7.26.2016

Fun with Film: Konica Impresa 50

Sometimes it is just nice to take things slow. 

Whenever I get the chance, I like to take things slow.  I have tended to actively seek out slower speed films in the hopes of getting results with minimal grain, the chance to limit depth of field in many instances, and in the case of color films, the hopeful opportunity to optimize color saturation and fidelity.

The problem is that in recent years, there are VERY few slow speed (under ISO 100) films available, particularly in color.  Velvia 50 and Cinestill 50D are about the entirety of the selection of slow speed color films available at present.  The slight silver lining to this is that slower speed films generally tend to remain more stable than their faster brethren.  I had fantastic luck with my first try with some expired Agfa Ultra 50, so I began looking for other slow speed color films with which to try my hand. Ultimately, I found a small quantity of some 15 year old Konica Impresa 50 that piqued my interest, and I picked up a few rolls on the hopes that it had remained stable. 

I'd never had the chance to try Impresa 50 when it was available in the late 1990's.  Not only was I shooting mostly color slides at the time, but I also never recall seeing it available at retail, despite reading of its introduction in photo magazines at the time.  I didn't recall what its main selling point was when I snapped up the film, and hoped for results with color saturation a notch above the typical 100 speed films. 

As it turns out, unlike Ultra 50 or Velvia 50, color saturation was not the hallmark of Impresa 50. Instead, it's selling point was a fine grain.  Still, I cut a roll down to "extended 828" size for some test shots in some sunny  Maine weather and hoped to see some decent results, though I had no idea what to expect.

I sent the film off for negative developing only, and the results that returned looked really pretty thin, which dashed most of my hopes for some really snappy color from the long-discontinued film.  Still, the film scanned with no real issues, aside from some severe color shifting towards the cooler end of the spectrum.  Sometimes I feel like I'd have more luck flying a biplane than steering a color shifted image towards neutrality, but I tried my best. Even the "auto" feature on Photoshop had challenges with the scans, so I didn't feel so bad.  The final results, good, and not so much, are laid out below. 

 My first image from Impresa 50 shows a definite lack of contrast and color, and the promoted fine grain seems to be lacking as well.



But then, I get a really decent image with good color fidelity.  The saturation is still restrained, but the overall image is still very pleasing. 

Under some variably cloudy skies, the Impresa didn't quite get a true neutral hue, though the grain and detail are still quite good after over a decade sitting. 

A shot taken in shade gives a pronounced cooler cast.

One of the better attempts on the roll was this one, which does show the excellent grain structure of this discontinued Konica film. 

I struggled quite a bit with this image, and am still not happy with the overall color cast, though it is improved from the initial scan. 

Perhaps the most vivid result of the roll was this shot, which while portraying a cool cast, does embody the colorful nature of the scene it captured.

Too often though, troubling off-casts were the result of my efforts to counter the effects of over a decade of age on this old film.  

A nicely contrasty scene that renders blues in a nice cast while diminishing the luminance of green tones.  

One of my favorites was this one.  The tight grain does give a very pronounced and life like effect to the multitude of ripples on the water.  

Among the goals of using a slow speed film is limiting depth of field, though the Bantam's Bokeh wasn't the greatest in this instance.  

Another try only shows mediocre results as well. 

A slightly better try, but again with a blue cast that was tough to counter in post-processing. 

The dark shadows were somewhat recovered, but this shot does scream "old print film" to me. 

And the roll finishes as it started, with a lighter image with a color shift and lack in contrast.

Despite the name, I was none too impressed with the Konica Impresa.  It seems this film is closer in nature to Cinestill 50D than Ultra 50.  Though I'm sure I could have made some better lemonade from some of these lemons, truth be told, I didn't want to. I'd hoped I'd found a film with slow speed and boosted saturation, but this film was not such a product.  It might be a nice thing to try for portraits, but it mostly failed to convey the richness of tones that were in present in the scenes above.  Still, there were some glimmers of hope amid these results, and I hope I am able to find a suitable use for the handful of rolls I've left to shoot.