At the end of 2017, I went to Kyoto with my wife and my three-year-old son. This is the first time I left my digital gear at home and took only my beloved Leica M3, with Summicron 50 for the journey…oh, and twelve rolls of Fujicolor PRO400H, giving me over four hundred potential frames for my trip. I was not worried about the amount because there is an awesome camera store which provides fresh PRO400H at a reasonable price on Shijo street.
In order to take care of my energetic son who was always running around, I had no time for metering. Actually, I had no light meter for the camera and guessed my shutter speed at f/8 or f/5.6. Thanks to the quality of 400H, my unstable exposure could be fixed easily with Adobe LR.
During our ten-day stay, the mild sunshine from cloudy skies made the scenes of this beautiful city “cooler” than they are in summer. Somehow the images tend to be a little bit magenta and blue when compared to Kodak Portra. However, the film still represented the colors so smoothly that I can nearly smell Koyto’s cold air through them. Surprisingly, Pro 400H seems to function well whether it is under daylight or fluorescent lamp. I see a similar skin tone in photographs of my son across the ~four hundred pictures I took.
At first glance, some of the correctly exposed pictures seem very similar to digital ones (not when pixel peeping of course). But to be honest, I love these photos more than those I have previously taken with my Leica M8.2. PRO400H brings “intimacy” to the photos and keeps good detail and colors. I don’t know how to explain the difference due to the “intimacy” exactly. The well-known Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki says it is the “moisture” of films that digital images can hardly present. Who knows? But I feel the pictures of Leica M8.2 are “drier” now.
Anyway, they are so different that my family members have asked me to shoot film in the future. These photos make me reconsider the necessity of buying a full frame Leica M body to replace my M8.2.
With Pro 400H, an analog Leica M might be as good as the digital ones. Or even better..?
2017年底，我和妻子與三歲的兒子再一次拜訪京都。這也是我第一次把數位器材全擱在家裡，只帶著最愛的Leica M3和Summicron 50，再加上12卷富士PRO400H底片，讓我最少可以按過四百次快門。而且四条街上有一家超棒的相機店供應便宜的同款底片，我一點都不擔心數量的問題。
想當然的，為了管好我那三歲男孩，我沒有空測光。其實我連測光錶都沒有。曝光值我是用猜的：在光圈8與5.6下去猜快門值。多謝PRO400H，最後沖洗出來，不穩定的測光可以用Adobe LR輕易地修正。 在這十天的京都旅程裡，大部份的時候陽光稀薄，只能從厚雲中透出些許光亮，所以京都景色比夏日時偏冷。就結果看，PRO400H的顏色偏洋紅和藍，特別與Kodak PORTRA系列相比。然而這樣的色彩傾向正正好如實地描寫冬日京都的顏色。我甚至可以通過這些照片呼吸到那時京都清冷的空氣。
而且令人驚喜的，PRO400H在白天與日光燈管下一樣好用，在這四百多張照片我兒子的膚色調性穩定，非常迷人。 那些正確曝光的照片乍看之下竟和數位相片相當（當然不是100%的檢視），我深深因為PRO400H表現的大量細節而著迷。然而，老實說，我更愛這些照片勝過我之前用Leica M8.2在京都拍的數位作品。PRO400H為照片賦予一種「親切感」，同時保留了美麗的細節、顏色與階調。我不知如何準確描述那與數位相片的不同。日本攝影師荒木經惟曾說那是因為底片的「水分」無法被數位機器再現。誰知道？但對照之下我確實覺得Leica M8.2的圖有點「 乾乾的」 。
無論如何，他們之不同讓我家人說，我之後還是用底片拍吧。這次PRO400H的使用經驗確實讓我重新思考買全幅Leica M機替換手上M8.2的必要性。有了PRO400H，底片的Leica M和數位全幅的一樣好。或也許是更好也說不定？
~ Shihchien Chang (張十七)
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