Categories
Film Photography

Kodak ColorPlus 200 Review: Why It’s a Must Try!

Kodak ColorPlus 200 is a great budget film stock that has a place in everyone’s film stock collection!

Kodak ColorPlus 200 was the first film stock I ever tried and I have been using it ever since. 

Similar to the other budget Kodak film stocks, Kodak Gold 200 and Kodak Ultramax 400, I think Kodak ColorPlus 200 is another one of the best affordable film stocks available; especially if you’re just starting! 

The reason why I like it so much is because of its cheap price, it’s classic and balanced vintage colors, and its flexibility to use.

For this Kodak ColorPlus 200 review, I loaded up my Pentax K1000 and documented my daily life over the course of a couple of days. Since my schedule usually revolves around our Shih Tzu, Sushi, you’ll see a lot of photos of her 🙂

As a heads up, this article is geared towards the beginner, but if you’re a seasoned film pro I think you’ll find some useful information in here too.

Why It’s One of My Favorite Film Stocks

The main reason why I keep coming back to this film stock is because of its balanced color profile, cheap price point, and consistency. I actually think that when exposed properly, Kodak ColorPlus 200 has a very similar look and feel to the more expensive Kodak Portra 400.

So, if you want to save some money, are looking for a budget film stock for portrait work, or are just shooting for fun, this is a great choice.

PROS

  • Very affordable and widely available.
  • A classic well-balanced vintage color rendition that’s perfect for everyday use and even portrait work.
  • The closest budget film stock to the more expensive and premium Kodak Portra 400
  • Has good exposure latitude meaning it deals well with underexposure and overexposure.

CONS

  • It’s a 200-speed film so it’s not as flexible to use as a 400-speed film like Kodak Ultramax 400.
  • The slower speed of the film isn’t as easy to use in low light or on cloudy days.
  • The warm color tones of the film stock might not fit with everyone’s style.

Kodak ColorPlus 200 Features

Colors

Like all Kodak film stocks, Kodak ColorPlus 200 features a classic, warm, saturated vintage vibe. 

What’s nice about Kodak ColorPlus 200 is that it has a more balanced color profile and isn’t as saturated as Kodak Gold 200, the other popular 200 speed Kodak film stock.

Kodak ColorPlus 200 performs best slightly exposed and loves bright light. In good sunlight, the film stock does a very nice job of accentuating the warm tones in the image. At the same time, it doesn’t oversaturate the stronger colors so you get a softer, less contrasty look, especially when compared to Kodak Gold 200.

Additionally, one of the strongest aspects of Kodak ColorPlus 200 is how it renders skin tones in both sunny and cloudy conditions. Because it’s less punchy and contrasty with the warm Kodak undertone, it gives the skin a nice soft glow that is similar to Kodak Portra 400. 

Here are two example photos to illustrate what I’m talking about. 

Image #1

In this image, Melissa is sitting on the bed with Sushi and is lit by natural light streaming in through a window on the left side of the image. Most of the natural light is hitting Sushi’s face, but there is still some soft natural light on Melissa’s face. 

As you can see, the skin tone rendering in the sunlight looks very good and natural. On the temperature scale, the film stock definitely has a warm tint which gives her skin a nice warm glow. Most importantly, even though the film stock has a warm undertone, it doesn’t overpower or over-saturate the skin tones even in sunlight.

Image #2

In this image, Melissa is holding Sushi in front of a fence on a cloudy day. On this day, even though it was cloudy, there was still enough sunlight flowing through the clouds to use this 200 speed film stock at a reasonably fast shutter speed.

When you compare this image to image #1, you’ll notice that even though there is not as much light to work with, the film stock still does a great job of rendering the color or her skin with a warm, soft look. 

Film Speed

The 200 ISO (ASA) speed of Kodak ColorPlus is by far its biggest weakness as it’s on the slower side of the film stock speed spectrum. 

At 200 ISO (ASA) it works great on bright sunny days. However, on cloudy days, it’s more difficult to use and you’ll have to use wider apertures, slower shutter speeds, and maybe even a tripod depending on how low the light is.

