Yes, Ultrafine Green Kitten 320. Don’t get excited… it’s not a fancy new film stock. In fact, I think it’s really Konica Professional 160 that the good people at Ultrafine reverse rolled to create their Red Dragon 100 film, and that I deredscaled… Why 320? Well, when you redscale film, everyone suggests you shoot it at 2 stops over. Ultrafine rate their Red Dragon at 100, so I reasoned that it came from some 400 film, and since most of the 400 films I’ve shot look a little bit cleaner at 320, I thought that would be a good place to test this out.
I’m going to share a pretty much the whole roll below, so get ready. Again, though, don’t get too excited, it’ll mostly be to point out some issues I have with the Red Dragon film.
Now, I’m not positive the Green Kitten is really Konica 160, but if it is, that would explain 1) why most of the non-fogged shots were underexposed by a stop or more and 2) why Red Dragon 100 is so incredibly dark at 100. There are no edge codes, so only the Ultrafine people could confirm: maybe they’ll read this and let me know. And if I’m right, maybe they’ll reward me with a free 100 feet of it (and a Bobbinquick bulk film roller too, maybe): I think it’s got some real possibilities, and I’d happily shoot 100 feet of it, if it was properly loaded and I knew what to expect from it.
With all those caveats out of the way, let’s get to some pictures.
I deredscaled this in the darkbag, let it sit in the fridge for a few days, loaded it, all spur-of-the-moment like, into the Ricoh 35 ZF early one morning and shot my first couple of frames out the window at work.
I didn’t shoot much after that, but a couple of days later, I went on a lunchbreak walk and had some fun. Now, I’m not great at shooting with the 35 ZF. It’s a great camera and all, but I’m so used to Aperture Priority or full auto that Shutter Priority cameras are hard for me to operate. I trusted the meter, which runs a bit hot due to the 1.5v batter I have wedged into it (it calls for a 1.35v Mercury). I think it’s only maybe 1/4 or 1/2 stop, and so I usually try to open up a stop to make sure, and I rarely have issues, as long as I pay attention to the camera and the settings.
Anyway, I’m pretty sure the meter wasn’t my problem. I shot ~1/30th in the stairwell and 1/250th or 1/500th outside. In these first 8 shots, there are some weird color shifts, and each frame required a unique levels and curves adjustment to even get this far.
Even with the color shifts, if you look carefully at those, you can see why I think these were underexposed: the blacks are crushed, completely, with virtually no recoverable detail. That doesn’t explain the color shifts, though, and it’s not a developing issue, because they mostly disappear for the next dozen frames or so. The remaining few from my lunch break walk were still well underexposed, but without the color shifts, and once I got a hang of the curve, they were easy to process.
So after that lunch break, the Ricoh languished in the bag for a few days, until #ShutDownDFW went down, and it (and the Green Kitten) got to show us what Democracy looks like:
Now I shot every frame at 1/15th, so I don’t know what caused all the variation in exposure. Maybe the Ricoh got fooled by something and closed the shutter down. The big problem with these, beyond the underexposure, is that the color shifts returned, and only got worse for the rest of the roll.
The end of the roll was, of course, the original starter end of the Red Dragon before I deredscaled it. So we have (starting from the end) roughly frame X and 00, 0 and 1, 2 and 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, all more or less unusable for anything beyond play (or art).
So with the first 7 or 8 frames marred by base fog, the next 5 (9-13) with some weird color shifts, then 12 frames with decent color (marred somewhat by underexposure), then another 8 with color shifts, before winding up with the last two frames, also marred by light leaks, you get about a dozen straight pictures out of a 36 exposure roll.
Now, I did deredscale the Red Dragon myself: I trimmed off the leader and taped the end to a empty film canister before going into the dark bag. I don’t think I’m responsible for the fog or color shifts, especially since the same fog appears in the Red Dragon. I think there’s something going on with their rolling operations.
Still, though, I really like the color out of this film, and I’m really impressed with a couple of shots.
The reds are forward, and the greens a bit muted; whatever this film is, it has some nice character to it, when it’s not fogged.
The lady’s red hair is great, but that American flag hijab, though. MashaAllah.
The Green Kitten is really lovely film. The grain is a bit coarse, but pleasant, and probably much more apparent thanks to the underexposure. It has great color and character, with a bit of nostalgia that would play well for a couple of projects I have in mind. It was easy to deredscale, easy to process, and dried flat, but processing the scans was a big pain due to all color shifts and the base fog.
Overall, I’d give it a solid 3.6, and if it had been properly spooled in the first place, that would probably go up to 4 or 4.25 in my nonscientific, purely subjective scoring system…
So, my good friends at Ultrafine… whadda ya say? Wanna send me 100 feet of this stuff and a Bobbinquick? I won’t hold my breath, but I would happily shoot it…