Photographic film prices have been on a steady climb in Canada for the last few years. Not a reasonable climb, either. Some of my go-to emulsions have gone up as much as 30-40% at local retailers in the last year alone. It’s now cheaper to purchase colour film from the US and ship it up here, which sucks, because I love supporting local businesses — but not when the pricing works out to every 3 rolls getting you a free roll by bringing it in from south of the 49th parallel.
I enjoy shooting colour film (not color film, I’m Canadian) in most of my cameras but the cost gets prohibitive when you’re running at least $15CAD for 36 frames plus developing. I don’t do it very often anymore, but sometimes it’s just easier to drop a roll of 35mm C-41 at a local lab instead of waiting to have enough rolls shot for a home(boat) developing kit run. Local photo lab development can make it add up quick!
So, I went searching for some cheap, but consistent emulsions to shoot. Enter Kodak Gold 200. I actually forgot this stuff existed. Sold in department stores and grocery stores, it commonly comes in 3 packs with 24exp rolls for around $12. Not a phenomenal price, but totally acceptable. It’s actually kind of a fun film for me as well. If you grew up in the 80s-90s there is a good chance it’s probably what your parents bought and took all your childhood pics with! I like the warm tones and saturation.
Most people shy away from the 24exp rolls, but I’ll admit that it’s kind of nice to not always have to burn 36exp of the same emulsion. I’ve grown accustomed to shooting with multiple film backs in 120, or varied film holders in sheet film and I’ll always have different films loaded up in those. So, when I started shooting more 35mm, I found that 36exp was a lot to work with at first.
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Gold 200 always kind of feels like summer to me. I’m not sure if it’s the tones/colours, or if it’s the fact that so many summer breaks were captured on this stuff. Well, this and Fuji Superia. ISO 200 is such a weird speed to shoot regularly, too. It’s not quite super fine grain and slow, but also not versatile like 400 either. I usually pop an ND filter onto my Voigtlander Noktons and just shoot away, nice and crisp with the ability to shoot a little shallower than I could without it.
It’s 25+ years later and I’m still surprised how much I like the film. I’ve actually put this film in the rotation for regular shooting. I think it’s one of the only non-cinema colour emulsions that I still shoot consistently.
What’s your favourite inexpensive colour film?
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I love your photos in the above article. I’m a big fan of 24 exposure rolls, too. But I did like that Agfa 24+3 rolls even better. They gave you just the bit extra without having to go 36 frames.