Ektar 100 in 120: first thoughts

I’m halfway throught my first ProPack of the new 120-size Ektar 100 since the Brown Truck dropped it off a couple of weeks ago. I’ve not had a lot of shooting time since then, but I like it well enough that I just ordered more. It had been out of stock everywhere until a few days ago, but B&H now has it again, here.

I shot the first roll in my Mamiya 7 on a gorgeous sunny day with wispy white clouds against an azure sky. For the most part the light was warm, late-day light with moderate contrast. I did my own processing in a Jobo ATL-1500 using Kodak Flexicolor C-41 chemistry. Painless and easy, as always. If you’ve ever handled Portra films, you’ll notice little difference with Ektar.

Kodak touts Ektar 100 as the world’s finest grained color film, and at least by a preliminary eyeball/loupe evaluation, I’d believe them. The grain is so small and smooth that, for all practical purposes, it is nonexistent. On the spectrum of film “looks”, in terms of saturation and tone—warm vs. cool—I’m still getting a feel for where this film fits. It’s definitely more saturated—especially reds and greens—and a bit warmer than the Portra VC line of films. At the same time, I find it to have a soft or muted quality that reminds me more of the Portra NC films. Strange. I’m sure much depends on the prevailing light; the examples I show below were all shot in late-day, warmer light, which has to make a difference. I’ve not shot it extensively in either noonday-sun or overcast conditions; some commentators have opined that it looks best in brighter, contrastier light. Others have compared it, in its strongly saturated colors, to Velvia. I don’t have much experience with that–or any other E6–film, so I’ll leave that call to others.

A couple of examples should give a feel for the film, at least in comparable light conditions (you ARE viewing this blog page on a color-profiled monitor, with a color-aware browser, aren’t you?)

The first image is straight from the scanner (Nikon 9000) with spotting and capture sharpening, and white balancing done on the paper plate. I made no other adjustments—the saturation and vibrance you see is what you get:

The image was shot in late afternoon; west is at about the three o’clock position, if the boy is at the center of the clock face and the house corner above his head is 12:00. The colors are warm, but saturated.

Next, the same image with the same adjustments as in the first version, but with black and white point, contrast, and clarity adjustments added. Still no changes in vibrance or saturation:

2009062-09
Finally, a late-day shot, with west over my right shoulder (note car shadow–I always stay in the car if I can help it!) as the sun sets. Again, the same array of adjustments as in the second example, but no changes to saturation or vibrance:

2009062-01

So just when I thought I’d settled on a solid stable of color negative films for all occasions—Fuji 160S and 400H as everyday mainstays, Portra VC’s when I want more punch—Kodak has to wreck things with yet another very nice film. However you characterize it—C41 Velvia, Portra NCVC—I can see making some freezer space for this one.

Kodak gets an attaboy.

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4 thoughts on “Ektar 100 in 120: first thoughts

  1. I used to shoot Ektar 25 in 35mm (back in the last century). Killer stuff. I’ll be the combination of Mamiya glass and that smooth film is enough to make a DSLR weep… t

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  2. Thanks for taking the time to work up a review on it! This is good information to know, especially as I’d been considering picking up a pack. I believe I will, now!

    I don’t find myself shooting much 35mm film anymore, but I’ll still pull out the MF cameras (MF digital backs remain outside of my budget) from time to time. I usually shoot slides, but this looks like a nice alternative to my beloved Velvia 50–and easier to process, to boot!

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  3. I used the ektar 25 in 120 many years ago to do album packaging… wow, what a film. It crossed processed to very interesting colors but I was shooting it at about iso 5.
    Glad to see the 100 in 120 is out..

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