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Kodak Ektar 100 Review – Is It Worth It?

Kodak Ektar 100 is great for landscape photographers and can be the perfect film stock for certain people.

Kodak Ektar 100 is extremely fine grain and sharp 100-speed film stock that is one of the best choices if you’re main focus is landscape photography in shooting conditions with good light. It features super-saturated warm colors that make colors pop, high contrast, and is the closest “look” you’ll get to slide film without actually using slide film. 

With that said, there are some obvious limitations with Kodak Ektar 100 especially compared to the other Kodak film stocks. Since Kodak Ektar is a slower speed film stock at 100 ISO, its exposure latitude is limited. Additionally, it’s not the most flexible film stock for portrait work as you need a pretty even exposure for accurate skin tones.

For this Kodak Ektar 100 review, I loaded up my trusty Nikon F3 and took a road trip to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn, Oregon.

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 I Don’t Think Kodak Ektar 100 is Worth It

Image Shot with Kodak Ektar 100

For beginner film photographers, the main reason why I don’t think Kodak Ektar 100 is worth it is because of its limited exposure latitude, its inflexibility with skin tones, and the mid-range price point ~$10 it’s at.

Yes, the film stock works great if you know you’ll be able to shoot the entire roll under bright light. However, if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably be shooting the roll of film across a variety of different lighting situations. Once you start shooting in lower light with this film stock, you’ll quickly start to notice its disadvantages.

With that said, if you’re looking for a slower speed, finer grain film stock specifically for landscape photography, Kodak Ektar 100 could be the perfect fit!

PROS

  • Rich, vibrant, and strong saturated colors, that are great for landscape photography or scenes that are brightly lit with sunlight.
  • The closest film stock you’ll get to slide film without actually being a slide film.
  • It’s extremely fine-grained and sharp making it a great choice for landscape photography.
  • A great film stock for special occasions during the summer months.

CONS

  • It’s a slow-speed film stock at ISO 100 so it’s not as flexible as budget Kodak film stocks like Kodak Gold or Kodak Color Plus or the premium Kodak Portra 400.
  • It’s usually slightly more expensive than the other budget Kodak film stocks. However, this also depends on where you’re buying film from.
  • Skin tones can lean more reddish if you don’t evenly expose the film.
  • Like other Kodak film stocks, this has a warm undertone. So if you’re looking for a cooler color palette, a film stock from Fuji or another brand might be a better fit.

Kodak Ektar 100 Features

Color

Image Shot with Kodak Ektar 100

Out of all the Kodak film stocks, Kodak Ektar 100 has the strongest saturation and produces beautiful reds, yellows, oranges, pinks, greens, and blues, especially under good lighting conditions and if you expose properly. 

The downside is that if you underexpose the image, the colors can turn muddy and if you overexpose the image, the colors give off a more pastel and washed out vibe. Muddy colors are difficult to work with, however, if you’re going for a pastel/washed-out look, you can work with overexposing Kodak Ektar 100.

As you’ll see, when you compare Ektar 100 to a budget Kodak film stock like Kodak Gold 200, Kodak Ektar has the classic warm undertone that you would expect from a Kodak film stock. 

However, once you start to look at the difference in punchiness of the colors, you’ll quickly see the difference. Here’s a photo shot with Kodak Ektar 100 and Kodak Gold 200 which will give you an idea of the increased “color pop” you get with Kodak Ektar 100.

Image Shot with Kodak Ektar 100
Image Shot with Kodak Gold 200

These two images were shot at different locations, but both were shot during golden hour. As you can see, there is a clear difference in saturation levels and the image shot with Ektar 100 has an impressive color pop throughout the entire image. What’s especially noticeable is the difference in the orange tones between the two images. 

When looking at the orange tones, the image shot with Kodak Gold 200 has a more subtle and flat orange tone, while the oranges in the Ektar 100 image are brighter and more vibrant.

Even though the colors of Ektar 100 are impressive, you do have to make sure it’s exposed properly to get the best results. 

Here are two examples of when I didn’t expose the film properly and the lackluster results it produced. The first example is an underexposed frame and the second example is an overexposed frame.

Example #1

Image Example #1 – Shot with Kodak Ektar 100
Image Example #2 – Shot with Kodak Ektar 100

These two images were shot one after another and gives you a good idea about what the colors look like when you slightly underexpose the film. 

