Park Olympus OM-1, 50mm f/1.8 Olympus F.Zuiko Kodak ColorPlus 2019
When I was a kid in the 1970s, downtown in my hometown was full of neon signs. Many of them, like this one, did mundane jobs like point people to parking. As a kid the neon helped me feel that downtown was alive and vital and important. The backlit plastic signs that slowly replaced them seemed so banal.
This old-style neon sign keeps doing its job on a parking garage in Downtown Indianapolis. I’ve parked in this garage before, many years ago. I had frequent business in the building next door, and they validated my parking. Unlike most Downtown garages, you don’t park your car yourself. You hand your keys to an attendant who gives you a receipt and parks your car for you.
Analogue Wonderland provided me this roll of Kodak ColorPlus in exchange for this mention. Buy yours from them here.
I had so much great luck shooting around Downtown Indianapolis with Kodak ColorPlus in my Olympus OM-1 with my 50mm f/1.8 F.Zuiko lens that I get to share a whole second post of images with you.
The generous folks at Analogue Wonderland sent me this roll of film to try, in exchange for this mention. If you like what you see here, you can buy Kodak ColorPlus from them here.
This will be a random tour of places within walking distance of my Downtown office. I’ve been keeping a loaded camera in my desk for times when I can break away for 30 minutes to get some air and make some photos.
I met my brother for drinks and dinner one day after work along Massachusetts Avenue, or Mass Ave as we like to call it. This street runs at a 45-degree angle from the city grid, heading northeast. Over the last 20 years it’s transformed from being mostly run down into a hot destination lined with bars, restaurants, and shops.
The Sears building on Mass Ave hasn’t been Sears in decades. The first floor has been one grocery store or another for as long as I can remember. The upper floors are offices.
The space in front of the City-County Building, the seat of Indianapolis and Marion County government, used to be a boring plaza. That was torn out recently and a public park of sorts has gone in. These covered swings just opened a few weeks ago.
Over on Monument Circle, I walked up the long stairs to the monument itself and shot the Columbia Club building, which this statue overlooks. The ColorPlus really saturates the earth tones.
These funky flowers are growing in pots all around the Circle.
Here’s a street scene in front of Circle Tower on the Circle’s west side. Circle Tower is architecturally my favorite building on the Circle. It has lots of Art Deco touches.
On a cloudy day I walked down Washington Street to get the big, blue JW Marriott hotel. It’s an unusually bold architectural statement for an otherwise staid town.
This Five Guys is a half block from my office. It’s in what was once a Roselyn Bakery. Since Roselyn’s went out of business, it’s been a Dunkin’ Donuts and a Pie Five Pizza Co. Here’s hoping Five Guys works out here.
I photograph chalkboard easel signs wherever I see them, especially when they have a humorous message. This one’s a straight-up ad for the coffee inside.
Finally, an old Publix movie house on Washington Street has been used as a community theater for as long as I’ve lived here. It’s a lovely old theater. Here’s its box office.
I really enjoy my photowalks around Downtown. I’m sure at some point I’ll feel like I’ve exhausted all the possibilities, but that day has not yet come.
So many film-photography bloggers I follow get such nice results from ColorPlus, Kodak’s low-priced ISO 200 color film, that I couldn’t reconcile the meh results I got from my first roll. I shot it in my Olympus Trip 35; see some of the images here.
So I tried again, thanks to the largesse of Analogue Wonderland, who sent me another roll in exchange for this review and this mention. Get your ColorPlus from them here. I put this roll into my black Olympus OM-1 and mounted a 50mm f/1.8 Olympus F.Zuiko lens.
Then I took this camera to work, in Downtown Indianapolis, and brought it out at lunch or after hours to make some images around the center of the city. I work around the corner from the City-County Building, the seat of the combined government of Indianapolis and Marion County.
You’ll find the old City Hall a couple blocks away. It’s currently vacant. The orange seats are for people waiting on a bus. They came out of one of the stadiums we used to have here that was demolished to make way for bigger and better stadiums.
I looked specifically for colorful subjects among the beiges and grays of Downtown’s buildings. ColorPlus looks mighty good to me in these images, far better than what I got from it in the Trip 35. It’s a mystery to me, as the Trip usually does lovely work. But I discovered long ago that some lenses love certain films and not others.
It was a bit of a risk to shoot ISO 200 film past dusk, but I managed to hold the camera steady enough for the long exposure. These evening colors look mighty pleasing to me!
