Pros and Cons of Kodak Ektar 100 (Sample Photos)
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Compared to the other C41 color films made by Kodak, Ektar 100 is probably the most unique. It may be a standard color-negative film, but Ektar produces photos that can look closer to E-6 slide film.
If you’ve never tried Kodak Ektar 100, we’d definitely recommend shooting a roll at some point. Just make sure that you’re choosing the right shooting circumstances to really let the film shine.
All photos featured in this article were taken on Kodak Ektar 35mm or 120 film.
Table of Contents
Kodak Ektar 100
Quick History of Kodak Ektar 100
The Kodak Ektar that you find in stores today is technically the “new” version of this film. The “original” Ektar was released in 1989 but only had five years on the market before it was discontinued.
These were still the pre-digital camera days, so there were a lot more types of film available to buy. Originally, Kodak Ektar was available in 25, 100, 400, and 1000 speeds. The 400 ISO version stayed in production a few years longer than the rest.
The original Kodak Ektar was replaced by Royal Gold – another Kodak film that didn’t stay in production for too long. It was in 2008 when the current version of Kodak Ektar film was first released.
While it may share a name with the Kodak Ektar of the 1980s and ‘90s, the “new” version of the film is an entirely different product. Only offered in 100 speed, the 2008 release included Kodak Ektar 35mm and 120 formats. 4×5 and 8×10 large formats were introduced two years later.
Kodak claims that the current version of Ektar 100 is “the finest-grain color negative film” available. Ektar is classified as a “professional-grade” film, putting it alongside the ever-popular Kodak Portra.
Pros of Kodak Ektar 100
There’s a lot to love about Kodak Ektar. After shooting many rolls over the years, here are the characteristics we’ve come to enjoy and expect from this film.
Ultra Fine Grain
As mentioned above, the grain is one of the biggest selling points of Kodak Ektar 100. And they aren’t lying about how fine it is.
Especially if you’re used to shooting a “consumer-grade” film (like Kodak Ultramax 400 or Kodak Gold 200), the difference will be noticeable. No matter what type of film, lower speed = less grain, so it makes sense that this version of Ektar film was only released in ISO 100.
Images are incredibly smooth and sharp. Because of the fine grain, Kodak Ektar does exceptionally well when it’s scanned and printed at large sizes.
If you’re someone who likes the looks of photos with a lot of contrast, Ektar might be the perfect film for you. As far as color negative films go, it’s hard to find more contrast than Ektar.
In case you didn’t know exactly what the term means, contrast generally refers to the range of brightness in a photo. An image with high contrast has a wide range from bright highlights to dark shadows. An image with low contrast doesn’t have as much difference – the image has more uniform levels of brightness.
You can certainly increase the contrast when editing any type of film, but there is something unique-looking about the contrast that naturally occurs in photos taken on Kodak Ektar. They are sharp and punchy.
When comparing Kodak Ektar 100 vs Portra 160, the Portra is going to give you a much more flat, neutral palette. This is definitely a more flexible option as you can always increase the contrast when editing your images – it’s much harder to decrease the contrast in Ektar photos.
Another key characteristic of Kodak Ektar is the extremely saturated colors. Once again, it’s hard to find another C41 color film with more saturation than Ektar.
There are plenty of examples of photos taken on Ektar 100 that truly look like they could’ve been shot on E-6 slide film. We’ve even heard people mistakenly refer to Ektar as slide film, just because they’ve seen the images it produces.
As with all Kodak films, Ektar 100 has a warm tone that leans more towards oranges and yellows. Bright colors in strong light will really pop in images taken on Ektar.
Great for Landscapes
All of the points above illustrate exactly why Kodak Ektar 100 is a great choice for landscape photography.
For starters, the low film speed and fine grain lead to incredibly sharp images. Plus, the film speed isn’t usually of a problem since a tripod is regularly used in landscape photography.
The high contrast and saturation are both great fits for landscape, as well. Some of our favorite images taken on Ektar emphasize extremely bright, blue skies, or dense, layered green trees.
You can (and should) shoot whatever type of photos you like, but if you’re interested in landscape photography, Kodak Ektar might be a particularly good option for you.
