Kodak Ektar 100 Review

The Ektar 100 is one of the films from the professional color negative films offered by Kodak. Along with Portra series: 160, 400 and 800,  that are more oriented towards pastel shades and softer skin tones, Ektar is a more saturated and vivid film than any other in the Portra family. More oriented towards product photography and landscapes, intense colors and smooth grain as promised in the film data sheet:

“EKTAR 100 Film is the world’s finest grain color negative film. With ISO 100 speed, high saturation and ultra-vivid color, this film offers the finest smoothest grain of any color negative film available today.”

IMG_20170818_165520_HDR

Name KODAK Ektar 100
ISO 100
Developer C-41
Available formats 35mm, 120mm, 4×5, 8×10.
Exposures 35mm: 36.

120mm: Depending on the format.

4×5 and 8×10: 10 sheets pack.

DX coding Yes
Availability ★★★★☆

I had some rolls of Ektar sitting in my fridge for a while, waiting for a good opportunity (weather/location)  to shoot. A trip to the north of Spain, Pyrenees, and south of France was the perfect place to take this film out. Hiking, grass, high mountain, and blue skies sound just right for Ektar.

Ektar is a high contrast film, that’s why it will work great with older cameras and lenses, maybe even too contrasty with more modern lenses. With the ones I brought to this trip, Nikkor 28mm Ai and 50mm f1.8 Ai, especially shooting with nice bright light, I had no problem getting high contrast and lots of detail in almost every image. However, is always interesting to know that there is a film in the market that will help us to compensate the lack of contrast that we can find in older lenses.

imgFilm - Pyrenees hiking - JUL2017 - Nikon FM2 - Kodak Ektar 100 -008

FRANCE - Pyrenees Camping JUL2017 Nikon FM2 - Kodak Ektar 100 -010

Taking a closer look to colors separately, we can quickly appreciate that Ektar gives a more vivid blue, red and green. That means beautiful skies, vivid foliage, and sunsets. A bit more problematic with skin tones, though.  The blue in the facade of the store was kind of faded, and even so, we obtain a vibrant color in the final print (or scan).

Film - Pyrenees hiking - JUL2017 - Nikon FM2 - Kodak Ektar 100 -020

FRANCE - Pyrenees Camping JUL2017 Nikon FM2 - Kodak Ektar 100 -039

Reds, with a small shift to brown characteristic from Kodak, are also vibrant and intense. Ektar is also a great film for nature and macro, It will render punchy images that call the attention of the viewer. Green tones are slightly less vivid than reds/blues but definitely not washed off.

Film - Pyrenees hiking - JUL2017 - Nikon FM2 - Kodak Ektar 100 -022

FRANCE - Pyrenees Camping JUL2017 Nikon FM2 - Kodak Ektar 100 -012

Yellow tones like the other colors are vibrant and vivid, however, I noticed that with really harsh light, light yellow tones become slightly darker, and the darker yellow tones switch to a brilliant light brown. It creates really vivid images, however, for my personal taste, makes the picture “too surreal”. For green foliage, like in the pictures on top,  it can be maybe too distracting, but I’ve seen examples of photos taken in the desert and autumn scenes,  the result is just stunning!

Finally, I tested this film in some portraits, with some friends with a lighter skin tone (Maggie) and darker skin tone (Jorge) under natural light and direct flash, to see how this film reacts to different situations. You can click to enlarge this gallery.

 

Ektar is definitely not marketed as a portrait film, it is a saturated color film that can distort the natural skin tones. In my case, more than the famous red-pink skin tones that we get from Ektar, I got a bit strange orange cast. Ektar wouldn’t be my choice for a proper portrait session, however if color is part of your composition, or an element of the portrait you are taking, definitely it will create stunning images. It can be also easily  desaturated and corrected in post-processing.


Color chart and measurement of the colors.

