Fujicolor C200 Review

Fujicolor C200 is a daylight balanced, ISO 200 film offered by Fujifilm, currently is one of the few films remaining in the Fujifilm consumer series after the discontinuation of Superia 200. Along with Fujicolor C200 the other option is the Fujicolor X-TRA 400, a similar film in the ISO400 range.

IMG_20170402_160800_HDR

When searching for more information about this film, many people wonder if this film is a re-packed Superia 200 others affirm that is Agfa Vista Plus 200. I can confirm that is not any of those, it looks similar to the Agfa, but it is quite different from the Superia 200. I believe the Fujicolor C200 is a different and low-cost Fujifilm emulsion that is cheaply produced, in order to reduce costs and keep a consumer film in the market. The main difference probably is the lack of the famous 4th layer included in Superia 200. Although C200 is introduced as the cheapest option available, I was quite pleased with the results, much more than with the Superia 200. Without getting too technical, here is how the structure of both films looks side by side.

c200 vs superia 200

Name Fujifilm Fujicolor C200
ISO 200
Developer C-41, CN-16
Available formats 35mm
Exposures 24, 36
DX coding Yes
Availability ★★★★★

IMG_20170318_161758_HDR

The advantage of reviewing a cheap film is that I don’t need to break the piggy bank to buy it, I was able to buy several rolls to try them in different lights and situations. With this film, I used my -now defunct- Nikon F100 with the 24-120mm f3.5-5.6D when hiking and camping in Taiwan. A F90x / 50mm f1.8D for the beach trips, along with the Nikon FM2 with a 28mm and a 50mm f1.8 Ais for my daily life shots, trips to the US and a trip in the French Pyrenees.

[FILM] TAIWAN camping KTV MAR2017 Nikon F100 Fujicolor C200007

US Des Moines Halloween OCT2018 Nikon FM2 Fujicolor C200029

The Fujicolor C200 is a really balanced film, rendering a quite balanced palette. As with many Fujifilm films, greens are one of its strongest points. Not so vivid as the Superia line, and it always rendered slightly warm green tones. Not as warm as Kodak Colorplus 200, but warmer than I remember them in the real scene.

FRANCE - Pyrenees Ariegeoises - Jul 2017 - Nikon FM2 Fujicolor C200018

FRANCE - Pyrenees Ariegeoises - Jul 2017 - Nikon FM2 Fujicolor C200028

Shooting at box speed gives you very natural and pleasant blue tones, really wide tonality and surprisingly this film is quite forgiving in the highlights considering its price.

FRANCE - Pyrenees Ariegeoises - Jul 2017 - Nikon FM2 Fujicolor C200008

US Des Moines Halloween OCT2018 Nikon FM2 Fujicolor C200034

Reds are more muted than other Fujifilm films, films like Superia 200, or the Industrial 100 are much more vivid and intense. Definitely I prefer this muted red tones, a little bit more “red firebrick” than bright red.

FRANCE - Pyrenees Ariegeoises - Jul 2017 - Nikon FM2 Fujicolor C200007

FRANCE - Pyrenees Ariegeoises - Jul 2017 - Nikon FM2 Fujicolor C200004

Same as blue tones, yellow tones are natural, balanced and true to color.

[FILM] TAIWAN tamsui summer JUL2017 Nikon F100 (Problem) Fujicolor C200 -007

In addition, I tested this film in some portraits, with some friends withd ifferent skin tones under natural light and direct flash, to see how this film reacts to different situations. You can click to enlarge this gallery.

Is not a film designed for portraits, but still does a really good job. Natural skin tones, slightly more warm or magenta than they were in real life, but it can be easily solved in post (none of these pictures was edited). In my opinion, is MUCH better than the discontinued Superia 200, and better than Superia 400 shot at box speed (overexposing will solve the magenta skin tone). It wouldn’t be my top choice for a portrait session, but it definitely has the potential to be an excellent balanced walk-around film.


Color chart and measurement of the colors.

[FILM] TAIWAN tamsui summer JUL2017 Nikon F100 (Problem) Fujicolor C200 -014

YELLOW Average Colour R:240.0 G:210.0 B:56.0

RED Average Colour R:210.0 G:110.0 B:60.0

BLUE Average Colour R:68.0 G:121.0 B:158.0

GREEN Average Colour  R:158.0 G:195.0 B:76.0

See also: How do I measure the colors?


