Kodak Ektar 100 Fujifilm recipe
Digitally recreating Kodak’s most controversial film stock in camera.
Ektar was launched twice so Kodak must have really meant it. First in 1989 in ISO 25, 100, 400 and 1000, then succeeded by Kodak Gold in 1997 only to be relaunched in the single 100 ISO speed in 2008. I’ve actually shot my fair share of it but as bad luck would have it I wasn’t able to recover any of my negatives for scanning. That means I had to combine my own recollection of it with vast amounts of online research to pinpoint the characteristics.
A controversial film stock
During said research I realised that Ektar really is a divisive film stock. People either love it or hate it to an extent I find fascinating. I really was the analog equivalent of a pixel peeper back then so I tended to favour neutral, fine grained films and Fujifilm Reala was a favourite. Most Fuji stocks are a bit on the green/magenta side where most Kodak’s are a bit red/yellow. Ektar was the perfect middle ground for me. This makes Ektar a bit of an outlier in the Kodak lineup as it doesn’t have the typical Kodak look. It’s not as cyan in the blues, not as cold and dark in the greens and not as candy apple yellowy red as the others. It’s also more contrasty and saturated, and I suspect it was Kodak’s take on Fujifilm Velvia’s market share among landscape photographers, however less extreme.
Distilling the look
While researching something else I came across the image “Used Book Salesman" by Kyler Zeleny and I just fell flat for it. Turns out it was shot on Ektar 100 so I reached out to him and asked if I could feature his photograph in this article, which he kindly agreed to. This image first of all represents a real talent for environmental portraiture, but also the qualities of Ektar that I wanted to replicate.
Here’s what I think Kyler’s image exhibits about Ektar:
- Distinct cool red hues in highlights. A common criticism of Ektar because it can render skin tones borderline unusable, especially when over exposed.