Best modern color neg film

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by ted_raper|1, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. I'm currently shooting digital but came from the Kodachrome 25/64 school (yes, I have several tripods). I want to excercise my old film Nikons but don't want to shoot slides now. What is the best (low grain, sharpness, color) modern, low ASA (200 tops) color negative film? I never shot much color neg in the first place so I have absolutely no idea what to buy.
    Any suggestions greatly appreciated.
  2. 'Best' of course depends on what you're shooting, but if you liked Kodachrome you should try Kodak Ektar or Fuji Reala (both 100).
  3. Kodak 160NC or VC. C-41 process b&w films rated at 200-250 from Kodak and Ilford are also worth exploring.
  4. unless you live in a large city, or are willing to mail-order film. ou are more or less committed to use what is available.
    that will mean at the mimimum 200 speed film. 100 speed color negative is made but the mass marketers aim sales at those with P^S cameras and 200 is about the slowest you will see.
    Almost never real B&W or 100 speed film and almost never slide film.
    Use what is easily available first. See if you like it.
  5. You don't say what you are shooting. For portraits, Portra 160 NC is hard to beat. For landscapes, Ektar 100 would be my choice. Since you want a low speed film, I'm assuming you are not shooting sports.
  6. Thanks, Ron. Not shooting sports, no. Mostly landscapes. It sounds like Kodak pro Ektar is the way to go.
  7. I have to agree Kodak Ektar 100.
  8. Ektar and Reala are both fantastic. They're for shooting thing, not people. For portrait, try the Kodak 160NC, and for a faster film the 400VC. If you want something that's easy to find in stores and inexpensive, the Fuji Superia line is great stuff.
  9. For Landscapes, you really should be shooting slide film. Besides better colors and resolution, slide scans sharper and with MUCH less grain. However, I can understand if the added dynamic range of negative is important to you.
    Good negative stock for landscapes is Kodak Ektar 100, Fuji Reala 100, and Fuji Superia 100. Some love the Ektar, some hate it. It has a very distinctive look, and can be difficult to scan without color casts. It is very blue sensitive, and easily picks up a cold blue cast to shots.
    Do a Flickr image search on each film type above, to see what they look like.
  10. To get the best out of color negative film, you either have to send it out to a good pro lab to scan, or learn how to scan it yourself. If you just give it to a drugstore to process and print, then you will probably be disappointed and just go back to digital. The easiest way to enjoy your film cameras if you don't want to scan yourself or give to a pro lab, is to pick up a slide projector for a few bucks, shoot slide film, and project!
  11. I've always been a big fan of Fuji Reala. Very fine grain, very sharp, excellent saturation but with moderate contrast. Works equally well with portraits as it does with landscapes.
  12. Good advice, Benny - I never intended to give it to a drugstore. We do have a couple labs here (NC) that will process and scan it properly. And I do usually shoot slides when the film cameras need a workout but this time I thought I'd give modern print film a try, just for the hell of it.
    Thanks to everyone for the help - I'll pick up some Ektar 100 and some Reala and try them both.
  13. I personally don't like the results I get from Ektar. Notice that I qualified this statement by referring to "my results". After scanning with SilverFast on my Nikon 9000, I'm finding out that I very much like Portra 160VC. Very realistic colors, which is my aim. If you are going to try out some films, then you might as well include a roll of 160VC in your test. Modern color negative film is quite much better than the older stuff. Have fun!
  14. I would give Ektar at try.
  15. I too haven't gotten good results from Ektar. They should call it 100WC for its Wonky Colors. Sometimes the palette works but it's unpredictable when. Worse, I've experienced blocked up reds with Ektar. See attached crop for an example.
    It's Portra 160NC for me, by Kodak, and PRO 160S by Fuji. The saturated versions are 160VC and PRO 160C, respectively, though if you're scanning the negatives then I think you'll find it's easier to add color than it is to remove it.
  16. Ektar for me has been unpredictable as well. When it is good, it is very good, when it is bad, well..... I would go with the Portra lineup. Have not tried any of the Fuji films in a while though.
  17. Eh, whats best? Kodak Portras are pretty good, Fuji Pro is very close if not the same for the most part of it. If it is not for people in controled lights try Fuji Superia Realia100, it is probably the finest on grain part.
