Ross Holmberg has a few first impressions about Kodak’s new Ektar 100 film (released in 35mm in late 2008, with 120 following a month or two ago) :
“Ghost” by rosscova.
Kodak recently released its new Ektar 100 colour negative film, and a few people in the Silver Mine were very keen to get their hands on it. Its sales pitch basically says that Ektar 100 is good at everything but portraiture, in particular giving more vivid colours, and even offering an alternative to slide films when you want saturated colour. For the curious among you, here’s a quick first impression from the first roll I’ve shot with the new Ektar (in 120 size).
I’ll start by saying that this film looks very nice, and handled rich colours a lot better than other colour negative films I’ve used (although Fuji Reala is pretty good in that regard too). I would say the depth of the colours sits somewhere in between other colour negative films like Fuji 160C (I haven’t used Portra VC), and transparency films. In this respect, I think Kodak has aimed for a look that’s somewhere close to what digital photographers often go for. For me, Ektar definitely won’t replace transparencies when I want to get the most out of the colours in a shot (I’m a big fan of Velvia 100 for that). A lot of people don’t like using transparency films though because of the narrow exposure latitude, which can make them difficult to use. If you’re in that boat, Ektar 100 is likely the answer you’re looking for.
From this first roll I can say that the new Ektar is indeed very fine grained and sharp, with really nice rendition of colour. I found it very easy to scan, and didn’t need to fiddle too much to get the image I wanted. I did notice a magenta hue in the shadow areas, which I needed to correct for, but it’s hard to tell if that’s a trait of the film, or maybe something that happened at the photo lab, or in my scanner. I did a quick test for the rendition of skin-tones, and wasn’t happy with the results (Kodak do suggest Ektar isn’t well suited to portraiture). I’ve seen shots elsewhere though by someone who desaturated the scans a little, and got skin-tones to look quite nice, so it is certainly achievable. It’s worth noting that Ektar starts to suffer with reciprocity issues from exposures of longer than 1 second, so you’ll need to keep that in mind when you get the tripod out, and it’ll probably make Ektar a bad choice for any kind of long exposure stuff.
It’s pretty exciting that a new film has been released, and Ektar looks to be a corker. I’m not usually happy with the colours I get from negative films, and in that regard Ektar is a first for me. I’ll be shooting with this a lot more in the future, and I suggest if you’re looking for a little more from the colours in your negatives, definitely give the new Ektar 100 a try.
“rooted by the river” by mugley.
Here’s what a few other Silver Miners who’ve tried the film had to say:
mugley – “Pretty colours. Sharp. Not good with highlights. Looks like digital. Grain is tiny but ugly. Average reciprocity. Suitable for “impact” photos. Keep stockpiling 100UC.”
james_melbs – “In shaded/window lighted conditions I have noticed some really nice blue hues. I have had some success with skin tones being reproduced accurately, but pale skin colours have often come out with too much red. The colours are really, really saturated (maybe too saturated). So far, I think kodak ultra-colour film was better. I’m not sold on it yet – more testing required”
leicamensch – “Ektar 100 has become my preferred colour film from the very first shots I had processed. Natural colours and not over saturated, it scans very well and you get the clean ‘look’ of digital with the dynamic range and contrast of film.”
silvermiketrate – “… only shot 1 roll so far. I think it it may have a dark colour feel to it i.e. blue/blacks/greys/browns?”
purple camel – “Having shot quite a bit of Vision2 16mm motion picture stock, I can see the similarity though it doesn’t have the latitude of the cinema emulsions. Shoot a roll at ISO 64. It seems to like a bit more. Try a trusted lab but remember, not all labs and technicians will know this film so they may not know how to handle it to your liking.”
“Tread” by silvermiketrate.
We’ll come back in a few months’ time and see if people’s first impressions have held up to further examination as they shoot a few more rolls.