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!


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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.

IMG_20180214_114240_HDR

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


AgfaPhoto CT Precisa 100 Review

The Agfaphoto CT Precisa 100 is a 35mm slide film, daylight balanced and rated as ISO 100. This film rivals directly with the Fujifilm Provia 100 F, but depending on the store, but generally presents a higher price tag.

First, a little bit of background, this film is not just “Agfa” is “AgfaPhoto”. Agfa film and cameras were once prominent consumer products. However, in 2004, the consumer imaging division was sold to a company founded via management buyout. AgfaPhoto GmbH, as the new company was called, filed for bankruptcy after just one year. Nowadays, Lupus Imaging & Media has the exclusive global rights to manufacture and sell films, single-use cameras and analog cameras under the AgfaPhoto brand.

agfa-logo-300x300

So, the iconic rhomboid logo found in old cameras like the “Optima” and film like the Chrome RSX was substituted by the new round logo of “Agfaphoto”.

AGFA_Photo_Logo

In the same way, this film is the “Agfaphoto CT Precisa 100” not the old “Agfa CT Precisa” discontinued in 2005. Manufactured initially by Ferrania, and nowadays by FujiFilm.

Name AgfaPhoto CT Precisa 100
ISO 100
Developer E-6, AP-44
Available formats 35mm
Exposures 36
DX coding Yes
Availability ★★★☆☆

In “Lomography” stores and online.

IMG_20170819_145941_HDR

The Afgaphoto CT 100 precisa is a slide film, that means we will get a positive colorful strip, instead of the common negative film.

negativevsslide

The benefit of slide film is that we can get a clear image of the colors capture and we will be able to correct the scanned image,  and we can also use it in a slide projector (not so useful nowadays…). It will give us the correct tone that we captured that day, and we will be able to adjust or editing accordingly, a problem often found is that we will archive this slides and then forget how was the light or situation that day. The biggest inconvenience is that slides are less forgiving then negatives.  A slight over or underexposure will give you a too dark or bright image. Negatives have a much more wider latitude, something similar to the digital dynamic range, it will give us much more room for error.

My idea for this film was to shoot landscapes, so I took it through a trip around Spain.  The Nikon FM2 paired with a 28mm and a 50mm was the perfect setup to capture the vivid colors and blue skies that I found in the south of Spain and the Pyrenees.

IMG_20170806_175058_HDR-01

IMG_20170819_145855_HDR

The first thing to notice is that the AgfaPhoto CT Precisa 100 gives amazing and saturated colors, especially blues. But, the overall images lacks in contrast. Is actually not a flaw, the scanning is flat, but retains a lot of information, even in the shadows with minimum grain. That means that with a 30 second edit, you will obtain a crisp image with lots of detail. In this review all images are unedited.

SPAIN - Alicante Beach Escorial - JUL2017 - Nikon FM2 - Agphaphoto CT precisa 100 -008-2

SPAIN - Alicante Beach Escorial - JUL2017 - Nikon FM2 - Agphaphoto CT precisa 100 -008
Before and after doing a basic tune of the image

As mentioned before, the blue tones in AgfaPhoto CT Precisa 100 are amazing, they are really vivid and deep.  In the first picture of the fisherman, we can see that from the very top of the sky to the seashore, the picture retains all the shades of blue. Simply exceptional.

SPAIN - Alicante Beach Escorial - JUL2017 - Nikon FM2 - Agphaphoto CT precisa 100 -014

SPAIN - Alicante Beach Escorial - JUL2017 - Nikon FM2 - Agphaphoto CT precisa 100 -024

Greens are more bleached than blues, they lose vibrancy compared to the blues. Like I mentioned before, we a few edits, it will provide a great image but just the scan without any edit shows a muted green tone. I added a comparison with Ektar 100. We can see that Ektar has more latitude (like digital dynamic range) but definitely is less sharp than the CT 100.

SPAIN - Alicante Beach Escorial - JUL2017 - Nikon FM2 - Agphaphoto CT precisa 100 -005-2

SPAIN - Alicante Beach Escorial - JUL2017 - Nikon FM2 - Agphaphoto CT precisa 100 -029

Film - Pyrenees hiking - JUL2017 - Nikon FM2 - Kodak Ektar 100 -030
Same time, place, camera and lens but shot with Ektar 100.

The whole warm palette, although is not well represented in this pictures is a medium point in between the vibrant blues and the washed out greens. IT can be more accentuated through editing, but is really balanced and true to color. Reds a little bit more than yellow. But, in any case really pleasant.

