Cold Weather and Instant Films

 

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Impossible Color 600, Fuji Instax Wide and Fuji 100c Cold Weather Test 2015

Yep, it’s that time of year when shooting instant films poses an extra challenge– how to keep the film warm for processing! Over the years I’ve invented different heater boxes to keep materials warm with varying degrees of success. However this year I’ve decided to run a quick test to see just how adaptable these materials are at lower temperatures.

Testing Procedure:

All three cameras: SX-70 with 600 Color Impossible Film, Polaroid 110B with Fuji FP100C and the Fuji 500AF with Instax Wide were left outside in 32F for 45 minutes. Then I shot one image with each camera and left the film to process outside again in 32F for an hour. Then I brought the images inside and made a note of its development stage and then allowed it to continue to process at 70F for an additional hour- I did not peel the 100C film apart till the end of the testing time. The results are pretty interesting….

Let’s go through them one by one:

Impossible Color 600 (newest version, left square image)

Not much happening here… these films as I have mentioned before are VERY sensitive to temperature changes and working in the cold with this particular material requires a plan for keeping not only the camera warm when loaded but also the film for the full development time which is around 35-45 minutes. Add to that the requirement to shield the image from light till development is finished and it is a tricky juggling act.

Fuji Instax Wide (top right)

Fuji Instax Wide is quite the durable material. This film also continued to process during the warm phase of the testing- not a lot but the black did add additional density and the colors became more saturated. While the color and contrast are off they are not off much and it would be very easy to correct for the cold effects in Photoshop.

Fuji FP 100C (lower right)

Fuji FP 100C really did a great job with regards to contrast and tonal range BUT the color shift is quite obvious— Green! Of course a lot of that shift is from an extended period of development which tends to shift green anyways regardless of the temperature. I almost always leave my FP-100C to self terminate in development (5-10 minutes is normal for me) as I don’t really want to have to stop shooting and watch the peel time depending on temperature. Overall this would be a very easy color correction to do in Photoshop and again the tonality and contrast are the best of the group.

Conclusion

Sample images from above with quick photoshop color correction.

If you are going to shoot in cold weather try to keep your loaded camera warm at all times and keep the developing film warm as well for best quality. The Fuji Instax wide and the FP100C were the most robust in the cold, I suspect if I had pulled the film apart earlier the test the color would be closer.  I also found in the color corrected images above that the FP-100C was much closer to the color and tone of the actual scene whereas the Instax Wide gained a fair amount of contrast and was harder to keep the saturation and contrast balanced. Impossible Color 600 would not be a recommendation unless you have, as I have stated above, some degree of controlling the development temperature, clearly essential for this material.

Viva la Revolution- Steve

 

Fuji Instax Wide- Good Glass Matters

Good glass always matters, but when you only have 10 LPM to work with, it matters a lot… that is if you are looking for “sharp” images from instant materials! Below I did a test comparing the Fuji 500AF to a converted Polaroid 110B with an Instax wide back… as you can see, the difference is HUGE! The 110B has better sharpness and better color, or at least more accurate color, which is to be expected as the 127mm Rodenstock lens on that camera is quite amazing.

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Fuji 500AF – Polaroid 110B Fuji Instax Wide Conversion

Advantages to the 110B

  • Total manual exposure control
  • Multiple exposure and pre-exposure capabilities
  • F 4.5 – F90
  • Cable release option
  • “Accurate” rangefinder focusing (manual focus only)
  • Build quality but comes at the cost of size and weight
  • No batteries required

Advantages to the Fuji 500AF

  • Fast shoot time
  • Lighter weight
  • AF but that also has its issues in low light
  • Built in Flash

In conclusion… both cameras are quite nice and represent a real creative option to shooters looking for “sharp” Fuji Instax wide images. When holding the physical instant prints in your hand, both instant images seem quite sharp. But the Polaroid 110B has a lot more pop and under magnification it becomes quite clear which camera is sharper, so if your intentions are to scan and enlarge the image this should be part of your consideration.

One final note on the test shot: I did 5 images with the Fuji 500AF and chose the sharpest one- as with AF there is always the possibility of the camera picking the wrong point of focus. The 110B was spot on with just one shot. I also chose F8 as the Fuji would default to that setting due to the lower light level.

 

Master of the Environmental Portrait: Arnold Newman Audio Interview from 2001

Click on the audio play button to listen to an hour interview with Arnold Newman conducted by my wife, author Eve Schaub. The interview was the source material for an article she wrote for PhotoVision Magazine back in 2002 featuring the father of the environmental portrait and his expansive photographic career. This interview has never been heard before anywhere and I am very happy to bring it to the Figital community.

Note from Eve Schaub: Holy cow, I sound young here. Although as a writer I had done interviews before, this was the first time I was speaking to someone we had actually studied in photo history in college! As far as I was concerned he was a living legend, and I was quite terrified. I’ll apologize in advance for the poor audio tape, not to mention all the nervous laughter.

But Arnold Newman was gracious, patient, and incredibly fascinating to talk to. There’s all kinds of great stuff here that never made it to the final PhotoVision article… including the story of how Newman’s wife used to smuggle guns for the Zionist movement, the untimely demise of Holiday magazine, and how the photographers went on strike for a year when Life demanded the rights to all their past work- and won.

Hope you enjoy it.

Eve Schaub is the author of Year of No Sugar (2014). Her next book is due to be released in January, 2017.

I have done my best to bring up the volume and equalize it as the original tape is all over the place.

Now Free! Figital Revolution Manifesto PDF Download

In celebration the revolution’s ten year anniversary, I have decided to post the Figital Revolution Manifesto book as a free PDF download. (The print copy is no longer available for purchase online.) Written in 2007 and admittedly snarky and over the top, I am struck by the fact that, despite so many changes in the industry, the book is entirely still relevant today! I want to thank my wife, Eve Ogden Schaub as my co-author… she has moved onto bigger projects like her book Year of No Sugar which went viral… and her next book is due out in January 2017 so stay tuned.

Book Link:

TheFigitalRevolution

Viva la Revolution-

Stephen

 

The Spectacle and not the Art

After watching this video of U2 playing in disguise in Grand Central I was immediately upset that it was not until it was revealed that they were U2 that the crowd really cared about the music. It was the same music, but now the spectacle had a name and value… kinda like when you go to see the $40 million dollar Picasso at a museum– are you going to see a Picasso or the $40 million dollar painting? For most people I feel it is the latter. I also find Fallon’s remarks about supporting local artists to be right on— if you want art in your life and community you have to support it, whether it is U2, or a local painter, art enriches our lives and makes life worth living.