[FILM] TAIWAN camping KTV MAR2017 Nikon F100 Fujicolor C200014

FRANCE - Pyrenees Ariegeoises - Jul 2017 - Nikon FM2 Fujicolor C200001

[FILM] TAIWAN camping KTV MAR2017 Nikon F100 Fujicolor C200017

Overexposing the C200 one stop (Shot at 100 ISO) 

There is a small yellow cast over the picture, in the green tones it gets more accented than in other tones, blues are more pastel than at box speed.

Underexposing C200 one stop (shot at 400 ISO)

Blues become strong and more vibrant. However, greens become muddier and they start to fade in the shadows. Shadows become slightly greenish, really typical feeling of other Fujifilm films. I’m not a fan of this green shadows, but I saw people doing a great job doing low-key portraits and work with this technique and they look amazing. I’d rather go for a similarly-priced 400 ISO if you really need the extra speed.


Fujicolor C200 is a film that I really like. It is widely available, it is cheap, you can buy 24 and 36 exposures and the latitude is amazing, you can easily underexpose without worrying too much on burning the highlights. Grain is quite controlled for such a cheap film. With a good scanner and a few minutes of editing you can get amazing results with it. It wouldn’t be my top choice in the range of cheap films, I’d rather shoot Superia X-TRA 400 at ISO200, or Kodak Colorplus at 200 as well. But, you can’t go wrong with this film, for almost any situation.

YES

  • Daily use, load it in your camera and ready to go. It will respond correctly to any situation.
  • Experiment with it, overexpose, underexpose, all the results came out great from every camera I used it.
  • Widely available, cheap and good, what else do you need?

NO

  • If you are looking for a sharp, clean image. I felt that it can be quite muddy sometimes.
  • I wouldn’t overexpose it too much, better go for the Superia X-TRA 400 for almost the same price.

 

Check out the gallery for more shots taken with this film!


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Fujicolor Superia X-Tra 400 Review

The Fujicolor Superia X-Tra 400 is one of the last remaining consumer series offered by Fujifilm. It is a really versatile ISO400 film, balanced for daylight and widely available everywhere. Most of the other consumer films offered by Fujifilm have been discontinued like Reala and Superia 100 in 2009. After that, in 2017  Superia 200 and X-tra 800 (both reviewed in the past) were also discontinued outside Japan. Leaving the Fujicolor C200 and X-TRA 400 as their only consumer films worldwide.

IMG_20180510_114100

Fujifilm in Japan is a complete different story. Worldwide we see less and less films from them (leaving aside their INSTAX series). But, for the Japanese market, apart of the Superia X-tra 400, Fujifilm Japan launched in 2009 the Superia PREMIUM 400  with improved exposure latitude and optimized for Japanese skin tones (definition from their voucher) and without the 4th color layer. Alongside with the PREMIUM 400 and only for the Japanese market there is the Superia VENUS 800, different to the Superia X-TRA 800 and the amazing Fujicolor 100. Luckily, on a recent trip to Japan I could test them all, but they are quite hard to find outside the Japanese market.  This review is for the worldwide available Superia X-Tra 400.

Name Superia X-TRA 400
ISO 400
Developer C-41
Available formats 35mm
Exposures 24, 36
DX Coding Yes
Availability ★★★★★

IMG_20180510_114531

It is a very tempting film because of its price, as of today, is the cheapest 400ISO color film in B&H. Agfacolor Vista 400 is gone and the Kodak Ultramax 400 is slightly more expensive, it is a great option for shooter on a tight budget. Price and availability made this film my top choice many times, that’s why I shot so many rolls of this film. For this review, I will include some rolls that I shot with multiple cameras, Nikon FM, F3, F4, F90x and a FM2n (My current and favorite camera). Always paired with a 28mm or a 50mm. I was able shoot it in different locations: Taiwan, Spain, Ireland in different times and lights.

[Film] SPAIN TAIWAN - boat sanxia - AUG2016 -Nikon FM S - Fujifilm XTRA 400 -026

IRELAND - Cork - Guiness AUG2016 Nikon FM Fujifilm Xtra 400 -019

[FILM] TAIWAN yuanshan street MAR2017 Nikon F4 Fujicolor X-TRA 400017

Reds are simply amazing in this film! Really punchy and saturated.  When using it for street photography, reds completely pop.  Reds can even be distracting sometimes, and they will affect some lighter skin tones (more on that later).

