Kodak vs. Fuji - personal reflections (Fuji wins)

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Heinz_Anderle, Oct 21, 2007.

  1. Heinz_Anderle

    Heinz_Anderle Member

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    I am taking photos since 1979/1980, when I got my Minolta Hi-Matic 7sII for christmas at the age of 12 (I still have this camera). My father had purchased two years before the XD-7 SLR (unfortunately stolen later), and since color prints were very expensive at that time here in Austria, he used mainly Kodachrome 25 and 64 color slide films, which weren't cheap either, but came back cardboard-framed in these yellow plastic boxes.

    Some years ago, film scanners became affordable and I renewed my interest in photography ( I had accumulated since 1990 several Nikon SLR bodies and lenses). I recently digitized some older slides (uncut or framed) and negative strips as well, going back to 1968, when I was shot by my grandpa on Kodacolor X. VueScan is cumbersome to learn and optimize, but shows the true capabilities even of consumer scanners - such as my Acer 2740s or the Epson GT-9600 with transparency unit recently bought at a garage sale, which now enables me to scan entire films to digital contact sheets at once.

    As a high-school (and also later as a university) student, film and prints were not as easily affordable for me as today. Kodachrome offered a convenient choice, but I remember the day back in 1980 when my hometown's photo dealer gave me a green box instead with the words: "Try this". Fortunately, this film has re-surfaced uncut and sleeved, as my first Fujichrome RD 100.
    The perfect colors and fine grain brought back the memories of a family autumn sailing trip that year...

    Kodachrome processing in the 1980s and early 1990s was fast and reliable, when it was still done by Kodak in Vienna. When films were sent to Stuttgart in Germany, it took two weeks instead of two days. Fuji's RD100 or Velvia still came back after two days, although I assume that the Kodak lab wasn't the right place for the latter.

    Ektachrome 100 HC, Kodak's then common consumer slide film, was not bad in grain and sharpness, but showed deep-blue shadows. The Fuji color rendition of the pre-Velvia films appeared however more natural than the rather dull Kodachromes, especially Kodachrome 200, less grainy than the latter also with Fujichrome Sensia 200 and 400, and more neutral than Ektachrome 100 HC. So I preferred Fuji slide films over Kodak; most neutral was however Agfachrome CT100i or RS100, with then still comparable grain to the other brands.

    Velvia meant for me a sort of taste-spoiling Kitsch, but Kodak's answer Ektachrome Elite/Lumiere (a. k. a. Panther) was - in retrospect - only crap with its amber tint. This film had been "hyped" as the best slide film by photo magazines. In retrospect it took a long time, from 1993 to 2003, for Kodak until it matched Fuji's slide films again - the current Elitechrome 100/Ektachrome 100 G/GX family was introduced two yeas after Fuji's pioneering Provia 100F. At the same time, in 2003, Fuji introduced Astia 100F and Velvia 100F. Today we have the reborn Velvia 50 and the Velvia 100 as well, and - above all - the astonishing Provia 400X, similar in grain and color saturation to the late Agfachrome CT 100 precisa, but with a much better sharpness.

    In the 400 ISO class, Kodak has nothing equivalent to offer. Ektachrome/Elitechrome 400 doesn't appear to have improved much since its introduction 30 years ago, with a root mean square granularity of 19 (Provia 400X = 11). Elitechrome/Ektachrome 200 is nice, but quite dull in color. Here I miss the sharper and more vivid Konica Centuria Chrome 200, a much underrated film.

    In the ISO 100 class, Ektachrome 100VS/Elitechrome 100 Extra Color would urgently need a specific IT8.7 calibration profile to eliminate the amber/purple color shift, which limits its use. The oldtimers Ektachrome 100 and 100 Plus (the professional equivalent to E 100 HC) would today deserve attention just for curiosity. So from my view only the Elitechrome 100/Ektachrome 100 G/GX family can stand the comparison to the current Fuji slide films. Kodak's modern slide films scan well and are - just as the current Fuji counterparts - free of "pepper grain".

    Another competitive advantage is the sale of Elitechrome 100 here in Austria as generic slide film by a drugstore chain for only half the price of the Kodak-branded equivalent, replacing the somewhat aged Agfa product sold before. But I assume that pricing of Kodak's amateur slide films constitutes one of the major advantages today. They are sold relatively cheap, especially in comparison to Fuji's professional films.

    For print films, I didn't follow the technical progress that much, but I noticed upon scanning that some high-speed films' grain turned out quite awful (Kodak VR1000 and Ektar/Royal 1000), more acceptable (Fujicolor FII 400 and HG 1600, Agfa Vista 800), and sometimes rather nice (Kodacolor 400 surprisingly from the beginning, Kodak Ektapress Gold 1600, all other Fuji and Agfa fims that I came across). Today, Superia 1600 and 800 show the grain of a 400 and 200 ISO print film, resp., and the newest Superia 400 surprised me with its improvements in scanning.