When talking about indoor photography, you can have pretty good results using Kodak ColorPlus 200 indoors too. However, you’ll need lots of natural light flowing in from the windows or you’ll probably need to use flash. 

As for night photography, it’s possible, but at 200 ISO, it’ll be harder to use and definitely not the best choice.

Latitude of Film Stock

Kodak ColorPlus 200 has a pretty wide exposure latitude and has a comparable exposure latitude to Kodak Gold 200, the other 200-speed budget Kodak film stock. The reason why this is important is that the more exposure latitude a film stock has, the more you can underexpose or overexpose an image while still getting good results.

What this also means is that if you’re shooting in a high contrast scene with bright highlights and dark shadows, you’ll be able to retain more detail at both extremes.

One thing to keep in mind is that similar to other Kodak film stocks, Kodak ColorPlus 200 performs much better overexposed than underexposed. 

In general, you can easily overexpose Kodak ColorPlus 200 by 1 or 2 stops. However, on the other end, you can probably only get away with an underexposure of about 1 stop before the colors become a bit muddled. 

Of course, the big downside of Kodak ColorPlus 200 is that it doesn’t have as much exposure latitude as Kodak Portra 400 and Kodak Ultramax 400, the two popular 400-speed film stocks from Kodak.

Beginners Note: What “latitude” means is how well the film stock performs when it’s under or overexposed. For example, if a film stock has high latitude it means the film stock performs well throughout a wide range from underexposure to overexposure. On the other hand, if a film stock has low latitude, it means the film stock only performs well in a narrow exposure window.

Grain

Kodak ColorPlus 200 has finer grain, but this can be expected because it’s a slower film stock. The finer grain will give your images a sharper, more detailed look, especially when exposed properly. You’ll also be able to print out large size prints without worrying about seeing too much grain.

The obvious downside is that since it’s a slower film, it’s not as sensitive to light so it won’t perform as well in low light conditions as say a 400-speed film.

Beginner’s Note: This is one of the trade-offs between low speed (low ISO) and higher speed film stocks (high ISO). In general, the lower the ISO, the finer the grain. The higher the ISO, the courser/larger the grain. With that said, courser/larger grain isn’t a negative, it’s just a different look and will give you better low light performance. 

How to Meter for Kodak ColorPlus 200

TL;DR – Get the best results by metering at box speed 200 or 1 stop overexposed at ISO (ASA) 100.

As I mentioned, Kodak ColorPlus 200 has pretty good exposure latitude and performs best slightly overexposed. After shooting and developing a few rolls, I’ve found it best to meter at the box speed of ISO (ASA) 200 or 1 stop overexposed at ISO (ASA) 100.

The best way to make sure you’re not underexposing your image too much is to expose for the shadows in the image. For example in this image, I set the camera ASA to 100. Then I used the internal light meter of the Pentax K1000 to meter and expose for the shadows in this image which also means the highlights were overexposed. 

By metering for the shadows, I was able to keep the shadows properly exposed while remaining confident that Kodak ColorPlus 200 could easily handle the overexposed highlights.

Beginner’s Note: If you don’t have a light meter or your camera doesn’t have a built-in light meter, one quick way to meter for light is to use a phone light meter app like this one. It’s probably not as accurate as an external light meter like the Sekonic light meter, or built-in camera light meters, but I’ve had very good results with it.

Alternative Film Stocks

Kodak Gold 200

Shot with Kodak Gold 200

A classic 200 speed Kodak film stock with rich, warm, vintage colors that is more saturated than Kodak ColorPlus 200. If you’re looking for more punchy colors or want the warmest vibes for sunny days, Kodak Gold 200 might be a good choice.

If you want a more detailed look into my experience with this film stock, make sure to check out my Kodak Gold 200 Review too.

  • ISO (ASA): 200
  • Best Shot At: It’s best shot slightly overexposed. Try shooting it metered at 100 – 160 ISO.