Image #1 had the better exposure of the two. In this image, you can see the vibrance of the blues in Melissa’s dress as the warm morning sunlight flows through it.  You can also see the sunlight slightly lighting up her arm which is a nice subtle touch. Although I wish there was more light on her ring, the image overall turned out pretty good.

On the other hand, in image #2, I underexposed most of Melissa’s dress in the photo. As you can see from this image, you aren’t able to see any of the vibrant blues from her dress, and the colors look muddy and grainy.

Example #2

Image Example #1 – Shot with Kodak Ektar 100
Image Example #2 – Shot with Kodak Ektar 100

These two images were shot in the small town of Silverton, Oregon where we stayed during the Tulip Festival. The main focus of this comparison is to show you how colors render when the film is overexposed.

Image #1 is a properly exposed photo. In this image, the red-orange of the brick building renders very nicely and you can also see the vibrant greens from the highway sign. 

On the other hand, image #2 is over-exposed. As you can see in this example, the red-orange in the brick building is washed out and it does not have the same vibrance as you see in example #1.

Film Speed

Kodak Ektar 100 is a 100-speed film stock which is its biggest disadvantage when compared to the budget Kodak film stocks like Kodak Gold and Kodak ColorPlus which are 200-speed or the premium Kodak Portra which is a 400-speed film stock

At ISO 100 speed, you’re pretty limited on shooting in different lighting conditions and will have to stick to bright sunny days unless you’re using a tripod. On cloudy days, it’s still possible to use 100-speed film, but you won’t get the best results as Ektar 100 performs best with sunlight.

Indoor photography is also possible too but realistically, you’re only going to get good results if there is a lot of natural light flowing through the window in combination with a wide aperture and slow shutter speed. Here’s an image of Sushi sleeping on a bed next to a window to give you an idea of how Ektar 100 renders colors when used indoors.

Latitude of Film Stock

Underexposed Image Shot with Kodak Ektar 100

Kodak Ektar 100 has limited exposure latitude as it is a 100-speed film. At ISO 100, it’s half the speed of the budget Kodak Gold and Kodak ColorPlus and only 1/4 the speed of the premium Kodak Potra 400.

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.

With Kodak Ektar 100, since it has a limited exposure latitude it means you have a smaller margin of error when exposing for your image. As I covered in the colors and film speed section above, if you don’t properly expose this film stock, your image is either going to turn out muddy in color or washed out.

It’s worth repeating, but this film stock is best used on bright sunny days. This will give you much more flexibility to use faster shutter speeds or narrower apertures to limit the amount of light that enters the camera.

When using this film stock in lower light conditions, you only have the option to slow down shutter speed as you’ll most likely be using the widest aperture available on your lens already.

Overall, I would say that you want to keep this film stock exposed as close to the box speed of ISO 100 as you can. This is unlike the other Kodak film stocks like Kodak Ultramax, Kodak Gold, Kodak ColorPlus, and Kodak Portra which you can easily overexpose multiple stops and also get away with slight underexposure. 

Beginner’s 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

When it comes to film grain, it’s an advantage that Kodak Ektar 100 is a slower film. Since Kodak Ektar 100 is a slower ISO 100 film, it means the film stock has an extremely sharp and fine grain. This is why it’s one of the go-to film stocks for any landscape photographer. 

When compared to a more budget-friendly film stock like Kodak Ultramax 400, you’re not going to notice much grain difference when you’re shooting on a bright sunny day with even lighting.  

However, once you start shooting in higher dynamic range situations with bright highlights and dark shadows, you’ll see the benefits of having a finer grain film stock. 

Here’s a comparison of two high dynamic range photos. Example 1 is shot with Kodak Ultramax 400 and example 2 is shot with Kodak Ektar 100.

Example #1

Image Shot with Kodak Ultramax 400

This image was shot in the late afternoon at Mount Rainier National Park. Even though this image was shot in bright daylight, it was still a high dynamic range photo given the positioning of the sun backlighting Mount Rainier. With the sun in this position, it created high contrast between the dark shadows in front of Mount Rainier versus the bright highlights in the mid-day sky.

If you take a closer look at the sky portion of the image, you’ll see what the courser grain looks like.  In both the shadows of the clouds and the darker portions of the sky, the larger grain of the film is very noticeable. 

Overall, having larger grain isn’t a good or bad characteristic and it’s up to your taste, but it is a typical “grain” performance that you’ll get when using a faster speed film stock. 

