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FujiFilm Shootout 2003

Fujichrome Velvia 100F Professional
Velvia Classic and Provia 100F

At the PMA show this past Spring (2003) Fuji announced the introduction of Fujichrome Velvia 100F Professional. For photographers for whom Velvia is like mother's milk this was exciting news. Australian fine art landscape photographer, and frequent contributor to this site, Nick Rains, recently received some sample film from Fuji, and here provides us with the world's first hands-on review of this exciting new film.

By: Nick Rains

Before I get to the details I must stress that this is not a scientific test with densitometer readings etc., but a simple test comparing 3 images of precisely the same subject shot at the same time, with the same lens and processed at the same time with the same chemistry. All I am looking at is the relationship between the 3 images and to what degree they differ.

The images were shot on an Ebony RSW45 with a Horseman 612 roll film back using a Schneider 150mm Super Symmar lens. The two 100 ISO films were shot at 1/60 sec and the Velvia Classic at 1/30sec, so I could use almost the same range of apertures for the bracket. I shot a whole roll of each with my expected optimum exposure of f/16 in the middle of the bracket. The camera was on a Gitzo tripod.

Film was scanned on a Flextight Photo at 3200 dpi with no adjustments apart from setting the black and white points to account for slight exposure differences.

Velvia Section
Velvia 100F Section
Provia 100F Section


First Impressions

On the lightbox there are only subtle differences, with Velvia Classic being very slightly magenta in the shadows and Provia 100F overall being a tad cooler and more green. Both Velvia Classic and Velvia 100F have the brighter greens that we are used to. ISO seems to be about right, with Provia 100F and Velvia 100F at 100ISO and Velvia Classic at about 37, or 1.5 stops less than the others.

The rendition of the blue sky is more pleasing on Velvia 100F when compared to Provia 100F, and similar to Velvia Classic. Overall the new film seems a bit 'brighter', which is a good thing.

Under the loupe all look very crisp, with Provia 100F having the best shadow detail by a hair.

Velvia Crop
Velvia 100F Crop
Provia 100F Crop

Under the Scanner

One odd thing is that Velvia 100F scans slightly more magenta than the others using the same scanner settings. This is at odds with the broad visual impressions above and I cannot explain it. It is of no real importance other that it highlights the Flextight's sensitivity to very slight variations of trannie density.

The burning question: is the new film as sharp as the old Velvia and is the grain as fine as Provia100F?

Well, not really and finer.

I see a slightly less sharp result for Velvia 100F as opposed to Velvia Classic. Velvia 100F is very much on a par with Provia 100F, although I have a suspicion that Provia 100F has the edge, which is a bit disappointing. The differences however are very subtle.

Velvia 100F certainly has the finest grain of any film I have ever seen, and any hint of the old Pepper Grain has gone completely, thank goodness. Provia 100F and Velvia Classic also show less Pepper Grain effect, but Velvia Classic still has quite a coarse grain structure compared to the other two.


I was expecting more, I must confess. However, to be fair, film has progressed so far in the last 20 years that any new emulsions are bound to be only incrementally better. The accutance of Velvia Classic is missing from Velvia 100F, but the smoothness of the grain structure is very impressive. This will allow more aggressive sharpening of the scan, and by using Threshold adjustments I have managed to make the Velvia 100F look sharper on screen than Velvia Classic without accentuating the grain. No doubt by using a decent edge mask I could take this further.

I have one more roll of sample Velvia 100F and will test the reciprocity characteristics soon. One of the features I love about Provia 100F is that exposures up to 120 secs do not require any exposure compensation unlike Velvia which requires quite a lot. If this new film has the same lack of reciprocity failure then I will be very keen on using it.

Velvia 100F is almost identical in sharpness to Provia 100F and has much finer grain. The raw transparency colours are slightly more pleasing, with those bright Velvia greens still evident. Overall an excellent film, but, like I said before, I was hoping for Velvia Classic sharpness as well — I guess we can't have everything!

Nick Rains

Nick Rains has been photographing landscapes all over the world since leaving University in 1983.

In 1986 he spent a year in Perth, Western Australia covering the Americas Cup for a variety of International magazines such as Yachting World, London Times, and Boat International. Images from this event also appeared in Sports Illustrated, Stern, Paris Match, Regatta and many other well known publications.

Over the last 10 years Nick has traveled the length and breadth of Australia covering over 250,000km in his search for fine "Australian" images for the stock photography market. He makes his home in Brisbane, Queensland.

Recent work has been published in Australian Geographic, Outback and GEO (Germany). Nick is now concentrating on photographic books of his favourite places. In between outback trips Nick operates a small studio and shoots commercial and stock photographs at home and overseas.

You may also wish to visit Nick's Web Site, or contact him by e-mail directly here.

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Concepts: Fujifilm, Film speed, Provia, Velvia, Photography, Exposure value, A Good Thing

Entities: Brisbane, Perth, Queensland, Fuji, Germany, PMA, ISO, Web Site, GEO, sec, Michael Reichmann, Nick, Nick Rains, Fujichrome Velvia, London Times, Western Australia, Americas Cup

Tags: Velvia, Velvia Classic, 100F, new film, Provia, Nick Rains, exciting new, grain structure, Pepper Grain, images, old pepper grain, Pepper Grain effect, bright velvia greens, coarse grain structure, Horseman 612 roll, schneider 150mm super, slight exposure differences, exciting new film, Australian fine art, broad visual impressions, Fujichrome Velvia, decent edge mask, raw transparency colours, old velvia, finer grain, finest grain, sample velvia, stock photography market, Classic sharpness, brighter greens, sample film, optimum exposure, subtle differences, slight variations, densitometer readings, tad cooler, frequent contributor, landscape photographer, reciprocity failure, Gitzo tripod