Oh boy. Here we go. My favorite film — Kodak Ektar.
And like many of my favorite things, it has a bad rep. (think Taylor Swift, punk rock, stripes, the Gold Finch, sunflare, and overalls). I have seen where well known photographers say things like don’t use it for portraits and its only for landscapes or details.
But I disagree. Every image in this blog post was shot with Kodak Ektar 100. It is a super fine grain color film that loves loves loves light. And shot right and well and developed and scanned at the right lab, its just about perfect.
Why Shoot Ektar?
I mean there are other amazing color films — I love Kodak Portra 800 and Kodak Portra 160 as well and shoot them at every wedding. But Ektar is my favorite because:
1. Ektar shows the colors of the ocean and sky the way I actually see them here in Hawaii;
2. Ektar adds a wow factor to my images and a pop to the color;
3. Ektar in 35mm is the least grain of any color 35mm film and no grain in 120 format;
4. Ektar handles the sun so well — I can shoot backlight with it and still have a blue sky and blue ocean behind the subject
5. Ektar is the best choice for cameras with older lenses or toy cameras. Older film lenses and toy camera lenses can be duller and not have coating or have it worn off. Shooting ektar gets better results — in fact its the only color film I shoot in my Norita 66 or my Rollei Sl66. Its also the film I shoot underwater and in my lomography lc-a+ camera.
If you know my work or know me in person, you know I am a big believer in that rules are only made to be broken. But that said, there are some easy dos and don’ts with Kodak Ektar and you can take it from there.
1. Shoot it on a Blue Sky Day
Kodak Ektar loves light. The more light the better. Its in bright light, that this film shines. Its probably not a good choice for Portland in the winter. But a sunshiney day? Oh yes, Ive shot it in Tahoe skiing, California, and almost every day in Hawaii.
2. Meter it at Box Speed (or thereabouts)
We all hear that color films love to be overexposed. yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, Ektar not so much. I shoot it at box speed – meaning that its a 100 speed film, so I rate it at 100 on my light meter and meter normally. I hold the meter straight up and down. I might give it a 1/4 or 1/2 stop of over exposure, but no more. Otherwise, yes, your peoples’ skins will go red and orangey.
And if you are using an automatic setting on your camera, (I have been known to do that on my Canon 1V) then I use the AV (aperture priority mode) and set it at normal if the sun is behind me. If I am shooting into the sun (my subject is backlight) then I use the exposure compensation dial to plus 2 or plus 3 stops to compensate for the sun shining into my lens and expose for the shadows.
3. Go Ahead and Use it for Portraits
It is a gorgeous film. But you might want to give people with alot of obvious red in their faces a pass on this film. It does pick up red. So sunburned people or middle aged men usually fair better with a portrait film like Portra 160.
4. Choose your lab wisely
Be sure the lab you are using is well versed in scanning Ektar. I have had amazing luck with Indie Lab, Goodman Film Lab, and the Find Lab. Its all in communicating with the lab about what you are looking for and giving them feedback after you get your scans.
Buy some Kodak ektar and go experiment today! Have a great day. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and Ill answer the best I can.