Since the 1980’s Kodak Gold has survived the test of time and is still a staple film for many film photographers worldwide. Gold 200 has been (sorry for the terrible pun) the Gold standard for consumer film photography, offering beautiful warm tones, which only get better with overexposure. When I met with my friend at Kodak Alaris at WPPI before the COVID-19 pandemic reached the US, they had a bit of fun playing around with my emotions and ask questions like, “If you had the chance for a film come to market, which one would you want it to be?” I replied, “We need one of the consumer films like Gold 200 or UltraMax 400 in 120!” Surprised, they reacted, “But why? It’s a consumer film?!” Now, I have a million reasons why a consumer 35mm film be introduced to a 120 market, but that is a topic for another conversation.
Following this chat, I went to Twitter to poll questions about it, and somebody tweeted a reply stating Gold 200 at one point did exist in 120 format, but it is tough to find! Perplexed by the claim, I jumped to Google, and lo-and-behold Gold 200 did exist! So, naturally, I turned to eBay to search for this elusive Gold 200 in 120. Nothing. However, I broadened my search to other countries, and I found an eBay seller, selling five rolls of Gold 200 in 120, expired in 2001 with a Buy-It-Now of 50 Euros.
I figured, well, this would make a great YouTube video (still in the works, and I will share once it goes live), justified my reasoning, and made the purchase. The next day, Germany went into lockdown, and the Deutsch mail restricted outbound mail to the States, with no idea when it would open up. The incredibly kind eBay seller offered to refund me the money, but I suggested to hold off until the post removed the restrictions. This was in April 2020.
Fast forward five months to mid-September, by some strange coincidence, I find out the German post was reopening outbound deliveries to the US. That headline triggered a memory of my forgotten Gold 200. I couldn’t believe it! I contacted the eBay seller and confirmed the German post reopened outbound shipping and had sent it out for delivery! I was stoked… until it got hung up in customs and didn’t deliver for another month.
As you can see, I took it for a test drive. The rolls had an expiration date of 11/2001. This film was manufactured more than 20 years ago. The seller could not confirm the storage conditions but I figured I have five rolls, and I would take it out for a test drive to get an idea of how to shoot the other rolls. So, I took a roll, loaded it into my Pentax 67, set it to EI 100, and planned to meter off my shadows. Then, that evening, I took it out for a drive around my rural town.
You can certainly tell there is considerable base fog in the shadows, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t correct on the scan. However, the results carry the signature color and tones of a Gold 200 film.
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I wanted to do a portrait session and see how it handled skin tones. So I called on my friend and talented actor Noelle Cameron to shoot on the studio roof in Atlanta. Again, I rated the film for EI 100 in my Pentax 67 and decided to, once again, meter for the shadows.
These are just a couple of examples:
My final thoughts, I felt a little teased to enjoy shooting a film that no longer exists. I know it would thrive in today’s markets. More and more film photographers are entering the market, and accessibility to medium format cameras are getting easier. ‘Professional’ films are seeing double-digit increases, and it would be nice to see a little relief from a consumer-level 120 format emulsion.
I hope that Kodak decides to bring this forgotten product back to an ever so hungry market for consumer-level medium format film.
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