Review: Fujifilm Venus 800 (pt 2)

Hello, everybody! Happy Spring to you! It’s hay fever season here again in Japan and for those who know me personally or for those who have been following this blog for some time now you will know that this is the season where I feel like a wet towel because of all that hay fever medication. The good thing is Spring in Japan is beautiful and the colors of the season is a delight for photographers compared to the drab brown-and-grey tones of Winter. This means that it’s time for me to shoot photos of people dressed in colorful and beautiful clothes and I now have a new favorite film for portraiture.

Introduction:

Let’s continue with our Fujifilm Venus 800 series. In part 1 I showed you photos that I am used to taking, photos that people usually associate with me if you have been following me and my blog. Pictures that were taken in the night with a fast lens in an Asian setting where neon and tungsten contrasts with the darkness of the night, making for a difficult scene to meter when shooting with film. That type of photography may not be available to everybody who reads my blog and it may just not be for everyone so I’m going to show you a more common application of this film – available light photography in the shade or at least in a scene that’s not lit artificially.

FH000035You have seen similar photos in part 1 where I talked about shooting with this film in the dark. Now, I am going to show you how this film performs in a different situation so you can have a better grasp of how this film works in most situations.

I am also going to show you more pictures of people in this blog post because this film is supposed to be formulated for shooting portraits, rendering skin beautifully. The name’s called Venus for a good reason and we’ll test and see if that’s true.

All of the pictures here were taken using a Nikon F2 fitted with a Nikon MD-3. The lenses that I used are the Auto-Nikkor-P.C. 105mm f/2.5 and the New-Nikkor 55mm f/1.2. Both are amazing lenses that are suitable for portraiture and general photography. These are both known for their beautiful skin rendering which makes the subjects look “prettier”. I tried to take my photos in the shade as much as possible because I wanted to shoot with faster speeds and at least a decently-wide aperture of f/5.6 at the most if possible because things start to look a bit more generic once you hit f/8 and beyond. With that said, enjoy the rest of the article and I hope that you will like my picures!

Before we begin, here’s how I took these pictures so there’s no confusion. I rated the film as a true-800-speed film so I dialed that into the Nikon F2’s meter. All of the photos were teken hand-held and with subjects that move constantly so some mis-focused photos are in the gallery unfortunately. I sometimes adjust by adding 1/3 of a stop just beacuse I feel that the film is too fast, I also adjust depending if the meter is getting fooled by the bright sky or any bright light sources in the scene. It’s a bit forgiving shooting this film at day, it is a different story when shooting it at night so be aware of that.

(Click to enlarge)

I usually don’t shoot things like this but the fast 800 speed allowed me to shoot a jumping monkey and freeze its motion mid-air. This can only be done with shutter speeds that are faster than 1/1000s, you can sometimes get away with it using 1/500s but that can cause a little bit of motion blur in some cases. This is definitely the film that you will want to use when shooting sports. Indoor sports can be a bit more challenging unless the venue is a very well-lit one. I am not saying that you can’t do it but it’s just going to be a bit harder, I imagine that you will want to shoot with an aperture of f/2.8 or faster in those conditions. I was lucky that I could shoot at f/8 for these pictures as the speed of the film allowed me to do so.

FH000014Fujifilm Venus 800 does deliver when it comes to skin tones! The marketing fluff is true, a rarity as far as my experience with Fujifilm goes with their digital cameras. Everything is exquisite, the details of the hair and skin were rendered beautifully. This photo’s focus is a bit off because she moved a bit her thumb is in the focus plane so you can zoom-into it to examine just how sharp this film is. Again, very beautiful rendering of the skin. It’s so smooth and you can see the “peach-fuzz” or sub-surface scattering as we call it at work. It certainly looks very natural.

FH000013The film resolves details very well as evident here. Every strand of her hair is beautifully rendered and you can enjoy the details even with a lens loupe. Everything looks natural, even the grain looks gorgeous. This is the reason why we still shoot film!

(Click to enlarge)

Now for some examples taken with non-Asian people in the scene. This may sound odd, I had to mention this because Fujifilm is known to balance their film for Japanese tastes in aesthetics and that includes what their idea of an ideal skin tone should be. I read an old article back then comparing Fujifilm and Kodak color science and this topic came up. The consensus was that Fujifilm has a slight magenta tint to offset yellow-ish Asian skin while Kodak has a slight yellow tint to prevent making white folks look like boiled prawns. It’s laughable today if you think about it but maybe that holds a bit of truth, do you think this is just a myth? Tell me what you think.

