Thursday, December 5, 2013

Kodak Professional Ektar 100, Review by Curtis Joe Walker

Ektar is a Kodak color negative professional film, formally branded as a semi-professional film. The brand was reintroduced in 2008 as a professional film. The film is rated at ISO 100 and sets out to be the finest grained color negative film on the market while complementing their existing Portra line. Film has become a specialty area for professional photographers, causing the arguably untimely demise of many popular emulsions. With this film, Kodak is striving to bridge the gap between analog and digital by creating a film ideal for scanning. In addition to the fine grain, Kodak has engineered the film to be more saturated while maintaining similar contrast and sharpness as their VC films. Kodak developed the film with nature, travel, fashion and product photographers in mind.

Photo by Herr von Bödefeld

For these tests, the film was run through a Lomo Fisheye and a Nikon F3 with Lensbaby 3G and Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lenses. Scanning was done with a Nikon Super CoolScan 5000ED film scanner with GEM and ROC (grain reduction and color enhancement) disabled to better illustrate the raw grain structure and color characteristics of the film. Some color correction was applied as needed as most of the images recorded slightly blue.

Nikon F3, Lensbaby 3G, f/2

This first image was taken inside an atrium with mixed sunlight and tungsten lighting. The first thing to notice is the vivid color saturation without blocking up in the reds. At 100% zoom, grain is smooth and details are only as soft as they are because of the characteristics of the Lensbaby.

Nikon F3, Lensbaby 3G, f/8

Here we have a photo of Las Vegas's Fremont East district in the afternoon with mixed sunlight and shade. Dynamic range is pleasing and the colors are realistically vibrant, but not over the top. Grain is a bit more evident at 100%, but still incredibly smooth.

Lomo Fisheye

This toy camera image shows off the strength of the film, even when paired with the most rudimentary of cameras. The sharpness of the grain helps maintain the integrity of the image despite the chromatic aberrations and defects that the camera is renowned for. At 100%, the limitations of the focus-free lens are evident, but the film is doing its job perfectly.

Nikon F3, Nikkor 50mm, f/16

Under studio strobes, the film does very well, again showing its strength in dynamic range and grain. At 100% the smooth transition from highlight to shadow areas shows this off nicely.

Nikon F3, Nikkor 50mm, f/1.4

Night photography under a cocktail of color temperatures and light sources can be disappointing with daylight balanced film, but it's a good opportunity to look at the color saturation of the film. Dark areas are suitably dark, but with detail in the shadow areas.

Kodak seems to be targeting photographers who love Fujifilm Velvia 50, but who want the extra latitude negative film provides while still maintaining the fine grained attributes of the slower film. Many photographers will welcome the ability to process and proof film cheaper and faster through local C-41 labs as E-6 processing becomes harder to locate. For photographers with specialty 35mm cameras or a love of traditional photography, Ektar 100 is a welcome addition to the rapidly shrinking world of film.

More information, including the technical publication, can be found at Kodak's website:

Curtis Joe Walker is a professional photographer in Las Vegas, NV. His work is unique, diverse, fun and edgy. He's also a freelance phototographer/photojournalist for the likes of Professional Photographer Magazine, Dvice, Gizmodo, Fleshbot and Jalopnik. His work has appeared in/on Wired, Io9, Consumerist, DeviantNation, Vice, Boink, Urb and King. This original article was published on Professional Photographer Magazine.

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  1. amazing <3 , whenever I am free, I always get my films roll out and play around.

  2. Well it is all very well to say neg delivers more dynamic range than transparency but Ektar isn't a particularly good performer in this respect. Kodak recommended it as a replacement for Ektachrome. But when I put it in my projector, I didn't like it very much. Looking at it rationally, now little colour work is output in a wet darkroom and is scanned, there is less reason than ever to use colour neg films and more reason to use transparency. Colour matching is easier, the detail is better, and it certainly looks nicer when you project it! Ektar isn't just a poor substitute for Velvia. It's no substitute at all.