NOTE: I'll begin this experience report with a brief disclaimer. It's been less than two years since I returned to shooting 35mm film after switching to digital photography over 20 years ago. I've inundated myself with as much 35mm film education as possible between web articles and advice from experienced film shooters. But, with my former experience way in the past and limited recent experience, this review is coming from a relatively novice point of view.
A few weeks back, I went on a photography adventure with my Asahi Optical Co. Pentax Spotmatic II and the SMC Takumar 55mm f/2 lens, armed with a roll of Film Photography Project RetroChrome 400 35mm Colour Reversal Film. I couldn't contain my excitement, snapping away all 35 frames in a few hours. Finding the right shutter speed and aperture settings to centre the metering needle was challenging, and it forced me to explore the Pentax ES II setting. Most of my frames were born along the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park, near the iconic Kingston Mill House—my frequent muse. Out of the lot, I cherry-picked the top ten images to share.
My canvas was the scenic Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park Trail, near the Kingston Lock and the picturesque Kingston Grist Mill. It felt like the perfect stage to test my 35mm film skills.
According to the Darkroom website's description, RetroChrome is a special 35m film originally designed for industrial and governmental purposes. Kodak sold it as a colour reversal camera film tailored for daylight photography, with applications ranging from news and sports to industrial shots. This expired 35mm film has been in cold storage since 2004, and despite its age, it was expected to perform well at its intended box speed of 400 ISO.
When I received an email from Darkroom, I expected it would say that the cartridge was blank. However, the email brought a pleasant surprise—a notification from Darkroom that my FPP RetroChrome 400 Colour Slide Film was successful with the E-6 development process. The Darkroom's NORITSU KOKI EZ Controller had worked its magic. The email said that the negatives were now scanned and ready for download. I had opted for the high-resolution Super Scans producing JPEG images at 4492×6774 pixels.
I added EXIF data to my images using Exif Editor.
While I had a fair idea of how the scanned negatives would turn out, thanks to samples on the Film Photography Project website and Flickr, I knew mastering exposure with my Spotmatic II required finesse.
As for the film's signature grain and colour cast, it delivered as expected. Some frames did lean towards slight overexposure, but a little tweak in Adobe Lightroom added that missing pop. Still, the grain remains noticeable. While I like the shots of Kingston Mill House and Lochtender's house, I admit that the greenery didn't excite me.
Would I go on another RetroChrome 400 adventure? Absolutely, but next time, I'd enlist the aid of my Pentax ES II or Pentax P3 for automatic metering and aperture priority. Scenes featuring vintage diners and 1970s cars parked against downtown backdrops could make for captivating subjects.
How about you? Have you ventured into the world of PP RetroChrome 400 Colour Slide Film? What's your take on the enchanting grain and hues it brings to life?
Submitted as part of the 100DaysToOffload project.