When Profoto and Nikon announced that they would be collaborating in a vague press release back in November, in my mind it made a lot of sense. And now with the latest announcement that the Nikon Z9 is fully compatible with the Profoto AirTTL products it would seem that Nikon won’t be bringing out a dedicated flash unit for the Z9 camera.
The last high end Speedlight Nikon launched was the SB-5000 which was announced on the same day as the D5 in January 2016. There was no Speedlight for the D6 camera. Which was probably the first sign that Nikon was moving away from creating in house flash units for their cameras.
My experience with the Nikon Speedlight range has been disappointing since using Profoto equipment. I have said in the past that the colour accuracy of the Speedlights I own hasn’t been great.
Seeing other photographers choosing the Profoto A series units over the SB-5000 it really is the right logical move for Nikon to stop research and development into a product line that would always come in second place to Profoto.
I don’t own any Profoto A series units so I can’t tell if there has been a firmware upgrade for them to work with the Nikon Z9. At the time of writing, there is no firmware upgrade for my Air Remote TTL-N for Nikon. I can only speculate that Nikon made sure the Z9 worked fully with it before shipping the Z9 out.
I really am excited to see what new things this collaboration brings in the months and years ahead.
I’m excited about the Rotolight NEO 3 coming out next year. A powerful small LED that can run off the standard Sony NP-F type battery is something that interests me.
Side note, according to the company, it is not recommended to use the flash mode with non Rotolight batteries as the draw on the battery may cause issues. Non Rotolight batteries are fine in continuous mode.
The issue I have with my Westcott Ice Light is swapping out the internal battery when it no longer holds a charge. It seems like a complex thing to do that will involve getting parts shipped from the manufacturer.
And being able to swap batteries to maintain a lighting setup is very important to any professional assignment. Messing about with a piece of lighting equipment that has run out of juice is never a good look.
The price and weight of the NEO 3 is also much lower than my Profoto B10 lights. Three of these lights are about the same cost as one B10 and my spine will thank me too. The NEO 3 weighing in at 354g compared to 1.5kg for the B10.
Another advantage of the NEO 3 over both the Icelight and the B10 is being able to change colour without the need to place gels in front of the light.
I’m not one of the Kickstarter backers, so I won’t be one of the first to get my hands on the NEO 3 but I do hope to be able to get it as soon as I can.
I’m not the first or am I going to be the last person to be talking about the Nikon Z9 camera.
All I know about the camera is what I have seen online so there is very little point in me adding anything to what has already been said.
What I do know is that this is the first Nikon Z camera that has got me wanting one in my camera bag. I wasn’t really interested in any of the previous models but this one has certainly got my attention.
I saw an online auction site the sale of a Hasselblad Zeiss Planar 110mm f2 lens. It was being sold by a German seller and the price they were asking for it was much less than the Japanese dealers. However, there was a reason for the low price. This lens is stuck wide open and would need repair.
The seller was open to offers and I wasn’t expecting my £250 less than the asking price to be accepted. They accepted it pretty quickly and I now regret not asking for more off. I wish that I had as there is an additional bill of £165 by the courier company for the import due to the UK being out of the EU.
Why buy a broken lens you ask? Well, I have seen in forums and elsewhere that it is a well known problem for this lens to get stuck. My thinking is why pay for a lens at double the price if there is a high chance of it breaking in the future. I’m going to be shooting wide open most of the time so wouldn’t really be stopping it down. Besides, I have the 150mm f4 if I needed a smaller aperture.
I have no idea how much it will cost to repair and won’t investigate it until things are a bit more normal.
Still haven’t shot a roll of film with the lens so I won’t know if I have brought a lemon.
10 April 2021 The film has come back from the lab and here is one of those frames.
There is some slight movement in the aperture blades from f2 to f2.8 but from the testing I did it makes very little difference to the exposure. So we are all good.
However, there is some light leak on the film. I don’t know if it is a bad roll of film or if it is the film back that has a broken seal. I know it is not the camera body as the light leak is in between the frames on the film.
What I will do now is to try out a different roll of film to eliminate that as a factor. But if it is the film back that is leaking it is supposed to be relatively easy fix. Something I may give a go at.
19 April 2021 Using a new roll of film has given me some light spots after development. They are in the exact same positions as before, so it is pointing more to a broken seal in the film back. So going to try the other back I have just to be certain there isn’t an issue with the camera.
I said I would test out Ilford XP2 C41 film cross processed in E6 and this is what I discovered.
