Most saturated colour negative film?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by christopher_tidy, Aug 13, 2007.

  1. Hi folks,

    I'm looking for a highly saturated colour negative film. I am currently shooting
    Fuji Superia 400, and would like a film with more highly saturated colours than
    this. It also needs to have high contrast and fine grain. Film speed isn't very
    important to me as I mostly shoot using a tripod. I am currently experimenting
    with a few different slide films, but would prefer to stick with C-41 negative
    films due to the fact that processing is cheap and readily available. The Kodak
    Portra range look promising. I mostly shoot architecture and technical subjects,
    with a few landscapes too. Can anyone give me specific recommendations?

    Many thanks,

  2. You also really have to look at what material any color negative is printed on.
  3. Kodak Professional UC 400. Only film I buy over-the-counter. Brilliant, rich color--though possible trade-off is sometimes rendering fair skin tones a bit red. Scans nicely, too.
  4. High contrast, minimal grain and lots of saturation: Portra VC 160 / VC 400.
  5. Thanks for the suggestions. It looks like the Portra range are a good bet. Portra 400VC is considerably more expensive than Portra 160VC. Which would be better for my purposes? Or would I be better off with the Portra UC range?

    Many thanks,

  6. If you can get it AGFA Vista 100. It is almost Cartoonish in the color.

  7. UC is more saturated than VC. VC is still nominally a portrait film.
  8. Reala is definitely not the most saturated C-41 film. Blue sky comes out as pale washed-out cyan. Reala means realistic, not overblown. It has great skin tones, though.
    Christopher, are you willing to spend time locating discontinued film? Going by datasheets, the most saturated 100 speed films are old Gold 100, Profoto/Proimage 100, then UltraColor 100. The most saturated 200 film was Konica Centuria 200. The most saturated 400 speed films were old Royal Gold 400, Konica Centuria 400, and Agfa Vista 400.
    My personal recommendation is UltraColor 400, and listen to Ellis! Kodak Ultra paper might be your best print material.
  9. I am surprised no one has offered up Agfa Ultra 50. Garish in some venues, but it's discontinued. If you can find Kodak 100UC, it is higher contrast than 400UC and a little better resolution. Kodak Gold100 can deliver some additional saturation and skin tones usually are not an issue in architecture etc.
  10. Indeed, skin tones aren't an issue. But I'd rather not have to locate discontinued film. I'd prefer to find a type of film which I can buy readily now, and which isn't likely to be discontinued in the near future.

    Best wishes,

  11. According to datasheets, Agfa Ultra 50 had the same overall color saturation as old Royal Gold 400, but because it was 3 stops slower,
    in practice it produced more saturated results. Agfa Ultra 100
    actually has lower saturation than Gold 100 GA-6, but due to higher
    contrast, results from Ultra 100 may look more saturated. Christopher,
    if you can find Agfa Ultra 100, I heartily recommend it. Compared to
    Kodak UltraColor 100, wildflower pictures are much more stunningly
    hued. Ultra 100 had awful skin tones, however.
  12. A Vista 100 picture.

  13. Reala can be high in saturation at times but it's low in contrast so it doesn't look over done.
  14. I'm looking for something a bit more saturated than Reala. Is there much to choose between Kodak Portra 100UC and 400UC? Also, does anyone know where to buy them in the UK?

    Many thanks,

  15. experience is that Kodak UC100 did quite a good job with skin tones. However, they were shots of my children, and because children have excellent skin compared to us old geezers, perhaps my conclusions are inaccruate???
  16. "Saturated" color negative film is a topic hardly worth pursuing. The dyes used in color negatives are much weaker than those in reversal film. One film may have higher contrast than another, which you can see from the published characteristic curves. Higher contrast usually means a shorter dynamic range. You will see that there is little difference in the lowest and highest density of various films (hence "saturation") - just how much light it takes to get from one end to the other.

    The relative sensitivities of the three color layers does cause one film to be better for portraits than another, often at the expense of greens and yellows important in landscapes. IMO, this is a more important characteristic than contrast/saturation.

