Fujicolor C200 - an excellent film, with poor results from the commercial lab
Fujicolor C200 (also sold as Z200) is a budget-priced film, available fresh in large quantity mostly in double- or four-packs, with an outstanding latitude. A German "Stiftung Warentest (Product test foundation)" comparison of several consumer films in 2004 revealed a useful exposure range from - 1 5/6 to + 3 5/6 f-stops for C200. C200 can be exposed at the box speed, as overexposure is not necessary for shadow detail.
In the shadows grain remains as fine as in the highlights. Grain, sharpness and color rendition are all together excellent, and scanning (at least at home, see below) profits from a moderate mask density. Fluorescent lamps do not show a pronounced cyan cast, so that four layer-technology appears to be itegrated also in this film. Color saturation comes quite close to Astia 100F, but with a much better shadow detail. Who could wish for more.
I however got back with my last processed Z200 film also prints (10 x 15 cm = 4 x 6 ") which I hadn't ordered, for a good reason: Contrast and colors had been enhanced with a strange orange/cyan cast. The shadows had lost all their details by turning into a cyan-black mass. It looked like a sort of - pardon me - deliberate "velviation" only in color saturation and contrast, but not in color accuracy, sharpness and detail, as oblique lines such as power wires showed visible pixel stepping, and fine details such as grass or twigs were smeared, as if they had be downscaled to camera-cell phone resolution. On the first sight it became clear, also by the Kodak Royal Digital paper used, that the prints came from a scanning printer with automatic software "correction".
The premium developing service which I always choose for processing claims to enhance and "optimize" those pictures digitally for printing. I returned all the prints and scanned the negatives on my own to get what I wanted.
There is not much choice any more. In a recent comparison test of several internet upload print labs, colors and contrast were more characteristic for the lab than for the image. In film-based analog photography, one should expect more consistent results, but with such a poor quality of premium-priced prints I fear that even the remaining occasional photographers will feel forced to go digital, as they may never see the difference between a fully resolved 24 x 36 mm color negative and and a camera cell-phone any more...
I'm afraid that results from film photography have always varied greatly from lab to lab. I recall that Consumer Reports (a mainstream US magazine that tests a wide variety of products) did tests of photofinishers in the 1980s and 1990s. They found huge variability between labs. I've seen this myself; the best would produce good prints but the worse would produce hideous results (poor exposure, bad color balance, etc.).
Originally Posted by Heinz_Anderle
If today's digital labs are producing results that vary greatly among themselves, then they're just carrying on in the time-honored tradition of commercial photography. I'm not sure why you'd conclude this would drive people to digital, though; if the digital labs are producing inconsistent results, then that'd mean no difference between digital and film technologies.
Fujicolor C200 ist a cheap film, designed for "less developed markets" and for amateurs with cheap cameras (wide exposure latitude), who order only small prints.
It is much grainier than the regular Superia 200, and has worse colors. Technologically, it is about five to ten years behind. Definitvely no fourth layer, but that does not mean much, anyway.
So, as some people prefer a "special-offer", lower-quality film over regular material for their precious pictures, just to save about 1 Euro/Dollar per roll, why should commercial labs invest into real quality processing and printing?
JPEG (949 × 697 pixel) cropped from a 3721 × 2544 pixel at 2700 dpi negative scan (Acer 2740s, VueScan 8.3.52, 33 % sharpened with XnView 1.74 and saved as JPEG with 90 % quality; Nikon FM2 with 58 mm Cosina Topcor on Fujicolor Z200, November 2007). This crop shows a vintage Ford (Germany) Taunus 17M sedan car somewhere outside Vienna, as built in the early 1960s, then called "the bathtub". Born in 1967, I remember this elegant car well from my childhood in the 1970s.
Heinz I know you took an interest in the Kodak VR 200 and 400 thread. If your scan is a reasonable reproduction of what a RA4 print would look like then I'd say that this film's "budget " nature shows up much more than the Kodak budget VR film. I am basing this on a couple of members' gallery scans of VR, one of whom was AndyK. I have to say that the Kodak VR shots looked much more vibrant with truer colours. Certainly Fujicolor C200 comes nowhere near the standard of Fuji Superia which can be obtained in the U.K. often at the same price as Kodak VR. Of course this may not be the case in Austria.
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I'd be interested to know even what this Fuji film is. At the local Walmart here (in Canada), they sell a budget Fuji film. It doesn't say Fuji anywhere, but it seems to be made by them. Anyway is this the old Super G film Fuji made or something else? It sells for around $2+ here. Somewhere I thought I read Super G was still being made, but someone correct me on that.
Pentaxuser- I will be doing a test in the near future when I get my rolls of VR Plus. I plan to shoot 1 VR Plus 200, one Gold 200 V7, and one of the budget 200 Fuji film. I'll post the results when I get them.
The photo was taken on an overcast early winter day with a very flat illumination, and the vintage car shows its age as it might never have been restored. With post-processing or a different scan software I could most likely have obtained a much more saturated impression, but I prefer the natural appearance of such a day without color.
Originally Posted by pentaxuser
With - 1 5/6 underexposure latitude, this film is one of the few that retain detail and fine grain in the shadows when exposed at the box speed for the bright areas (I always try to divide a scene by a sort of zone system as usually shown with motion picture film examples - a wide latitude film suits better for that).
My experience of that film is that it lacks the dynamic range of it's Superia! Oh I just love how that sentence came out!
Is this the same as "Super HQ 200"? The latter seems like a Superia film actually, so I guess not.
Dodgy C Prints
DON'T BLAME THE FILM!!!! Today there are no modern minilabs that print your film OPTICALLY. Unless your processing entity is an older establishment, with older equipment, you film is being scanned by a high speed scanner that can read the entire roll digitally in a few seconds, (dust and everything). Add sloppy film handling, lack of machine cleaning and adjustment and a highschool pimply faced kid that just won't give a S&^t about your film and thats what you get.
But then you DO get your roll of film developed and printed for $3.50. So go find a shop that does things right and pay for a job well done.
First Photo in Rapid City,SD. The ONLY professional lab left in Western SD. that OPTICALLY prints color, B&W and processes E6 IN HOUSE.