Week 51: Agfa Precisa CT 100 finds some great autumn colours!

With autumn rapidly upon us, I set out to capture some great light and changing colours with Agfa Precisa slide film. 

Autumn could be me favourite season, bringing a welcome rest from a hot and sweaty summer, yet still a while away from a bleak and dark winter. Those first few weeks of autumn, with the changing colours of the leaves and lovely rolling hills covered bouncing sunlight off them in the most amazing way, are my favourite. I also knew I would have to make more of an effort than simply photographing trees in my neighbourhood, and with that I set my eyes as far south as Heidelberg, and as far north as Wetzlar, both within an hour of Frankfurt. 

More about the film - Agfa Precisa

My chosen film for the week was Agfa Precisa CT 100, an ISO 100 slide film, which is easily available here in Germany (you can pick it up for about 6 euro in the local Rossman drugstore). Whilst 6 euro might not sound cheap, for slide film it is a very good deal, probably the cheapest on the market. It is available in a 35mm roll, so 36 shots in total. More about this film:

AgfaPhoto CT precisa 100 is an ultra-high-quality, daylight- type ISO 100 color reversal film.
This film boasts the finest grain and very high sharpness among ISO 100 color reversal film. Through the application of a newly-developed technology, it attains an RMS granularity value of 8, a level that is unsurpassed by any other color reversal film in the world. In effect, it surpasses the performance expected of ISO 25 - 50 films. It also provides rich gradation, vivid color reproduction and well- controlled gradation balance, making it an excellent choice for a wide range of subject matter, from product and outdoor photography to fashion work and portraiture. Moreover, it maintains superb contrast and color balance even under push-/pull-processing conditions of minus 1/2 stop to plus 2 stops (equivalent to EI 70 to EI 400). This film can be processed worldwide by the readily available E-6 process. 

More on slide film

In case all of that confused you a bit, let's talk a bit more about slide film. This film type is also known as colour positive film due to the fact that it produces a positive image on the negative, in comparison to the standard colour negative film, which produces the negatives you most likely think about when thinking about film. In these negatives, the lightest areas appear dark and the darkest areas (e.g. the sky) appear light or white. The negative would then be reversed into a normal image during scanning or printing.

This is how a slide film (colour positive film) negative looks. Overlaid on my IPAD screen to see how bright the shots are.

You will also see the term "E-6" when discussing slide film, due to the development process requiring 6 baths (colour negative processing is referred to as C-41, as it uses a chromogenic colour print film development process). 

Moving away from technicalities, slide film is what your parents used to shoot! Remember the projects with actual "slides" in them? Remember Kodachrome or Ektachome? Yep, that's slide film. Slide film however, is both hard to use and very expensive. The "E-6" process is not done everywhere and development costs nearly double what a normal colour negative film does. And then there's using it: slide film is harder to use as it has much less exposure latitude.

In summary, this means you need to get your exposure pretty bang on to get a good image, whereas with colour negative film you can under or overexpose A LOT and you will still have enough detail in the image to produce something. Colour negative also has a wider range of ISO speeds, with slide film usually in the lower ISO ranges (like this ISO 100), but producing very fine grain and vivid colours. 

Talking of fine grain, vivid colours and blue skies, slide film (Velvia 100 in fact) was used for one of the most memorables photographs in everyday life, the background of Window's XP operating system. Yes, that background of a green hill and blue skies is real, and it was shot on slide film! More on that here.

The high cost of slide film (buying and developing it) is one of the reasons why I have only shot 1 slide film in this entire project (Fuji Velvia 100 during Week 17), and that was a bit of a disaster because the lighting was so bad. Slide film cooperates with lots of sun and blue skies, and thankfully I had that in spades when I went out with this film. There is a bit of noise on the internet that this Agfa Precisa film is repackaged Fuji Provia, but whatever reason it is - this film is cheap and produces great results!

