Today we’ll be reviewing a wonderful slide film, Kodak EKTACHROME E100VS in 120 format. This emulsion has quickly become one of my favorites for its vivid look, ability to handle high-contrast, or very bright lighting conditions and the ease at which it can be pushed past its box speed.
In addition, the crazy color shifts that can be obtained when cross processed in C41 chemicals are beyond what I’ve come to expect from the current batch of venerable slide films from Fuji.
Let’s take a quick look at what Kodak themselves say about this film:
E100VS Film also features KODAK T-GRAIN® Emulsions for very fine grain and an unsurpassed level of sharpness in a 100-speed film….E100VS Film is ideal for photographers who must create high-color transparency images that spring to life on the light box. It’s an appropriate choice for nature, scenics, wildlife, food, jewelry, and any subjects that call for brilliant, dramatic hues.”
|Type||Slide (Color Reversal)|
|Formats||35mm / 120|
|Exposure latitude||±½ stop|
|Push processing||2 stops|
|Cross processing||yellow, red and gold hues|
What’s it really like?
At the risk of making this a very short review, I’ll come right out and say that I completely agree with what they say. Kodak E100VS has super fine grain, great sharpness, rich colors and produces really vivid slides.
But let me get something out right off the bat: Kodak discontinued its production in March 2012.
Yes, you read that right. This film, just like ALL OTHER KODAK SLIDE FILM is no longer being made and if you want it, you’ll need to find someone with frozen stock, or dig through the bargain bin at your local film lab’s closing down sale (an unnecessary jibe but that the reality we live in, folks).
For the sake of this article, I’ll be continuing to talk about this film in the present, not past tense.
Don’t let me dishearten you. This film can still be found all over eBay and even if slightly aged, it performs very well with consistent results. You won’t find it flaking out if it hasn’t been chilled, or frozen.
On a quick side note, I continue to be surprised by Kodak’s slide films. I recently shot a roll of Kodak Ektachrome 160, which expired in 1996. That’s a whole 18 years before I shot it and still came out great – review to follow soon.
Back to E100VS. In my opinion it’s a much better option for shooting every day in comparison to the film it’s pitched against; Fuji Velvia. Whilst Velvia is the preferred choice of many, I don’t personally find it as flexible. I generally shoot all of Velvia’s variants at around 1/3 of a stop slower than their box speed in order to slightly overexpose the results.
My own experience with E100VS tells me that the film is a great performer. It covers bright and even harsh sunlight with ease. It produces deep, rich shadow detail and whilst not as super fine as Velvia 100, EV100S has a lovely, smooth grain structure that’s good for high resolution digital work and large format printing.
Although its exposure latitude – like most slide film – is only half a stop (0.5 EV), it’s capable of covering a rather wide range of light and shade in a single exposure.
Here are some examples shot in 6×4.5 format at box speed (ISO100), and then processed in E6 chemicals:
Rich, vivid greens, natural pinks and reds.
Excellent dynamic range but shadow detail is still retained.
The extreme bottom right was the focus point for this shot. Lovely detail in the shadows.
A quick candid shot of a wedding photographer at work and a great example of how this film deals with very bright sunlight.
Whilst the images themselves may not be all that great (blame the photographer), it’s plain to see the breadth of dynamic range this film stock possesses. Several of the images above had elements with metered differences of around two stops from their darkest to lightest points but you’ll notice that blacks are rendered as true black and not the gray, or blue-gray hue we normally see from Fuji’s color slide and negative film.
This kind of dynamic range is something I’m more used to seeing with color negative film and motion picture film, rather than a slide film and very, very welcome indeed. (Note: perhaps that’s a little over the top)
To close off this portion of the review, I’ll reiterate my feeling that E100VS was a great film and I highly recommend getting a roll to try out for yourself. Yes, it’s not as super-fine as Fuji’s Velvia, yes, it’s more saturated and yes, it’s discontinued but if you’re happy with the first two points, you’ll love it. That’s a promise.
As an everyday film stock, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend Kodak E100VS. This isn’t because I don’t like, or that it’s not flexible enough. In reality, it’s because you can’t buy the damned stuff fresh any more…hence the unexpected “was” above.
I understand that Kodak’s had its problem of late and that they had to make snips and cuts wherever possible but until we can have it back in production, I’ll have to give this stock the following verdict:
A flexible, dependable film stock ideally suited to those who love rich, vibrant colors and chose to shoot slide film in challenging environments.
Great for experimentation, each shot makes you want to hang a new print on your wall.
If you’re looking for more, you can jump over to our Kodak E100VS experimentation article.
Thanks for reading.
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