Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Kodak Ektar 100 in 120

It is now over a year since Kodak announced the 35mm version of this film, after which many photographers asked for it in 120 size. After a few months Kodak obliged releasing a 120 version. I have a review of the 35mm emulsion here Ektar 100 35mm
So why review the medium format size?
My feeling after over 6 months of use (about 10 rolls) that the two are slightly different in character, I'm sure that its not just the format or the cameras, I actually think they behave in a different way.
First of all some tests that as normal centre around a Kodak No13 colour chart taken in a shaded area, first taking a 1 per cent spot meter reading from a grey card then taking -2 N and +2 exposures
The -2 has a slight lack of shadow detail, but just as with the 35mm shows an acceptable result, slightly more grain and lower contrast with a slight colour cast .
he normal was the easiest to scan and wet print, good colour and contrast greys remained neutral
The +2 has better shadow detail, but seems to have a blue/magenta cast which although can be filtered was in my opinion not as neutral as the normal neg
In bright sunlight colours are saturated,but detailed, slightly more conventional than the 35mm Ektar emulsion but in the same ballpark.
This shot and the following shot were made in quite dull conditions and for me this is where the results are different from the small format version. I would have thought that colours would remain fairly saturated, but in fact what I got from the two rolls shot on this day would be similar to what I would expect from Kodak Portra 160. I know what you're thinking that in some way they are under-exposed or possibly processing may have been different.
Seeing these results raised doubt in my mind about firstly my Minota spotmeter which checked out fine and then with the processing. In later trials though I tested the film in both cloudy and full sun and can confirm that the 120 film has slightly more muted colour when the weather is dull. I can say that I haven't come to this conclusion lightly and have actually re-written and put back this review until I felt that I had repeated consistent results from different cameras, processors and conditions.

This shot was taken in shadow and was to see how the film rendered skin tones, overall Ektar impresses me how it boosts reds and blues and yet gives quite natural believable skin tones, it does this with both versions of the film in a similar manner, I'd imagine it would be a great choice for fashion photography.
Something I've noticed though is a slight tendency for cooler colours in the shadow regions, this in my opinion is more so with the 120.

My overall conclusions are that this version of Ektar is similar yet not exactly the same as the 35mm version. So if you need a very fine grained film with good (yet not over the top) saturation especially in the red and blue parts of the spectrum this film is well worth a try.

9 comments:

Tom said...

Thank you for a very well thought out test on the 120. I've been wanting to know exactly this as I enjoy overexposing my color neg a bit shooting into the sun. This helps and an order is on it's way.
You really should get a B/H account for your site, this is good work and deserves a bit of a reward.
Tom
www.thephotofather.com

vl. said...

Looks rather pleasing, especially the overcast shots.

How does the film compare with Fuji Reala in terms of colour and grain?

-vl.

Photo–Smith said...

Compared to Fuji Reala Kodak Ektar has brighter red magenta and blues. Grain wise I'm guessing its finer, certainly a very fine grain film so far I've only printed to 16" and can't say there is any visible grain.

I think the film has a good latitude certainly better than I'd hoped for, some like rating it lower than 100 but I personally don't see the need for average scenes.

Photo–Smith said...

Tom
I pay for all the film and processing on this site-I think it keeps me honest :-)
My reward will be in Analogue heaven....

Noons said...

Do you think it's possible Kodak might have tweaked the emulsion since a year ago?

Thanks heaps for the review, BTW.

Ektar is now (finally!) available in Australia, although from an ebay supplier: local Kodak has decided in their (lack of) wisdom to not supply this market with Ektar...

I've tried out the 35mm and am over the moon with the results.

Photo–Smith said...

Noons I guess possibly they have tweeked it, for me it seems to have the Ektar look, with some elements of Portra. The flatter longer tonal range in dull conditions was a surprise, but I think the film is a handy one to have in your bag.
Sorry to hear people aren't stocking Ektar round your way, I'd be astonished if thats a Kodak global decision. I remember from friends down under that lots of goods are harder to find or have serviced in Australia and that many distributors aren't wholly owned by the companies.
Shame...

neil said...

Good to know the film performs well in the 120 format. I just got in some of the 135 format to try out and look forward to putting it to use. Considering the quality you got out of the 120 format, it looks good for the lesser 135. Thanks for the review, at least I can look forward to a quality negative film when I get my Mamiya 645 some day.

Ray said...

Anxious to burn a roll through a newly acquired Pentax 645.. I was spoiled by Fuji's saturated renditions of blues and greens in their classic slide films, so I'm very anxious to see how colors are rendered with the Ektar in 120.

Photo–Smith said...

Hi Ray
As a user of Fuji E6 films I can say that Ektar is different in its rendition of greens, if it is like any Fuji film it would be Astia with brighter reds.
The greens are warmer and are less blue IMHO