Kodak Ultramax 400

Shot with Kodak Ultramax 400

Kodak Ultramax 400 is another great budget film stock option from Kodak and features a similar saturated, warm color profile as Kodak Gold 200. The biggest difference is that it’s twice as fast with an ISO (ASA) of 400. If you’re looking for a faster film stock for lower light situations, Kodak Ultramax 400 could be a better choice.

  • ISO (ASA): 400
  • Best Shot At: It’s best shot at the box speed of 400.

Kodak Portra 400

Shot with Kodak Portra 400

Kodak’s premium offering, Kodak Portra 400 is my all-time favorite film stock and there is a good reason why it’s so popular with other film photographers too.

The film stock produces a beautiful well balanced color, incredibly accurate skin tones, and keeps a crazy amount of detail in the image. It also has one of the best exposure latitude ranges and since it’s a 400-speed film, you have more flexibility in low-light situations.

The downside with this film stock is that it’s more expensive usually coming in at more than $10 per roll.

  • ISO (ASA): 400
  • Best Shot At: Best shot overexposed by 1 stop. Try metering it at 200 ISO (ASA) although it works great at the box speed of 400 ISO (ASA) too.

Where to Develop Your Film

For newbies, having a professional lab develop and scan your photos is the best way to start, You’ll save time, get consistent results, and you’ll get to figure out if you want to continue with film photography before investing in film development equipment.

Obviously, the downside is that it’s more expensive to have a professional lab develop and scan your photos in the long run. 

In general, the price for developing and scanning a roll of film is usually around $15 – $20 per roll. You might find cheaper or higher prices, but I’ve found this range to be pretty standard.

If you don’t have a professional camera lab to work through in your area, here are a few of my favorites that take mail-in orders:

Where to Buy Your Film

The cost for film has been slowly increasing since I first started, but here are my favorite places to find a good deal on film stock. 

  • Amazon: Surprisingly, Amazon is quickly becoming one of the best places to buy film when you take into consideration shipping fees and customer service. It’s kind of a no brainer if you’re an Amazon Prime member as you get free 2-day shipping without a minimum purchase quantity.
  • Freestyle Photographic Supply: A huge supply of different film stocks at a great price. Unfortunately, they don’t have a free shipping option.
  • Adorama: Free shipping options are available. Another good choice for a wide selection of film stock at a fair price.
  • B&H Photo: Another place to find a wide selection of film stock at reasonable prices. They also have free 1-2 day shipping if your order is over $49.
  • The Shot on Film Store: An awesome film store in the Seattle area that offers free shipping on orders over $49. They carry a large selection, however, prices have recently increased a little.
  • eBay: eBay is a great place to look if you want to buy expired film stock to try. Just make sure that you buy from a reputable seller.

If you have any questions about particular film stocks and want to speak to someone, give The Shot on Film Store a call. They are my favorite local lab where I live and are always very helpful when I have questions.

Who’s Kodak ColorPlus 200 For and Conclusion

Overall, Kodak ColorPlus 200 is a great budget film stock that’s easy to use, delivers consistent results, and definitely has a place in everyone’s bag. 

It features great vintage colors without being overly saturated or contrasty so it’s extremely flexible to use in a variety of different situations. 

The biggest downside is that it’s a slower 200 speed film stock. However, if you use it on bright sunny days or even cloudy days with a decent amount of light, you’ll end up with beautiful images.

Just keep in mind that it’s still a budget film stock, so if you’re a professional photographer or are looking to do more serious work, you might be better off spending the extra money for Kodak Portra 400.

By Tom Shu

Hi! I’m a Washington State-based professional photographer and filmmaker. I quit my corporate job in 2018 to pursue this passion full-time and have been lucky enough to work on projects all over the world with brands such as Visa, Airbnb, and prAna. Here are examples of the work we do in case you're wondering. My goal with all these articles is to help you out, so if you ever have any questions just send me an email at tom@witandfolly.co, DM me at my Instagram @tom.shu or leave a comment on any of the articles!

View Archive

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.