[FILM] IRELAND TAIWAN maria ireland taipei NIKON FM(S) Fujifilm XTRA400-004

[FILM] TAIWAN yuanshan street MAR2017 Nikon F4 Fujicolor X-TRA 400015

[FILM] TAIWAN yuanshan street MAR2017 Nikon F4 Fujicolor X-TRA 400012

Along with the red tones, greens are also really high in contrast. I really love the green in nature landscapes. Foliage looks great, even is not a great film for landscapes (lack of detail retention and grain) , is definitely a great film for a day out at the park or hiking. Shadows also tend to adopt a greenish tone, really characteristic of Fujifilm films, you either love it or hate it.

IRELAND - Cork - Guiness AUG2016 Nikon FM Fujifilm Xtra 400 -003

[Film] SPAIN TAIWAN - boat sanxia - AUG2016 -Nikon FM S - Fujifilm XTRA 400 -002

Although, not as striking as greens or reds. Blues are really beautiful and balanced. Particularly with warm light, blues are really true to color.

[FILM] TAIWAN yuanshan street MAR2017 Nikon F4 Fujicolor X-TRA 400021

IRELAND - Cork - Guiness AUG2016 Nikon FM Fujifilm Xtra 400 -015

Same as blues, yellows are really balanced and pleasing. They can come up a little bit dark sometimes. It really remind me to other Fujifilm series, the industrial 業務記錄用 , only for sale in Japan.

In addition, I shot some portraits in different lights, with and without flash.

The biggest problem that I see in this film, the ruddy skin tones. Although I praised the red tones before, I believe they are not really flattering when dealing with skin tones. Darker skin tones become slightly red, but people with lighter skin tones will become straight up pink! Since I like to include people in my pictures, this factor become decisive when choosing film. I found the same problem before with Kodak Ektar 100, great film for landscapes, but definitely not the best for portraits. This can be solved overexposing one or two stops the film, I will talk a little bit more about this onwards.


Color chart and measurement of the colors.

TAIWAN Mary Pingxi MAY2018 Nikon FM2 Fuji Xtra 400023

RED Average Colour R:217.0 G:135.0 B:89.0

BLUE Average Colour R:92.0 G:163.0 B:196.0

YELLOW Average Colour R:233.0 G:203.0 B:55.0

GREEN Average Colour R:197.0 G:211.0 B:131.0

See also: How do I measure the colors?


[FILM] TAIWAN Jorge Taipei center DEC2015 Nikon F3 Fujifilm X-TRA 400025

I really enjoyed shooting this film. It cover all the bases, easy to find in stores and on-line, a cheap quality option. I like ISO400 films, it is really functional and not too grainy considering the speed. You can always have one in your bag, experiment with it, since is DX coded, you can also put it in your compact camera and good to go.

It is definitely not my favorite film, I don’t hate the green cast that some of the photos have. However, I can’t stand the ruddy (red) skin tones. I want to like this film more, but I like to include subjects in my pictures and I hate that everyone looks so red. Looking for information on how to solve this problem I found out this blog on How to shoot Superia X-Tra 400 , It strongly recommend to shoot two stops over exposed “Most consumer films do better with about two stops of overexposure and Fuji Superia 400 Xtra is no exception. You want to rate it around ISO 100 (metering from the shadows) if you” have enough light, which is 2 stops over box speed.” So I decided to try it myself, and shot a film overexposing 1 stop and underexposing 1 stop.

Underexposing X-TRA 400 

Setting 800ASA in your camera will underexpose by one stop. It will accentuate the green-red tones, that can give a really cool effect if you are playing with the shadows as elements, but definitely not my favorite when dealing with skin tones or detail.

[FILM] TAIWAN Jorge Taipei center DEC2015 Nikon F3 Fujifilm X-TRA 400006

TAIWAN Mary Pingxi MAY2018 Nikon FM2 Fuji Xtra 400020

Overexposing X-TRA 400

Setting your camera at 200ISO will overexpose your film by one stop. It will mute a little bit the red and green tones and will give you a more pleasant pastel tones. And Bingo! better skin tones. After this last overexposed frames, I started to like more X-tra 400.

TAIWAN Mary Pingxi MAY2018 Nikon FM2 Fuji Xtra 400033

TAIWAN Mary Pingxi MAY2018 Nikon FM2 Fuji Xtra 400 -001

In conclusion, a great all-around film that, in my opinion really needs to be overexposed for at least one stop to get the best of it. I personally would choose first Kodak Ultramax 400 or the recently discontinued Agfacolor Vista 400. But you can’t go wrong with this film. I saw some people on-line that do amazing work with this film.

