a tale of two ektars

kodak keeping things confusing

Kodak, may it rest in peace, has made an incomprehensibly huge selection of films over the years. One of the film lines they still make is the much-loved (seriously, it’s great) Kodak Ektar. It comes at ISO 100 and it claims to have the “World’s Finest Grain”. If you’ve never shot this film, you’re missing out.

But what this post is about, is that this isn’t the first time Kodak has produced a film called “Ektar”. “Ektar” itself is an old Kodak model name originally given to top-of-the-line lenses. They phased that out in the 50s, and left the name alone until the late 80s, when Kodak introduced a new line of film branded “Ektar”. It was sold in camera shops as a higher-end consumer-grade film (e.g. nicer than Gold, but cheaper than Kodachrome) for about five years, before the line was adapted into the “Royal Gold” brand.

This first incarnation of Ektar films has nothing in common with the current Ektar film we know today. No, this first film came in varieties at ISO 25, ISO 125, and ISO 1000. The 1000-speed film was probably an 800-speed film relabled for marketing reasons. I don’t know what these films were like when they were new, but I was able to track down expired rolls of the 25 and 1000 speed variants.

The Ektar 25 held up well, and although the brights appear muted, the colors themselves are still marvelous. Here’s a sample, and you can see the rest of the roll in the San Mateo photos.

The Ektar 1000, however, well… Well, so high-speed films don’t survive well once they’re expired, especially not with poor storage. There’s too much radiation and heat damage, so I guess I should be happy that I got any image back at all. But the results were murky, dirty, ugly. And I mean in a bad way, not a cool hipster-trendy-nerdglasses way. The roll’s online, but here’s a sample:

As you can see, these old Ektars don’t look anything like the current Ektar.

So I guess my advice here is, if, in your travels, you come across Ektar 25, send it to me because I love the way that one came out.

First published on 4 Sep 2016; last updated on 8 Feb 2017.

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