FRANCE - Pyrenees Camping JUL2017 Nikon FM2 - Kodak Ektar 100 -026

RED Average Colour R:220.0 G:112.0 B:95.0

YELLOW Average Colour R:251.0 G:209.0 B:99.0

BLUE Average Colour R:99.0 G:134.0 B:174.0

GREEN Average Colour R:147.0 G:181.0 B:109.0

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


Kodak Ektar is a great landscape film, it makes more sense to me in other formats than 35mm. If I were using a medium format camera, this would be definitely my to-go film. It is contrasty, produce sharp-saturated images. If creating colorful compositions were colors are the main object of the picture, I would also choose this film. Grain is really fine in 35mm and almost inexistent in bigger formats.

A key point for this film is: light. During a blue sunny day, Ektar will deliver stunning colorful images, would absorb every tint of light and convert it in a nice colorful composition.

It wouldn’t be my main choice for portraits, it doesn’t mean is bad for portraits at all. Just a quick search in any social media and you can find amazing saturated portraits and scenes, colorful streets in India, vibrating big cities. It would be my choice for a sunny hiking day, for a landscape outing (with tripod, filters etc.) and for street photography.

Ektar is not too expensive, considering that the closest “professional” quality film that you can get is slide (Velvia). The hassle of developing E-6 and dealing with the low-latitude might be a factor to choosing Ektar over any other film.

 

YES ⇑

  • Landscape photography
  • If you shoot also medium and large format and want to keep consistency in your work.
  • Product photography
  • Any situation full of light, day a t the beach, streets, hiking etc.
  • Compositions were color is the main element.

NO ⇓

  • Natural skin tone portraits
  • If you look for a peaceful, desaturated and low-contrast situations.
  • Low-light situations, I’d rather get a different film than pushing Ektar.

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

 

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Kodak Vision3 50D Review

The Vision3 50D, is a low speed motion picture film from Kodak. Motion picture film when enclosed in single-spool, light-tight cassette, can be used in normal photographic cameras. The Vision3 has a really low ISO, 50, therefore it would be recommended only for bright daylight scenes or situations in where you want to shoot portraits wide open in daylight without using ND filters. The “D” in the name means “Daylight”, this film is balanced for exposure with daylight illumination (5500K).

First thing to consider when choosing this film, other than the ISO and color balance, is its Rem-jet layer. If you never heard that word before, I recommend you to read this article first:

What is the Rem-jet layer?

Since the film has to be re-spooled. Every store or manufacturer can have a different “sticker” or appearance in the outside, so when buying this film, look for the specifications and name, more than the color or style of the film.

IMG_20170628_151419_HDR

Name Kodak Vision3 50D
ISO 50
Developer C-41, ECN-2
Available formats 35mm
Exposures 36*
DX coding No
Availability ★★☆☆☆

Mostly on-line or specialized stores that also develop this kind of film.

*Depending on the re-spooling.

A thing to point out is that, for my reviews, as a way to standardize them, I always use the same cameras and lenses (Nikon F100 and FM2, paired with a 28, 50 and 135mm Ais) However, for this one I was testing an amazing Olympus OM-30 for a friend, the aperture in the 50mm was stuck at f1.8. That’s why I thought a really slow film, would be perfect to try the different speeds. Being stuck at f1.8 means that focusing was a bit harder with some purple fringing and softer images. But, overall the film, lens and camera, performed flawlessly.

Capture


[FILM] TAIWAN tamkang tamsui JUN2017 Olympus OM-30 Kodak Vision3 50D018

[FILM] TAIWAN tamkang tamsui JUN2017 Olympus OM-30 Kodak Vision3 50D031

If you read any of my other reviews, I normally mention that I’m a big fan of higher speed ISOS, with color negative, an iso 200-400 is the range I’m more comfortable with. Depending on the conditions of the day. In B&W I even like to go 800-1600 and enjoy the grain. I didn’t have much expectations to like this film even is quite praised online. Nevertheless, after I saw the first scanned images,  I was amazed by the quality and colors of the Kodak Vision3 50D.

This motion film is supposed to be developed in ECN-2 giving and edited later digitally, so is meant to be modified and with a high dynamic-range. Even so, developed with C-41 (allegedly it gives less dynamic range) and without any retouching, just raw scans looked amazing!

