Shot some film in 2023, here are some broad brushstrokes memories over the last 12 months. Some of these films are my all-time favorites, and they will continue to stay on the annual review list; but others are highlights, and films that fell flat on the face.
This is still my default film when I travel. I always am an optimist, because nothing beats Ektar when the sun is out, and miles of blue skies. The issue is that Ektar looks pretty crappy if it is not the perfect conditions, and I’m debating if I should switch to another color negative film. For now though, it ranks very high in my heart, and I will continue to shoot a lot of Ektar next year. Please weather gods, give me blue skies and give me warm suns.
Fujifilm Velvia 50/Provia 100F
The last two hold outs of Fujifilm, but they are simply the best. I only bring three films when I travel – Ektar, Velvia and Provia. It is no secret that landscape photographers love Velvia, and as much as Ektar shines in the sun, Velvia might actually look better in certain conditions (but both are stunning). Provia is cooler, and in my opinion, renders more scenes better (especially when it is slightly cloudy) and a more flexible film. I almost always want to swap out Velvia for Provia, but Velvia will get that one shot and my heart melts. Both slide films are way too expensive in 2023, but I’ll still be shooting both.
Kodak Aerocolor IV (and all the friends)
Third parties are re-spooling large rolls of Kodak Aerocolor IV into 35mm canisters, selling them under different names such as Santa Color, Flic Film, and more. Silberra (Russian) was actually one of the earlier pioneers, but they are now impossible to get in the West, post-Ukraine War. I don’t think there is a lack of color film in 2023, but Kodak Aerocolor is usually priced around Kodak Gold and easier to come by, so the market is now saturated with these. I did not like these when Silberra released them, and I still think the colors are a little off in my opinion. However, I shot a roll of the 120 version, and the photos came back stunning. I’ll probably finish what I have, and only shoot the 120 version going forward.
Turquoise came out late 2022, but I found I have way better luck shooting when it is sunny out, which is why I started shooting a lot this summer. Definitely film for the color shift crowd, I wouldn’t recommend for any serious work (wedding/portrait work). The off-world color draws me to this film, as nothing else look like this, unless you switch color channels on photo editing software. I’m glad Lomography brought this back, and it barely dethroned Lomography Metropolis in my humble opinion (with Purple in the distance third. Nobody likes that.)
Fujifilm Pro 400H
I never liked what I have gotten out of this film, but I had stashed some due to short dates. I think I’ve finally figure out how to shoot this film, from people who really love this film – slightly overexposed, shoot it at ISO 200-250. The colors are now a lot better than what I’ve gotten out previously. None of them ever stunned me though, so I’m not sad that I’m going to be out of this stock very soon. I’ll swap over to Lomography 800 and/or Portra 800 for high speed color film in the future.
None of these are available easily. I found someone who had squired these in great conditions, and the colors are stunning. I love all of them, they look nothing like Kodak/Fujifilm/digital, kind of like the 90s look. Except they don’t try as hard as Lomography ’92. I think it is the way Agfa film emphasize green/blues rather than red, and the highlights are not blown out. Or it could just be me dreaming of the different colors. I love these, will try to find more, but I doubt I’ll have much luck.
Orwo NC400 and friends
I’m not sure what the story is here, but there is no way we have three different stocks of film (NC400, NC500 and Lomo ’92) in a span of months and all look similar. These are too blue and greed, and too darn grainy. Shoot them one stop over to reduce grains, but it is not for me. I rather shoot Portra, considering the price of these new film is not cheap. However, it seems like prices are dropping somewhat, and it is new product after all, so we should somewhat support this film. :)
Fujifilm Provia 400X
Another legendary film that people swear by. I got my hands on a few rolls, and either they weren’t store well, or I’ve no idea how to shoot these. I thought they were OK, as they do not speak to me. It is another Pro 400H scenario, as I could get better (high speed slide film with 3 stops exposure?), but I’m unwilling to pay the necessary tuition.
Alright. Let’s see what 2024 brings!