A couple of months ago I picked up a Pentax Z-1 35mm slr and I’ve just received the first film I shot with this camera back from the development lab. Because I’ve recently acquired an epson v550 perfection scanner, I didn’t have these negatives scanned during development, but scanned them myself instead.
Because my initial tests with the epson scanner had been so encouraging, I was really looking forward to seeing how well the negatives from this camera came out and so I was really disappointed when the first set of scans dropped into the import folder and appeared in Lightroom. The resolution was low, the noise levels when viewed at 1:1 were really poor with lots of colour noise as well as luminance noise, there was high grain and overall they just looked pretty poor. I tried various different scanning settings using the epson scanning software, but whatever I did they just weren’t very good.
And then after a while it occurred to me – I think it was the film I’d used. My initial experiments with the scanner had been with negatives I’d taken whilst we were on holiday and I’d bought some Fuji Superia X-Tra 400 ISO film to take with me. Because I’d not used the Pentax Z-1 before and didn’t know if it was even working I’d loaded a roll of Agfa Vista+ 200 which I’d bought from Poundland for, well, £1 and used that to test the camera. I think the cheap price of this actually represents the quality of the film and it just isn’t very good.
Well let me re-phrase that – I don’t think it’s a very good film for important pictures that you want to preserve or scan for top quality images. It is good however for holiday snaps which would be printed to about 6×4, or in fact exactly the use-case I have here which is testing a camera to see how it performs. And when I look at it from that point of view this set of pictures have been successful. They are all very well exposed, there were no light leaks, the camera managed to get exposures in some quite tricky situations (such as pointing into the sun) correct, the picture I took with flash enabled was fine and the date back correctly imprinted the date and in some cases the time onto the negatives.
Of course I won’t know for certain if the problems were all down to the film until I try some better film in the Z-1, but at the moment that is my best theory.
In any case, here are the sample images I took with the Pentax. (The full sized versions are here – navigate with the arrow keys)