phase when he does the inevitable post-production touch-ups.

Since I'm not quite that sophisticated, I'd opt for a C-41 film. Having not yet tried the Ektar i can't say that would be my choice... but I probably would shoot some before ruling it out and going with the old standby -- Kodak Gold 200 (if taking 35 mm) or Portra 160 (probably a mix of NC and VC) for MF.

I, personally, wouldn't take MF but would go 35mm for speediness and ease-of-use. One suggestion that I twice made to my brother, which he twice rejected and now twice has regreted ignoring me, was to take a monopod.

Whatever you take, I suggest you take a monopod!

Bruce Watson
11-Nov-2009, 09:17
But it does come in the 120 size the OP was asking about.

My bad. I thought since he was posting on the LF forum, it was an LF question. I saw the reference to Hassy but it didn't register.

11-Nov-2009, 11:51
Take a bit of both films, this way you're familiar with one and then the Ektar is your new one. It won't be terrible...just remember that these kinds of trips are once-in-a-lifetime so work to get your best results.

I'd also bring along a 35mm, but that's me...

11-Nov-2009, 18:39
All good advice. I think I am going to go with the 100 ektar for a few reasons. Granted, this is all conjecture until actually test it but, I have better things to do, like track down visas and such. So, as for the safari, Im not going to be going on safari. The wildlife that I enjoy shooting (no pun, really) are ones that can shoot back, i.e., strife, war, hunger and all those pesky little things that normal people try and avoid.

Im sick of portraNC due to its piss poor scanning qualities (for what I want to get out of it) but do find a sheet or two placed around the house helps deter guests from setting drinks on the tables.

As for the speed between 160 and 100, it is negligible at the best of times and over there, totally irrelevant. There is no magic hour or subtle ease into evening. The sun is up and it is hot and then the sun is totally gone and it is hot. It really does happen that fast.

As for weight and baggage, Im not worried. All I am taking is a tent (4 pounds), water filter (1.5 pounds), small solar panel (3 pounds), 2 pair pants, 4 pair socks, 2 pair underwear and 2 pair shirts. 1 jacket. 1 hat. All the weight will be in the hassy+1 back+80mm lens and the canon digital, 2 lenses, cards and charger. It should all come in under 40 pounds and I am only taking one backpack. When obtaining and carrying food and water is not an issue, I can travel like this for upwards of 6 months.

Robert Fisher
11-Nov-2009, 18:45
Hollis, speaking from personal experience, Porta VC & NC (new versions) produce fabulous scans on a Epson 700 running Vue Scan and the CFS family of ColorPerfect and Color Neg.

Your results may differ.

11-Nov-2009, 18:53
Only 40 lbs worth of luggage; that's great! In that case, I'd suggest bringing a second Hassy back, and maybe a 150 lens... and a monopod, of course.

11-Nov-2009, 20:03
nah, no monopod for me. I only use sticks when i shoot 4x5. As for the new VC/NC its great and all but I just can't deal with the general blah factor of NC. Like I said, VC is still good stuff.

I did have some 4x5 160 VC recently come back from the lab looking like hell. It was as grainy as fuji 1600 and had no contrast. Im thinking it was a processor error.


12-Nov-2009, 00:42
Any one have a wide hassy lens that they want to sell me for cheap?

Also, found all this in the fridge so, I guess the debate on film is settled. I am going to pick up another 20 rolls of the Ektar 100 though...

12-Nov-2009, 03:59
Has anyone else found Ektar to have a strong tendency to go very blue, almost cyan, in the shadows, even relatively bright shadow areas without direct sun? I have noticed this too often, and it has put me off of Ektar based on my usage thus far. I am also planning an African trip to visit my daughter this coming year ( she is teaching abroad, yeccchhh!) and was planning on a 35mm kit with a slowish (i.e. smaller and lighter than the f/2.8 version) telephoto zoom for the safari fun, thinking I would use Portra 400NC with a warming filter, the film speed for the lack of aperture of the zoom and the quick (or so I hear) movements of the animals with Escalades bearing down upon them, and the warming filter to get some of the feel of VC but preserve the ability to get the skin tones of NC. Neutral grad and polarizer to control the contrast and brightness as needed. Faster shorter lenses for portrait and wide angle use.
Any thoughts on such a plan? Would love to shoot larger formats, but space, weight, and shooting speed mitigate against my desires.

12-Nov-2009, 07:01

I'm envious. Keep your head down. Stay off the radar. Be safe!

12-Nov-2009, 07:34
As for the new VC/NC its great and all but I just can't deal with the general blah factor of NC. Like I said, VC is still good stuff.

NC is good for portraits (headshots) but I agree that it is rather 'bla' for almost everything else. I sometimes wish there was a Portra that is halfway in between the two.

Good luck on the trip; have fun and be safe!

p.s. I have never had an experience like you describe with grainy Portra... I'd suspect processing problem also.

12-Nov-2009, 13:06
For scanning I really prefer the Ektar, in 120 or 35mm. The claim of Ektar having the finest grain seems true; or at least, it's a very smooth grain. Using Nikon scanners (V and CS8000) I find the grain "exaggeration" effect so much less noticeable or problematic with the new Ektar.


12-Nov-2009, 15:02
Yeah, scanning is where it's at. I in regards to LJ, why would you even encumber yourself with warming filters and the like? It is so much easier to do that in post and that way, you have a neutral image to start with in case you want something that is not warm. Also, where are you going on Safari where you are in Escalades? The BET music awards? Seriously though, you won't be on one, will you?

12-Nov-2009, 17:04
Thanks Hollis, I certainly hope I'm not going anywhere in an Escalade, ever; it's just my jaded vision of what some of these ultra-luxury safari trips might be like. I appreciate your point on the warming filter, you are right on and I can save myself some unnecessary trouble there. But are you really that taken with Ektar? Maybe I need to give it another chance, but I've yet to fall in love with the stuff. Maybe I'm just too much of an old Portra junkie.
It seems like I change my mind almost daily on what sort of kit I want to bring (which is particularly ridiculous when we probably won't even go until April), everything from an old 6x9 Bessa 120 folder with a Heliar 3.5, to an X-Pan for the wide shots, or an F3 for the purity of playing it straight. But I think a modern film SLR with quick auto-everything will best serve my actual needs, though it lacks romance.
In the end, I'm sure it will be fun, and an experience--of some sort.

12-Nov-2009, 21:36
Ooooh, an xpan would be really fun, take that for sure. I understand being torn between formats, its the worst part about photography (which makes it a pretty awesome career). I am struggling on weather to take my bessa rangefinder in addition to the digital and the hassy. I think Im weighing myself down too much at that point. Plus, I really only shoot b/w in the rangefinder and the colors in Africa are where it's at. Ill say that one of the most amazing things in this world is an African sunrise not only because it is beautiful but it is a promise that no matter how bad things get, there will always be another day to try and get it right.