Film Photography

Shooting Kodak ProImage 100

I’ve been meaning to try Kodak ProImage 100 for some time now, so when I needed to order something else from Freestyle Photographic I threw in a couple rolls of it.

I shot the first roll in my Olympus XA2. I kept it in my bike’s saddlebag and shot things I saw as I rode around. I love doing that! When I got the roll back from the developer, I instantly disliked the muted, sickly greens I saw. Unfortunately, on this roll most of what I shot was green. Welcome to late spring in rural Indiana!

Barn and tree
Cornfield
Yellow barn

The film captured yellows, blues, and reds pleasingly, and with good fidelity to real life.

Bike by the barn
On the farm
Silos

Despite unsatisfying greens, I like how this photo turned out compositionally. There’s a saying in Indiana: knee high by the fourth of July. That refers to corn, and how tall it should be by Independence Day. I photographed this corn in the second week of June — it’s ahead of schedule.

Cornfield

My favorite photo from the roll is this one, which I made when I drove Downtown to meet my brother for a drink. This bar has arguably the most extensive whiskey selection in Indiana. I had a delicious whiskey from Oregon that reminded me of a peaty scotch, and an unremarkable whiskey from Nebraska. The ProImage 100 delivered true-to-life reds and excellent blacks.

Liberty Street

I put a second roll of this film into my Pentax Spotmatic F and screwed in my 35mm f/3.5 SMC Takumar lens. The camera came with me to work, so most of the roll features images from Downtown Indianapolis. I got far better results this time. It’s probably valuable to note that I used a different lab to process and scan these, which might also play in these results. But bottom line, the sickly green caste was gone.

The Slippery Noodle
The Lacy Building
Bank of Indianapolis
Harry & Izzy's

The meter on my Spottie was fussy through the roll, and it quit registering altogether toward the end. I brought the camera home and blew through the last of the roll using the Sunny 16 rule. The greens were not so sickly this time.

To the left
Old farmhouse
Escape
Chicory

I’ve not been thrilled with my Olympus XA2’s performance at all this year, with any film. So perhaps it was a poor choice to test Kodak ProImage 100. When I shot the film in my Spotmatic, I got fine results. This is a good all-purpose film. Its color palette is slightly muted compared to Kodak Gold 200 and Kodak Max 400, which is nice. But I don’t see myself buying it much when I can buy Gold and Max for far less. Both films look wonderful with a stop of overexposure, bringing them in line or close to ProImage’s speed — and both films cost a lot less than ProImage.

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27 thoughts on “Shooting Kodak ProImage 100

  1. Interesting test, a film I have not tried yet. I shoot a lot of Portra 400 these days, and it is fascinating sometimes that I can shoot the same scene, at the same time, exposed the same, with a 35mm camera and my Mamiya RZ67, and get two totally different photos. Different colour rendition, different highlights. The lens obviously makes a big difference…..

  2. I was underwhelmed by this film and never bought more after I was done with what I already had. It’s too meh for the asking price. I was excited about it because I thought maybe it was something that was comparable to Kodak ProFoto XL 100. Unfortunately it is not. Ektar 100 is closer to ProFoto XL (but also a lot more expensive).

    • I don’t feel the need to buy more of this film, either. I was hoping for something I could rotate in with Kodak Gold 200/400 and Fujicolor 200, but I’ll just go back to those films instead.

  3. Andy Umbo says:

    The color palette and contrast looks more like Kodak’s old portrait style films, which were far more “pastel” than transparency films or Ektar. Your exercise here illustrates how mild changes in both film processing chemistry and print processing chemistry can change the look color neg materials. I also wonder in the day of digital imaging, how close the tolerances are controlled by the processing companies. For overall color and contrast, it’s just hard to beat Kodak Gold, too bad it’s not available in 120 any more, I used to shoot that back in the day…

    Professionals always shot transparency because if your local pro transparency processor was running their “line” correctly, and they would track it twice a day with control strips that were then “read” and charted; then your transparency material of the same batch number would look exactly the same, on any day. It’d be fun to take a 120 roll of color neg material, put it in a camera and on a tripod, and shoot around in a circle, different scenes. Then do the same within the same ten minute period with 2 or 3 more rolls of film, and send it to as many different processors as you have rolls! I think you’d be surprised on how the results would vary! Contrast might vary, but coloration would certainly.

