I prefer the warmer yellows of the ISO 50 versions, while this ISO 100 version has better skin tones and cooler yellows than the ISO 50 Velvias. Velvia 100 is more vivid than Velvia 100F and as vivid as ISO 50 Velvia.
Velvia (RVP) was introduced in 1990 and discontinued in 2005. It was ISO 50. It was called simply "Velvia." Fuji reintroduced ISO 50 Velvia in 2007 and now calls it Velvia 50 (RVP 50). If there's no 50 after the name, it's the original, while Velvia 50 is the new version. When I say "Velvia" I mean the original film, not the entire family.
Velvia 100 is the best ISO 100 film I've used, but lacks the wonderful ability of Velvia to make warm colors warmer while leaving other colors alone. if I shot Velvia 100 I would use Photoshop to select and add red to the warm colors.
Velvia 100 and traditional Velvia (50) look almost identical laid next to each other on a light table, except for yellows. I'll tell you all I know, but first an artistic disclaimer:
After I spent four days writing this page I had to ask why anyone would read about a film on their computer monitor instead of looking at their own results on a light table. We all have different tastes. This is art, not science. We're photographers, not film designers. The only thing that matters is what you like, not what I or some other stranger likes. Forget about grain and resolution; that's minor and Velvia 100 is unbeaten for that. The important thing is does a film get the colors and look you want, and everyone's desired look is different. Go shoot some for yourself. It's pretty much the same as Velvia (50), just faster and a little more color accurate in the lab. I like the WOW! factor of these films, you may not.
If you have to split hairs the biggest difference is that the old Velvia tended to add some additional artificial warmth to warm colors and Velvia 100 is more accurate. I loved what Velvia did to warm up yellows, and likewise it turned people way too red.
I preferred the distortion of Velvia for landscapes and most people prefer the more accurate rendition of Velvia 100 for people. Except for this difference in the warm colors like yellows, oranges and tans the two are the same. Velvia was never accurate, for instance, it turned an "Orange Crush!" sign I photographed in Guatemala completely red! Of course for the weird stuff I photographed I preferred the old Velvia.
No big deal. Fuji no longer makes paper for direct optical printing from transparencies, so we all print electronically today. Since you have to go through Photoshop anyway to print it's simple to add Velvia's warming effect to shots made on Velvia 100 or anything else, even digital cameras. Simply use the SELECT COLOR RANGE tool and click on a warm color, then use the COLOR BALANCE tool to add some red to the selected warm colors. Easy.
Velvia 100 is much better under artificial light. Shooting in the depths of an aircraft carrier's engine room under 40 year old florescent lights I got decent results with my old fashioned FLD filter with minute long exposures. Velvia always goes green under long exposures due to reciprocity problems.
I have not tried scanning Velvia 100 yet, but people who know tell me Velvia 100 is easier to scan, which again means better prints. Velvia 100 is slightly cooler than Velvia in some colors; much less difference than the mild effect of an 81A filter. Velvia 100 also seems a little bit faster than one stop from Velvia. I shoot Velvia at 50; I'm going to try Velvia 100 at 125 and this may make the two match even more closely for me.
Of course Velvia 100 is much better if people are in your photos. The euphoric reddening of warm tones that I loved about Velvia made skin look way too red.
I also saw Fuji's side by side test comparison films of Velvia, Velvia 100 and Velvia 100F in February 2005.
The Five Velvias
(Warning: 2007 adds a sixth, the new Velvia 50)
There are now FIVE versions of Velvia, and only THREE are available in the USA. The three versions are Velvia (RVP) introduced in 1990 in the USA, Velvia 100F (RVP F) introduced about 2002, Velvia 100 (RVP 100) introduced in Japan in 2003 and now the USA in 2005. The two Japan-only films are the bizarre Fortia 50 introduced in July 2004 and the newer Fortia SP introduced February 2005. OK, maybe that's only three since Fuji doesn't count Fortia as Velvia. I'm referring to Velvia as any of the wild color films.
Pay attention to the "F," as that's the only way to tell the two 100 speed films apart. Be very careful, most Americans have been saying "Velvia 100" for the past two years and not saying the "F," so please don't confuse the new Velvia 100 with the old Velvia 100F. I never liked the 100F, it has duller colors as I wrote here. In case of any incongruities on the two pages pay attention to this page which is from February 2005. I wrote that 100F page two years ago.