Example #2

Image Shot with Kodak Ektar 100

This image was shot at sunrise just as the sun was rising over the horizon. I think it’s a great example of the incredible performance of Kodak Ektar 100 when you expose it correctly. 

Take a look at the out-of-focus areas of the image around the horizon line. Usually, with a faster speed film stock, you would see more noticeable coarse grain in these areas of the image like what is shown in example #1 with a faster film stock like Kodak Ultramax 400.

However, with Kodak Ektar 100, the grain is barely noticeable throughout the entire image even in the out of focus areas and shadows where grain usually shows up the most.

Again, this isn’t positive or negative, but you will probably find that you will like one grain characteristic over the other for different types of photography.

How to Meter for Kodak Ektar 100

Image Shot with Kodak Ektar 100

TL;DR – Meter at box speed of 100 and meter for the mid-tones in the image for best results. If anything, err on the side of overexposure when you have to as the film handles overexposure better than it does underexposure. With that said, the exposure latitude is not the best and if you’re shooting portraits, it’s best to keep the exposure as even as possible.

Kodak Ektar 100 has one the worst exposure latitudes out of the Kodak film stocks available. 

It performs best when shot at the box speed of ISO 100 and does perform slightly better overexposed than underexposed. The images that are underexposed tend to render muddy colors and overexposed images tend to look slightly washed out.

Since the film stock performs best when metered at box speed to slightly overexposed, the best way to make sure you’ve exposed your image properly is to meter and expose for the shadows and mid-tones in your image. 

For example in this image I set the camera ISO (ASA) to 100. Then I used the internal light meter of the Nikon F3 to meter and expose for the tulip field which was mostly in the shadows of the image.

By doing this, I was able to make sure the shadows were properly exposed while being confident that Kodak Ektar 100 could handle the overexposed highlights in the sky. 

Beginner’s Note: If you don’t have a light meter or your camera doesn’t have one, a quick way to meter for light is to use a phone light meter app like this one. It’s not as accurate as a Sekonic light meter, but I’ve used it with good results.

Alternatives to Kodak Ektar 100

Kodak Gold 200

A classic 200-speed Kodak film stock with rich, warm, vintage colors. If you’re looking for a cheaper film stock that’s twice the speed of Kodak Ektar 100, this is one to take a look at.

For 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: Its best shot slightly overexposed. Try shooting it metered at 100 – 160 ISO.

Kodak ColorPlus 200

If you like the look of Kodak Ektar 100 but want something with a flatter, less saturated look that is faster, Kodak ColorPlus might be a good choice. Similar to Kodak Gold 200, Kodak ColorPlus is also a budget-friendly film stock with a flexible exposure latitude that’s always great to have in your bag.

For a more detailed look into what I thought about Kodak ColorPlus 200, make sure to check out my Kodak ColorPlus 200 Review too.

  • ISO (ASA): 200
  • Best Shot At: Its best shot slightly overexposed. Try metering it at 100 ISO

Kodak Portra 400

Kodak Portra 400 is my all-time favorite film stock and there is a good reason why it’s so popular. 

The film stock produces crazy beautiful colors, accurate skin tones (which is why people use it for portrait work so much), and keeps an insane amount of detail in the image. It has one of the exposure latitudes especially compared to Kodak Ektar 100, and since it’s a 400-speed film, you have more flexibility in low-light situations.

  • 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.

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 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 Ektar 100 For and Conclusion

Image Shot with Kodak Ektar 100

Overall, Kodak Ektar 100 is one of the best film stocks for landscape photography because of its sharp fine grain and the vivid, saturated colors it produces.

However, for the general film photographer, I think either Kodak Gold 200, Kodak ColorPlus 200, Kodak Ultramax 400, and even Kodak Portra 400 are better values.

The main reason is because of Kodak Ektar’s minimal exposure latitude. Since it’s an ISO 100 film stock, you’ll really only be able to use this film stock in bright sunlight or if you use a tripod with slower shutter speeds in darker lighting conditions. 

Because of this inflexibility and its higher price point, I think if you’re a casual film photographer or a film photographer who shoots a single roll of film in a variety of different situations, you’ll get more enjoyment out of the other Kodak film stocks.

With that said, since Kodak Ektar 100 produces such beautiful colors, especially at golden hour, it’s worth trying at least once!

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!

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