    Jim, I always love your film reviews, but I often wonder if you knew with color negative, if you sent the film to the same processor 3 or 4 days apart, or to 3 or 4 different processors, how different to results would be, even dependent on the person running the print machine! While hopefully the film processing tolerances should be as tight as the old transparency days, it’s the printing that’s the fly in the ointment!

    • I’m inclined to think that the lens is the bigger variable, but you’re right, I am overlooking processing as a variable. I’m sending film to consumer labs that probably don’t do pro-level checking.

  4. Michael says:

    While I agree with your green assessment overall, the large yellow barn photo seems to be an anomaly in that regard though that may be due to post-processing on your part.

    The same saying holds throughout most of the Midwest I believe (certainly in NE Ohio), but GMO has made it totally useless the past couple decades. It’s now shoulder or even head high by 4th of July. :/

  5. Christopher May says:

    Oddly, the only remarkable thing I remember about this film is that John Fedele of the Film Photography Project called it “Pro L’image” the first time he discussed it on the podcast and it’s kind of stuck since then. The results I’ve seen from it echo your findings here. A capable film but probably not worth using over some of the more modern Kodak emulsions. I’ll stick with E100 and Ektar for landscape and the Portras for people.

    I will say, one possible use for this film is in cameras that are stored in questionable circumstances. I seem to recall that it was made to be more stable in the hot and humid environments of equatorial and tropical countries that Kodak exported to. I used to keep a film point and shoot in my car’s glove box as a “just in case” camera. These days, I rely on my iPhone 12 Pro’s excellent camera for that purpose but if I was still using a P&S for that purpose, ProImage 100 might be a good option for that use.

  6. JIm, like you and the others, I’ve tried ProImage and have never really “warmed up to it”. Though looking back, I have gotten decent results from it:
    https://www.flickr.com/search/?sort=date-taken-desc&safe_search=1&tags=kodakproimage100&user_id=63964930%40N05&view_all=1

    My big thing is the cost, as it’s usually a dollar or so more than my preferred cheap stock, ColorPlus 200. But one thing ProImage has in its favor is availability. ColorPlus has been hard to find this year, ProImage not. Blue Moon seems to like ProImage and advised me that I should get used to it as it’s easier to get. Oh well.

    • I prefer Fuji 200 to both ProImage and ColorPlus. Thing is, there seems to be a shortage of Fuji 200 in some places this year. I’ve been able to get it across the street at Meijer with no problem, fortunately.

      • I never warmed up to C200, but got some recently since some Portland shops actually had it in stock!

        I guess I diverge from you in a few spots: I like ProImage better than you (even those muted greens) and dig my XA2 and Hi-Matic 7s.

      • Jim, I was told that stocks of consumer 35mm color film are going to run low this year as companies (well, Kodak) put their efforts into the more profitable emulsions (Portra, Ektar). Since Fuji doesn’t really have a pro line any more, I don’t know how that affects their manufacturing.

  7. Roger Meade says:

    I will enter a dissenting voice. I actually like the muted colors, but then I am pretty much a black & white guy. To me the ProImage 100 reminds me of the old hand tinted post cards of pre color film days- a quirky preference I admit. I have never acquired a taste for the over processed,super saturated look of most digital images.

      • Andy Umbo says:

        Roger brings up a good point! Basically since the introduction of Fuji Velvia in 1990, I’ve seen a push towards over-saturated “pop color” representations in photography. This has been pushed by the over-saturated color algorithms in digital smart phone photography as well (not always true about pro digital cameras). This has been a thirty year arc and I doubt anyone knows what “natural color” looks like any more! Probably the last tenth of my career, with art directors under 30 years old, the demand was always for hyper-saturated colors and contrasts.

  8. I just finished my first roll of ProImage over the weekend. Instead of scans, I’m going to get some optical prints from Blue Moon Camera in Portland. I’m finding that I can completely manipulate scans beyond recognition! Printing will show what the film is truly capable of, though. I will post some results over on my blog when I get them back. Nice images here.

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