Q. There has been a lot of discussion at our camera club meetings about the new Kodak VR-G film as opposed to the new Fuji HR. Have you tried them? Which is the best? What do the professional photographers, the photojournalists, use? Do you recommend it for amateurs? I have a Canon Super Sure Shot.
A. Yes indeed. I've tried both and like them both.
But let me say right away that for many, perhaps even most amateurs, especially those using the new compacts, I'm not sure there is any difference.
To explain: I have always been a fan of Fuji film. Years ago, when the Milwaukee Journal was leading the nation in use of newspaper color, it used Fuji film.
We found that the earth tones were remarkably good. The browns and reds were the best we could get, and reproduced beautifully.
Through the years, I continued to find this true.
Yet, when you talk about preference in film, you have so many other things to consider. What kind of pictures are you taking? Are you shooting indoors with flash? Are you trying to shoot outdoors under almost all kinds of lighting conditions? Are you trying to make closeups of people? Do you shoot water pictures or sports?
Then, once you make your pictures, what next? Do you just want standard 3x5 prints for an album and an occasional 5x7? Do you want to have everything printed 8x10 and even an occasional 11x14?
I tested these films in the same way I would advise you or your group to do: Take some pictures with both kinds of film under the most controlled conditions you can.
For instance, I made pictures in bright sunlight, open shade, near dusk light and heavy overcast -- all of the same subject. It was a construction site of a building going up in Fairfax County. I was able to set up my tripod in almost the same spot each time I shot and was able to use both kinds of film on each shooting expedition.
I also did some shooting on a color test card that I made up. Nothing fancy, but made with some strips of colored tape and some stuff cut out of magazines. Again, I shot in as many kinds of light as I could, including moving the card inside to shoot with flash.
If you use two cameras, it's easier, but then you have to worry whether your shutters are matched. I had my shutters matched professionally and used both.
I was pretty happy with most of the film. In some cases the pictures weren't so hot, but the tests of color were fine.
Sometimes I felt that the Kodak VR-G was sharper, particularly the mid-speed stuff. By the same token, I loved the Fujichrome 50 and the HR 1600.
I will continue to use both, trying to pick the correct film for the correct situation. I suggest you make some of your own tests. GETTING CLOSE
Q. Last week I saw some very beautiful close-up slides of flowers. In fact, some of them were parts of flowers. My camera doesn't focus that close. When I look through it, everything seems much too small. How does this work.?
A.We're talkin' macro!
Macro photography is the ability to shoot small subjects or parts of subjects close up. It's a great way to extend your photographic horizon.
There are several ways to do macro photography. First, most of the modern zoom lenses can focus close enough so that you can fill up your viewfinder with an object at 1/4 life size.
Then, there are the macro lenses, designed specifically for this kind of work. They focus as close as two inches so that very small, or even parts of objects can be photographed. These lenses can achieve a 1:1 ratio of focus, which means that you can actually shoot things at life size. Available in both 50mm or 100mm focal lengths, they have very high resolution, and are very sharp on the edges. They're just right for copying such things as stamps and coins and they also can be used as general purpose lenses. They're great for making pictures to be blown up to poster size and they're great for copying those valuable old pictures that are beginning to fade.
Carl Kramer, former director of photography for The Washington Post, will try to answer your photography questions in his column, but cannot reply individually. Send your questions to: Carl Kramer, c/o Weekend, The Washington Post, 1150 15th Street NW, Washington DC 20071.