YES ⇑

  • Daily use, versatile, high speed, load it in your camera and ready to go.
  • Great price! If you are on a budget, you will not be disappointed.
  • Great for wildlife and macro, greens and reds just pop!

NO ⇓

  • If you don’t like red skin tones.
  • I find the colors more pleasant when shooting at ISO100-200, so if you really need a high speed film, think about it twice.
  • It doesn’t pull well, it gets too grainy. Go better for the Superia X-tra 800.

Check out the gallery for more shots taken with this film!


Lomography CN 400 Review

Lomography is a company with which I have a love-hate relationship. I hate the over-hyped cameras at exorbitant prices, making simple toy cameras and the  “Don’t Think, Just Shoot”  a luxury that only a few can attain. However, I really appreciate that a company is still interested in promoting the use of film as a medium to allow artists to express themselves, bringing back old film emulsions and formats and creating a community of sharing their ideas and creations.

DSC_0221

While I would never buy a “La Sardina” or a LOMO LC-A 120 for double the price of a Bronica, the film option actually doesn’t seem too bad. A pack of three “Lomography CN 400” is very similar in price to buying three rolls of Ultramax 400 or Superia 400. So I decided to give it a go, and surprisingly I loved it!

Name Lomography CN400
ISO 400
Developer C-41
Available formats 35mm (Pack of 3), 120mm (Pack of 3)
Exposures 35mm: 36

120mm: Depending on format

DX coding Yes
Availability ★★★★☆

logo_lomography

IMG_20170402_161036.jpg

Lomography is believed to be an old Kodak emulsion, specifically the Kodak VR 400. Old emulsion doesn’t mean that the film is expired or old discontinued film that would give irregular results. It is a new fresh film with an old chemical emulsion. The Kodak VR was replaced in the 90s for the Gold Series, the VR 200 is believed to be the current Colorplus 200. The Kodak VR 400 was really popular in the 80s. For that very reason, the Lomography CN 400 gives this really cool vintage feeling, with really vivid and contrasting colors.

 

I took these three rolls camping around Taiwan, Spain, and Southern France. I normally like high-speed films, and especially with changing light, different weather conditions and a slow 24-120mm f3.5-5.6 the Lomography CN 400 pairs perfectly with this setup.

There is a major issue with this film. When shot at box speed (ISO 400) the film came surprisingly underexposed, although the colors were vibrant and intense, the shadows and dark colors were totally lost. Shooting overexposing for half a step, setting ISO 320 on your camera, will give much more natural colors, still vibrant, but recovering much more detail from shadows and more pleasant colors, especially if there are people in the picture. So, personally, I do not recommend shooting at box speed, I recommend to always overexpose, for at least 1/2 step, even a full step if you are planning to use it for portraits.

[FILM] TAIWAN Camping jingshan MAR2017 Nikon F100 Lomography 400023
Shot at ISO400
SPAIN - Alcazar Segovia - JUL2017 - Nikon FM2 - Lomography 400 -015
Shot at ISO320 (Overexposed 1/2 step)

Blue tones are beautiful at any exposure, at iso400 will give very radiant and vivid light blue colors, the slightly overexposed brilliant blue tones will become more natural. Here is an example of the two different kinds of skies that we can obtain with the Lomography  CN 400.

[FILM] TAIWAN Camping jingshan MAR2017 Nikon F100 Lomography 400026

[FILM] TAIWAN hualien friends visiting MAY2017 Nikon F100 Lomography 400023

Same goes for the red tones, they are bright and vivid when overexposed, like the pillars in the bottom picture of the temple. However, when shot at box speed, the red becomes shiny and kind of fluorescent, like the lanterns in the picture of the door at the top of this review.

[FILM] TAIWAN hualien friends visiting MAY2017 Nikon F100 Lomography 400003

Yellow tones, although, are not as bright as blue and red. They give really strong golden  tones (more like an egg yolk). Describing the hue as such might seem like an unpleasant color. However, actually taking a look at the pictures, like the one of the lantern or the train in the bottom, I felt that it was somehow pleasant.

[FILM] TAIWAN hualien friends visiting MAY2017 Nikon F100 Lomography 400031

[FILM] TAIWAN hualien friends visiting MAY2017 Nikon F100 Lomography 400004.jpg

Green tones are pleasant, they do not stand out for being too bright like blues or reds, but they are also not washed out. I wouldn’t use this film as a primary choice for landscapes, but this film was not oriented to shoot landscapes anyways.

