First roll impressions: Fujifilm Reala 100

A reader who comments here as tbm3fan contacted me recently and asked, “What are the best medium-format cameras you own?” I replied “my Yashica TLRs.” He responded, “That’ll work. I’m going to send you a whole bunch of film. It’s good stuff you can’t get anymore. It’s always been stored frozen. Shoot it on subjects that matter in those Yashicas.”

A box soon arrived containing a whole bunch of film in both 35mm and 120, two rolls of each emulsion he included. All of it is negative film; some of it is color and some is black and white. The first roll I shot, while in Madison, Indiana, recently, was Fujifilm Reala 100 in 120 that expired in April of 2005.

I’ve loved Fujifilm’s ISO 100 color negative films when I’ve gotten to shoot them in the past. Those rolls were always 35mm, though, so I was excited to try a roll in 120. Interestingly, there was no film called Reala 100 in 35mm. There was a Superia Reala 100 in 35mm, but not plain Reala 100. The word Superia does not appear on my two boxes of Reala 100 in 120. Some light Googling did not find data sheets for either film for me to compare them.

No matter; the fun is in the shooting. I shot the whole roll on a long walk along the Ohio River. This is the Lanier Mansion, Madison’s most famous house.

The Lanier Mansion, Madison, IN

I shot the roll at EI 50 to hedge against the effects of age. The whole roll delivered very good color, fine grain, and good sharpness. Straight off the scanner, you could hardly tell this film is expired. Dark areas tended to be a little too dark for my taste, so I lightened them in Photoshop.

On the Ohio River at Madison

On the Ohio River at Madison

Despite having mounted a lens hood onto the taking lens, I got a lot of haze and flare unless the sun was well behind me. It tended to wash out images on this roll. I rescued this one in Photoshop, but it rendered the earth tones extra earthy.

On the Ohio River at Madison

There’s lots of old houses around Madison, and many of them are painted in bright colors like this. I’m not a fan of painting brick — the whole point of brick is that it needs little maintenance, and once you’ve painted it, you have to keep painting it.

Old house in Madison, IN

My experience with Fujifilm’s 35mm ISO 100 color negative films is that the colors are candylike and bright. I found that this roll also returned earthier, burnt colors that were true.


But it still faithfully renders the primaries.

Chillbilly Treats

In all, this film is a winner.


I’m thrilled to have all of this film to try. But I have a sinking feeling that the more I shoot it, the more I’m going to realize just how much we lost in discontinued films. So many of them did not survive the early digital era, and few if any will ever return.

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22 responses to “First roll impressions: Fujifilm Reala 100”

  1. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    Reala was Fuji’s portrait film. When the kids were young, it was my go-to film for family snaps.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Nice. We were a Kodak Gold 100 family, but we were 35mm all the way.

  2. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    I think what everyone’s really learning here, on these 120 camera posts, is something I learned years ago as a pro. 120 film cameras really have exponentially better outcomes than 35mm! Through high school and college, I was really a 35 mm processing and printing expert ( I had to be, it’s all I had), yet when I started to get my hands on 120 cameras, it was over. I could really pull out beautiful prints with about a quarter of the dusting and spotting, and none of the constant attention to detail I needed with 35mm. It’s why I recommend to people if they want to get into film as a hobby, get a TLR, a tripod, a light meter and call it a day!

    Jim, another beautiful set of prints!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I still love 35mm because the cameras can be so compact. Given the kind of shooting I do, that’s huge. But there’s no arguing that even a so-so 120 camera can give stunning results.

  3. tbm3fan Avatar

    Colors look true to life I’d say.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Very much so. This is a beautiful film.

  4. Alex G Avatar

    Love Reala… that was my fave. To this day I filter my digital photography to look like Reala.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I can see why!

  5. Darts and Letters Avatar
    Darts and Letters

    that last frame is interesting to me, it’s a neat spot along the river, your DoF kind of teases the view and the reddish orange colors repeated are appealing. I agree with you about not painting brick! It’s right up there with painting over wallpaper. Maybe not as bad as painting wallpaper. It’s so common, everywhere. Sometimes in certain situations I’ll wonder if brick has been painted as a way to mask tuck pointing that wasn’t done well. Probably a lot of times people just want a “fresh” look.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes, the DOF I achieved makes the bench seem almost to jut out of the frame right at you!

      You remind me of a story of my first apartment. 100 year old house. Bathroom had subway tile up to about 3 feet and then the wall was painted above it. I didn’t like the color and the landlord agreed to redo. Turns out there were something like NINE layers of wallpaper under that paint. He had them all removed and put fresh wallpaper on. Looked terrific!

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        Worked with a few professional painting pros back when I came back to the Midwest because the photo and art business was dead in my town. We all used to work in local advertising until it faded away. I between freelance photo jobs, We would do “wall paper abatement”, which was hugely difficult! If you knew what taking wall paper off of sheet rock would do to the wall, you’d never wall paper anything, and I never have since! People use so much paste to put that stuff on, that by the time you get it all off (and you need to get it all off for the sake of the paint job), the sheet rock is practically dissolving! Then we still needed to prime coat with a pigmented shellac primer to seal in any paste that still wouldn’t come off! Much easier to do on real plaster walls. I learned three things on that job. Never wall paper. Never use cheap paint. Never paint already finished wood molding or wood features.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          At my last house I did a $500 remodel of my bathroom, which involved removing wallpaper from drywall. It did a number and a half on the drywall. After patching it to within an inch of its life, I remudded the whole thing. It worked well enough.

          I want to scream every time I see someone painting natural wood features.

        2. Andy Umbo Avatar
          Andy Umbo

          Wow! That’s a project! Not sure I would have made the same purchase! The electrical would have worried me to no end. After living in the upper Midwest with very strict permitting laws ( and multi generation German craftsmen ), I found Indiana’s kind of “looses-goosey” construction people to be pretty scary. I always told people there’s a reason Angies List started in Indianapolis!

        3. Kodachromeguy Avatar

          Loosey-goosey in Indiana? Gawd, you should see Bubba and Bobby-Joe build a house in Mississippi. It’s horrifying. One offshoot: MS has a lot of household fire deaths, especially of children

  6. Warren W Jenkins Avatar
    Warren W Jenkins

    From 1991-2014, I shot a lot of fire apparatus using various brands of 100 speed 35mm, top 2 favored brands was Fuji Reala and Kodak Ektar Gold.
    Did some shooting with one of the principals involved in when that person lived on the East coast.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Nice. Good films for the subject matter.

  7. Kodachromeguy Avatar

    Fuji’s way of naming films was baffling. Was Reala the same as Superia Reala? Which ones were 4-layer emulsions? Is the current NPS a type of Reala?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I don’t know answers to any of these questions, unfortunately. I don’t think Reala = Superia Reala. I think Superia is about that 4th color layer.

  8. Khürt L Williams Avatar

    I like the colour and framing in the first two.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks! In the first one I was frustrated by that tree. I couldn’t find a good angle where that tree didn’t cover some of the house.

  9. Joe from The Resurrected Camera Avatar

    Ohhhh my I’m jealous!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I am astonished by my good fortune!

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