  18. Another vote for the unpredictability of Ektar. The blues seem to go all over the place from shot to shot for me, depending on exposure. Portra 160 is always consistent and accurate for me.
  19. Just buy many types of film/what you can afford ans then decide for yourself. Try cross processsing slide film and see what happens you may like what you see. I have not gotten my reals and ektar developed yet but I do like wonky/unpredictable colors since I shoot film for it's artistic endeavors.
  20. Sorry guys, I just don't understand comments about "...the unpredictability of Ektar..."
    If you scan your negatives (or even have 'em scanned at a lab) the colors are totally under your control. You should pay attention to the ability of a film stock to preserve highlights and shadow detail, the grain structure, and the resolution. Everything else (i.e. color and contrast) is a matter of taste.
    The colors are only as "wonky" as the guy making the decisions about the colors.
  21. At the risk of being considered a nag, here's another example of controlling color and contrast with Ektar.
  22. (I got a server error posting the last message, and the attachment didn't attach. So...)
  23. Here's two more Ektar from the same roll & day as the crop above (click for larger). White-balanced by Vuescan. The color works for me in both of these, I like the vaguely vintage ambience Ektar's imparted, but I haven't been able to replicate the results on other occasions. Shooting Ektar is like being a kid Christmas, in that you don't know what you're going to get. Sometimes you get a pair of socks :-(
  24. Yet another server error posting the picture. Trying again...
  25. Greg, you've just changed the hue. It's still a blocked up color saturated area that does not cohere well with the rest of the image, or with the way the trailer actually looked in the grass. In the full-size scan it looks bad, like someone painted over the negative with opaque paint. Selective desaturation in PS did not recover detail. 160NC (for example) would have rendered the trailer with greater subtlety and accuracy. I should add, though, that the color accuracy of negative film is not an issue with me. Color harmony, yes.
  26. stp


    I scan my own film, and I've had an easier time and more successful outcome with Portra 160NC than Ektar 100. That's probably more of a comment on my scanning (Nikon 8000) than the different films, but that was my experience.
  27. Reala has a very natural look to it. It's very good for general photography and skin tone. Portra 160NC for portraits and if you want to make the most of your 35mm then shoot Ektachrome100 or Elitechrome100. The slide film produces a remarkable natural reproduction with excellent color, contrast and skin tones as well a very low grain and great for scanning. But if you want to shoot some color neg film then try Reala. It's very nice film.
  28. I like Ektar 100 very much and so far haven`t had any problems with it. Skanning colour negatives is difficult. And the result you get out from scanner is just the beginning - "raw" version.
    But I also like very much Portra 160 NC. Especially NC-version, not VC. Very fine grain exellent sharpness very easy to controll contrast and relative easy to make scans
    Esa Kivivuori
    See also:
  29. Sorry,
    Photo was too large...
    Esa Kivivuori
    See also:
  30. Here`s one taken with Portra 160 NC and Hbl SWC.
  31. There's a lot of good advice there, and obviously personal preferences and particular subjects will all influence choices.
    I really believe also that there is a big influence from the quality of processing, expecially through labs. Over the years I've sometimes had total rubbish from top-brand films processed by so-called "professional" labs, while at other times local mini-labs have produced gorgeous results from cheapy own-label film! It's all down to finding a lab where the staff are properly trained and, above all, interested in their work.
  32. Blocked up colors are the result of bad scans or working in too small a color space. It ain't the film.
  33. My vote for Fuji Reala, beautiful colors, better than anything I ever saw on scan.
  34. Greg, you've just changed the hue.​
    True. And without a gray card frame I can't really know what the colors should be. But, as Robert Budding pointed out, much can be done to address color problems at the scanning stage, and a gray card can often fix things quickly using Photoshop "curves."
    So I stand by my assertion that, given good scanning equipment, technique and software, along with the choice of an adequate color space, the color characteristics of any scanned image are malleable to the point that your taste and skill are the determining factor.
  35. Skanning colour negatives is difficult.​
    Well, in my opinion not really. It just requires experience and some patience. If you want quick results, try negfix7 .