[FILM] TAIWAN hualien friends visiting MAY2017 Nikon F100 Lomography 400010

[FILM] TAIWAN Camping jingshan MAR2017 Nikon F100 Lomography 400014

SPAIN - Alcazar Segovia - JUL2017 - Nikon FM2 - Lomography 400 -003

Ultimately, I shot different portraits in different lighting situations of some friends with  lighter skin tones and darker skin tones under natural light and direct flash, to see how this film reacts to different situations. You can click to enlarge this gallery.

 

 

The skin colors are surprisingly natural, considering that the Lomography CN 400 is not a portrait film per se. I like this film more than other cheap alternatives like Superia 400. Definitely not better than Portra or 400H, but definitely really good results for the price, especially under natural light.


Color chart and measurement of the colors.

SPAIN - Alcazar Segovia - JUL2017 - Nikon FM2 - Lomography 400 -011

RED Average Colour R:206.0 G:105.0 B:71.0

GREEN Average Colour R:139.0 G:152.0 B:72.0

BLUE Average Colour R:77.0 G:112.0 B:144.0

YELLOW Average Colour R:224.0 G:168.0 B:57.0

You can take also a look on this article on How do I measure the colors?


 

This film ticks all the boxes for me, cheap, easy to find (most big cities have a Lomography store, otherwise online.), high-iso without a crazy grain and, most importantly, it gives a really interesting color palette, very colorful and vintage at the same time. It is different from the Portra 400 or Fuji 400H pastel tones that we see so often online. It is more in the range of Kodak Ultramax or Superia 400.

 

 

I’m surprised but not afraid to recognize that Lomography has done a great job marketing this film. It is the perfect film for their cameras, colorful and with a great latitude, underexposing or overexposing it will give exceptional and splashy results. If you like compact cameras, it pairs perfectly with the small aperture that they have, independently of using flash or not. If you use an SLR/Rangefinder it can be your everyday film too, since it adapts well to any situation or light that you may encounter.

[FILM] TAIWAN hualien friends visiting MAY2017 Nikon F100 Lomography 400018

There are a couple of drawbacks, you have to buy a three-roll pack. If you just want to try out this film, or you just need it for a special occasion, you have to buy the complete box. In my opinion, it has to be Overexposed, I would never shoot this film at 400 again. Minimum ISO320 or 200 would be the chosen speed, making this film a little bit slower in real use.

YES ⇑

  • For daily use, load it in any kind of camera and expect great results, harsh light, flash, it will resolve pretty well for its price
  • Great latitude, perfect for any kind of camera (including their own Lomo ones)
  • Bright and vivid colors, can make picturesque images even in dull spaces.

NO ⇓

  • Not the best for landscape, grainy and not bright green colors.
  • It has to be overexposed, so not a real 400 ISO.

 

Check out the gallery for more shots taken with the Lomography CN400.


 

 

 

Rollei Redbird Redscale 400 Review

Rollei Redbird Redscale 400

04/12/2016

          The Rollei Redbird is a Redscale film from the “Creative Edition” of the German manufacturer Rollei.  From the name we can guess that this film is not aiming for realistic colors or pleasant skin tones. So, what makes this film special? This film follows the redscale process, for those not familiar with this familiar with this project, basically is a normal film exposed on the wrong side (backwards), this means the light you let through the shutter must first make its way through several layers until it reaches the light-sensitive one. Therefore, this film is specially designed to shoot backwards creating crazy red tones.

IMG_20161203_185842_HDR

Name Rollei Redbird Redscale 400
ISO 400
Developer C-41
Available formats 35mm, 120mm
Exposures 36
DX Coding No
Availability ★★★☆☆

On-line in the major distributors

          Something that call my attention is that the manufacturer states on their site “real 400 ISO film”, however, in every review I saw on-line, every reviewer and comment says the same: OVEREXPOSE!, it seems that the film even in sunny days or with flash will underexpose every single frame, creating underexposed, grainy and ugly images. Other crazy thing about this film is the possibility to change the effect by working with the exposure times, getting more yellow hue images in faster speeds and more red under 1/30. It might be related to the exposure that the film receives. It’s my first time shooting redscale and being aware of that, I will try to shoot this film at 400,200 and 100

[FILM] TAIWAN - US tamsui street yongle DEC2016 Nikon FM(S) - Rollei Redscale 400 -031

           Normally, I like to divide my reviews into small sections and try to analyze or just separate how different colors work. However, with this redscale film there is few room to analyze that, and even I took the normal photographies of subjects with lighter and darker skin tones and the color chart… As the name indicates we will see some kind of black and red.

