In our never-ending quest to bring new shooters into the world of film photography, we’re creating a series of fast and simple film reviews that can be read in about two minutes. These articles have all of the info that a new shooter will need to pick their film and have success shooting it. We begin with one of the best low-priced color films for new film photographers – Kodak ColorPlus 200.
Instead of saving the best for last, I decided to start this series with my favorite film. Maybe it’s my favorite because it was the first film I ever tried, maybe it’s because of its relatively cheap price, or maybe because it renders colors so well. Whatever the reason, Kodak ColorPlus is my go-to color film.
Let’s start with some context. Kodak produces black-and-white, color negative, and slide film. Of these three, the most “consumer-oriented” is color negative – this film costs the least, is the most popular, and can be developed anywhere that film is developed.
Kodak’s color negative range includes the professional Portra series, a film that’s dedicated to portraits or editorial (but that can be used in multiple settings). Another pro film suited for landscape and architectural shots is Ektar. These films get a lot of hype, but Kodak’s more budget-minded films are nothing to shy away from. Amongst these, Kodak ColorPlus stands out.
ColorPlus has a long history of changing names throughout the decades, but always maintaining its cheaper and mass public appeal. It first appeared in 1972, under the name of Kodacolor II, was made in the 110 film format, and was rated at an ISO of 100. It progressively became available in 35mm, and even 120 (which unfortunately doesn’t exist anymore!). Here is a more detailed and thorough explanation of Kodak ColorPlus’ long history. By the early 2000s, it became a 200 ISO film available to buy in specialized photography shops, malls, supermarkets – basically anywhere film is sold.
Best Practices When Shooting Kodak ColorPlus
The latest packaging of ColorPlus, with its simple yellow and red packaging faithful to Kodak’s brand image, immediately brings to mind punchy contrast and vivid tones. Rated at 200 ISO, this film is destined to be shot in sunny, outdoor situations, or in very well-lit environments. But its versatility is quite impressive. Paired with a flash, it captures night shots perfectly, and even adds that nostalgic and vintage look that so many are looking for.
Can you push and pull it? Yes, but not much. Some say ColorPlus is best rated at 100 for the shadows. It can also be pushed one stop at 400, and pushing it two stops is also possible, but images becomes somewhat muddy since it lacks the exposure latitude of other pricier films. New shooters should just shoot it at box speed and have it developed by a lab.
Its initial low ISO setting provides a very fine grain that gives the latitude to play around in the developing, editing, and printing process. However even with its lower sensitivity, Its grain structure isn’t as smooth as Kodak Gold or Ultramax, two of Kodak’s other lower-priced consumer-level films.
The images, may they be portraits, landscapes, everyday snaps, or professional work, will come out very vibrant and contrasty, which can be a turn off for some who prefer more faded pastel tones. But for those looking for a flashy and lively mood, and on a limited budget, this film is perfect.
Although Kodak recently increased their prices, Kodak ColorPlus is the least expensive color film around. It sells well and has become hard to track down as it flies off the shelves during this year in which supply chains and manufacturing have been stressed. Even with the recent price rise, it remains cheaper than most of Kodak’s other color negative films, Ultramax, Portra and Ektar.
Kodak ColorPlus is also one of those standard color films that can be developed anywhere, from your local CVS to pro labs, or on your backpacking trip thousands of miles away from home with a self-developing kit. This ease-of-development is possible because it’s an industry-standard C41 film as opposed to the more specialized slide or black-and-white film.
TLDR (too long didn’t read)
Kodak ColorPlus is a relatively cheap, vibrant, and colorful film. While it does handle gentle pushing and pulling reasonably well, its best images come when shot at box speed in strong light. It works best for outdoor days in the sun, and lively settings. It was originally intended for everyday photos and for amateur photographers, but experienced photographers can easily make standout shots with the same humble roll of Kodak ColorPlus.
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