Fire station

Stephen Dowling of Kosmo Foto sent me a few rolls of film from his fridge in thanks for a favor. It was mostly slide film, something I haven’t shot very much as my skinflint tendencies reliably turn me to inexpensive stuff like Fujicolor 200. I’ve been shooting it a roll here and a roll there. After enjoying a roll of my usual inexpensive stuff in my Nikon N2000 recently, I went for broke and loaded a gifted roll of slide film: Fujifilm Provia 400X.

The Bungalow

My 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 Zoom Nikkor lens was already on the camera, so I left it there. Say what you will about zoom lenses, and this zoom lens in particular — Ken Rockwell calls it one of Nikon’s worst lenses ever — but I like this lens. It’s sharp enough, the zoom range is super useful for the subjects I shoot on photowalks, and it offers a macro mode. The wicked barrel distortion evident at its wide end is easily corrected in Photoshop.

Monon bridge

I am pleased with the rich color this film delivered. It hits a sweet spot between realistic and deep. These are the colors I remember when I was on the scene, but they’re richer, deeper somehow, and they make me want to go back and experience them again in person.

Purple link

This place, by the way, is Broad Ripple, a hip neighborhood on Indianapolis’s Northside. I visited it because it’s so colorful. I loved being able to shoot this ISO 400 slide film on a cloudy day — most slide films I’ve shot before are much slower, ISO 50 or ISO 100, requiring slower shutter speeds and a steadier hand.

The Depot

I also shot some of this roll on a bright, sunny day in downtown Fishers. This was the last time I shot any film there before I lost the job that brought me there five days a week. I hated that long, tedious commute and don’t miss it. There’s no good way to get to Fishers from anywhere. After you’re there, though, it’s not too bad.


The Provia 400X kept on delivering. Just look at those blues and greens.

Mean street of Fishers

Here’s a quick look down one of Fishers’ few remaining original downtown streets. I showed you some of them not long ago in this post. I’m sure that in the next few years this will all be gone in favor of urban density. I shot this in late October, just as the trees were beginning to turn. We had an unusually warm early autumn, which delayed the onset of color. But when it came, it came fast and intense. The trees were largely bare after just a couple weeks.

Red leaves

The 35-70mm lens’s macro mode let me get right up on some of the leaves.

Pillow on our couch

Provia 400X’s speed let me experiment with a few shots inside. The subject isn’t terribly interesting but the colors are spot on with reality — after I Photoshopped out a green caste that the ambient incandescent lighting imparted.

Bathroom selfie

I tried a bathroom selfie. My black hoodie was a bit of a stretch for the Provia, even with 240 watts of light burning right over my head.

The Ruins

I also made a quick trip to The Ruins at Holliday Park in Indianapolis. I just love that place. I need to go photograph it proper one day and show it to you. This one photo will have to do for now.

My other slide-film experience has been a single roll of Velvia 50 and a whole bunch of Ektachrome E100G. The Velvia is super ultra saturated, which would be fun sometimes but isn’t my style most of the time. The E100G is nice stuff but a little too blue. This Provia really hits a sweet spot for me: realistic but rich color rendition.

Fujifilm doesn’t make Provia 400X anymore, and remaining stocks are all past their use-by dates. This roll was expired, but Stephen obviously stored it properly and it performed as new. This is very nice stuff and it’s a shame it’s discontinued.

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11 responses to “Shooting Fujifilm Provia 400X”

  1. bettyinparis Avatar

    Hi Jim! First of all, glad to see you found a new job…good luck to you! Enjoyed seeing pics of Broad Ripple, I lived there for a year of my time in Indy, back in the mid-1980’s. Very different now but still fun to see. Also glad to see pics from the Nikon 35-70mm. I bought a Nikon F2 back in the summer and that lens was on the camera. I was disappointed to read some reviews of it, and have to say I haven’t really tried it out as I almost immediately popped a 50mm on the F2. I’m now looking forward to trying it out, those photos look great!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes, BR has changed a ton since the mid 80s! I moved to Indy in 1994 and the place is all different since even then.

      The 35-70 does have terrible, I mean just awful, distortion at the wide end. But that’s easily Photoshopped away. Otherwise, this lens does nice work.

  2. Dan Cluley Avatar
    Dan Cluley

    Nice photos as usual. I really like the first one. You don’t see many of those neighborhood fire stations anymore.

    I remember when Velvia came out. I was not impressed, and stuck with Kodachrome, but this Provia looks much more lifelike.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I shot a roll of Velvia a couple autumns ago and it captured the colorful trees with stunning color. But I can’t imagine using it for everyday work!

  3. Heide Avatar

    “There’s no good way to get to Fishers from anywhere. After you’re there, though, it’s not too bad.” You should write guide books, Jim — with observations like this one, they would be a hit! Love your images, too. There’s a wonderful quality to them you just can’t get with digital, even if you apply a fancy Instagram filter.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I have a longstanding distaste for Fishers as that’s where my sons’ mom moved them, 20 miles away from my house, after she remarried for the first time after our divorce. It took a lot of processing through difficult feelings to be able to declare the place “not too bad”!!

      1. Heide Avatar

        Given that history, I’m amazed you were able to get to “not too bad,” Jim. Hats off to you.

  4. M.B. Henry Avatar

    Wow such pretty pictures – really liked the fall colors! (But of course they are all fantastic)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      We had some great fall color this year — very late, and very short, but very good.

  5. Dan James Avatar

    I don’t know Jim, I’m missing something here, I feel like a bystander at the parade of the emperor’s new clothes. I think you’ve shot far more pleasing colours on any number of other colour films. Not least of all photos like these – Glorious colours!

    These Provia ones just look too flat and lifeless for my tastes. But this is of course a very subjective view!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I wasn’t saying that this is my new favorite color film, just that I enjoyed the color it returned. I agree: the Fuji 100 is outstanding stuff and delivers much more pleasing color than this Provia!

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