Fujicolor 100 (Japan Only) Review

Over the past years, Fujifilm has been discontinuing films of all kinds, Astia and Fortia for professionals, the iconic black and white Neopan 400 and 1600 and even the consumer Superia 200. However, the Japanese market is a completely different story,  Fujifilm has a complete line of films, widely available not only in specialized stores but also in convenience stores. One of them is the Fujicolor 100. Do not be confused with this film, is not the discontinued Superia 100 [CN] or the Fujicolor Industrial 100 業務記錄用, is a totally different film, only available in Japan. Without getting too technical, a quick look at the data sheet will show us the differences between these films

charts

Name Fujicolor 100
ISO 100
Developer CN-16, C41
Available formats 35mm
Exposures 36, 27, 24

Single roll or three packs.

DX coding Yes
Availability ★☆☆☆☆

Only in Japan

IMG_20180214_114052_HDR

I was lucky enough to be able to visit Japan in 2018. Even though I brought several rolls of film, I was planning to go “film hunting” in the famous Yodobashi camera store. However, during the film morning in Kyoto, I was able to find some of the films  I wanted in a small store by the Fushimi Inari temple, so I just went for it. Although that day I was already loaded and decided to keep the Fujicolor 100 for another day trip.  I loaded it into my FM2 and paired with my 28mm f2.8 -50mm f1.8 traveling combo.

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The first thing to notices is that reds are not as bright as with other reviewed Fujifilm films, instead of bright red the color obtained is more crimson. Slightly darker but really intense, I would say that is less distracting than bright reds.

JAPAN Osaka Shitennoji Market FEB2018 Nikon FM2 Fujicolor 100 (Japan Only)-022

JAPAN Osaka Shitennoji Market FEB2018 Nikon FM2 Fujicolor 100 (Japan Only)-011

Same with the blue hues, I would say they are slightly less bright than in real life, the statue was quite bright blue, and in the picture I feel is more teal looking. But, that looks great on skies, even under harsh light, the Fujicolor 100 keeps so much of the blue tone in the sky.

JAPAN Osaka Shitennoji Market FEB2018 Nikon FM2 Fujicolor 100 (Japan Only)-012

JAPAN Osaka Shitennoji Market FEB2018 Nikon FM2 Fujicolor 100 (Japan Only)-009

Greens have a yellow tonality, same like I found in cheaper Kodak emulsions. Definitely not a bad thing, I love the brownish Kodak palette, but it definitely looks different from the classic greenish ting found in other Fujifilm films.  Same with yellows, they are less bright yellow and more ocher.

JAPAN Osaka Shitennoji Market FEB2018 Nikon FM2 Fujicolor 100 (Japan Only)-004

JAPAN Osaka Shitennoji Market FEB2018 Nikon FM2 Fujicolor 100 (Japan Only)-023

I also shot a few portraits, with natural light and also with direct flash. Surprisingly, the film was great. I tend to not like Fujifilm films for portraits, since they tend to create a red tone in fair skin tones. Not only in the results I obtained, but also other photos that I found on-line, show a slight low contrast, that works well with portraits. With both, lighter skin tones and darker skin tones, there is a slight yellow cast, that could be also easily removed in post-production.


Color chart and measurement of the colors.

JAPAN Osaka Shitennoji Market FEB2018 Nikon FM2 Fujicolor 100 (Japan Only)-024

RED: Average Colour R:212.0 G:150.0 B:76.0

BLUE: Average Colour R:76.0 G:149.0 B:175.0

YELLOW: Average Colour R:230.0 G:210.0 B:13.0

GREEN: Average Colour R:192.0 G:209.0 B:96.0

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


JAPAN Osaka Shitennoji Market FEB2018 Nikon FM2 Fujicolor 100 (Japan Only)-029

I was really hesitant when I first bought this film, I tried similar films before like the Industrial 100 or Superia 200. Both of them were marketed equally to the Japanese Fujicolor 100, same customer target and “good rendition” of colors. But, I was fairly disappointed with the results of those films. However I was taken aback by the results, the color rendition is not great, it really does not reflect the colors from the scene as it happened. Nevertheless, the film has character, it has an amazing color palette, really characteristic, a little bit yellowish, undersaturated but that stills retain lots of detail with a minimum amount of grain.

Personally, the biggest drawbacks of this film for me are availability and low ISO. The low ISO factor is definitely subjective, I tend to prefer the 200-400 range, so I would go for the brother of this film the Superia PREMIUM 400, similar emulsion. It’s also available only in Japan, but with a couple of stops more of sensitivity. The other drawback would be availability, I’m currently based in Taiwan, so for me is just slightly more expensive than other films. It can be easy to find on Rakuten (the Japanese Amazon) in 27 and 36 exposures. For around the price of a roll of Kodak Ektar or Portra 160. However for people in Europe or America, the price of a three pack, can skyrocket to more than double of a pro film.  Even I loved this film, I don’t think is worth the price tag including the shipping.

YES ⇑

  • With good light conditions is a great, balanced film for every situation
  • I like it for portraits, low contrast,  low grain but retains high detail.
  • If you like its own character and color palette.

NO ⇓

  • If you have to pay a massive extra for shipping, there are other options as good as this film.
  • If you look for high fidelity and true to life colors, I would choose another film for product or landscape photography

Check out the gallery for more shots taken with the Fujicolor 100


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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.

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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

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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.