FH000020I hate messing with the contrast and saturation in my photos as it makes me feel like I’m at work doing color-correction. If you’re like me then this film is probably what you want because the colors look great, I didn’t do anything here at all. This picture demonstrates the magenta cast that I am talking about. It’s subtle but it’s there. I love how this film can retain detail in the white parts of the scene as you can still see some details in it. You can say that film is superior to digital in this respect but current sensors are pretty good now unlike 15 years ago where the whites and blacks will look “clamped” – a term that we use at work to denote that you don’t see the whole value of histogram because it was clipped by the user or the capturing device just wasn’t able to capture and save the full spectrum.

FH000028Here’s another photo showing just how exquisite the details look and beautiful this film renders colors that are common in an “Asian setting” – reds, pinks and other vibrant hues that we usually associate with the Far-East.

FH000005This scene was challenging for me because of the strong sun and the shadow that it casts. The good thing is the film retained some details and didn’t clip the bright part so we still have a bit of detail there. I would love to have a spot-meter with me but it’s pointless, the subjects won’t stay-still for me and pose for a picture.

(Click to enlarge)

Here are some more pictures that I took that afternoon. I love the colors of spring and all the beautiful textures in the scene associated with the season. Do look at my samples and click on the thumbnails to view the larger version and examine the photos yourself. This will help give you a better understanding of how this film works in various scenarios.

Conclusion:

So, what do you think of the Fujifilm Venus 800? Did you like my samples? I hope that my photos gave you a good idea as to how this film performs in various situations. This will be a nice film for shooting sports and other things where you’ll want to use a faster film so you can use a higher shutter speed or stop your lens down a bit more. On the flip-side of things you can also enjoy shooting with this film for portraiture as it’s very good for a lot of skin tones. While most portraits are taken with a subject that will pose for you and you at least have some control over your environment there are times when you’ll want to use a faster film such as taking available-light portraiture, etc. Regardless of the use, it is a very versatile film that you can exploit before Fujifilm runs out of their frozen stocks of film. I will certainly shoot more with this film from now on while I can. The loss of my favorite Fujifilm Natura 1600 is too much for me but I am glad that there’s a worthy film to fill the void left by the beloved Fujifilm Natura 1600.

FH000036Now that you have seen what this film can do when you have adequate lighting, I’ll now revert to shooting the pictures that I am used to – low-light photography with a fast lens. While I enjoyed shooting these pictures for this review, I still prefer “my style” and I am most comfortable in this setting. This film is proving to be very versatile and it’s better in general use than Fujifilm Natura 1600 in this regard as it’s a specialized film.

That’s all for this review. Please don’t take what you read here as the final word, I am just a casual reviewer and I am not in any way an authority in film. Having said that, at least you can see and read something that’s not biased and you can also see real-world photos taken by somebody who really loves photography as opposed to boring tests and pictures of no substance presented by so-called “authorities”. These words sound barbed because I am tired of reading film reviews with pointless photos of themselves and their “mates” in it and passing them for reviews. We don’t do that here at richardhaw.com.

Did you like my review? Do you want to see more articles like this? If so then please tell me what you think so I can make more articles like this. Also don’t forget to support this blog so I can cover the cost of developing and buying film. Your help is welcome and it is all because of you that this blog continues to exist. Thank you very much, Ric.

Help Support this Blog:

Maintaining this blog requires money to operate. If you think that this site has helped you or you want to show your support by helping with the upkeep of this site, you can simple make a small donation to my paypal.com account (richardHaw888@gmail.com). Money is not my prime motivation for this blog and I believe that I have enough to run this but you can help me make this site (and the companion facebook page) grow.

Buy me a roll of film or a burger?

Thank you very much for your continued support!

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Helping support this site will ensure that this will be kept going as long as I have the time and energy for this. I would appreciate it if you just leave out your name or details like your country and other information so that the donations will totally be anonymous it is at all possible. This is a labor of love and I intend to keep it that way for as long as I can. Ric.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Review: Fujifilm Venus 800 | Richard Haw's Classic Nikon Repair and Review

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