The Fuji Velvia product manager (the guy about seven levels up from the salesman at your local camera store) told me at PMA in February 2005 they'll have Velvia available throughout 2005 in all sizes. It's fine with him if you want to hoard old Velvia , but honestly from what I've seen Velvia 100 for most people is a better film, which makes sense with it's 20 year newer technology. Honestly Velvia 100 (not 100F) is great stuff, I just didn't want to like it previously because it would have been a bear to get from Japan and didn't come in 4 x 5." Now Velvia 100 will be coming in all sizes up to 8 x 10" and Quickloads, so no problem.
Velvia (Japan) 100 Datasheet (in Japanese of course)
Velvia 100 has the same sharpness as Velvia. They are all excellent and better than most people's ability to lay down detail on film in the real world. Resolving power is rated 80 / 160 lines per mm for both films. Both film's MTFs are 45% at 50 c/mm and otherwise within 10% of each other throughout.
I can't see any difference. They are both excellent. Few lenses and even fewer photographers are good enough to stretch the limits of this film.
Velvia 100 has less grain than Velvia. Velvia 100 is rated 8 and Velvia is rated 9. I see little difference, and if I do 100 is a tad better. No big deal, that's why I shoot 4 x 5."
Dmax is the same. If you peer at the datasheets too close you'll see the new Velvia 100 has about 5 points more Dmax in the green and red channels.
I compared Velvia 100 to Velvia on a light table by looking at two butted black ends of 120 size. Velvia 100 has a more neutral black compared to Velvia's warmer black. Maybe the Velvia was a tad darker, but not really. The two are identical for photographic use. There is no obvious difference, as there is when compared to the weak Kodak films.
Velvia 100 is much better than Velvia.
I had to expose Velvia for 32 to 40 seconds to get the same exposure as I do with Velvia 100 at 10 seconds. This agrees with the datasheets. Also Velvia 100 stays neutral at that exposure. Velvia turned green by comparison.
This confirms Velvia's datasheet asking for 5 cc corrections at 4 seconds, 12.5 cc correction and 1 stop extra exposure at 32 seconds. Velvia's datasheet says "not recommended" for one minute or longer, even though I do it anyway and live with the green tint at night.
Velvia 100's datasheet asks for no correction at all out to one minute, which was completely forbidden with Velvia.
Even at 8 minutes Velvia 100 only asks for a 2.5cc correction (invisible to me) and 2/3 stop extra. The world outside at night isn't that precise so I don't worry about it at all. I used to catch full moonlight on Velvia at about 10 minutes at f/2.8; it ought to be much easier with Velvia 100.
I'm unsure if this means you need to be more careful loading sheet film holders. I've loaded Velvia in tents under starlight where there was still enough light for dark-adapted eyes to see. I might not get away with that with Velvia 100, and it would serve me right.
Processed Velvia 100 is also rated for about three times the life of Velvia. In other words, Fuji Japan says it may last hundreds of years in the dark. Bravo!
Speed? Try it yourself of course. I found the 100 a little faster than rated, unlike Velvia which I shoot at 50. You have to try this yourself and not read it from a website since everyone's tastes and meters and camera calibrations differ. I'm going to try it at ISO 125 next time.
Oddly, the edge numbers go in the same direction on all films, but the arrows point in the opposite direction on Velvia 100 compared to Velvia. No big deal.
The edge numbers go up to 19 on a 120 roll of Velvia 100, I forget where they went on Velvia.
Color: The Only Thing that Matters
And, drum roll please:
Almost exactly the same color as Velvia. Greens, blues, highlights and shadows look the same. Velvia 100 is just as vivid and more accurate.
Most people would run these tests with two different cameras which themselves may have color balance differences, or worse, make the tests on different days or even 5 minutes apart. Nature never makes the same light for more than a moment, so be wary of any tests other than quickly swapping film holders in the same camera. You have to be fast; the sunset examples Fuji showed me were made a few minutes apart in which case nature has changed its colors far more than the differences among films. In one set the sun had started to go behind a cloud bank for the last Velvia 100F shot. To their credit they gave Velvia the first shot and Velvia 100 the second shot, making it easy for Velvia to show better color and tougher for Fuji to show Velvia 100 looking as brilliant. It's almost impossible to do these comparisons in nature as you must.
