We’re introducing a new section to our blog which focuses on the various film stocks we shoot with. Generally all of the images on these posts will be personal images, taken with our favourite film cameras. These will not be techinical posts, but rather, a quick runthrough of what we like and dislike the most about each of these films. Hopefully it will help some of you make up your minds as to whether or not you want to pick up a roll and try it out. But really, it just gives us a reason to get out there and shoot. Up first…
Kodak ColorPlus 200
All images shot with the Leica MP, Summicron 35mm lens with our Kensington leather camera strap.
Kodak ColorPlus 200 is a very unusual film stock and in a lot of ways probably is not the best choice for many of us. Unless you’re after a specific look. The first time I used the film and got the results back from the lab, I hated what I saw. I quickly listed the 9 rolls I had left on eBay. When they didn’t sell for what I wanted, I decided to give it another chance. And I’m glad I did. Although, ColourPlus 200 still isn’t my favourite colour film. The grain isn’t particularly pleasing and in fact, this is the grainiest 200 speed colour film I’ve ever shot with.
ColorPlus started off in 1972 under the name Kodacolor II. However, it was only available in the 110 format. The ColorPlus we know today took shape in 2000. That’s when Kodak made it into a 35mm film and rated it ISO 200. If you’re a film nerd you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about ColorPlus 200 here.
You Are Thin!
Kodak ColorPlus 200 is the thinnest negative I’ve ever worked with. It feels thinner than Fuji C200 and Superia X-TRA 400, both of which are quite thin, being consumer grade films. It’s thinner than Kodak Gold 200 and it’s way, way thinner than Kodak Portra 160 or 400. In fact, I had bunching issues in the Leica MP on more than one occassion. The film spool simply did not want to pick up the film and it became bunched between the shutter curtain and the back plate. It’s quite possible I was just having an off day, but it did drive me crazy. Before shooting Colourplus, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the thinkness of the film. But because ColourPlus 200 is so thin, it ends up getting scratched and damaged much easier than a thicker, professional film.
Let There Be Light
Like most colour negative film, Kodak ColorPlus 200 likes a lot of light. I mean, a lot! When shooting under cloud cover, or in shade, colours tend to be washed out and the shadows get smudgy. But I tend to like the look. Living and shooting in England we are “blessed” with lots of rain and clouds. It is very difficult to emulate those shots we all see on Insta, or YouTube, taken in California, or Arizona, where Portra 400 looks like it has ZERO grain and is a bundle of bright pastel colour. I’ve found it’s better to embrace our dark, moody skies and create images that reflect our surroundings. ColorPlus 200 does lend itself well to these dark, moody shots. But I wouldn’t say it shines.
It is common to overexpose most colour films by at least a stop. However, I shot this roll of ColorPlus 200 at box speed as I wanted to capture those dark tones and I didn’t want to pretend there was more light than there was. I was mostly shooting street scenes, captured in full shade and I do not find it helpful to overexpose in those situations as it can lead to some rather dodgy results, especially if I didn’t meter perfectly.
Where Kodak ColorPlus 200 really shines is in the pastels. It renders pastels beautifully, like a soft, chalk, water-based paint from Farrow and Ball.
ColorPlus is a great street photography film. It adds loads of character to the final image. Perhaps it is slightly muted when shot in shade, but the colours do pop at times, even in the shade, especially the reds. I like how the reds and blacks interact, giving it a nice amount of contrast.
I found the film’s latitude to be actually quite good. The shot above was taken on Regent Street in London. It was fairly shady and the sky was quite bright. The film handled it really well. Especially for being a consumer grade, cheaper film stock. The right side of the street, where the sun is shining is starting to lose detail. However, there is still quite a bit.
I am always amazed at negative film’s latitude. When I started shooting digital in 2005 on the Canon EOS 1D Mark II N the latitude was appalling. But it was better than the slide films I used before digital. With something like Fujifilm Velvia 50, if you were 1/2 stop off on your exposure in the highlights, you may as well throw the slide away. It was not forgiving stuff.
Any of you who have only shot digital or negative film are very lucky. You have never had to waste money bracketing a shot in 1/3 stop incements, just to ensure you nailed the expsoure. It was expensive to shoot slide film. It’s even more expensive now!
Kodak ColorPlus 200 is a reasonbly inexpensive film. However, it isn’t as cheap as Fujifilm C200, or Superia X-TRA 400. And truthfully, for the money, I would rather shoot with either of the Fuji offerings over ColorPlus 200. I have a few more rolls from the 10 I initially purchased, but when they are gone, I will not be buying it again. At $6.99 (£5.15) a roll, I think there are better options out there. I’d rather buy 3 rolls of Fuji C200 for $13.99 (£10.30) instead.
If you love the look of old film stocks and can appreciate the character that Kodak ColorPlus 200 has, I would buy a roll and shoot it in bright sunlight, where there are lots of pastel colours and textures. This is where I think the film shines.
Have Your Say
Have you shot with Kodak ColorPlus 200? What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear them down below.
Thanks for reading.