Thrives in Bright Sunlight
Ektar 100 is definitely a film best when used in very bright light. Depending on the day (and the weather), this could be considered a positive or a negative.
When the sun is really shining and there isn’t any cloud coverage, one of our top choices would be to load a roll of Kodak Ektar 35mm or medium format film.
Obviously, any lower speed film is going to be a good choice in these circumstances, but Ektar really thrives. When exposed properly, images are full of punchy contrast and the saturated colors look their absolute best in bright sunlight.
When we were sourcing sample images for this article, we noticed a lot of photos of beaches, bodies of water, etc. Long story short, Kodak Ektar 100 is the perfect film for summer vacation and days where everyone is wearing sunglasses.
Cons of Shooting Kodak Ektar 100
While we’re big fans of Ektar, it still has its disadvantages just like any other film. For some photographers, these might be deal breakers that prevent them from buying a roll of Kodak Ektar 35mm film next time they need to restock.
Skin Tones Don’t Look Accurate
Many would agree that the biggest disadvantage to Ektar 100 is that skin tones can look…pretty bad. Sure, if you’re comparing Ektar vs Portra, it’s obvious that Portra is going to shine in this regard, as the film is intended for portraits.
But even when comparing cheaper, consumer-grade films that are made for general purpose, they often handle skin tones much, much better than Ektar.
It makes a lot of sense – for all the good things we had to say about Ektar 100’s extreme saturation and contrast, these traits aren’t always the best fit for photos of people.
This issue is usually the worst on lighter skin tones, where Ektar tends to produce an odd-looking red/orange tint. If you tend to mostly take photos of people, you’re probably going to want to choose a different film.
And just to be clear, there are definitely examples of photos taken on Ektar where the skin tones look great. Plus, some people may not mind the way that it looks. We would personally just choose Portra vs Ektar for shooting portraits.
Low Exposure Latitude
Another downside to Kodak Ektar 100 is that this particular film has a much lower exposure latitude than comparable options.
In short, exposure latitude is the amount that you can over or under expose a film photo while still getting a decent looking image. Ektar has a low exposure latitude, meaning that it cannot handle much over or under exposure.
When shooting Ektar 100, it’s important to get the most accurate exposure possible. Underexposed shadows look muddy and overexposed highlights look extremely washed out.
If you were comparing Kodak Ektar 100 vs Portra 160, Portra is the winner by a mile for exposure latitude. You can overexpose by multiple stops and still get great looking negatives. Some people even purposefully overexpose Portra because they like the way it looks.
If a single roll of film usually accompanies you to a variety of locations/lighting situations, Ektar might not be the best choice. We usually reserve shooting Ektar for times when we know we’ll be exclusively shooting outside in bright light and won’t have trouble getting a good exposure.
Not as Cheap as it Used to Be
This may only be a negative if you’ve been shooting film for a long time, but in the past, Kodak Ektar 100 was a few dollars cheaper than other pro-grade options.
Across the board, lower film speed = lower cost. But in the past, even If you were comparing Ektar vs Portra, it was still cheaper to buy Ektar than the 160 ISO version of Portra.
Aside from all of the positives we mentioned above, we were even more likely to pick up a roll of Kodak Ektar 35mm when it was the cheapest pro film available.
Recent years have seen significant price increases in every aspect of shooting film, so we’re not surprised to see the price of Ektar 100 rising, too. We just wish it hadn’t caught all the way up with the prices of other comparable films.
Not the Most Versatile
The negatives above can be summarized by saying that Kodak Ektar 100 is not the most versatile film.
We love it for what it is, but the unique characteristics that make Ektar standout are also what make it tough to use in a lot of circumstances. This is emphasized by the fact that most color-negative films on the market are incredibly versatile and easy to use in a variety of situations.
There’s no doubt that we’ll shoot more rolls of Ektar 100 in the future – we’ll just be sure to save them for scenarios where we know the film will shine.
Kodak Ektar 100
Kodak Ektar 100 Sample Photos
If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then the most important part of any film review must be the sample photos.
Check out some additional examples of Ektar 100 photos, taken by a variety of film photographers.