Recently I put a roll of Portra 160 through my Canon FTb, a camera which I hadn’t used for a while, as I’ve been shooting mostly medium format. I’ve sold most of my Canon FD lenses so the only one I have left is a 50mm f1.8. The FTb hasn’t been put up for sale because it has a dent in the pentaprism and the meter doesn’t work, so it wouldn’t fetch much on eBay.
The film roll lasted through a trip to Allenbanks, to Durham Botanical Gardens, and to Alnwick Castle, accompanied by a Sekonic Twinmate exposure meter.
The “accident” became obvious once I’d developed the film, as the negatives were very dense, indicating overexposure. Once they were scanned, I could see that they all had very narrow depth of focus, and yet I had been shooting, most often, at f11. I went to check that the lens was stopping down correctly, and indeed it was stuck at f1.8.
I transferred the lens to a Canon FX body, fired the shutter a few times, and the lens returned to normal. But the question was, could I produce some useable images from these overexposed negatives?
I think the answer was yes, but of course the viewer can decide for themselves. Portra is legendary for it’s ability to withstand over-exposure (and under-exposure, to a lesser degree).
I really like the backgrounds produced by shooting at f1.8. I know that others rave about wide-aperture shooting, but as I mainly shoot landscapes rather than portraits, I’ve not done much of that till now. In fact I used to own three different Canon 50mm f1.4 lenses but never used them deliberately at full aperture.
After this happy accident, I’m going to try to include more wide-aperture images. I’ll probably do this with the 110mm f2.8 lens on my Mamiya RZ67 – f2.8 on medium format produces about the same depth of field as f1.4 on 35mm, and I’ll have the advantage of the bigger negative size.