Tans go a bit greener in Velvia 100, and tend to go redder in Velvia.
Here's the one nuance that will help you tell them apart. Specifically, Velvia 100 has more accurate yellows, oranges and reds. Velvia made yellows warmer than real, oranges turned red and and reds went a little orange. That's why Velvia made people look red. I preferred the inaccurate color of Velvia since I love warm yellows and of course would never use Velvia for portraits. I'll get over it since I can replicate that in Photoshop when I print and scan. Fuji no longer even makes the materials used for the optical projection printing popular 10 years ago, so no big deal as it would have been if this was changed 5 years ago. Today even prints at minilabs are all digital even if you bring in slides.
If you prefer the pleasant inaccuracies of Velvia as I do I just select the yellow through orange color range (SELECT > COLOR RANGE and click on your yellow) and add red to it (IMAGE > ADJUSTMENTS > COLOR BALANCE and push the sliders towards red and yellow). I'd leave the reds alone, since they are redder in Velvia 100 than Velvia. It doesn't matter that you can't do this with optical printing since Fuji no longer makes the paper to print directly from transparencies anyway, so no whining!
If you shoot for direct projection you might want to add a the equivalent of an A2 or 81A warming filter if your subject is only yellow Overall the color balance is the same or very slightly cooler with Velvia 100.
Fuji was gracious enough to let me make some digital snapshots of their transparencies on display at PMA. Please don't take these snaps critically except to see that things look 99% the same. As you can see any differences are invisible or at least very hard to see. Note that your CRT monitor itself will have color variations at different parts of the screen which cannot be corrected even with profiling. LCDs have different colors when seen from different directions looking at the left, right and center images which profiling also cannot correct. I know, I've measured CRTs and the difficulty in getting color uniformity around the screen is why Hollywood pays $30,000 for a professional high resolution CRT monitor. We still measure a few density points of color variance from one part of a $30,000 CRT to another on the very same screen. The cheap $3,000 monitors we photographers think are hot stuff aren't, and the $300 monitor you're probably using to read this is worse. These monitor issues, along with the obvious boner of pointing an old digital camera at transparencies on display should scream that these images below are no means exact. These aren't even real scans! The three films in each comparison are from the same snapshot. Of course the display was © Fuji and the rendition here is © Ken Rockwell, thus it is highly forbidden to copy this for anything. If you want to post this someplace or tell your friends please just link back here to http://www.kenrockwell.com/fuji/velvia100.htm and please don't take advantage of Fuji's graciousness.
I didn't bother to try to show the more redder reds since the reds of your computer monitor aren't red enough to show the difference. Specifically the red of the sRGB space is fairly orange so it can't show the reds of any of the Velvias. Any snaps I made looked the same, or the deeper and more vivid reds of Velvia 100 just looked darker on my monitor and not bright and deep and vivid as they do on the film. The reds are equally bright on film, just that Velvia 100 is redder and Velvia is oranger.
Except that I prefer graphic yellows (my favorite color) on Velvia, Velvia 100 is much improved overall technically and pretty much looks the same. I'll just make the yellows the way I want them when I scan and print and enjoy all the other benefits, like not having to wait around for extra time while making night exposures and having longevity that will outlast me. Even these yellows aren't obvious unless you deliberately make photos of yellow signs as I always do. For yellow flowers it's pretty much the same and up to personal taste. Velvia 100 is better for some kinds of purple flowers that never came out right on other films. They are both equally vivid.
Velvia 100 is the first film Fuji ever made to replace Velvia if you read all the fine print, so don't let the dull 100F turn you off. Fuji never said that 100F was as good, they always hedged and said "close to..." They are saying 100 is as good or better. Of course this is all art, each of us has our preferences. I prefer Velvia.
Velvia 100 is the secret film the Japanese kept for themselves these past two years, but my freezer is still loaded with my stash of 4x5, 120, 220 and 35mm Velvia.
The new 2007 Velvia 50 awaits my testing. I hope it's as good as the first Velvia 50.
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