5 Frames… With Ultrafine eXtreme 400 (EI 400 / 35mm format / Nikon F4) – by Jarrod Hills

First, let me say that the Nikon F4 gets no respect. I am just going to lay that out there. Okay, so now on to the film. All of my film problems can be traced back to The FPP. They were talking about some of their bulk films and how easy it was to roll and how it actually reduces the cost and waste.

You roll however many frames you want, reuse the cans, etc… Christmas rolls around and I get a kit of 100′ of Ultrafine eXtreme 400, 25 metal reusable cans, and a Legacy Pro Lloyd loader. I have never heard of Ultrafine before but who cares? I am going to load some film and go shoot. Ultrafine is cheap. Like, seriously cheap film. $39.95 USD gets you a 100′ roll levels of cheap!


My hopes were not high for the film. I expected Arista EDU levels of obtrusive grain (sorry Arista fans, it just is not the film for me) and softish contrast. No good. What I discovered, however, was amazing. This film is not grainy. It is pretty damned sharp. It is not soft and lacking in contrast. It is punchy and full of glorious black and white contrast. It is, bottom line, a fantastic film that punches above its weight. I have shot it with portraits. Wide and telephoto. Details. Walkabouts. Everywhere. It has never failed to deliver crisp results.

The shots here are all with my Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AF-D, with and without an orange filter, using my F4. So, can anyone tell me why the X in eXtreme is capitalized? I still do not know. What I do know is that I have already rolled and am in the process of completely rolling through my first 100′ of it and have a fresh 100′ in the freezer waiting. What’s more, is that next to it is 100′ of ILFORD Delta 100 Professional and Pan F 50 and I will roll and shoot the eXtreme before I roll and shoot those.

~ Jarrod

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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.

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Jarrod Hills
Jarrod Hills
Father of one, high school teacher, car guy, taker of pictures.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. I bought 100 feet of xtreme 400 after borrowing a few rolls from my son. His film was quite good. The stuff I bought is very grainy. What developer are you using? My best results so far are with D76 – but still much grainier than his.

  2. Both Ultrafine Xtreme 100 and 400 were a pleasant surprise for me this past Winter. I’ve got a fairly consistent results from both (shot about 5 rolls of each, so that is the size of the sample) and seriously thinking about getting a few bulk rolls of both once there is space in my film fridge.
    Great to see some more love for Nikon F4, I feel that love for this camera got lost in the shuffle between F3 and F5 followers. But it is a beast – great to see photos with this combo.

  3. “So, can anyone tell me why the X in eXtreme is capitalized?”
    At a guess — because a marketing droid thought it would look cool.

  4. I have gone through one 100′ roll of it already and have two more in my freezer. I have shot the 400 (above) and am working my way through the 100. I have seen no variance in results. Might it change over time? Sure, it is possible and as I have no affiliation with them, I have no idea. I have been shooting the 400 like it is HP5, in terms of reciprocity, etc… and found it to be remarkably similar. I would say to definitely give it a go. The rumor is that it is produced by Ilford. The fact that it behaves similar to HP5 makes it slightly more credible. I love the stuff. I shot 4 rolls at a local mountain bike race and cannot wait to see how it handled the varying contrast levels of woods with motion.

  5. I’ve heard that Ultrafine eXtreme isn’t a consistent emulsion, and that it’s rebadged periodically depending on availability. Is that accurate? If it’s consistently this good I’d love to try it, but I’m cautious if it’s going to be different from roll to roll.

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