    I became, on the other hand, more and more confused with Kodacolor films: Gold, Royal, Farbwelt, Zoom, Max, Elite Color, Supra, Portra etc. - maybe with VR200 Plus and VR400 Plus, sold as discount films in three-packs, I know best what I will get (and these are not bad, either).

    So my conclusion: If I want the best and consistent quality and the leading edge in technology, for slide films also the widest choice in color rendition and saturation, I buy Fuji. If I do not want to spend too much money just for fun photography, I buy Kodak' discount products. Processing by Austria's last industrial lab is still reliable and affordable, where scanned files are printed on Fuji Crystal Archive paper known for its longevity, and push/pull-processing or medium format jobs are as well done. So I hope that for the next years I can stay with classical photography and with Fuji films - people are always astonished about the true dynamic range in print film or the inherent color saturation of slides.

    Regards from Austria,

    Dr. Heinz Anderle
     
  2. braxus

    braxus Member

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    I would say Kodak has caught up in some ways to Fuji producing some very nice current production films. The NC and VC films for example. 100G and GX are good films, plus now TMAX 400 is improved. Its Fuji's turn to catch up. I always liked Kodaks colors over Fuji. The only time I usually prefer Fuji is in the slide films like Velvia, but even now I use 100G/GX if I don't need saturation. RD100 was a good film and I've used many rolls of that in the past. I don't mind Kodak's Ektachrome 64 film which is a really old film, as it looks an awful lot like the current E100G film in many ways.
     
  3. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Heinz,

    Welcome from Hawaii. That is a wonderful introduction a well thought out view of Fuji and Kodak films. I'm looking forward to hearing more from you in the future.
     
  4. edebill

    edebill Member

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    Now you've got me very curious to see the first sheets of 400NC I've shot. I'm trying the Kodak vs the Fuji for 4x5 print film (though I'm scanning it, so it won't be quite the same).

    I've reluctantly switched back to Kodak from Ilford for black and white... hopefully the Fuji will dominate in the color space. I'm afraid I've developed a distaste for Kodak somewhere or other.
     
  5. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    I don't like threads like this, and I think the OP is being unnecessarily divisive.

    Once, I used to only shoot 'chromes and Kodachrome was the film of choice.

    I now shoot both 'chromes and negs and prefer Fuji Velvia for slides but really coming to love K's Portra for negs. I don't bother with K-chrome anymore; I consider it "defunct".

    But I don't choose sides like it's some kind of either/or proposition. I use what I like and hope both companies continue to make film for a long, long time so I'm not someday stuck with only a monopoly - or nothing at all!
     
  6. Krockmitaine

    Krockmitaine Subscriber

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    Amen to that.

    Marc
     
  7. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Fuji blue, Fuji green. <3
     
  8. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I wonder what he has to say about Agfa?

    PE
     
  9. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I guess its time again for someone to bash Kodak.

    Keep it up and Kodak will never respond to APUG.

    Steve
     
  10. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    I'm buying and shooting more Kodak film now then Fuji. I prefer to support American companies no matter what. They may sometimes be assholes but their on American soil; Well at least the parent company, :smile: for now.

    I never did like Fuji's color negative films, but I concur that Fuji's slide film is very nice. Recently I'm shooting more Elite Chrome and for the price I like it. Each to their own.
     
  11. 3Dfan

    3Dfan Member

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    And, on a related note, I declare vanilla ice cream to be better than chocolate.
     
  12. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    With so many great films out there, personally I don't see how folks can go with one maker only and shun the others. To me that's really doing oneself a dis-service (I'm thinking of the big three here: Kodak, Fuji & Ilford - in no particular order.)

    I shoot 99% black and white now, and there are so many great films to choose from: Acros, Presto, TMAX, Tri-X, Delta and Pan F Plus. For color film you've got Velvia, Elite Chrome, E100vs, Portra, Fortia, etc, etc.

    Just go out and shoot, I say :D
     
  13. Thanasis

    Thanasis Member

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    Yes But can it match the grain structure of hokey pokey at er... 68F?


    Seriously though...i love some Kodak films (particularly Tri-X) and I am glad that they still make them and they are readily available even though i prefer Fuji for colour trannies. I agree with the poster who suggested that it should not be an either/or proposition.
     
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  15. Heinz_Anderle

    Heinz_Anderle Member

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    Most of the latest Agfa consumer films were neither remarkably good or bad. Agfa's print films allow scanning quite well, but grain is - especially in thin areas - more pronounced than of Kodak's and Fuji's equivalents (Superia/Press 800 is less grainy than Agfa Vista 200, not to mention Vista 800).

