Reviewing the Fujicolor C200 film stock.
Fujicolor C200 is trash, it's cheap, it gets the job done and because of that it's great. For a cheap daylight balanced, low ISO film this is a very versatile film and one that can be very useful. While the opinions of this film may be subjective, the objective results I try to present are here to give you ideas that can help you make your own art with the film as a neutral medium.
What is Fujicolor C200?
Fujicolor C200 is a daylight balanced, ISO 200 film offered by Fujifilm. It's one of the last film stocks in the Fujifilm consumer series still left. With the discontinuation of Superia 200 the only other consumer option is Fujicolor Xtra 400. The film develops with the standard C-41 process. This is one of the cheapest color films currently in production. That low cost shows up as plain as day but it can be used to your advantage if you're aware of it and like the look. The film is extremely balanced and renders the world in a very predictable and mostly bland way which is great if you're processing directly to digital so you can work with it in Photoshop or Lightroom.
How I use this film
Being so cheap I use quite a lot of this film. I buy it from Meijer(think red Walmart) in packs of 3 for about $11 and always have a few rolls in my camera bag. For this blog I have to test a lot of vintage and questionable cameras. When I put a roll of film in one of these secondhand cameras I don't know what's going to happen. I have tested everything I could before wasting a roll but sometimes problems happen. Several times I've developed blank rolls and every time it was C200 that I wasted. The film's price makes it good for experimentation and testing. I develop this film as usual and get very consistent results By that I mean my results are always mediocre and bland. If you think this is a shortcoming, it is. But if you think this can be useful, you are right as well.
The look of the 90s snapshot.
For most of us we grew up with cheap film in cheap cameras. For trying to recreate the feel and look of the 90s snapshot better films really start to screw up the results by providing rich color or sharpness. But consider what people were buying back then. Average consumers weren't buying top shelf stuff at K-mart, they were looking at the price tag and getting what was a blue light special. Because of this most of our 90s memories were shot on cheap Kodak or Fuji film. In trying to recreate that look this film is able to provide assistance probably no other film on the market can.
When it comes to the 90s look remember, people were mostly using point-and-shoot 35mm cameras with auto-exposure and a tiny fill flash with el-cheapo film processed by a random lab. QC and nuances of film weren't a priority, most people were just happy to have color photos for under $10.
Is it really that bad?
Yes it's bad but that's ok. This film oversaturates reds like no tomorrow and to a lesser extent the greens. But the thing is I really like how this film makes reds pop and greens take on a very lush look. When shooting in nature on a sunny day I sometimes prefer this film over more expensive options because I know that the foliage will pop. Moreover I consider the following; Which is worse, shooting cheap film or no film at all? I shoot this film when I don't want to waste more expensive film. I consider shooting cheap film preferable to not shooting at all.
As you can see in this photo the reds seem to pop quite a lot while the greens are also oversaturated. However the greens look awesome because they make the plants look even more lush than they would otherwise. Despite the lush greens the yellows of the poles in the shade and light appear dull which is totally the opposite of Ektar.
C200 really seems to hate latitude and as a result if you have a contrasty image the film will either chop off the highlights or the shadows. This is very typical of bad 90s photos because the little cameras had flashes that would overexpose and blow close highlights while underexposing everything past about 15 feet.
With that said if you shoot this film with a point-and-shoot it will look identical to how it would have looked if you shot the photo in the late 80s to digital era.
Portraits are racist...again.
White people are a mixed bag if you aren't willing to overexpose and lose highlights. As with Ektar the oversaturation of reds leads to white people looking like they are all red. You can solve this by overexposing and chopping highlights, but that's going to make them look pasty white and ugly as well. This applies to tungsten as well as daylight. Black people especially will all look chocholate and you will lose all the nuance of skin tones present in them. Pictures of my native friends on this film all turned out with them looking African toned. Basically this film makes everyone ugly no matter their skin tone, just in different ways.
So should you buy this film?
My answer is yes, but it depends on when to use it when you should shoot it. For starting out or trying new things this film can't be beat for price of color film. If however you plan to do anything at all with your photos you will be fighting an uphill battle against the filmstock itself. Even Fuji makes better films so why hurt yourself? I've been quick to recommend this to people just starting out with film because the film stock itself is very consistent and easy to work with.
Here are a variety of images taken with different lighting conditions to help you get a feel for how this film behaves.