Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mamiya 645 and Ektar film vs. Nikon D800E

I couldn't sleep so I got up and out for the sunrise at Langdale Park. I wanted to test some Kodak Ektar film, which I've never shot before, because I recently got in a debate about whether it had magenta-hued shadows in some shots I saw posted. I took some shots with my freshly serviced D800E to compare.

Here's the Ektar shots first, taken with a Mamiya 645 and 45mm f/2.8 or 80mm f/1.9 lenses:

 It is my opinion that the shadows in these shots did have a slight magenta and/or red tint, but only slight, which in fact was often helpful to warm up the early morning shadows. I really like the film, and it is nicely saturated, but still with the low-contrast, high dynamic range look of negative film. This might become my favorite color negative film for general usage (not people though).

For comparison, here are some digital shots, taken with either a 28mm f/2.8 AIS lens or 50mm f/1.2 AIS. Pay special attention to the first two, which are identical shots to the first two from the Mamiya above:

 There is no question the D800E resolves better than the 6x4.5 negatives (though Ektar seems to not be as high resolution a film as some others, like Provia). Either way, the shots have a much different "feel" to them on film, which I like.


  1. Bryan,

    what scanner did you use in making the comparison? pro film scanner ala nikon 9000 or imacon? or epson consumer flatbed? I would expect the d800e to be be superior regardless but the quality of scanner is always relevant in these type comparisons.

    So much good information on your site. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi!
    I used a Microtek M1. Yes, it is certainly not a Coolscan - though I used to own an LS-8000. I found 6x7 negatives scanned at 4,000 DPI were just a tad better than my D700 (this was before the D800 came out) so I am 100% confident even using that scanner with 645 negatives wouldn't compare to the D800E. Check out my blog post comparing 4x5 Provia scanned on the M1 to the D800E here: - I feel pretty strongly that the D800E with a good lens is about the same as a good chrome with a decent scanner (a high-end drum scan will likely tip the scales back to 4x5 though!).

    That said, you are certainly correct regarding the quality of scanners. With that in mind - I'm actually in the process of purchasing a Screen Cezanne that should blow away anything short of a full-on drum scan. I will definitely have to rescan some film and compare - but the M1 is no slouch. It has autofocus, which is a big step up from the Epson offerings.