While we had our Canon EOS-1N out we decided to test the recently introduced
Provia 400X slide film as well. It should be noted that 400 speed slide films
have a checkered past, one that included fairly coarse grain and poor reaction
to any kind of contrasty lighting conditions. You can put away any notions about
using this speed only under duress, as the Provia 400X shows any amazing ability
to handle bright light, and does so with grain and sharpness that is nothing
short of startling. While colors are certainly not as rich as with the slower
speed Velvia films, and seem "thin" in some instances, the range
of color and light the film
captured is extremely pleasing. In the past you might have switched bodies or
film speeds when moving through various lighting conditions--not now, at
least not as a rule. In addition, grain and sharpness were excellent, nothing
like the expected 400 speed results.
We pushed this roll of the new Provia 400X to EI 800, and while
contrast naturally increased resulting in deep shadows, the colors
stayed rich and grain was well within tolerable limits. This shot
was made during a Memorial Day parade on an overcast day; exposure
was 1/250 sec at f/5.6 with a Canon EOS-1N and a 70-200mm lens.
We decided to try the film on a low-light day with an EI 800 (one stop) push
as well. While there was the expected pickup in contrast, grain was restrained
and well within acceptable limits. Highlights did not wash out, although, necessarily,
shadows became deeper, though without any color crossovers or magenta cast.
In short, the Provia 400X is a film slide shooters
should consider as a regular part of their kit, to be used when necessary to
gain more shooting leeway without more than the expected compromises.
There's no question that Velvia 100 is tack-sharp and is rated
as a finer grain than the new Velvia 50, so it remains an excellent
choice for all-around shooting. Colors, though rich, are slightly
less saturated than the new 50, with a slight blue/magenta cast
sometimes showing up in shadowed areas. But in all, it's one
of the best slide films available today.
Fujichrome Velvia 50 and 100 and Provia 400X are Pro films (Sensia being the
amateur branding) and are available in 35mm and rollfilm formats. The Velvia
50 and 100 are available in sheet film sizes as well.
You'd normally avoid a sunlight exposure with ISO 400 film,
but the new Provia 400X delivered the goods with a nice range of
color, albeit a bit "thinner" than the Velvia films,
and with excellent sharpness and grain for the speed. Exposure was
1/500 sec at f/11 with a Nikon FM2 and a Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 lens.
For more information, contact Fujifilm U.S.A., Inc., 200 Summit Lake Dr.,
Floor 2, Valhalla, NY 10595; (800) 755-3854, (914) 789-8100; www.fujifilmusa.com.