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