More than two years ago, Kodak Alaris surprised everyone by announcing their plans to re-release Ektachrome into the market almost five years after they had announced its discontinuation due to lack of sales.
In a market where the number of slide film stocks has dwindled to three, this news deservedly created quite a lot of excitement and although it did take a year longer than expected, Kodak’s new slide film finally arrived late last year.
We prepared a review shortly after the film arrived in our hot little hands, but ultimately decided to hold off until the dust had settled and we had a chance to use the film in a variety of different conditions.
The History of Ektachrome
For the uninitiated, Ektachrome was originally launched in 1946 and was a film designed to be simple enough to be developed by the end user using an E-6 process, whereas Kodachrome used the incredibly intricate and difficult K-14 development process, making home development impractical.
While Kodachrome now has a certain nostalgia and romanticism surrounding it, it certainly was not the only slide film used by professional photographers in previous years.
Ektachrome was easier to process, had finer grain, accurate colours, pushed well and was sold in various high speed versions, allowing photographers to shoot in more situations.
The look of slide film quickly became synonymous with photo journalism publications for these reasons.
The New Film
The new E100 is said to be based on Kodak’s previous E100G version of Ektachrome that was discontinued in 2012, and for the most part, this seems to be true.
The new E100 has extremely fine grain (RMS value of 8 - the same as Provia 100F) very true to life colour, great skin tones , very neutral colour saturation and nice sharpness.
Colours have a slight pop to them, but this is not over the top and is quite scaled back. Your overall result should be very true to what your eyes see.
This is both a blessing and a curse. This film will not be a crutch and make an average lighting situation look good like colour negative sometimes can.
E100’s exposure latitude is actually quite decent for a slide film too, though we suspect the true ISO rating is slightly below 100. Your mileage may vary, but we found that our images with + 2/3 EV were better exposed in general.
Fujifilm’s Provia 100F is a similar film, but definitely much cooler in the shadows and has a slight saturation and contrast boost. Provia can go quite blue when you’re shooting in the shade without a warming filter, so we’re glad E100 doesn’t suffer from this.
We absolutely love how E100 handles night scenes with neon too. The projected slides of these images look stunning. While E100 is a daylight balanced film, we can see many people using it for night shots.
We have pushed E100 up to 2 stops without issue. Shooting the film at 200 with a 1 stop push results in very similar grain and a slight increase in contrast.
Pushing to 400 also yields a decent image with barely any shift and only slightly more noticeable grain as you can see in the image below/on the right.
It’s best shot at 80-100, but we wouldn’t hesitate to push it further if needed.
Thankfully, like E100G, E100 also cross processes quite nicely, giving intense saturation and contrast while maintaining skin tones. The tint with Provia 100F can be quite green and sometimes uncorrectable so it’s good to know E100 cross processes decently, even if it’s an expensive endeavour at $20 a roll.
The Future of Slide Film
Writing a film “review” on E100 is difficult task because Kodak truly do not make any “bad” films.
E100 is a great film. We do wish there was a Kodak option for more surreal saturation and that larger formats will eventually be offered, but it is still early days and the future does seem promising given the reaction to this film.
120 and 4x5 Ektachrome is reportedly on the way. There are even rumours Kodak is getting back into the E6 chemistry game and are considering new Ektachrome lines.
This is a great, modern film and the quality is on the level you would expect from Kodak.
It’s great to finally have a Kodak option for slide film once again.