    The final results are largely what you wish them to be. You do not have to take whatever you get without conscious adjustments. There are options even from a minilab (those four characters on the back say what was used). Whereas the reversal process is fixed in slide film, you have nearly complete control on this stage when printing or scanning negative film. The level of control you get through digital processing is vastly better than anything in the darkroom - which why I would never go back (B&W a notable exception).
  17. If you are shooting saturated contrasty scenes Reala is nice as it'll let you record all of the brightness range to work with later. If you're working with less saturated scenes and want to bump up the saturation UC or VC from Kodak may be better. UC is mostly discontinued at this point, but make sure if you get VC in 400 it's the new formulation, the old formulation sucked.
  18. I regularly use Kodak 100UC & 400UC. Vivid colors, good flesh tones.

  19. I'm surprised nobody mentioned Fuji Fortia (color slide) film. These are Japanese-only emulsions; but Megaperls imports them:

    While ordering, be sure to pick up some Fuji Natura color print film.
  20. Chris, have you looked for other directions other than more saturated films to achieve more color saturation? Printing on paper is half of what it takes to reach a final view of an image. If you scan your own films with a dedicated film scanner you have a whole new world to explore in it. You may find that searching for more saturated print films is not necessary. You will only need fine grained films which are a lot easier to find. Here is one landscape image I shot with Fuji NPH400, a very low contrast and low color saturation film. I used this film because it has a very wide dynamic range. I can shoot in bright day light without losing highlight or shadow details much. I scanned the film and sure enough it is low contrast and low color saturation. But once loaded up into Photoshop and make a few very basic level adjustments it came out as a contrasty and plenty of saturation image. I then print it on my inkjet printer. I have all the saturation I want and I do not need any more saturated films at all. The scanning of the film and level adjustments I made is really the kind of darkroom work that is supposed to be done for analog printing except it is done digitally by me on a computer. The film scanner I have is available for a few hundred bucks. There are free image editing software available on the internet. It's not a huge investment you need to spend. Here are the two images as an example.
  21. Here is the same image after a few steps of simple level adjustment for the image. It has the saturation and contrast desired.
  22. I guess what I am trying to say is getting a right film is only half way to achieve the saturation and contrast you desire to achieve, The other half way is in the darkroom printing. If you can do it digitally by yourself you pretty much can use all low contrast films for the contrast and saturation you want. I almost gave up photography completely because I was constantly disappointed from the results of shooting films. But after I discovered about film scanning and Photoshop I am fully engaged in photography again. You don't need an expensive Photoshop to do it. GIMP is a free program just as good as Photoshop.
  23. Thanks for the thoughts. I know I can get the negatives scanned and increase the saturation using Photoshop or GIMP afterwards, but I'd rather not have to. I'd prefer the image on the negative to be as close to what I want as possible. And I'd like to stick with C-41 films as processing is cheaper and easier.

    Has Kodak Portra 400UC definitely been discontinued? I can still find a good number of references to it online. Is it the same thing as Kodak Professional Ultra Color 400?

    Best wishes,

  24. Yes, Portra 400UC was renamed UltraColor 400. It was discontinued
    in 120/220 rolls, but remains available for 35mm.

    Dave, I was going to submit enhancements to that NPH image you posted,
    but you already did! For me, NPH (Pro 400H) scans require more work
    to get right than 400UC scans.
  25. Having done a little more research, it seems that Portra 400UC was renamed Ultra Color 400 in the US, and Elite Color 400 in Europe. 7dayshop have Elite Color 200 and 400 at reasonable prices. But Elite Color 200 can't be exactly the same as one of the Portra range, as there wasn't a Portra 200. Has anyone used the European Elite Color films? Are they okay? Which would I be better off choosing: 200 or 400?

    Many thanks for the help.

  26. Elite Color 200 is probably similar to, or the same as, UltraColor 100
    in the US. Many people who test 100UC get the impression that it is
    higher than 100 speed. Benny says 100UC has good skin tones, and I
    agree. However I get more saturated results from 400UC.
  27. Have you tried adding a polarizing filter? Occasionally I've used one to "punch up" the color in some scenes.
  28. "I'd prefer the image on the negative to be as close to what I want as possible."

