I’ve not always had the best time shooting Fujifilm’s Velvia 100 over the years, or to give it it’s proper name, Fujifilm FUJICHROME Velvia 100. When I shoot it well, the results are fantastic and I’ll make sure to stick another roll in my daypack.
When I cross process it as in the image below), I often have even better, almost surreal results than a normal E6 run…but when Velvia 100 fails me – or rather, I fail it – I almost feel like I never want to touch a roll again.
Aside from still having quite a bit left on ice, there’s another reason why I keep coming back to Velvia 100 and it’s a compelling one:
If you work within its often finicky framework it’ll give you almost unparalleled sharpness and some of the most beautiful colour reproduction available. It’s a rich, beautiful film, which gives your images tons of depth, lovely tones and exudes a feeling of professionalism and experience. In that respect, it can’t be faulted.
Whilst the above might not be a particularly avant-garde, well composed, or interesting shot I can say hand-on-heart that the petals of these flowers are exactly the same color and hue (if not richer), as they are in real life.
Anyway, enough of me for a moment. Let’s see what Fujifilm have to say about Velvia 100:
|Type||Slide (Color Reversal)|
|Format||35mm, 120, Sheet|
|Exposure latitude||–-1/2 to +1 stops|
|Push processing||1 stop|
|Cross processing||Blues and reds|
So what’s it like?
First, a little history. Velvia 100 (according to Fujifilm) was a “new derivative in the Velvia line of films” and was released in 2005, two years after Velvia 100F and 15 years after the original Velvia. So far so good.
Fujifilm told us in 2005 that they had to release this new version due to their inability to obtain the raw materials needed to continue the manufacture of Velvia (now known as Velvia 50), which they discontinued sometime later that year. There was a “slight” uproar and Fujifilm back-pedalled, eventually re-releasing the old Velvia (now as Velvia 50), in 2007. Still with me? Good. So in short:
- 1990: Fujifilm release Velvia (RVP)
- 2003: Fujifilm release Velvia 100F as a “better” version of Velvia (RVP F)
- 2005: Fujifilm kill Velvia and release Velvia 100 (RVP100)
- 2007: Fujifilm bring back Velvia as Velvia 50 (RVP50)
Well, I’m glad that’s clear. All three of the newsier Velvia films are readily available in 35mm and 120 format, though depending on where you live, you might find getting hold of sheet film a bit of a chore.
Back to the review. When it originally appeared on the scene, some thought of Velvia 100 as a poor replacement for the film it was replacing. It had (according to some), lost the old Velvia’s ability to capture warm tones, make them warmer and leave the rest alone.
Some also said that Velvia 100 cast too much of a pink/red tint on Caucasian faces and simply wasn’t a true successor to the King of Slide film. Velvia 100F had already dealt with some of those issues a few years before and whilst not as rich in color, makes for an excellent portrait film (more on that later).
Regardless of these complaints, the extra stop in speed was warmly welcomed, even if the whole thing was seen by many Velvia 50 diehards as a New Coke / Old Coke affair. To be honest, I can’t really tell the difference (perhaps that’s my lack of experience in these things). In terms of “feeling”, I find that this film exaggerates and enhances colors to give them a hearty POP! Just remember that when shot indoors under tungsten light, this film needs more in the way of color correction filters than Velvia 50, especially when making longer exposures.
Speaking of which, while an improvement in some regards over Provia 100F, you probably won’t be using this film for very long exposures with wild, zen-like abandon. Yes, Fujifilm has previously said that you can expose this film for up to around eight minutes but personally, I find that sticking to exposures of up to about three minutes works best. I also tend to overexpose just a little when making exposures of over 30sec (about half a stop more). Just make sure you’re shooting an evenly-lit scene and you shouldn’t have any surprises with blooming or halo effects.
Unrelated to long exposures, here’s a little fisheye for you.
Fujifilm will tell you that this stock will give you more natural skin tones than Velvia 50 but like many of Fuji’s film stocks, this is not the case unless you’re shooting faces from the Far East, or South East Asia. White skin tones will shift a little pink or red, and darker skin tones will need slight overexposure.
I hate to say it but you might need to dust off your copy of Lightroom if you’re planning on shooting portraits. Well, either that or shoot Velvia 100F instead. It’s better balanced for white skin tones, though you’ll still need to muddle through when shooting darker subjects.
Personally, I’ve learned to shoot this film at ISO 125 for the best results but your location, the light and time of day may lead you to shoot otherwise. If you’re shooting this film for the first time, bracket your exposures at ISO 80, 100 and 125 and see what you get.
Finally, underexposing this film a bit normally gets get me a more saturated look but that’s the look I love, so experiment and see what works best for you!
I like this film but not enough to to be able to burn through a roll in short order. It’s not as “fun” as say, Provia 100F but if you want to shoot landscapes or macros, it may well be what you’re after. The detail can be staggering and occasionally clinical but it delivers with consistent gusto if you know how to shoot it.
The last word in fine, accurate slide film? No, but it’s close If you want to capture color, depth and detail and you absolutely need ISO 100 without pushing, this is the slide film for you.
For everything else, there’s
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