Apart from marking up the film going to the lab that this C41 film was to be processed in E6, I wanted to check with them that I wasn’t going to mess up their chemicals or systems. The reply I got back from them was that it was possible, they rarely did it and that the results are going to be pretty strange.
From my research I knew that it would give a blue tone to the film rather than a black and white result. And over exposing the film would give you back something to work with.
Both these images were over exposed by 2 stops and they have come out better than the frames I exposed correctly and by 1 stop.
Some people might not like the look of these frames but I am actually pleased with the way they look. It is a way of making a night time scene during the day. Well worth exploring more with the rolls I have left and what subjects work with this technique and what doesn’t.
10 July 2021 Have just discovered that Polaroid are producing a Black & Blue Duochrome 600 film which produces very similar end results as what I’m doing with the cross processing of Ilford XP2.
My final film review is the Fujichrome Provia 100F Professional transparency slide film.
Anyone following along will know that I purchased some expired rolls of this film to practise and test the cameras on. I may have been lucky with the expired film I got as I have not seen any noticeable loss in quality. I might be wrong when I run through a fresh roll of film.
When I purchased this roll it was still fresh. But now that I have come round to opening the film it has now expired. It hasn’t expired by much and I did keep it in the fridge but is it worth taking the same test pictures as the ones I shot on the Ektachrome and Velvia?
My instinct is not to bother. I have pretty much already decided that Provia is going to be my go to film of choice. If I want to have a different look I can always get a roll of Ektachrome or Velvia for whatever I want to achieve.
What I want to test instead is to see how well the C41 black and white Ilford XP2 film is when crossed processed in E6 to give a transparency slide. So watch this space.
Below for completeness is the tech sheet for Provia.
From the research I have done it seems that using Velvia is not the best option for skin tones but I wanted to see for myself. I mean what is the point of testing unless you know for yourself what something can or can’t do.
For this roll of film I also shot some frames with CTB and CTO gels in front of the Profoto B10, which I didn’t do on the previous test roll of Ektachrome. What I didn’t realise was that the first CTB gel I pulled out of the pack was the double CTB. Which does explain why I was getting a much lower exposure reading when taking those frames.
This film is much warmer than Ektachrome. I had the mistaken belief that Velvia would make skin tones radioactive but in actual of fact it seems quite pleasant to me. Adding a CTO gel to the lighting, does give a late summer afternoon feel.
While Ektachrome seemed to like being under exposed, Velvia looks like it might like being a little over exposed. I can’t guarantee that the lighting was 100% the same for the two rolls of film, but this is not a scientific experiment. This testing has been for me to figure out what tools are out there and how I can use them to my advantage.
In conclusion, I would not discount this film as not fit for purpose but would be worth getting if I had something specific in mind.
There are plenty of resources if you decide to play with film photography. One of these resources is Lomography and they produce a very handy scanning mask that you can use on any light box.
The mask uses magnets to hold your film in place. Back in the day I remember the 35mm scanner I was using had a really annoying holder that would never shut properly and would bend out of shape just by looking at it.
Getting this holder and using my newly purchased Nikkor 85mm f2.8D PC-E Micro lens to capture the file means that I don’t have to splash the cash on a dedicated scanner.
I don’t plan to scan every single frame I take on film but is handy when I do want to share something online.
Like this frame from the test roll of Ektachrome 100 transparency slide film.
The journey to discover my favourite E6 transparency slide film starts with the most expensive, Kodak Professional Ektachrome E100.
A quick search about films results in plenty of comparisons of what is available. But these results mean that I will be relying on how others are using the films and not the exact way I will be using them. Therefore these tests are how I plan to use my film camera in a “studio” setting.
Looking at the film, it does feel a bit cool to me. The skin tones look okay but without having anything else to compare it with I don’t really want to pass judgement too quickly.
I actually like the slightly under exposed frames rather than the frames that my light meter said were correct. I’m sure that it isn’t specific to this film but all slide films don’t do well when over exposed.
This might be a minor point, but to seal the film once it has been all exposed you need to wet the tape as it is not self adhesive. During these days when hand washing and wearing face coverings is the right thing to do, licking an object that has been in contact with goodness knows what is not the most sensible idea.
Below is the tech sheet from Kodak about this film. I would normally just say here is the link and send you to their website but I do worry that Kodak and Fuji may shut up shop on these products in these financially strained times. Better to have them permanently here rather than sending you to a dead link.