If you are looking for a color-negative film that offers striking, rich colors with almost no grain, Ektar 100 is a perfect choice. Kodak released Ektar 100 in 2008, which differs from the company’s previously discontinued Ektar films, in 2008 with digital applications in mind—the film was specifically designed not only to make sharp, vivid exposures, but also to produce quality scans.
A friend recommended that I try Ektar 100 when I was relatively new to film photography and had gotten accustomed to shooting in Portra 400. I was not quite satisfied with the grain in my photographs, and they told me to try this hidden gem in Kodak’s selection of films. This is obviously a matter of mere personal preference, and in general, I appreciate grain as much as the next person. However, I’ve discovered that in my own work, Ektar gave a consistent level of smoothness I have been looking for and had not yet achieved with any other film.
Ektar 100 is adored by landscape photographers for the way it lends even more contrast, vibrance, and saturation to a scene when shot in daylight. Although some don’t favor it for portraits, I enjoy the smoothness and detail with which it showcases people’s features. In addition to this, it captures darker skin tones beautifully. One often-cited limitation of this film is that lighter skin tones tend to take on a pink or red hue, but this can easily be fixed in post production or when scanning an image; in my opinion, the sharpness and overall quality of the image makes it well worth it.
Another limitation is the film’s performance in lower light due to it being a slower, 100 ISO film. Again, though, just because results are optimal in bright light doesn’t mean other lighting situations will render images useless. I’ve found that with a slow enough shutter speed, even images shot in low light have surprised me with their detail and color profiles. It might be helpful to note that shutter speeds up to one second need no exposure correction, but Kodak recommends testing any exposure longer than this.
For even more versatility, Kodak specifies that the film can be overexposed by one stop or underexposed by two, but there seems to be a general consensus that it can be pushed one stop further in either direction. Underexposing can bring more blue tones to the surface, while overexposing will generally lead to a redder tint.
If you haven’t yet tried Ektar 100, it’s the first film I’d recommend. It comes in 35mm and 120 rolls as well as 4×5 and 8×10 slides, and in terms of price it’s relatively affordable, usually falling right into the middle-range of other comparable films. Although it’s not necessarily known for being versatile, with a willingness to experiment and a little technical knowledge it can do wonders for more than just landscapes and outdoor scenes.