This film is truly special because, not just because of how it looks during the day, but how you can be so creative with it in challenging or natural light. Kodak Pro Image 100 is a Professional 100 ISO colour film. Initially only available in the Asian market with a look similar to some Fuji film stocks, it is now available elsewhere in the world like the USA, Europe and Australia with it’s own unique look. This 100iso fine grain film is daylight balanced, but because it allows you so much creativity in natural and challenging light, is as special as it is versatile.
I have often thought that Fuji films tend to have a certain cool (as in slightly blue) look to them, and Kodak has a slightly warm (as in slightly yellow) look. Pro 100 seems to be spot on when properly exposed, and has a very true while, rich slightly over saturated colour palette.
The detail is certainly there in the highlights and in the shadows. This film is both detailed and sharp, with a fine grain. It is great for scanning. This film has more dynamic range than some digital sensors in my view.
So, Ok, we’ve established that Kodak Pro 100 has a fine grain, sharp rendering with strong details, true to life colours when shot in daylight, and keeps the shadows open with plenty of information and prevents the highlights from peaking. I will say that when compared to say Fuji C200, it has a bit of a stronger grain structure. Fuji C200 has a finer grain, and possibly more accurate colour.
It sits in an interesting place in Kodak’s film line up. Consumer level films like Kodak Gold, or Colour Plus tend to have very vibrant sharp and contrasty images. This makes them hard to edit. Also the way they tend to achieve sharp lines in their images is with a large grain structure, so they lack detail that can normally be had with finer grain film stocks. Kodak’s best fine grain professional film is Portra, available in 160, 400 and 800 ISOs. It is one of the best. At the other end is Ektar, a 100ISO film that gives you really vibrant, highly saturated colours not unlike what you may get from slide film like Fuji Velvia, but it is much easier to shoot with a wider dynamic range. Kodak Pro Image 100 seems to sit between Kodak Portra and Kodak Ektar colour negative films.
What is very special about Kodak Pro 100 film?
As the film is chemically engineered to keep the shadows open and detailed, if you under expose the detail is still there. So after dark, you can expose for the highlights, eg, lights at night, and get some images that are truely special. These types of images are hard to get on other films. If you shoot underexposed, or try to keep the shadows open, I’ve found that you tend to get a bit of a pinky tone to your images.
I think this film was developed with wedding photographers in mind. Well, the box itself features wedding photos that have a very 1990s style to them. Wedding photographers work in challenging light, so the film had to be forgiving. But it would also let them create some very beautiful images with natural and available light. Think dimly lit chapel with light coming in through stained glass windows. This film will emphasise that beautiful colour. Which is why I really like it for street photography with available light. I get to use the light from street lights, store, cars, anything to paint something new in a picture.
I’ll say that Kodak Pro Image 100 in this way represents what I really like about film photography…when you realise how a certain film behaves in certain scenarios, you think about it when taking your photos. You design your images in your head with the film in your camera in mind.
There is more grain than Kodak Portra with this film. In fact, Fuji C200 has less. Less Grain= finer details and smoother images, but larger grain = better light sensitivity (hence higher ISOs) and sharper, more defined lines in your photos. I always try and shoot slower speeds for the lack of grain as I like clean images. As I say, fine grain tends to mean more detail, and with it more potential clarity. Larger grain tends to produce sharper images to a point, as the edges around objects in your frame look crisper.
Let’s talk about this film for portraits. Well, on the box, there is a wedding photo. Clearly the film is marketed to pros taking photos of people. For me, everything about this film looks natural. I took this photo in a cafe with natural light coming in from the window. Skin colours are right. Eye colour (often overlooked) is right, hair is right and detailed.
Kodak Pro 100 is a bit cheaper than Kodak Portra 160 film. And to be honest, I prefer it. This film seems versatile, it is forgiving, and lets me be creative in ways I haven’t found I have been able to on other films. It is a great film for scanning, and being C41, it is still easy to have developed.