Shooting at the stated 400ISO, we get really rich red color, this picture of the dog was taken in bright sunlight. We can see all the detail in the white fur of the dog,  however, when we get in slightly darker tones, for example the bag in the scooter, or the bottom part of the bike. We totally lose every detail, obviously noticing that the picture is underexposed. What a pity, I really enjoy shooting high ISO film… however shooting the Rollei Redbird you will either be forced to shoot at a lower speed or either push in develop. But, this film is grainy enough to push in develop….

[FILM] TAIWAN - US tamsui street yongle DEC2016 Nikon FM(S) - Rollei Redscale 400 -009

[FILM] TAIWAN - US tamsui street yongle DEC2016 Nikon FM(S) - Rollei Redscale 400 -016

If we try to overexpose the film in one step (a way to overexpose this film one step for example, is setting the ISO of our camera to 200), we get very rich red tones, in the first picture, the bicycle was in the shade and we can see it very clearly in the picture. The sidewalk still retains detail with very rich yellow~orange tones.

[FILM] TAIWAN - US tamsui street yongle DEC2016 Nikon FM(S) - Rollei Redscale 400 -015

[FILM] TAIWAN - US tamsui street yongle DEC2016 Nikon FM(S) - Rollei Redscale 400 -011

Overexposing one stop, definitely will give us much more detail allover the picture.

          Finally, Overexposing two steps (shooting the film like it were ISO 100) we totally fade the bright red that we had in the other previous photos. The photos are less contrasty, more brown(ish) than red(ish). They look like that “Sepia” filter from our old cellphones, definitely not my piece of cake this style, but if you are looking for a vintage feeling for your prints, is not a bad idea.

[FILM] TAIWAN - US tamsui street yongle DEC2016 Nikon FM(S) - Rollei Redscale 400 -022

[FILM] TAIWAN - US tamsui street yongle DEC2016 Nikon FM(S) - Rollei Redscale 400 -001

By the end of the roll, I took the camera to the countryside and set my tripod to compare the different ISO shots with similar scenarios

ISO400 

[FILM] TAIWAN - US tamsui street yongle DEC2016 Nikon FM(S) - Rollei Redscale 400 -004

ISO200

[FILM] TAIWAN - US tamsui street yongle DEC2016 Nikon FM(S) - Rollei Redscale 400 -005

ISO100

[FILM] TAIWAN - US tamsui street yongle DEC2016 Nikon FM(S) - Rollei Redscale 400 -006

In this side by side comparison is summarized what I mentioned before, at a normal exposition dark reds in the sky losing all detail in the bushes. Overexposing one step we obtain bright reds and some details in the shade, and finally overexposing two steps, full detail in the dark tones and a bright yellow.


Color chart and measurement of the colors.

[FILM] TAIWAN - US tamsui street yongle DEC2016 Nikon FM(S) - Rollei Redscale 400 -002

RED Average Colour R:233.0 G:104.0 B:47.0

GREEN Average Colour R:238.0 G:148.0 B:54.0

BLUE  Average Colour R:153.0 G:46.0 B:23.0

YELLOW Average Colour R:234.0 G:130.0 B:48.0

See also: How do I measure the colors?


Lastly, I used the Redbird in different portrait situations, with a lighter skin tone subject (Maggie), darker skin tone (Ailton), with and without direct flash.

The film gave really inconsistent results in the portraits, so It would be difficult to actually review it… again with the same old song. Brighter situations will give more yellow tones like the outdoors picture of Ailton, while darker ones like for example the one of Maggie with the flash on and a pretty low aperture will give really dark reds.


[FILM] TAIWAN - US tamsui street yongle DEC2016 Nikon FM(S) - Rollei Redscale 400 -020

          In conclusion, It’s an interesting film, full of possibilities for that kind of people experimenting with film, I’m sure this kind of film will give also lot of room for creativity while developing and processing. Maybe indoors with a circular diffuser on your flash will give really a really cool dramatic effect, shooting a band or for some creative project. Definitely not my style, but worth the try. I wish we could get those bright reds shooting like an 800 film instead of a 200…

YES ⇑

  • If you want to try something new and different
  • If you develop by yourself and can fully experiment with it
  • If you want a creative effect and you plan to shoot outdoors or under bright light
  • Good for “lomographers” however, be aware of the slow speed of the film to get clear results.

