I loaded my Nikon F3 with Kodak’s resurrected T-Max P3200 film and took it along on our early-December trip to Chicago. It was to be a gray weekend, and we were going to be walking about a lot after dark. That seemed like a perfect opportunity to try this nominal ISO 800 film that cheerfully pushes to 3200.
It was so much fun to shoot anywhere and everywhere — indoors, after dark, on an overcast afternoon — at generous apertures and shutter speeds. I was too busy having fun to take notes, but I think I was shooting at f/8 anywhere I wanted with shutter speeds of at least 1/30 second. I never had to worry about camera shake.
The first two photos are from the Christmas display inside Macy’s on State Street. Here’s a shot of Macy’s exterior all decorated for the holiday. The P3200 needs just a little ambient light to make a plenty usable image.
Macy’s bought the former Marshall Field department-store chain. I miss Marshall Field.
We also walked through Christkindlmarkt twice. The first time was on a busy Saturday afternoon and the second was early on a Monday when we had the place largely to ourselves.
I shot an ISO 100 film on our Chicago trip last year. That slow film gave me limited depth of field, which limited what I could do. Not so this P3200 — I could shoot up close and choose just how much blurred background I’d get.
Christkindlmarkt offers so many subjects: the market itself, the individual booths, the wares in each booth, and the people enjoying themselves.
The P3200 let me photograph any of it in pretty much any way I pleased. I’ve never had so much flexibility in bad light with a film camera.
So many people wander Christkindlmarkt with their cameras out that I don’t feel as self-conscious as usual about photographing people. But I’m happy I didn’t notice until this roll was back from the processor that this fellow here spotted me in the act.
One night we walked over to Millennium Park to take in the Christmas fun. The ice-skating rink was open late.
The P3200 wasn’t fast enough to let me freeze the skaters as they sped by. I suppose you can’t have everything.
We also explored the Great Hall at Union Station. It’s gorgeous; you should see it.
It, too, was all decked out for the holiday. You might not be able to make it out, but this Christmas tree is decorated with logos from various railroads, past and present.
I had a ball shooting Kodak T-Max P3200. Anywhere I went, in virtually any lighting conditions, my Nikon F3 could get a solid exposure and I could make an image.
As you can see, the images I got have good sharpness (through my 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens) and decent tonality. I especially enjoy the rich blacks this film returned.
These images would make lovely snapshot-sized prints. I’ll bet they’d even make usable 5x7s. But the grain becomes more pronounced the larger you make these images. Click any of them to see them on Flickr, and then click the image there to see it at full scan size. You’ll see: the grain is giant. Fortunately, it’s also really pleasing — and subjects hold their definition.
I’ll definitely buy more P3200 and keep it on ice for gray-day and nighttime shooting. Shooting these two rolls and seeing the wonderful results was a real joy.
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