    CT Precisa 100/RSX II 100 shows nice saturated and neutral colors, but relatively poor sharpness and resolution; scanning at 5400 dpi results only in lost disk space. RSX II 200 was acceptable only for medium format. Apparently Agfa never moved forward into the fine grain and thin-layer emulsion casting technology as Fuji first did with Velvia (and Kodak lately with the E 100 G/GX family), and "pepper grain" remained noticeable even in the last film generation.

    Agfa films were widely sold at discount prices as generic brands. Now Kodak fills this gap. Fuji sells discount films as well (especially a Fujicolor Z 200 print film), although I don't know anything about these. Data sheets aren't available for such products.

    I have read in a comparison to Fuji Crystal Archive that Agfa's photo paper wasn't very stable to fading. In general it seems that Agfa's technology was at least 10 years behind its competitors (in slide films at least), so it is no wonder that they finally gave up.
     
  16. tim_walls

    tim_walls Member

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    Interesting post, but I had to pick up on the reference to E100VS having an amber/purple colour shift; I've never noticed this with a properly exposed and developed roll of E100VS. Is this some piece of 'common knowledge' I need to pick up on so placebo effect can convince me (a bit like "Velvia is good")?

    You also touch on but then ignore something which is important in this day and age though - scannability. In my experience, all the current Ektachrome films scan far more easily than the Fuji reversal films.


    At the end of the day it's about personal preference. I have no love for Velvia (this makes me a leper to begin with, I know) - despite having a freezer full of the stuff, I go out and buy E100VS rather than shoot the Velvia. Astia I'm entirely undecided on - I'm trying but failing to like it, and will fall back to E100G or GX in the same sort of shooting situations.

    But, Provia 100X is an excellent film and my 'go to' slide film, and my very limited experience of Provia 400X so far suggests that it's a film I could fall in love with.


    Or in other words, why hitch your wagon to only one star? OK, I'm a novice photographer - I've only been shooting slide film for about 9 months - but I've tried a fair few and more or less settled on E100GX, E100VS and Provia giving me the palette I need.

    About the only complaint I have about Kodak is (a) the cost and (b) the difficulty of getting hold of sheet film.
     
  17. dmr

    dmr Member

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    I would have KILLED for today's film, any brand, back when I first got into photography! The combination of 70s glass and 21st. century film is a sweet spot that is hard to beat!

    I do tend to prefer Big Green over Big Yellow in many cases, but I have some favorites on the K side of the divide as well.
     
  18. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I have to say I love them all.
    Kodak favorites: Tri-X, Portra of all kinds
    Fuji favorites: Neopan 400, Provia 100 and 400, Superia 200 of all things
    Agfa favorites: RSX 100 (still have half a box of 4x5), APX 100 & 25 (come back to us please!)
    Konica made good slide film.
    I don't pick favorites among brands, all of them have excellent offerings.
    - Thomas
     
  19. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member

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    If I could only pick one film comapny it would be Kodak. I don't have to pick one company and never will.
     
  20. WarEaglemtn

    WarEaglemtn Member

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    Because of their business practices and attitude towards those of us who used to support them by buying products... I wouldn't buy Kodak ever again.
    They used to be a good company and provided actual support and products we could use. Now they discontinue Azo when they were the only supplier worldwide of a contact printing paper... that NEVER lost money in sales for them. Always made a profit, just not a high enough profit recently for the stockholders. Piss on the B&W printer is the attitude at Kodak. Piss on them all, not just the Azo users.

    So... piss on Kodak.
     
  21. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    Care to produce any evidence that EK has made money on Azo at any point in the last half-century?

    Didn't think so.
     
  22. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    I hope you are proven right.

    I don't shoot much color but I generally prefer Kodak for C-41 films and Fuji for E-6.

    I've used quite a bit of Kodak B&W and only a very little bit of Fuji Neopan 400. Neopan is a very good film but I still prefer the Tri-X look.
     
  23. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I find that the thin base of Fuji Neopan 400 harder to load on the reel and I prefer Tri-X and T-Max 400 for that reason. However, that does not mean that I will not use Fuji Neopan 400.

    Steve
     
  24. Heinz_Anderle

    Heinz_Anderle Member

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    If you scan E100VS/EBX with the Coloraid Ektachrome IT8.7 ICC calibration profile, you get this amber/purple tint in the neutral greys. Since Kodak offers only one Ektachrome target for all films, I assume that the results will be similar.

    I observed an unpleasant shift to the green with Fujichrome Provia 400X calibrated to the Coloraid Astia 100F/Velvia 100/Velvia 100F IT8.7 target, although all these modern Fuji slide films are obviously based on the same color couplers.

    Dedicated calibration profiles would ease the choice of the specific film type - then E100VS/EBX would be an interesting and economical alternative to Velvia 50 or 100.
     
  25. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Maybe that is the strategy behind this!

    :D

    PE
     
  26. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Not only that, but they lost money on all B&W papers for several years before they quit the market.

    PE