NO ⇓

  • If you want consistency on your work
  • If you look for clean, grainless and detailed photos.
  • If you are on a budget. You can do your own redscale film yourself with some expired film. Check this link to know how:How to redscale?

Just for fun

IMG_20161211_145809_HDR-01

        I took a picture of that same landscape  of the tree and the cloudy ski, at ISO 200 but with a gradual filter, top being dark orange and transparent in the bottom. The result would be more interesting if I would have underexposed a couple of stops more, but it was an interesting idea actually, because initially I didn’t like the red mess that I got in the scan. However I kind of like the picture after I converted it to black and white.

 

[FILM] TAIWAN - US tamsui street yongle DEC2016 Nikon FM(S) - Rollei Redscale 400 -003

[FILM] TAIWAN - US tamsui street yongle DEC2016 Nikon FM(S) - Rollei Redscale 400 -003-2

 

Check out the gallery for more fullscreen results of this film

 

 

Kodak Ultramax 400 Review

         The Kodak Ultramax 400 is one of the stars at souvenir and retail stores, cheap, all-purpose daylight color negative film with ISO 400/27°. We can feel the amateur target all around the package with the stockphoto family pictures and the uses for the film, however, I love the vintage feeling of Kodak canisters with just the plain Kodak yellow. With a not-so-great reputation for his grain and yellowish skin tones, let’s see how this cheap film response in the real-life test.

IMG_20161110_160136_AO_HDR-02

Name Kodak ULTRAMAX 400
ISO 400
Developer C-41
Available formats 35mm
Exposures 24, 36
DX Coding Yes
Availability ★★★★★

Everywhere!

As a broke film shooter, the first thing that catches my eye is the price, a roll of Ultramax 400 is around US$4~5 making it one of the cheapest films in the shelf of the store, competing directly with (at least here in Taiwan) with the Agfa Vista Color 400 and the Fujicolor Superia X-tra, however, in almost every store, I find the Ultramax a tad cheaper than the rest, maybe a negligible difference, but interesting to point out whatsoever.

I tend to love high ISO film, I like fast and versatile film, especially for everyday use. When I don’t know what kind of assignment or situation I will find, I will load a cheap, 200-400 ISO film and close the aperture to f5.6-8, making me able to snap almost everything in focus with my favorite focal length (28mm). That’s why the Ultramax 400 really suits my needs, cheap, fast, versatile and easy to find. However, that wouldn’t be important if the colors weren’t correct or unpleasant. Even I used this film quite a lot in the past, I wanted a fresh start, even usually I buy 2 rolls for these reviews, I had some of the  Ultramax ready for some tests in different environments.


[FILM] TAIWAN - Jorge Kaohsiung - DEC2015 - Nikon F3 Kodak Ultramax 400 -004

[FILM] TAIWAN - Jorge Kaohsiung - DEC2015 - Nikon F3 Kodak Ultramax 400 -005

[FILM] TAIWAN - Jorge Kaohsiung - DEC2015 - Nikon F3 Kodak Ultramax 400 -006

          First roll… In my face, I’ve found out that my Nikon F3 had the light seals destroyed… and every picture has that nasty light leak coming through the right side of the frame. However I was quite surprised to see that the colors are really pleasant and true to color. If the photos are lacking a bit contrast here, I think is because the landscape was like that, Kaohsiung (City in the south of Taiwan, worth the visit!) can be a little bit foggy in the early dawn.

Eventually, this light leaks is what led me to sell my F3 and buy the Nikon FM, I know people love the F3 but… I prefer to have a couple of LED for the lightmeter instead of the small LCD.

Decomposing the review a little bit by color, I felt that the red is really neutral and balanced. Red doesn’t pop up so much like other cheap films (Like the Fujicolor X-TRA 400 for example), in fact I would say that was a little bit off. However, I quite enjoy the feeling that gives on the skin tones (more on that later)

[FILM] TAIWAN - First week Tamsui - AUG2014 Nikon F3 Kodak Ultramax 400 -006

[FILM] TAIWAN FQ - hiking street OCT2016 - Nikon FM Kodak Ultramax 400 -033


For the blue tones, I found something quite interesting. In harsh light it will give quite bright but normal blues, however, with the light at dusk, will give surprisingly vivid blues, maybe even too much, giving the image a slight blue tint. It can be really useful if shooting in yellow light.

