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  1. #1

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    Kodak vs. Fuji - personal reflections (Fuji wins)

    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. #2
    braxus's Avatar
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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. #3
    roteague's Avatar
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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.
    Robert M. Teague
    www.visionlandscapes.com
    www.apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=2235

    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist" -- Louis Nizer

  4. #4

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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. #5
    copake_ham's Avatar
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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. #6
    Krockmitaine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by copake_ham View Post
    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!
    Amen to that.

    Marc

  7. #7
    bjorke's Avatar
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    Fuji blue, Fuji green. <3

    "What Would Zeus Do?"
    KBPhotoRantPhotoPermitAPUG flickr Robot

  8. #8
    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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    I wonder what he has to say about Agfa?

    PE

  9. #9
    Sirius Glass's Avatar
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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
    Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!

    Nothing beats a great piece of glass!

    I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.

  10. #10

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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, (: 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.
    W.A. Crider

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