Crazy bright colours and clear blue skies. Of course, I did shoot lots and lots of trees and leaves for this post, so at least I have tried to bunch the shots into different themes. 
Some great light just as I was walking down the street. It always amazes me how quickly light changes.
Image 1.jpg
Taken standing underneath the tree from the first shot above.
How could anyone not like a bit of autumn colours!
As I became obsessed with looking at trees for a day, it struct me how many different types of leaf colouring you can find.
Lovely calmness and really blue sky @Badsee Walldorf.
The other side of the lake. Some of this shot came out a bit underexposed, I can see that slide film really excels with bright blue skies and more equal lighting. As soon as you have a scene with shadows and bright areas it becomes harder to expose for with this film.
Nice and tranquil.
Actually a bit over the top, bit like those new TV's where you watch a football / soccer game and your eyes explode due to the greenness of the grass on the pitch.
Wakeboard practice @Wakeboard Rhein-Main Waldsee.
Of course if the subject is autumn colours it is hard not to look down and take some shots of all the various colours.
More leaves.
I thought this was a great shot, I am glad with our well the greens came out.
Sunrise shot enroute to Heidelberg. Actually surprised this came out at all, I was very pleased when I saw the result!
One of the many lovely side streets in Heidelberg.
A shot of autumnal colours at Heidelberg castle. Unfortunately this did not come out as vivid as I saw it, with loads of sun rays everywhere, I still like the colours though.
Country windy roads and switchback driving.
Rolling hills. The lighting here was actually quite hard to expose for given the high dynamic range, but I liked how picturesque it was, so I left the shot in.
The colour streets of Bad Nauheim
With all the great lighting and amazing colours around, and this is what this couple decide to do with it. 
Bit over the top colour wise.
Germans enjoying an afternoon cake and coffee. 
Here's a random shot of the Antonov 22 airplane, the world's largest propeller cargo airplane and so big it doesn't fit into this shot. 
Whilst this post is a bit on the tree and leaves overload, I'm happy that I got such great subjects and lighting to try this slide film out with.
Bright blue skies really help bring out all the vivid colours this film can reproduce.
More great colours and of course, more leaves.
I am surprised this shot came out at all as I was in a darker part of a forested area, shooting slide film at ISO 100 is not easy without a tripod.
This could be my favourite shot of the week.

Overall observations

I really enjoyed trying out Agfa Precisa CT 100.

It is funny how easily available it is here, but I knew I needed to shoot under the right conditions to make it worthwhile. Having my own scanner has brought costs down a bit in relation to development + scanning, but slide film still remains very expensive to use, and I am not sure I would recommend medium format slide film as you only get 12 shots in that film so the cost per shot is even higher.

Putting cost aside for a minute, I was delighted to see how bright and vivid these shots came out. I do, however, think that this film (and slide film in general) has really big limitations to it, given how unforgiving it is when it comes to exposure, and that it does not cooperate in situations where you have high dynamic range. For those living in California or Spain who enjoy never ending blue skies - look no further than this film. Given its excellent price point and the wonderful reproduction of colours including very blue skies, this film is very enjoyable to use (always subject to having those bright colours and blue skies in the first place!). 

Given how easy it is to find here, I would happily keep a roll in the fridge for those bright sunny days and if I am in the mood to produce photos that blow my eyes out when I look at them. At least it was a better experience than my Week 17 with Velvia 100 film. But if you want that old film look and shots with more personality in that regards, you best stick with colour negative film. But for bright sunny days and if this is the look you are after, this is a great slide film to start with.

So there is Week 51, I can't quite believe there are FIFTY posts before this, really quite amazing.  My last week's roll has already been shot and is a rare black & white film, I am curious to see how it turned out! 

More on future projects will be announced in my "52 rolls of film" conclusion post, coming right after I publish the final Week 52. 

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed the brightness and vivid colours of Agfa Precisa slide film!

Now get back out there and take some more photos!

Cheers,

Neil