Battle of the Fujifilm 800s – Venus versus Superia X-Tra

Battle of the Fujifilm 800s – Venus versus Superia X-Tra

2000 1125 Charlotte Davis

I’ve written before about the lack of high-sensitivity colour films available today. There were many more options before digital came along, but they seem to be gradually being culled year on year. Which is why I was so excited when a friend messaged me to say that he was in Japan, and to ask if I’d like a couple of rolls of the Japan-exclusive and discontinued Fuji Venus 800. Obviously, I said yes.

I’ve made no secret before that Fujifilm are my preferred film manufacturer, Velvia 50 and Superia X-Tra 800 particularly – the saturated colours and high contrast are exactly what I look for in colour films. I have used Superia in its many guises (200, 400 and even 1600) on many occasions previously, and was interested to see how these two film stocks compared – are they the same stock, just rebadged, or are they two different products?

If you’ve not heard of Venus 800 before, you might be forgiven – it’s only been available to the Japanese market, and was sadly discontinued in May 2019. Stock still remains with a latest expiry date of 2021, and if you can get your hands on it (on eBay, for example), it lands squarely on the expensive end of things.

The name is, as ever with Fujifilm, a little baffling (Tiara, anyone?). At ISO 800, Venus was intended as a daylight balanced, take-anywhere, do-anything holiday film stock. With that in mind, I loaded a roll of Venus 800 in my Olympus XA4 last summer and took it along on my 2019 adventures.

Fuji Superia’s lush greens are usually perfect for festival and outdoor scenes, but Venus 800 is a slightly more muted, cool affair. I found none of the almost over-saturated colour here, instead a realistic rendering of skin tones, grass, and a slightly blue cast – very subtle, and not too noticeable.

Under-exposing Venus 800 can lead to muddy results – the Venus example images included here have benefited from a contrast boost as well as a deepening of the blacks. Other than those small tweaks though – I really haven’t got much to complain about (for once). Venus is definitely preferable for portraits and family scenes – Superia X-Tra has a tendency to make pale skin tones look a bit too sunburned.

Superia X-tra 800 Samples

Venus 800 Samples

While 800 might seem like an odd ISO, not quite high-speed but also not really intended for super-smooth images with no grain, I can report that the visible grain for both Venus and Superia was small enough to not be noticeable or distracting. It’s a matter of taste, of course, but I prefer not to see too much grain if possible.

Fast-forward to this year and the landscape in the UK has dramatically changed. The festivals were all cancelled, and I had to make the most of the urban green spaces and coastal walks available to me here in Bristol instead. Loading some Superia X-tra 800, I struck out for the coast.

Comparing the two stocks makes it clear that Superia 800 and Venus 800 are not just rebranded, but two different stocks altogether. The differences are subtle – Superia 800 tends to have more of a yellow cast, and less contrast when overexposed. It’s less balanced, colour-wise, than Venus – the greens pop more noticeably, and under-exposed areas seem to retain a little more detail. It’s a very close call though, and I wouldn’t be disappointed to find either stock in my camera bag on a day out.

Much like Venus 800, Superia 800 has also been discontinued by Fujifilm as of 2016 – replaced by sharper, more sensitive digital sensors. However, for a family holiday or loaded into a plastic point-and-shoot, I’d choose one of these film stocks every time.

Follow Casual Photophile on Facebook and Instagram

[Some of the links in this article will direct users to our affiliates at B&H Photo, Amazon, and eBay. By purchasing anything using these links, Casual Photophile may receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. This helps Casual Photophile produce the content we produce. Many thanks for your support.]

Charlotte Davis

Based in Bristol, transplanted from London, I have been taking photos since I could hold a camera (sometimes I still drop them, but the sturdy ones survive).

All stories by:Charlotte Davis
  • it is now illegal to have an airgun – loaded or not – in a public place without lawful authority or reasonable excuse. This restriction applies to all airguns, even those that are being carried in securely-fastened gun cases.

    Does the owner of the rifle know he could possibly have broken UK law?

    • Surely there must be some provision in the law for safe and secure transport of air guns?

      • There is, and it’s very clear. If you are able to open the link I posted you will see how strict it is in the UK. Seeing the posted image made me first think it wasn’t in the UK, but reading the article seems to confirm the images were indeed taken in the UK. I wonder what Avon and Somerset Police might think if they saw this image?

    • Hi Terry – thanks for your concern! That air gun is extremely broken, and was a prop for our bar. Completely unusable, and also at a private event.

      • Hi, Charlotte. Phew, that’s good to know. Hope you didn’t mind the comment too much, as it was made out of concern.

      • Irma Prunesquallor October 28, 2020 at 3:51 pm

        Even so, showing people posing with guns is just utterly repulsive, especially with someone trying to strike a macho pose. I think that image was in incredibly bad taste, and the site moderators should consider taking it down.

    • In case you forgot… there is this place called America where guns are LEGAL. To tell you the truth is wasn’t until 2020 at the ripe old age of 28 I discovered that guns are legal everywhere..

  • I liked the Fuji 800s for shooting portraits indoors. But last time I used these films I was in Chicago on an overcast weekend. I had my last roll of Superia along, plus the only roll of Venus I ever shot. Here’s a comparison of the two films on the same scene.

    • Hi Jim 🙂 I remember reading your article when it came out! If I’d planned my comparison out a bit better, I would have shot the same scene as you did – much easier to see the colour differences.

  • Arthur Gottschalk November 3, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    Wow! The Nanny State strikes again. Picture of gun? Bad. Picture of man with a gun? Worse.

    • Agreed. Was my immediate reaction to the picture of the man with the gun, cringing and and thinking “bad taste”. YES.

      Do I think it should be removed or any such thing? HELL no. What would happen to freedom of artistic expression?

  • All of these examples look underexposed, which leads me to believe that Fuji is/was not being honest with the stated box speed of either film, instead relying on the film’s latitude. My guess if that if you exposed either of these films at 640 or 400, you would get much better results.

Leave a Reply

Charlotte Davis

Based in Bristol, transplanted from London, I have been taking photos since I could hold a camera (sometimes I still drop them, but the sturdy ones survive).

All stories by:Charlotte Davis