Fuji claims: Finer grain. Faster speed. Even better skin tones. All while
keeping that glorious Velvia color. We test it!
Fujifilm's super-saturated Velvia 50 (RVP) created a revolution when it debuted in 1990. Because its surprisingly rich color palette delivered vibrant hues even under dismal lighting conditions, many pros and advanced amateurs wouldn't think of going on a slide-shooting assignment without it. Bring on the rain, Velvia can save the day! But even Velvia 50 isn't perfect. Almost any pro will advise you to shoot at ISO 40 or risk an underexposure. And watch out for Caucasian skin tones; in open sun, Velvia 50 can redden a fair, peaches-and-cream complexion until it mimics a sunburn. Lastly, whether you rate it at ISO 40 or 50, you'd better bring a tripod, because this film is sloooooow.
The good news? Here comes Velvia 100F. This faster sibling is now hitting stores, and Fujifilm claims it fixes all of RVP's imperfections. Does it? And how does it stack up against Kodak's super-saturated competitor? We put Velvia 100F head-to-head against Velvia 50 (RVP) and Kodak Ektachrome E100VS.
Here's how they fared:
SPEED: Dead on. That's how we gauge the 100F's ISO 100 rating. Shooting with a 35mm SLR and a 50mm lens (no bellows factor) under studio strobes, and confirming exposure settings with identical readings from multiple meters, we recorded near-perfect exposures from Velvia 100F and Ektachrome E100VS. True to form, the Velvia 50 slides were underexposed by about 1⁄4-stop.
IMAGE CHARACTERISTICS: Like Velvia 50, 100F proved a moderate-to-high-contrast film, with a typically (for slides) narrow-to-moderate latitude-1 1⁄2 to two stops. But Velvia 100F pushes exceptionally well. After a one-stop push, contrast increases as does color saturation, especially in the reds and yellows. Overall image quality was deemed more than acceptable, and (amazingly) there's virtually no color shift from three stops under- to three stops overexposed!
Our tests show a one-stop processing push by custom lab gains you about 2⁄3-stop in exposure. So, for a one-stop push, we'd expose 100F at ISO 160. Velvia 50 and Ektachrome E100VS performed slightly better, each yielding almost a full stop of exposure for a one-stop push.