Thursday, April 12, 2012

Film Test: Fujicolor Superia XTRA 400

Some time ago Fujifilm released its Superia XTRA 400 film in 120 format.  I had just seen a result using this film in 35mm format a few years ago on the Yahoo Film Astrophotographers Forum with promising results.  I had purchased 2 pro-packs at the beginning of the year from the only supplier I could find,  At only $19.99 per pack of five rolls, it was economical for an imported film that is common in Europe and Japan.

Well as you may well know, over time film makers change back and forth film formulae that end up giving good Ha performance to poor Ha performance.   The results here is somewhat mixed, I had expectations that it might be similar to Fuji's Fujicolor 100, also known as Superia 100, perhaps the best negative film for astrophotgraphy in recent history.

Three Exposures taken in February show comparitive exposures of 10, 20, and 40 minutes using a Pentax 67 and 105mm lens stopped down to f/4.8

The poor response to faint Ha emissions is evident in this longest exposure of the set.  Stellar recording power was admirable if not for the garish rendition of the night sky.  There is much recorded on the film and the results could be converted to black & white as this film does have good luminance reciprocity.

The single 40 minute exposure of Orion

A more promising result came with a frame taken on an early morning near the end of February.  It was nice to visit with an old friend normally reserved for late spring.  Note the good blue and yellow response as well as the good recording power revealing the dark streamers heading east. It is likely that this film could produce very pleasing results in the very bright regions of Sagittarius and Ophiuchus. 

Rho Ophiuchi Region:  Pentax 67 300mm f/4 @ f/5.6 - 45 minutes exposure, part of which was taken in deep astronomical twilight.  Results are partially cropped here.

Compared to recently minted films such as Fujicolor Reala 100, Kodak Portra 400, and Portra 160, the new Fujicolor XTRA 400 film is favorable.  But if your looking for a film that will blow your socks off, we will have to either wait or look for your favorite films at online auctions, or perhaps if you were prepared for this; your film freezer.

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