[FILM] TAIWAN tamkang tamsui JUN2017 Olympus OM-30 Kodak Vision3 50D030

[FILM] TAIWAN tamkang tamsui JUN2017 Olympus OM-30 Kodak Vision3 50D003

Blues are a bit on the pastel side, not too punchy, but definitely giving a lot of room for editing.

[FILM] TAIWAN tamkang tamsui JUN2017 Olympus OM-30 Kodak Vision3 50D012

[FILM] TAIWAN tamkang tamsui JUN2017 Olympus OM-30 Kodak Vision3 50D011

Greens are beautiful, and really true to color. In the first picture we can see how every shade of green is different, instead of just having a “mushy” set of trees and bushes.

[FILM] TAIWAN tamkang tamsui JUN2017 Olympus OM-30 Kodak Vision3 50D007

[FILM] TAIWAN tamkang tamsui JUN2017 Olympus OM-30 Kodak Vision3 50D008

Yellows are in the same side as the blue tones, pastel, not too contrasty, but giving a lot of room for editing. Considering how gray and dim is the sky in Taipei, I believe the Kodak Vision3 50D did an amazing job rendering this colors.

[FILM] TAIWAN tamkang tamsui JUN2017 Olympus OM-30 Kodak Vision3 50D005

Reds are vibrant and beautiful, they really mix well with that characteristic brownish tones from Kodak.

I noticed some yellow cast when underexposing the film, easy to correct in post-processing and not noticeable when exposed correctly. The second image is underexposed (Trying to shoot at f8 on a lens with stuck diaphragm)

[FILM] TAIWAN tamkang tamsui JUN2017 Olympus OM-30 Kodak Vision3 50D003[FILM] TAIWAN tamkang tamsui JUN2017 Olympus OM-30 Kodak Vision3 50D002

Finally I tested the film with a couple of portraits, unfortunately I didn’t have the time to prepare a nice setup, slightly off colors in this photos, but really true to real life.

Due to lack an time and/or abilities, I couldn’t get any nice portrait that represents how good this film is for portraits. So, I decided to reach out for other talented photographers. Just take a look at this astonishing portraits from Matt Osborne .

Kodak Vision3 50D

Kodak Vision3 50D / Cinestill 50D

Kodak Vision3 50D 5203


Color chart and measurement of the colors.

[FILM] TAIWAN tamkang tamsui JUN2017 Olympus OM-30 Kodak Vision3 50D014

*usually shot at f8, at f1.8 the purple fringe and softness of the lens can be distracting in this case

  • RED Average Colour R:217.0 G:167.0 B:124.0
  • YELLOW Average Colour R:234.0 G:224.0 B:129.0
  • BLUE Average Colour R:76.0 G:135.0 B:188.0
  • GREEN Average Colour R:160.0 G:209.0 B:142.0

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


To sum up, the Kodak Vision3 50D performed incredibly well. There is a slight brownish tone that I really enjoy.  Since my camera (Nikon FM2) can go up to 1/4000, the speed doesn’t worry me that much, and I would go for an iso 100-200 film. However, for people looking to shoot portraits wide open is more than perfect.

The only problem that I find with this film, is that motion film can be troublesome to develop, and generally is not worth the trouble, considering other options, very similar in price to this film. The version from Cinestill, without the remjet (What is the remjet?) will avoid those headaches, but the tag price is quite high.

YES ⇑

  • Portraits wide open even with strong light, pleasant skin tones and low speed.
  • Landscapes, it gives lot of room to edit, and is a good film to scan.
  • Grain is almost inexistent.
  • If you can find cheap developing for motion film, there are always good deals in this film.

NO ⇓

  • If you like to shoot something that requires speed.
  • Compact cameras and their slow aperture will struggle with this film, even in daylight.
  • If is difficult for you to find developers for this motion film, there are other less troublesome options.

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

 

*Thanks to Matt Osborne for participating with his picture in this review! 

flickr-logo  Matt Osborne


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.