    This is Ektar & negfix7 example:
  36. I usually use Portra 160NC and I love it. It is a low contrast film.
  37. I prefer Porta 160NC for portraits and Porta 160VC for landscapes.
  38. This is Ektar 120mm film in a Rolleiflex F3.5, I like it very much, and I have done not correcting to it and have scanned it so I can post it:
  39. I scanned with a coolscan 5000 in 48-bit color, Vuescan, working space ProPhoto. I have no idea how the colors are compressed for display on my monitor, which is calibrated. There's a red hole in an otherwise normal scan of the negative. It's looks pretty bad. It looks like it doesn't belong to the rest of the photo. The problem is not that it's one shade of red instead of another. The problem is that it's a hole, a cartoon red cutout. It also appears, incidentally, in a raw scan inverted by Colorperfect. Of course the digital file is malleable, but so is a scan of film with a less discordant response to red. So if the argument is that there's nothing wrong with Ektar, except that it can be hard to scan, well, that's something.
  40. KODAK PORTRA 160.
    But then, I only make prints when I shoot film, as opposed to scanning my film work for digital display.
    As everyone knows, scanned film makes a second generation image which everyone also knows is inferior to the negative (first generation). Again, I do not set-up to shoot film then hope beyond hope that my negative will do well as a digital image.
  41. As everyone knows, scanned film makes a second generation image which everyone also knows is inferior to the negative (first generation).​
    Inferior in what way?
    A color negative is pretty much useless unless it's taken to a second generation, even if that second generation is just a print.
    The question then is how to produce the best possible print. It's very often the case that the editing and image refinement tools available in the digital domain, combined with eight, ten, or twelve ink printers, can produce a better print than you can get from a negative using a chemical process. So a raw, first generation, negative may not always be superior to a high resolution scan, even if the intended end product is a paper print.
    But I think that everyone knows that.
  42. I can't find Reala (120) anywhere (BH, Adorama, Freestyle), has it been discontinued or just in short supply here in US?
  43. Esa-
    That looks like King Karol's castle, no? I visited there a few years back in the winter-you Romanians know how do have a cold winter!
    BTW, my vote is for Kodak 160 color negative, usually the VC flavor.
  44. i personally love fuji reala 100 and kodak porta 160 in all its incarnations. the produces lovely neutral colours.
  45. Another vote for Fuji Reala. Very consistent film, magnificent grain and contrast, for me at least.
  46. First, current films are pretty good, IMHO. Scanning color neg or positive is pretty simple. I'm getting much better results by scanning, adjusting, and printing digitally than I ever got in the old days (when I sent my film to someone else for prints).
    After reading all the hype, I did a side-by-side test of Ektar 100 vs. Fuji Superia 200, in 35mm. I was surprised to find better resolution in the Fuji. Ektar was finer grain; Fuji just a little higher res. This seems to be supported in the MTF figures in the film data sheets. Great color from both, excellent 8x12 prints from both.
    Slide film is bold, has little exposure latitude. The processed slide is punchy and provides a color reference. If your slide is bad, it's you; there's no one else to blame.
    Color neg gives a wider dynamic range. I was often unhappy with my prints in the old days. Now, it's easy to add saturation, contrast, and adjust color after scanning. I dunno... I'm feeling my way slowly back into film.
    Here's the side-by-side... It's actual pixels from a 4000 ppi scan of both films, same scene, same light, same lens, shot from a tripod. (Scanned on Coolscan V at 4000 ppi, same processing on both).
  47. I vote Reala as well. Well, "best" is subjective but I think for the limited amount of time I spend taking landscape shots, it's always performed well. I love the natural look of it.
    Michael Trump, haven't heard a thing about Reala discontinuing. I imagine it's just one of those rare times that everyone's out of it at once. If you're desperate of course people on eBay have it for inflated prices.
  48. Here is a link to some Ektar test shots.
  49. Portra 160 NC is GREAT for weather like we've been having lately! Other films will just show gray gray gray, but the NC will bring out subtle tones. In the spring and summer... you want something with POP. But for portraits I almost always get the NC.
  50. Michael Trump, haven't heard a thing about Reala discontinuing. I imagine it's just one of those rare times that everyone's out of it at once. If you're desperate of course people on eBay have it for inflated prices.​
    I hope so Nancy, but I've bee all over Fuji USA's website and Reala is no longer listed anywhere. So, it doesn't look good...
    Ebay has it, but folks are charging upwards of $6 US a roll for 120 format. I think I'll stick with Ektar or try the Porta line, since I can get these locally and for less.
  51. Richard, you're still posting that example? It looks like a scanner focusing error. No color neg. film is that grainfree in my experience and sharpness differences are generally modest compared to that. Can you post another example?
