Cheapest Color Film? Pros & Cons of Kodak Gold 200 (+50 Sample Photos)
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Kodak Gold 200 holds the title of the cheapest 35mm color film produced by the iconic company. In many cases, it’s the cheapest color film made by any company.
If you’ve never tried shooting this type of film, you may be wondering if it’s a good option because of the lower price tag.
To help you decide if you want to give it a try, we’ve gathered a list of our favorite things and our biggest complaints about Kodak Gold 200.
Of course, we’ve included plenty of sample photos – every image featured in this article was taken on Gold 200 film.
Pros of Kodak Gold 200
There’s a lot to love about this humble, consumer-grade film. While it might not be the best fit for every shooting situation, it’s a good general purpose option.
Here are some of the top reasons that we, and other film photographers, like to shoot Gold 200.
As with other consumer grade films, it is a less expensive option.
We won’t beat around the bush – it’s expensive AF to shoot film these days.
While we understand the infatuation with pro grade films like Kodak Portra, it can really break the bank if this is all that you shoot.
We’re more than happy to keep consumer grade films, like Gold 200, in our rotation. The results might not look as nice as some of the pro options, but we still like them enough to justify shooting film.
Even compared to the extremely popular Kodak Ultramax 400, Gold 200 is usually a dollar or two cheaper per roll.
As far as the price of film goes, it’s almost always cheapest to buy black and white – there are plenty of B&W options that are even a few dollars cheaper than Gold 200.
But a lot of photographers don’t like shooting black and white all the time (or, at all). Kodak Gold 200 is great for people who want the cheapest color film that they can find.
Kodak Gold 200 produces a warm, vintage look with nice saturation.
Kodak is pretty synonymous with the “film look” that drives a lot of photographers to shooting analog in the first place.
As with other Kodak products, Gold 200 produces images with a pleasant, warm tone and decent saturation.
Especially in daylight, photos look sun soaked and nostalgic, sometimes appearing like stills from a movie.
It’s kind of cliché to say at this point, but a lot of people appreciate the “vintage look” that comes from Gold 200.
You could make the argument that what they’re referring to is just the way that most Kodak film looks and we only think of it as “vintage” because Kodak has been such a big player in the photography game since its inception.
Bottom line? Kodak Gold 200 = plenty of tones.
The film thrives in bright daylight and is a great choice for sunny days.
It’s not surprising for a 200 speed film, but Kodak Gold really shines when the sun’s doing the same.
Gold 200 is a great choice for bright, sunny days. With its daylight color balance, this film is always going to perform best in natural light, but it produces the best colors on days where the sun is shining.
If anything, Kodak Gold might actually be best when it’s a little bit overexposed. We usually shoot it at box speed or overexposed by one stop.
It has a wide exposure latitude, making it a flexible, forgiving film.
“Exposure latitude” is a term in film photography that means the amount that a film can be over or under exposed while still producing a decently clear photo.
So a film – such as Kodak Gold 200 – with a wide exposure latitude, is one where you can over or under expose it quite a bit while still achieving decent results.
Kodak specifies that Gold 200 can be overexposed by three stops and underexposed by two stops. You can find this and a ton more technical info about the film by checking out the spec sheet in Kodak’s archives.
As we noted above, Gold 200 really likes to be overexposed, although we don’t usually go as high as the three stops that Kodak says is doable. We have noticed that some colors (even in natural daylight) translate a little bit odd when overexposing.
Our experience with underexposing Gold 200 has been a little bit less successful – we find that the shadows can get grainy and muddy pretty easily.
This isn’t to say that we never underexpose this film – it’s still nice to have the option. We just assume that underexposed photos on Gold 200 might not look the greatest. But in those situations, we’re still happy to know we have a few stops of flexibility.
Kodak Gold 200 is available in 35mm and 120 medium format.
For the most part, films that are available in both 35mm and medium format tend to be professional grade.
While some brands besides Kodak blur the line of what’s considered “professional”, the film stocks that are available in multiple sizes are usually the more expensive options.
Which made it quite the pleasant surprise when Kodak recently reintroduced Gold 200 film in 120 medium format.
Anything to make film photography more affordable makes it more accessible, so we were thrilled when we saw this announcement. Gold 200 is now one of the cheapest medium format films available.
Cons of Kodak Gold 200
For the most part, we’re perfectly happy whenever we shoot Gold 200. But just like any other type of film, it’s far from perfect.
Here are the biggest complaints we’ve found after shooting this film throughout the years.
The daylight color balance produces odd colors in artificial light.
This isn’t really a flaw of the film, but it can still make certain situations difficult.
The reason that artificial light looks odd on Gold 200 is the same reason that bright natural light looks great. The film has a daylight color balance, which means that it’s intended for use in natural light.
Kodak recommends using a filter to achieve proper colors in artificial lighting conditions, but most film photographers don’t really use them these days.
If you find yourself frequently using Kodak Gold 200 (or other daylight balanced films) in artificial lighting, it might be worth picking up a filter.
For a 200 speed film, the grain is relatively noticeable.
As you probably know, the lower the film speed, the finer the grain. One of the benefits to shooting films slower than 400 ISO is that you get a finer grain.
We’ve found the grain on Kodak Gold 200 to be a little bit underwhelming for the speed of the film.
In some instances, we’ve found the grain on Gold 200 to be much more noticeable than professional film stocks that are twice as fast (400 ISO).
Now, we don’t want to make this issue seem more extreme than it really is – in most circumstances, the grain produced by Gold 200 is perfectly acceptable and only visible upon close examination.
It’s kind of like comparing apples to oranges, but we’re just saying that Gold 200 isn’t going to give you the same smooth, fine grain or vivid detail as one of Kodak’s professional options.
This will, of course, become more true the larger that you print/view your photo.
Kodak Gold 200 has less dynamic range than other types of film.
In photography, dynamic range is the ratio from the darkest point to the lightest point of an image.
So a photo with more dynamic range is one where there is a bigger difference between the darkest and lightest parts of the image.
Unfortunately, Kodak Gold 200 has less dynamic range than other types of film, meaning there is a smaller range of brightness in the photos it produces.
As we mentioned above, we’ve found that this particular film tends to struggle with dark shadows, often appearing very grainy and muddy when underexposed.
Kodak Gold 200 Sample Photos
There’s no better way to show you what the film is capable of than to look at some sample photos.
We’ll let the photos do the talking from here on out – here are more samples of photos taken on Gold 200, by a variety of photographers.
Where to Buy Kodak Gold 200
The easiest place to buy any film is your local photo lab – the majority of places that develop film also sell it. It’s also ideal to support the place that develops your film, to enable them to continue doing good work.
If you don’t have a favorite lab, check out our database of where to develop film near you to see if we have any recommendations for your location.
Even if you live somewhere without a good option, you can still find our favorite places to develop film online, most of which have film for sale.
You can usually find Kodak Gold 200 on Amazon, although the prices tend to be all over the place. Every once in a while, you can still find a good deal, sometimes with free shipping, so it’s worth checking.
We’ve had decent luck buying film on eBaby. It takes a little bit more work, but if you’re willing to look around for a bit, you can usually find a deal on Kodak Gold 200, especially on auctions vs Buy It Now listings.
I’ve tried this film several times. It’s good for everyday irrelevant photos, but I would not use this for landscapes or portraits. The grain is very noticeable; nothing compared with Ektar 100 or even Portra 400 where grain is not noticeable, particularly on medium format.