[FILM] TAIWAN - Jorge Kaohsiung - DEC2015 - Nikon F3 Kodak Ultramax 400 -007

[FILM] TAIWAN Jorge Pingxi DEC2015 Nikon F3 Kodak Ultramax 400-019

[FILM] TAIWAN - First week Tamsui - AUG2014 Nikon F3 Kodak Ultramax 400 -021
Some of the blue tinted images that I mentioned before.

The greens are really on point, true color, vivid, but not distracting. I wouldn’t use it so much for  shooting landscapes, however I would take this film on a hike for example, the one of the farmer is in a high mountain in Taiwan. The high ISO it let me close the aperture to f11 and still having a shutter speed over 1/250.

[FILM] TAIWAN FQ - hiking street OCT2016 - Nikon FM Kodak Ultramax 400 -014

[FILM] TAIWAN Jorge Pingxi DEC2015 Nikon F3 Kodak Ultramax 400-015

[FILM] TAIWAN Jorge Pingxi DEC2015 Nikon F3 Kodak Ultramax 400-023
Last roll of my Tokina 19-35, The vignetting was quite noticeable, however was a surprisingly great performer.

The yellows are really vivid, in both of these pictures the subjects were take in the shade, and even so, the yellow really pops out. Even we can see clearly the yellow spots in the thorax of the spider, something that, when I took the picture, I thought it would be unnoticeable in the negative.

[FILM] TAIWAN FQ - hiking street OCT2016 - Nikon FM Kodak Ultramax 400 -021

[FILM] TAIWAN FQ - hiking street OCT2016 - Nikon FM Kodak Ultramax 400 -024

I used in different portrait situations, with a lighter skin tone subject (Maria), darker skin tone (Ailton), with and without direct flash.

 

          In the darker skin tone portraits, Ailton has a subtle yellow hue, we can even feel it in the white tile in the back. Even not annoying, we can feel that the yellow tone takes over the whites in the picture. The blue tone of the direct flash balances the picture a little bit, however, we can still feel the yellow and grain, the two problems of this film.  In lighter skin tones, Maria’s skin tone is really true to color, really balanced. Except for the grain, I really like the color for portraits.


Color chart and measurement of the colors.

[FILM] TAIWAN FQ - hiking street OCT2016 - Nikon FM Kodak Ultramax 400 -005

RED Average Colour R:221.0 G:153.0 B:103.0

BLUE Average Colour R:66.0 G:150.0 B:194.0

YELLOW Average Colour R:234.0 G:216.0 B:78.0

GREEN Average Colour R:153.0 G:210.0 B:104.0

See also: How do I measure the colors?


          After checking the results of these sets of films, I’m not only quite pleased but really surprised, I think, the Kodak Ultramax 400 is my favorite cheap film for a daily use. I love high ISO film, either to be used in a compact camera (I use the Olympus mjuII extensively) or in any other camera with a small aperture. It’s cheap, if you want to experiment a little bit with it, or just not feeling bad after using 2-3 rolls in a day, and it’s easy to scan, it gives really pleasant colors with the default settings of my scanner (Epson V600).

The major disadvantage is the grain, the grain is quite obvious, if you look at pictures slightly underexposed like the guy with the yellow pants we can see grain all over, or for example in the one with the farmer, the grain gives the picture a much more “messy” or fuzzy feeling because it gets all mixed up with the foliage and the bushes. Other options (way more expensive though) like Portra 400, or Fuji 400H will give you much better results if we are looking for a grainless fast film. For me, grain is not that important, in fact I quite like it, I feel it goes hand and hand with shooting film and the organic feeling that it gives. If I were looking for a clean image I would go for a 100 ISO or even digital.

YES

  • Daily use, load it in your camera and ready to go. It will respond correctly to any situation.
  • Use it for portraits of your friends, a party, it really responses very well to flash, balancing the yellow hue for a more neutral one
  • Experiment with it, is one of the cheapest options if you want to try your own redscale, loading it in a new camera for testing or an adapter for a medium format.
  • If you are looking for an organic, grainy, old-school feeling.

NO

  • If you are looking for a sharp, clean image. Go for an expensive option or a cheap lower ISO film.
  • If you are shooting under tungsten light, or yellow backgrounds. It can give you an undesired oversaturation of yellow.
  • Professional landscape or portrait photography.