I bought a Mamiya RB67 Pro SD and 180mm f4.5 C lens in fall 2021 and did)n’t want to stray too far from home for the first roll through the camera. We recently moved to the Hudson Valley of New York and live across the street from Vassar College, which is more and more becoming my preferred place to test out new equipment. Knowing the RB67 doesn’t have a meter and that the lens was on the slower end, I knew I’d probably want to shoot something a little faster than my usual Ektar 100 or EKTACHROME E100 for a test roll. I’ve been slowly working through a box of Portra 400 over the course of the year, and decided that the tail end of fall color would mix well with the color palette that the film provides.
Since my wife works at the college, we normally take a walk through campus a few times a week. This roll is from the week of Thanksgiving while most students were home for the holiday, leaving the campus a bit more empty than it would normally be during golden hour. This turned out to be a blessing since it was the first roll I ran through the RB67 and it is definitely a camera that makes you work a little slower. Having the exposure latitude of Portra 400, and knowing that it would handle any over-exposure fairly well, it let me feel a little more comfortable just eyeballing the exposure values and not having to deal with any metering.
Since moving I’ve been struggling to find a nearby lab that I like the output of, so I ended up developing this roll at home with CineStill’s Cs41 chemistry and scanning with an Epson v600. I miss the Noritsu scanner I used to work with in the lab, and I’ve tried getting a camera scanning set up to work at home but always end up frustrated with the setup and output. I decided to try the v600 on a lark, and I’m definitely happy with the output for how little effort it takes, especially considering the lower cost. The way it resolves color is definitely a departure from the Noritsu look I love, and I don’t know that the files would handle enlargement too well, but I’m fine dealing with those issues for quickly scanning and sharing images online.
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After developing the roll, I’m glad that I chose Portra 400 as my test roll because it reminded me how much I love the highlight roll off of the film. It’s especially apparent in the shot of the bike rack, where the trees in the background start going pastel from the over-exposure in the sky. The softer greens and more saturated reds and oranges definitely played to the light’s strengths with the golden hour sun accentuating the late fall color, and pushing the fallen leaves towards more of a gold than brown. It’s one of those films that can give you a beautiful image with very little post-processing, and is one of the reasons it is a photographic film staple that has been in production for decades.
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