    To the OP, personally I use Reala and Fuji 160C.
  52. Oops, forgot for a sec we were talking about 120. But the Fuji site doesn't seem to make much distinction about 120 in the films that are definitely available either, so I don't think that should matter.
  53. Er, and now I'm scaring myself because I started looking at data sheets and the Reala one does not say it is available in 120. Checked against their Acros sheet, which does list both 35mm and 120. Hmm. I really only started shooting more 120 a few months ago so Reala in 120 is not something I'd ever looked into.
  54. Nancy - doesn't look good for Reala... no new stock is for sale on eBay either. Everything I found (which wasn't much) was dated to expire mid-2010...
  55. Hi Roger... I posted my comments and comparison in the hope it would help someone and in order to learn from responses. Frankly, I was worried about the result myself, because of the high praise for Ektar 100, and because it's Kodak's latest. Maybe someone can post a counter-example.
    My standard of evaluation is the print, I prefer that over pixel-peeping on screen. I can see in an 8x12 print better resolution by the Fuji. I showed prints to others to confirm.
    To see if I had a bad scan, I had the Ektar frame scanned on an Imacon by a pro shop (Boston Photo Imaging). I compared this to my own scan of the Fuji, and the comparative result was the same. I shot the comparison on a tripod with the same lens minutes apart, but maybe something changed. Does anyone else have head-to-head comparisons between Ektar and other films?
    Grain? I should have said these are after a noise reduction step which I always do with scanned film.
    I just looked at the prints again... I will give Ektar the nod for color quality, the Fuji looks a little flatter. This doesn't show in the small crops.
    To the OP, I like the current films. I wish you good shooting!
  56. Michael...I spoke too soon. Emailed Henry Posner at B&H and your suspicions were correct. Off to buy some over-inflated film now.
  57. Portra 160nc @ 125 I find nice. this pic was shot with a P and S set @ 125asa and it had solid results.
  58. No problems getting Reala in London ..... and better not be either. It's my all time favourite colour neg film.
    Nothing else is better , just different.
    If you are having concerns about getting it in the USA or anywhere else, there's no point just bitching about here or on other forums. Put it in writing to Fuji in the states, with copies to Japan, and start slamming your fist on the counters of all the major outlets, with letters to them too. Make sure they hear you. If they have any in stock, buy it , and tell'm there'd better be more on the shelf when you come back.
  59. Excellent post from Richard Karash above on Jan 12, 2010; 08:23 p.m.
    And if I were giving awards for Photos on the forum, shortlisted for my top favourite would be for Nancy's Reala image under Richard's post:
    Nancy Chuang , Jan 12, 2010; 11:42 p.m.
  60. Greg says:
    Sorry guys, I just don't understand comments about "...the unpredictability of Ektar..."​
    Well I'm sorry Greg, to say that I feel your versions are decidedly lack luster in every way.
    What you are trying to do is make a silk purse out of a sours ear, and for me at least, it just doesn't work.
  61. Well I'm sorry Greg, to say that I feel your versions are decidedly lack luster in every way.​
    I was using a posted 8 bit JPEG which the photographer had complained had over-saturated reds. So I desaturated it just to show that it can be done. I agree that the result is indeed lack luster, but my aim was to simply move away from the original image.
    My point is that if you start with a good scan (i.e. a 16 bit TIFF) you can take it anywhere you want to go. Attached is an example I put together for another forum:
  62. That was pretty interesting to read. I read sometime ago on Fuji site that the films are good for portraits ( this was a while ago and I hope I have not missed anything).
    It looks like its good for landscapes. what would be a good film (negative) for nature and wildlife?
    would appreciate your thoughts.
  63. My vote is for Reala 100. Very fine grain and natural colors, like someone before me said it's much easier to add color and saturation than to remove it. This film does well in post-processing.
  64. Thanks for the compliment, Kevin.
    A post on APUG pointed me towards Unique Photo in New Jersey. I just received my order of Reala 120 with an expiration date of 2012. With an order of at least 20 rolls plus shipping it's about a dollar per roll more than Adorama/B&H were charging including tax (for in-store purchases), but cheaper than the 2010 Reala on eBay and only a dollar or so more than 2007 expired (including shipping in both cases). I just ordered more to stock up.

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