I made this shot while sitting outside at a restaurant with my brother. I liked the juxtaposition of all the lines. Keen eyes will spot Kurt Vonnegut painted onto the side of a building.
Lesson learned: it’s not fair to pan a film based on one roll shot. These colors are lovely.
Kodak ColorPlus is a good consumer-grade color film, rendering realistic tones through my F.Zuiko lens. If you’d like to try ColorPlus, order it from Analogue Wonderland here.
As I’ve updated my camera reviews this year, on my oldest reviews I sometimes find myself returning to my original negative scans. I have better tools and skills now that frequently let me breathe deeper life into the images. Also, I find that in my early days of reviewing I didn’t always upload every usable photo from those rolls to Flickr, as I always do now. It’s been fun to revisit those photographs and share some of them for the first time.
I’m working on an update to my 2011 review of the Olympus OM-1. That camera came to me in a big kit with several lenses, some Olympus and some not. One of them was a hulking Vivitar 70-150 mm f/3.8 Close Focusing Auto Zoom, pictured below.
My dear friend Debbie had come to visit. We’ve known each other since the fifth grade; she’s my oldest friend. We both love the zoo, so we went. The OM-1 had only recently joined my collection and I figured this big, ugly zoom lens would be useful there. I loaded some Fujicolor 200 and off we went.
Eight years is a long time ago but I remember the big Vivitar making the OM-1 heavy and unwieldy. But as these photos attest, it did the job for which it was made.
I’m happy with this lens’s resolving power, but feel that it muted the saturated colors for which Fujicolor 200 is known.
The overcast day could have played into these muted colors, too. Also, in these days I was sending my film off to Snapfish for processing and scanning. Looking back, I think there were better lab choices even then.
You never know what you’re going to get with some third-party lens you get with an old camera. But this Vivitar did a decent job. You can almost count the hairs at the tip of this tiger’s tail.
That said, I’m not sure I’d shoot that lens again. I have a very good long Pentax-branded zoom for my Pentax K-mount bodies that I’d turn to first.
Lab scans of 35mm color negatives are miracles. Any lab I routinely use reliably sends me crackerjack digital images.
Getting usable scans from my CanoScan 9000F Mark II via its ScanGear software, on the other hand, is a lot of work involving a number of subjective choices in scanning and post-processing.
I used to think that the colors I got back from the lab were the film’s true colors. I see now how much of that is in the scanner settings, and that I don’t actually know how any film I typically use renders color.
The improvements I made this time were to scan to lossless TIFF files, and to turn off ScanGear’s Image Adjustment setting (which I had overlooked when turning off all the other image-enhancement settings). It helped? I think?
Here’s my scan of a photo I made on Kodak Gold 200 with my Olympus OM-1 and a 50mm f/3.5 Zuiko Auto Macro lens. There’s a little of that mottling in the blue sky that I keep trying to prevent. But it’s not as bad as in previous scans.
Roberts Camera scanned this film when I had them process it. It’s a touch brighter than my scan. The sky has a slight turquoise tint and lacks any mottling. Otherwise, either scan is fine.
Here’s my scan of a butterfly pausing over this flower. Notice how purple the flowers in the background are.
Roberts made those same flowers quite pink, but brought out the detail lurking in the butterfly’s wings.
I also tried scanning some Kodak Ektar 100 I shot in my Pentax Spotmatic F with a 35mm f/3.5 SMC Takumar lens.
Here’s Robert’s Camera’s scan. They got richer colors than I did, although I’d say the sky in mine looks more realistic. The green tint on the right edge of my scan is clearly an artifact of the negative that Robert’s somehow edited out.
I walked over to the building to make this close shot. My scan:
Roberts Camera’s scan got a richer red, but my scan offers better highlight detail.
It was so much easier when I accepted whatever color I got from my lab scans, as if they were the final word on film and lens. Now I’m suspicious of every scan, because of all the choices it represents. Is it possible that the only way to truly know what colors are in a negative is to make a darkroom print?
This, by the way, is the last in this series of experiments. I’ve learned what I need to. I get good enough black-and-white scans now to start processing and scanning black-and-white film, which was my goal. Now that I work Downtown in Indianapolis, eight blocks from Roberts Camera and their C41 lab, I’m likely to have them process and scan my 35mm color negative film. They charge just $10.