How do you shoot tungsten film, where tungsten light bulbs have been phased out? I guess it is making a hipster comeback, but still a rare sight compared to the lights powered by LEDs, fluorescent and incandescent. Tungsten film is balanced for blue-ish light, unlike the warmer sunlight, so tungsten film still work fine under most artificial light conditions. There is currently (in 2022) only one line of fresh tungsten film being produced – Kodak Vision 3. Cinestill 800T, and all other cine film that are tungsten balanced are cut from the same source. There might not be prevalent anymore, but a quick search online and there will be a sea of slide tungsten film, almost always 20 years expired, waiting to be used. I don’t look for these specifically, but obtained a few within the bundles when I buy other film. Film are still film, so I shoot them and hope for the best.
Tungsten film is meant for indoors, so I brought this into a pub for lunch. (Neither a priest nor a rabbit went into the pub. The rabbit was a typo.) It might be midday outside, but it is pitch dark indoors. Being a ISO 64 film, it is very slow. I shot wide open and it was still too dark, should have set the camera on the table and shoot with longer exposure. The colors came out lovely though, did not noticed any shift in color, so at least we know tungsten film did as it advertised!
Shot another shot at home, you can see the colors came out great (and exposure is correct this time). On the left you could see some circles, that’s most likely from the backing paper (film is a few decades old by now). It was lunar new year, and we had some Chinese-style cake (I have no idea what these are call, basically sponge cake).
After a few years of closure, eagle creek trail has finally been reopened in late 2021. Friends invited me for a quick hike (we did the whole thing under 4 hours, it was at a ridiculous fast pace, wouldn’t recommend). Shooting a tungsten film in daylight is like using a butcher knife to eat steak – doable, but not the right tool. You could see the magenta and green cast in the shot of the moss and the shadows, because the film is more blue sensitive than red (I think). It is kind of a cheap, crappy version of a cross between Lomo Purple and Lomo Metropolis, in a bad way. That’s also usually what happened to expired film, heavy color shift, but in this case, we know the film behaved fine in doors, so it is just the wrong light conditions. Wouldn’t recommend shooting tungsten film in daylight, just like speed running a 10mile hike in a gorgeous setting.
Another shot in an overcast day, and you can see the heavy blue/purple in the shot. All these have been tweaked slightly in post, but the original did not look great either. The film is holding up pretty well, still sharp and very smooth grains. Love this shot (taken on top of Rocky Butte in Northeast Portland, facing Vancouver), but the light pole on the right has been cutoff. Nothing I can’t do since I can’t move the pole…
So story time. I made a special order at BH photography for a 85B filter. 85B filter warms a scene, for the one purpose of allowing tungsten film to be shot in normal light conditions. I was told 4-6weeks, after that time passed, I inquired and they changed my order to back-ordered. I was curious and pressed for more information, and they decided to cancel my order. Very tepid response, and customer service mentioned that things like these don’t usually happen (they blame the supplier for no stock, 8 weeks after I placed the order…) I’m still mad at them, partly for wasting my time, partly for knowing now that they aren’t reliable (they did not offer to replace the order, or help get another one from elsewhere) I’m probably buying from their competitors for a little while.
Anyway, I finally got my hands on a 85B filter from their competitors. Shot a roll in daylight, and the colors are now much more orange. I could easily color balance in post, and I definitely prefer the orange to the purple (see above). This shot was taken near downtown Hillsboro, featuring the mascot for A&W Restaurant (yes, they have stores and sell more than root beer). Apparently, it is difficult to find all 4 mascots, and Hillsboro has the entire family but part of the display has been taken away for restoration. As for the family, they represent the four sizes for A&W’s menu (Grandpa, Papa, Mama and Baby/Teen). Pretty cool!
It has been raining none stop around Portland for weeks, and the rain finally stopped for a little while. The clouds broke apart around dusk, and the last of the sunlight cast a pastel glow on the city. The 85B filter made the scene even warmer, and I tried to color correct while retaining that look. Compositionally not the greatest shot, but I love the feel. The grains are more visible here, but not distracting.
I enjoyed the random colors from RTPii. People online seem to think RTPii is better than the original RTP but I’ve yet to test RTP, will post my opinion in the future when I get to that. RTPii works amazing indoors, but the ISO is too slow and almost always require strong indoor lighting or a tripod. (which was what it was meant for) Outdoors, it is alright, will definitely need some filters for color correction unless you are into surprises. Personally I think it is a great deal if you can get this for a few dollars, especially since prices of slide film are almost impossible these days. However, don’t go looking for this film, expired slide film can be found for similar prices, and you might be better of getting fresher Provia, Velvia and Ektachromes which are much more versatile.
FUJIFILM 15531640 Overview
Fujichrome 64T Type II Professional (RTP II) is an ISO 64 speed tungsten-type high image quality color reversal film. In its speed class, this new film provides the highest degree of fine grain possible along with excellent resolving power. It also provides high saturation, rich gradation, faithful color reproduction and well controlled gradation balance.
Faithful color reproduction
Enables long exposures to be made under low light conditions or when using small diaphragm openings for increased depth-of-field. Under these shooting conditions, any decreases in film speed and changes in color balance are minimal
Color Saturation: High
Grain: Very fine
Exposure Latitude: Narrow
Push/Pull: Permits push/pull processing, from -1/2 to +1 stop