My First Roll of Velvia 50

(and why it might be my last)

By: Shy - [05/22/2023]

I haven't made a photoblog for nearly 3 years now but I hope to start making more. I have a few sets of images that certainly deserve to be showcased. Sadly today like my first photoblog, is a story of disaster. So far it seems like my luck with color film and photolabs has been pretty bad. However, I have been developing and scanning my own black and white film and I usually get pretty good results. I will be trying color developing with ecn2 in the future since I think it is a better chemistry than c41. Also re-spooled motion picture film is REALLY GOOD AND REALLY CHEAP!

But today’s topic is SLIDE FILM or E-6 film. When I first got my canon a1 a long long time ago in 2013 I got a few rolls of ektar, some tmax 100, and a single roll of fuji velvia 50. Back then I really didn’t know anything about film photography. I didn’t even know what slide film or e6 was at all. I had just read that velvia 50 was THE SHIT when it came to colorful film, and I believe it as you will see why below.

At some point I actually realized what was in my camera and I guess I became highly discouraged from shooting, mostly because I knew I would have to send it somewhere to get it developed since I don’t know of anywhere around here that does e6. I was also under the impression that velvia 50 might not be made anymore since it was always sold out. I suppose these things made me want to try and make the absolute most of the remaining shots on the roll. This meant I wanted to make every shot perfect which isn’t really possible. It doesn’t help that I don't visit many interesting places so it is hard for me to get through a roll in the first place.

If you go back to the first photoblog you will see some photos of Niagara falls. After taking those, I loaded the roll of velvia 50. This was in early 2017. It has taken me over SIX YEARS to get through that roll. That means I have taken a TOTAL 36 photos with my A1 in the last six years. Lucky for me I have a Nikon FE and earlier this year I got a Canon AE1P so I actually have been improving my film shooting skills over these years.

The thing that REALLY pushed me to finish this roll was actually this video from attic darkroom. In the video he develops expired e6 and it ended up with almost no image on the film at all. I was horrified at the thought of this happening to my film, in the end I got results that weren’t nearly as bad, but still quite disappointing:

THEY ARE ALL ORANGE!! Or maybe salmon? It is hard to tell the color of the cast exactly, but the film itself looks reddish to me. How on earth did this happen?? I guess I can’t get a break with color film, but third times a charm and this would only be my 2nd experience getting color film developed. I’ve looked around to see if anyone else has had this issue and I really can’t find much, I would assume this is simply due to age. But I did see ONE person claiming that velvia turns red when developed in c41. One thing to consider is the age of the film when I bought it originally. It is very possible I had bought already oldish film. You have to remember I bought this before film photography was hip and trendy back in 2013, meaning this film was probably at LEAST 10 years old by the time I developed it.

Like in my first photoblog I can use some deductive reasoning to determine why my photos are shit. In the first blog I had lots of noise and “banding” or fixed-pattern looking noise. Originally I attributed this to the film being scanned on some crappy scanner, however when re scanning the film myself I discovered the noise was on the negative, meaning the film was damaged. It is possible that my camera or my handling of the film caused that issue, but then I realized the same exact artifacts and damage were on another roll of film I had developed at the same time. These were taken on a completely different camera, meaning the damage must have come from the photolab. And it turns out this kind of damage is common and can be caused by various things in a photolab process, especially when they don’t give a shit. Even though this was three years ago, a friend of mine just went to this same lab (premier in monroeville mall) and had similar issues, which he also attributed to bad scans at first.

Moving on to this roll, I know for sure the color change isn’t because of light leaks in my camera. The color is perfectly even across the entire roll. If there were any light leaks in my camera they would be more intense in certain areas of the film. Especially on the older shots that have been out of the film canister for longer. I suspect the color shift is just due to age, and all of the environmental factors associated with age.

I don’t think anyone has ever taken 10 years to shoot a roll of velvia so this is probably just not documented. It seems to me like the older images have a little less color info left in them too. I got these developed by “the darkroom” It cost me nearly 50$ for a single roll. Now, if you remove the cost of tax+shipping+the CD + the prints I ordered it was only 23$ with their most expensive 8$ scan option and e6 processing fee.

When I got the scans online and saw they were all orange I tried to cancel my prints to get a partial refund since I didn’t really want orange prints, but they said they couldn’t and that the prints were made BEFORE the scans were uploaded. I think this is really stupid of them. What if a blank roll was sent in or a roll that was totally un usable, would they still print those first just because the person ordered prints? Probably. The prints are of the typical glossy photo print quality you would expect, I am sure the colors would look nice, IF THERE WERE ANY.

The scans however, are very good. The scans I got were 6774 x 4492 24bit jpgs. The scanner used was a Noritsu Koki, so no wonder they were good. I just think the scanning price thing is a little silly, the higher res scans most certainly are not taking much longer to do, and data storage isn’t a problem either. The entire 36 shot roll was less than 700mb meaning they could be using a single CD for a roll of 35mm at their max scanning size.

So in the end I will probably not be using the darkroom again, (because I don't plan on shooting e6 anymore) though if you are closer to them location wise it might be more cost effective for you. Would I recommend velvia 50? hell yeah. Even though the scans were ORANGE I was able to use my extreme photoshop skillz to recover a LOT of color. That just speaks as to how good the film is. Obviously some of my shots look pretty good if I just make them black and white, but that completely defeats the point of shooting slide film!

One last thing I did notice, the more recent shots seem to have some focus issues. Now this could just be me being shit, but I am almost a zillion % sure I had those bees in focus when I took the pictures so now I am all paranoid that my a1 has some kind of messed up focus screen or something. I will have to investigate further in the future. Whatever, here are the good pics from the roll some of them are a lil nasty but I am still happy I got anything at all:

This one was rough, that building on the right is kind of a greenish blue irl.

Really struggled getting the color looking natural on this one, it is pretty bad.

looks better in BnW

I swear that bee was in focus in the viewfinder!!

Here are a few that just didn't look right in color no matter what I did:

my kitty cats