Those of you who have followed this blog know that I am primarily a slide film shooter. Lately I’ve been shooting mostly Fujichrome Provia 100F. Ordinarily I shoot film at box speed. Well with my son’s birthday coming up, I decided I wanted to shoot with faster film, so stopped by my current favorite local camera store, Creve Coeur Camera (in Springfield, IL). Okay, CCC is an hour away, but I work in Springfield so it was no big deal to swing by there and see if they had any Provia 400X. Sadly they did not, nor did any of their stores, but said they could order it. Time was getting short for me, and I didn’t want to order it from them (I could have had it from B&H in 2 days, but it would’ve been too late for the birthday party). They would’ve happily sold me Provia 100F, but I already had several rolls of that in the fridge at home so I declined.
Slide film has next to zero latitude in standard processing. What you can do, though, is process it with a non-standard time, which gives you some flexibility to shoot the film at an ISO that is different from the ISO shown on the box. If you shoot with a higher ISO, you need the film to spend more time in the developer (this is called push processing). If you shoot with a lower ISO, you need the film to spend less time in the developer (this is called pull processing). Fuji says you can pull Provia 100F 1/2 stop, or push it 2 stops.
I’d never pushed film before, so I decided that now would be a good time to try it (yes, I know, bad idea because I was going to be trying it for the first time at my son’s birthday party). Enter the Internet (sadly I didn’t save any of the links so I cannot cite them here – just google “Provia 100F pushed to 400.” I found quite a bit of info about pushing Provia 400X to 1600, not so much pushing 100F to 400. Some folks said that if you do a 2 stop push, you should rate the film at ISO 320 instead of 400, and that the contrast would be increased slightly and you might lose detail in the darkest shadows. Also there would be more grain (Provia 100F at box speed is almost grainless).
Well, I went for it. I grabbed the film from the fridge, wrote “Push 2 stops” on the cassette with a sharpie, and loaded it into the camera, remembering to override the ISO to 320 instead of 100. Got the film back earlier this week and projected it on the wall about an hour ago. Pictures came out great. I didn’t see any more grain at ISO 320 than I would’ve at ISO 100. The contrast is a bit higher because I had the lab push 2 stops. Highlights were not blown, and shadows still retain a good amount of detail. Skin tones and color were also good, but with a slight shift towards red in some of the skin tones.
Flesh tones shifted slightly to the red in this photo.