SPAIN - Alicante Beach Escorial - JUL2017 - Nikon FM2 - Agphaphoto CT precisa 100 -038

SPAIN - Alicante Beach Escorial - JUL2017 - Nikon FM2 - Agphaphoto CT precisa 100 -034

I also decided to use this film for a series of portraits, as I keep mentioning during the article, it just needs a little bit of editing, with an extra “pop” to look great, here is an example:

SPAIN - Alicante Beach Escorial - JUL2017 - Nikon FM2 - Agphaphoto CT precisa 100 -010-3

SPAIN - Alicante Beach Escorial - JUL2017 - Nikon FM2 - Agphaphoto CT precisa 100 -010-2
Above, unedited scan. Below, re-framing and changing a bit shadows, blacks and contrast.

Other portraits with and without flash in different skin tones. I’m not a fan of slide film,because it is very easy to completely blow up or darken the background, wasting an opportunity for a nice portrait. The film is great, the skin tones are really natural and look really true to color, with natural light and direct flash. Under controlled lighting, I’m sure it can deliver excellent results. Just using the light-meter in my camera I got tricked with the reflected light and under-exposed this portraits for at least one step. One of the reasons I prefer negative over slide, it is much more forgiving.


Color chart and measurement of the colors.

SPAIN - Alicante Beach Escorial - JUL2017 - Nikon FM2 - Agphaphoto CT precisa 100 -013

  • RED: Average Colour R:195.0 G:105.0 B:105.0
  • GREEN: Average Colour R:92.0 G:108.0 B:101.0
  • YELLOW: Average Colour R:148.0 G:121.0 B:107.0
  • BLUE: Average Colour R:54.0 G:60.0 B:88.0

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


In conclusion, the AgfaPhoto CT Precisa 100 is an excellent performer. The film here in Asian can be only found in Lomography stores. Therefore, I was really surprised since many of the examples that I found on-line are shot with “Lomography” cameras or developed in cross-process, all the pictures I found were kind of blurry or with funky colors. Nevertheless, the AgfaPhoto CT Precisa 100 was great, really sharp, retaining a lot of detail and with a surprising latitude for a slide film.

This film would be amazing for landscapes, portraits, macro or product photography. All the kinds of photography that need extra time in the darkroom or Photoshop if you have a more hybrid flow and you edit on your computer. It’s a shame that this film is not available in 120mm. Those massive slides would be amazing!

SPAIN - Alicante Beach Escorial - JUL2017 - Nikon FM2 - Agphaphoto CT precisa 100 -023

This film is definitely not for me, one of the reasons why I shoot film is to spend less time editing pictures. Shooting negative film I always obtain great pictures without the need of any editing other than occasional cropping and some scratch removal (in older negatives). That’s why I wouldn’t love to use this film as my standard. I also prefer negative films in the ISO range of 200-400, faster and more forgiving, but definitely far away from the quality offered by the AgfaPhoto CT Precisa 100.

YES ⇑

  • Landscape, product photography, portrait.
  • If you plan to work with those negatives after shooting.
  • Clean, grainless, extremely detailed image.

NO ⇓

  • If you don’t have the time to shoot carefully, you can’t just load the film and shoot.
  • Portraits or situations with strong light contrast.
  • It can be hard to find someone to develop this film, ask your local developer before invest in buying this film. You might consider Ektar 100 or Portra 160, easier to find and to develop.

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.


 

 

 

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!

 

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


ETERNA Vivid 250D Review

The Fujicolor ETERNA Vivid 250D is a motion picture film from Fujifilm. Motion picture film when enclosed in single-spool, light-tight cassette, can be used in normal photographic cameras.

The 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?

The ETERNA Vivid 250D is a film with a 250 ISO but with a very wide latitude, being able to be shot easily at 400-800 ISO. The “D” in 250D stands for Daylight, it is a daylight balanced (5500K) color negative motion picture film. Most 35mm films are also daylight balanced.

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. Mine was bought in “Bokkeh” in Taipei. If not mistaken, they also have an on-line store.

IMG_20161120_143626_HDRedit

Name Fujicolor ETERNA Vivid 250D
ISO 250
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.

I had a small problem with this film, one of the rolls got a little bit messed up, my Nikon FM was starting to fail, and I got several unintended double exposures. Luckily enough, the other roll in the F100 during a trip to Vietnam came out perfectly, both shot at ISO 250. When I started scanning the film, I was really expecting “Vivid” colors, some over-saturated stuff, kind of like the old Fujifilm “Fortia” However, the image is contrasty but with a little bit washed off colors, with a pastel blue tone all around. Especially in the shade areas.