Kodak’s Ektar is a 100 speed, color negative (C-41 process) film. Kodak describes it as “the world’s finest grain color negative film,” with ultra vivid color, exceptional sharpness and extraordinary enlargement capability. Since this article’s original publication several years ago I’ve shot a lot more Kodak Ektar. Recently I’ve updated the article with still more samples to show how well Ektar handles various lighting situations.
Recently I’ve been working with Ektar a lot, mostly experimenting with pushing it one and two stops. On our recent trip to Santa Fe I shot a good bit of 35mm Ektar; all of it pushed 1 stop to ISO200. I found the results quite nice.
Though I often work off a tripod, having the extra speed while shooting hand held is a welcome bonus when shooting Ektar. I have also run a good bit of it through my Medium Format rigs. The results have been – in a word – spectacular. Here’s a link to a collection of images on Zenfolio made with Kodak Ektar.
How about people? Yep. While not true to life skin tones (which I think is way over rated), Ektar produces beautiful, dramatic portraiture.
In the past one of the things about Ektar I found less appealing was, it almost looked like a digitally-made image. The grain is so tight, the color and contrast so punchy and vivid that at first glance you almost couldn’t tell it was an image made on film. If you’re in search of a film that’ll produce an image that looks like it was made with a digital camera, Ektar is a great choice. But it’s also a great choice for other things and since my first experience I’ve figured out where it fits in the line up.
UPDATE: August 27, 2014
Having just concluded an experiment pushing Ektar to 400, please visit the latest Blog post about the topic. You’ll be surprised at the results.
The first thing you need to remember about Ektar is, like so many films, it likes a lot of light. When Ektar is underexposed it gets a greenish or bluish cast to it that is to my eye displeasing. The great news about Ektar is it’ll handle that light beautifully. Much better than a chrome film like Velvia. Ektar is really the best of both worlds: vivid, punchy color and contrast – but maintains exposure latitude of the C-41 films. A well-exposed frame of Ektar contains an amazing amount of useable information.
Ektar scans well in my Super CoolScan 5000ED.
Below are a few medium format (6×7 and 645 format) images made on Ektar. Varying subject matter shows Ektar’s latitude. It seems to handle all colors well.
If you haven’t shot Kodak Ektar yet and you love punchy color, definitive contrast and nearly grainless images – what are you waiting for? At last check a roll of Ektar sold from B&H Photo in New York for just under $5.50. A roll of Velvia goes for $10.64. That’s a $5 per roll difference -on top of the performance attributes: greater exposure latitude, no E6 processing and lower processing costs. I love Ektar and between it, Portra 160 and Portra 400, I believe I can shoot just about anything without missing chrome films one bit.