Nowadays, Fujifilm offers in its consumer film series four different ISOs 200, 400, 800 and 1600. The Fujicolor SUPERIA X-TRA 800, is the middle brother, resting between the balanced 200-400, and the super-grainy 1600. In the Asian market is quite difficult to find, I had to buy it from America, making it way more expensive than it should be. I love the idea of having a high ISO film in my camera, however, the relation price-grain-quality… is not really favorable in this one.
There are two different options ins the ISO 800 range, the SUPERIA X-TRA 800, the one I will review now, and there is also the SUPERIA VENUS 800. Originally I thought that, both of them were the same, but actually, if we compare both datasheets we can see that they are not the same film:
Not getting to technical, just to mention it, the Japanese line of Fujifilm is different to other countries, I will try to review also that line of films if I can get some of these films.
|Name||Fujicolor SUPERIA X-TRA 800|
|Available formats||35mm, Disposable cameras.|
I’m used to shoot 200-400 film, so when I loaded the ISO 800 and a 50mm f1.4, I was really really happy that even in low light I was getting high speeds, no more blurry pictures. For example this first picture, was took in the shade, in between two buildings, soft morning light and a 50mm at f2.8, and I happily remember being able to shoot at 1/250s. Usually with film, I have to go down to f1.4 and cross my fingers expecting to be in focus, or go down to 1/30s and wish that my hand is steady enough. It’s nice to get that feeling every so often.
After developing, the first thing I noticed is that the film has good colors for an 800 ISO film, the colors are a little bit flat, but acceptable. They can be easily fixed with 10 minutes of Photoshop, however for this review the pictures are as they come from the scanner.
Greens are beautiful! As always with Fujifilm films, the greens give a really vibrant feeling, saturated and true to real life. Definitely not a landscape lens, however, I used this film for some macro shots hand-held, with a Nikon FM and a 135mm f2.8 combined with an extension macro tube. The high speed of the film let me hold the camera without the need of a tripod, and considering how beautiful this greens are, don’t discard this film to use it when going for a nature-macro shot.
Blues… are quite off, really plain. Nothing really special, however, that can be taken as an advantage. If shooting wildlife or sports, the subject will pop up more, considering that blues will tend to be quite neutral. The picture of the playground is a little bit blurry and colors are quite off, but it was completely dark! Just a couple of street lights. I was testing how dark could I go with this film. We could have the same consideration for yellow, as we can see in the stamen of the flower or the playground, very dull yellows, really flat, not special but at the same time not too off. Not only in the rolls I shot but also the examples that I saw online, yellow tones are a bit “yolkish”.
As always with the Superia line, reds are vibrant and punchy. In the hockey match picture, we can see how even with artificial illumination, and big contrast between the audience and the ice, red stands out over any other color.
Finally, I tested this film in some portraits, with some friends with a lighter skin tone (Makiko) and darker skin tone (Caroline) under natural light and direct flash, to see how this film reacts to different situations. You can click to enlarge this gallery.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, cheap(ish) color negative film with ISO 800 should have also a quite large grain… Unsurprisingly… YES it does. However, judging if this grain gives a really organic feeling or destroys your image, is really up to you. Let’s do an unfair comparison with an ISO 200 Film of the same price range (Kodak Gold 200, review also here Kodak Gold 200 )
Kodak Gold 200:
Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800:
Same day, same setup, same lighting, even same camera and lens (Nikon FM with a 50mm f1.8D) gave me really different results. Independently of the hue and color, grain is way more visible in the second picture. We lose all the definition in the shadows, the transition of colors in the hair is lost, and the skin is much more gritty and undefined. This lens is not meant for portraits or landscape, but it really does an acceptable job considering the high ISO. Nowadays, with so many different formats in the market the decision on grainy pictures or not is up to you and your style. Just don’t expect smooth grainless pictures with this film.
Color chart and measurement of the colors.
RED Average Colour R:167.0 G:141.0 B:105.0
GREEN Average Colour R:136.0 G:190.0 B:103.0
BLUE Average Colour R:73.0 G:109.0 B:134.0
YELLOW Average Colour R:211.0 G:204.0 B:104.0
Check: How do I measure the colors?
Summarizing, the Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800 is a balanced film. If found at a good price it can be a good investment if you really need a high speed ISO film. However, there s a big drawback that I haven’t mention during the review, the price. In Taiwan, where I’m based nowadays, it is a very difficult to find film. I couldn’t find a single roll in here and I had to order it on-line, in B&H was something around 9 US$ for a 24 exposures roll! not including shipping. I consider this film WAY overpriced considering the results. 9 Dollars is the price of a roll of Kodak Portra 800 or, if you really want the Fujifilm color pattern, almost the price of a roll of Fujifilm 400H, that can be easily pushed one stop, probably giving better results than this X-TRA 800.
- If you are looking for a fast film and don’t care much about the grain.
- If you are looking to shoot macro hand-held
- For a compact camera with a very narrow aperture (Even I believe X-TRA 400 pushed one stop would be equally good at a third of the price.)
- If you are able to find it at a good price (4~5 US$)
- If you need vibrant colors
- If you need a clean and detailed image without grain
- Portraits. There are better options at the same speed like Portra or Cinestill. If you really need to take a series of portraits in low light, get a flash or a continuous light. Your colors will be more true to reality and punchy.
- Landscape. In my opinion, the grain is too thick, it loses too much detail. Better carrying a tiny tripod and a lower ISO film.
Fujifilm Quicksnap 800
Even I never buy disposable cameras, I admit that they are so fun to use. The Fujifilm Quicksnap 800, and the Marine version (underwater) come loaded with the Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 800. With a 35mm lens and a really narrow aperture (f5.6 I believe) this camera really matches up with this film. I never used this combination, but checking more information in Flickr I noticed that people take great photos with this combo. With the small flash and emphasizing in composition it gives GREAT results. Really fun to use, really is really worth the try.
Check out the gallery for more shots taken with this film!