My 2020 lockdown journey: a comparative test of Kodak EKTACHROME E100 and Fujifilm Velvia 50 (bonus Portra/Lomography included)

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I set out this Spring and Summer to do a comparative test of Kodak EKTACHROME E100 and Fujifilm Fujichrome Velvia 50 (RVP50). In my lifetime experience with film (going back to childhood), I’ve mostly shot slide film, and we had those traditional slide shows with Family and Friends because my mother used the original EKTACHROME from the 1960s in her Kodak Instamatic Cameras.

As a field scientist back in the pre-PowerPoint days, I needed to share my information in slide presentations. So that meant slide film. In my earlier professional days, I used ECN (motion picture) films. When that was discontinued I switched to Kodak EKTACHROME E100GX. When that was discontinued, I focused (pun intended) on black and white photography.


I remember how we all eagerly awaited the return of Kodak slide films recently and when it finally happened, I immediately reposted a favorite Kodak EKTACHROME E100GX from Patagonia:

I had always preferred Kodak slide films in the past, however, after some 35mm experiences last year [1][2][3], I had doubts about the new E100. I was struggling with its cold tones. In the past, I had always used E100GX, a warm-toned film of the old generation. My understanding is that the new film was based on the colder version, E100G, which was considered the standard film of that generation. But to be fair, I decided to do a formal color test comparison. 

I based it in my lovely garden since, at the time of writing this article, we were entering the COVID-19 lockdown period. I was also working on a street art project, which added Kodak Portra 400 and Lomography Color Negative 800 into the mix. 

For the direct comparison of the E-6 films I used my Mamiya 645’s for the garden, and Mamiya-7’s for landscapes and street photography; the Portra 400 was exposed using a Mamiya-6; and the Lomography 800 was exposed using a Diana F+ that I was also shooting for the Frugal Film Project. My initial subjects for the Project were murals from the Old Town Section of Lafayette, Colorado sponsored by the Alley Art Amazin’ Project. And so we begin with some murals…

What the Owls Have to Say

I am starting with the Owls because their differences are most striking. As one would expect, the slide (E-6) films have a more saturated color.  Not quite a natural representation. But let’s start with the first two Owls, taking a look at the color negative (C-41) films.

Left: Lomography Color Negative 800, right: Kodak Portra 400 — click/tap to view fullscreen.


I made no adjustments for tone or contrast; only cropping to make them comparable in size. All of the images were exposed on overcast days. The first comment I can make is that both C-41 films are truer to the actual mural colors. The Portra 400 has a richer color tone which I would expect for the lower ISO film. But you have to admit that the Lomography 800 is very good, especially since it was exposed using a plastic camera. The winner here is Portra 400, with Lomography 800 a very close second.

Left: Kodak EKTACHROME E100, right: Fujifilm Velvia 50 — click/tap to view fullscreen.

If you read my earlier experiences with EKTACHROME E100, you’ll be able to decide which one I’d prefer.  I simply find the E100 too cold. So the winner here for me is Fujifilm Velvia 50.  Neither one is as close to true color as the Portra 400, but I enjoy the richer and brighter blues and purples of the Velvia 50. If you hadn’t seen the Portra 400 image at all, the aesthetics of the Velvia 50 image might be more appealing to you also.

Another of my early blog posting for this film test series generated a lot of discussion. For my initial E100 vs Velvia 50 comparisons I was using my Mamiya 7s but they did have different lenses. Was that contributing to different color renditions? I don’t think so, but you tell me. The E100 was captured with the Mamiya 50mm lens and the Velvia 50 was captured with the Mamiya 43mm lens. If you think this may have made a difference please let me know.

From My Garden

In contrast, the Garden shots were captured with nearly identical Mamiya 645 cameras (Pro vs Pro TL) and identical 80mm “normal” lenses as shown above. I began with my early spring flowers: tulips and irises. The tulip results showed almost no contrast in color rendition (see more examples here). I had planned to capture Portra 400 images in 645 format but my ‘extra’ Mamiya 645 malfunctioned.

Left: Kodak EKTACHROME E100, right: Fujifilm Velvia 50 — click/tap to view fullscreen.

The irises showed a bit more variation in color saturation, with the Velvia 50 being the more saturated (E100 on left; Velvia 50 on right). The yellow irises showed the most contrast in color saturation (further examples here).

Left: Kodak EKTACHROME E100, right: Fujifilm Velvia 50 — click/tap to view fullscreen.


In a last word from the garden, the final flowers display some contrast, but again I think it comes down to an aesthetic choice. The similarity in E100 and Velvia 50 may explain why I always preferred the old Kodak EKTACHROME E100GX. I could go on ad nauseam with the flowers but I’ll summarize my findings here. The E100 displayed better saturation for pinks and some reds. The Velvia 50 displayed better saturation for yellows, oranges and purples. You can view all the garden flowers and make your own aesthetic choices.

Left: Kodak EKTACHROME E100, right: Fujifilm Velvia 50 — click/tap to view fullscreen.

Snowy Range Landscapes

Well, after the flowers didn’t inform the process as much as I had hoped, I returned to one last roll of Mamiya 7 landscapes from the Snowy Range of Wyoming. I was shocked, but then, not really. The Velvia 50 sky was brighter, but the gray rocks were cold, almost bluish. It also showed a tendency towards pinkish snow that I had seen in earlier images. Although I did use a warming filter on the E100, the sky was still cold. However, the E100 was better at rock color and white snow.

Left: Kodak EKTACHROME E100, right: Fujifilm Velvia 50 — click/tap to view fullscreen.

Summary & conclusions

My ultimate conclusion is that E100 versus Velvia 50 is an aesthetic choice.

To expand on that: it really depends upon what you photograph, and yes, what you like. For flowers it really didn’t make a significant difference. Both films offered acceptable color rendition and saturation. For landscapes, I think it makes more of a difference. The Velvia 50 consistently enhanced or added purple and pinkish hues, even when they weren’t there. The E100 still had a cold sky even with the 81C warming filter. It did a better job on the actual color of these gray rock, but I didn’t like how it had represented red rocks in my earlier experiences.

What are my concluding thoughts? Personally, I’ve moved on. I’m mainly a black and white photographer. I have my own darkroom, and that gives me more control. But every now and then, especially for my 35mm cameras, I want some color. For that, I found Kodak Portra 400. A film that I actually first tested in the Snowy Range a few years ago.

Kodak E100 came back too late and too cold to capture my heart again. Fuji Velvia 50 has been in my freezer for a while now, because I just didn’t care enough, but wanted to have some E-6 film on hand. For what purpose, I don’t know.


So my overall winner is:

Mirror Lake Snowy Range – Kodak Portra 400

Kodak Portra 400 as my color film. Even though I am leaving slide film and the E-6 process behind, there are worse things I could have spent my Lockdown time on…

~ Kate

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4 thoughts on “My 2020 lockdown journey: a comparative test of Kodak EKTACHROME E100 and Fujifilm Velvia 50 (bonus Portra/Lomography included)”

  1. Thanks for all the work in this comparison. I guess you could choose which stock you wanted based on what you planned to shoot. I happen to also love Portra 400. Lomography could be nice for people with the lower contrast soft look.

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