How To Shoot Kodak Ektar 100 Film Tutorial

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.

kodak ektar film image by wendy laurel of waikiki beach-1
kodak ektar in 120
kodak ektar film image by wendy laurel of kauai on contax 645-1
kodak ektar film in 120 – contax 645 medium format

 

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;

shot of two girls on ektar film with contax 645 by wendy laurel-1
kodak ektar in 120 – contax 645 medium format

 

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;

portrait of girl and dad on kodak ektar film in 35mm by wendy laurel-1
kodak ektar in 35 mm

 

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

backlit family photo on beach by wendy laurel with kodak ektar film in 35mm-1
kodak ektar in 35mm

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.

portrait of girl with rainbow quilt on rollei with ektar film by wendy laurel-1
kodak ektar in 120 – rollei sl66 medium format camera
ektar image shot underwater on 35mm by wendy laurel-1
kodak ektar 35 mm in l-ca+ camera in underwater housing

The Rules

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.

bride and groom image on kodak ektar film in 120 by photographer wendy laurel-1
kodak ektar in 120 – contax 645

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.

potrait of girl in front of flowers backlit on kodak ektar film by wendy laurel in medium format-1
kodak ektar in 120 – contax 645
wedding portrait of bride and groom on kodak ektar film in 35mm by wendy laurel-1
kodak ektar in 35mm (heavily backlit)

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.

ektar photo shot on medium format by wendy laurel-1
kodak ektar in 35mm

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.

portrait of girl in pool on kodak ektar film by wendy laurel-1
kodak ektar in 120 – contax 645
palm trees backlit image on kodak ektar medium format film by hawaii photographer wendy laurel-1
kodak ektar film in 120 – contax 645
kodak ektar film images underwater on 35 mm film by maui photographer wendy laurel-1
kodak ektar film in 35mm – l-ca+ in underwater housing
bride and groom under veil image by wendy laurel on kodak ektar film in 35mm-1
kodak ektar film in 35mm

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.

COMMENTS

Love this post, Wendy. I LOVE Ektar and am so happy to hear another advocating for it!! :)

Your tutorials are awesome Wendy!! LOVE Ektar!!

Thanks for posting this Wendy, Ektar 100 is one of my favourite color films of all time and have shot portraits with it as well in 120 format. Your observation that this film craves light is spot on.

I’m headed to Oahu in April and deciding on film stocks to bring. This post is so timely for me. Thank you for sharing your talents and knowledge! I’m quite new to film, so it’s always a blessing when experienced shooters share their experiences. :)

have fun!!

Love your post! You rock at Ektar!!

wendy, you are amazing!! these are seriously gorgeous. you’ve inspired me to purchase some ektar for my island wedding/anniversary trip this summer! <3

I totally agree with you! I definitely love Ektar

What about pushing Ektar? For example at 200? Thanks and regards.

Im not a fan of pushing ektar because I think it shines best in lots of light. So if its too dark for 100 speed film, Id rather shoot portra 800 which also have lovely and true colors.

Hi. This is a great read an your sample photos are spot on. What’s your opinion on pushing Ektar? I hear some say push it two stops in development. Thanks for your advice.

Cheers Atle

Great read, I love Ektar 100 and your photos are nice!
I also shot it at night time, I got interesting results.
Might need more exploration.
https://flic.kr/p/ofBtnn

Tzetzi Lazarov

I’ve shot ektar but the pictures streight out of the scanner do not produce this look. Indie film lab corrects a great deal in post. Not enhence but correct. If you would to develop the negs the old fashioned way and project the neg light onto photo paper. That would be your ACTUAL REAL result. But if you scan. A lot of tweaking and post correcting needs to be done by a human eye to get these results as close to real as possible. Simply because film information on the negative is stored logarithmicly. Most of the detail is crushed in the highlight. And most of the colors are crushed in the blue. So you over compensate by scanning darker and then de contrasting the blacks. You create a anti log curve that way. Same you do with the color. You create a yellow ish grade that is done in two ways. Highlight grade, and shadow grade. Not just with the temperature slider. It’s all about de-logging film. Both in color and in contrast. That’s what those boys in indie fil. Lab do.

Can you tell us a bit more about how you meter with it. You mentioned that you hold it straight up and down, pointing where? Also, how do you meter for your amazing underwater shots???

Underwater I shoot with the sun behind me — I don’t use a light meter underwater for obvious reasons :). The camera I usually shoot the lca wide has an internal meter I rely on and it works well in that situation. You just have to know your camera and the light to get good results.

[…] not every day, though I can see it’s upsides and will probably end up shooting it again. Depending on your perspective you might love Ektar for the reasons I dislike it, or vice-versa. While it doesn’t really fit […]

[…] enough similarities for a fair comparison. I rated Ektar at box speed or EI 100 (after reading this and this), and I rated Portra 400 at EI 100 too. I metered with the iPhone app myLightMeter PRO. […]

Beautiful imagery! Does Ektar 120 behave in a similar fashion or is 100 just magical?

ektar in both 35mm and 120 behave the same way.

Ok… I thought they made it at 120 ISO but don’t see that so you can probably ignore my question. Haha. Apologies.

they make ektar in 120 for medium format cameras.. its still a speed of 100.

About overexposure,

How does Ektar 100 fare when you Do overexpose it? (3 stops more or less).

Could you email me some images so that I might see? ^^ – 35mm preffered :D

Nice pist btw, means a lot. Shooting mine, Overexposed it a bit and I am anxious to see the results :D

I don’t do that. I shoot ektar at box speed.

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