    In the case of negative films this is not a practical thought in fact. When the negative is printed you will be dealing with contrast, density and saturation adjustment or optimization too. This may not be done when you print in 4x6 size but if you order enlargements and if the enlargement is done using a Fuji Frontier system your negative is scanned and level adjustment is performed.

    The level adjustment is not adding saturation to the image. If the negative has a very wide dynamic range the level adjustment is to optimize the histogram of the image and bring the hidden contrast and saturation out of it. No color is added. You will have no control of level adjustmnent if you give your negative to a lab to print for you. But if you scan and do the digital darkroom work yourself you have full control and really get the best out of your images. You will realize there is no need to search for higher saturation films.
  29. Dave asks why. I ask why not. Seriously, if I can use a film which gives me results closer to what I want, why not use it? I'm not worried about shadow detail. I just want bold colours and strong contrast.

    It looks like Kodak Elite Color 200 or Elite Color 400 are my best bets. Anyone have more opinions on these films?

    Many thanks for the advice.

    Best wishes,

  30. Christopher,

    Look at a color negative. What is it about one color negative that resembles "reality" more than another. It's all in the end-to-end process. Not worried about shadow detail - you have a lot to learn.

    Whatever you decide regarding film, stick with that film until you learn how to use it to its best advantage - at least 10 or 20 rolls, maybe 100. If you go out with more than 3 types of film, including B&W, you haven't a chance at any consistency.
  31. The reason I'm not concerned about shadow detail is because many of the pictures I'll be taking will be indoors in a studio, where it should be possible to light the subject evenly without any major shadows. I perhaps should have made this clear at the start, whereas re-reading my original post I've basically given a list of my photographic interests. Mostly this film will be used for technical subjects in a studio.

    I've shot dozens of rolls of Fuji Superia 400 recently, and I've just decided that in my opinion, it isn't quite perfect for the job.

  32. Your only real options left are really just 400uc or 160vc. Maybe some strange konica or agfa film, but the quality(or availability) on those may be questionable. Or you could just go with velvia slide film if you needed too.
  33. Agfa Ultra 100, still available on e-bay. Hands down the most saturated print film, stunning for fall colors and landscapes. But for your purposes, 400UC is probably best. It is an excellent film.
  34. Randall

    Why pay the prices on ebay when you can order it from a place that keeps it cool.

  35. Right now, Kodak 400UC (Ultracolor) is the "Velvia" of negative film. Tight grain that is indistinguishable from Kodak 100UC, deep rich blacks and eye popping colors. Plus you can find it at Walmart and their Fuji machines are setup to process it very nicely. Really nice. Plus it scans beautifully.
    Here is a sample image from Koday 400UC (Ultracolor) shot on an old Minolta X700 with 50mm F1.7 lens.
  36. Thanks for all the thoughts. For me in the UK it seems that my choice is between Kodak Elite Color 200 and Elite Color 400. I'm inclined to go for the 200, as I would expect it to have finer grain, but I can't find any Kodak data sheets regarding these films. Does anyone know where I might find data sheets? Or does anyone have strong opinions regarding the two?

    Many thanks,

  37. The website has product information for Elite Color 200 and 400, but no datasheet that I can find. Try searching for the "tech pub" and it might work in your locale. Failing that, call Kodak customer support and kvetch.
    My website says "Elite Color 200 and 400 seem to be European rebrandings of Ultra Color, with the 200 speed jacked up because 100 speed film doesn't sell in Europe."
  38. For the record, I have kindly been shown where to find the data sheet for the Kodak Elite Color films:

    Best wishes,

  39. I'm going to buy a 10-pack of Kodak Elite Color 200. Thanks for all the advice.

    Best wishes,

  40. Chris, could you please report back what the edge codes say?
    Somebody from Finland (?) reported that the EliteColor 400 edge code
    was 400UC, making me think it was rebadged UltraColor, but the
    datasheet you referenced makes it look more like High Definition 400,
    which has grainier skin tones. I have seen no reports about
    EliteColor 200 edge code.

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