Fresh Kodak Gold 200 vs. 36-year-expired Kodak Vericolor III, because why the heck not

While Margaret and I were in Madison, Indiana, last October, I shot a lot of color negative film in my Yashica-12. I ended up making photos of a few subjects on more than one film stock. In particular, a roll of fresh Kodak Gold 200 I shot had many of the same shots I made on a roll of Kodak Vericolor III, expired since 1986, the day before. I didn’t realize until I got the film back that I made two near-identical photos of Broadway Fountain, one on each film. It’s blind dumb luck that these images are so similar in composition.

Broadway Fountain
Broadway Fountain

The first image is on the Vericolor III. I shot the film at EI 64 to make up for the film’s age as best I could. The second shot is on the Kodak Gold 200, which I shot at box speed. I have no idea what aperture and shutter speed I used for these photos, as I almost never take notes. It’s not surprising that the Vericolor III image shows shallower depth of field. The colors in the Kodak Gold photo are brighter and more candy-like, but the Vericolor III did a better job of capturing the autumn mood.

I made images on both films that include a very old fire station. Again, the Vericolor III image is first.

Fire Station No. 2
Fire Co. No. 2

Again, the Kodak Gold returned a bolder color palette. I have no idea now which image renders the color more truly. I’ve shot this station before with my Kodak EasyShare Z730 (here) and my Canon PowerShot S95 (here), and they render this station’s blue color differently as well. The quality of the light certainly played some role here, but I think the film plays the bigger role.

Finally, there’s a green house by Broadway Fountain and it was in the frame on one photo each from these two rolls of film. The Vericolor III image is again first.

Broadway Fountain
Green house in Madison

The light was similar on these two adjacent days, so I’m willing to say that the color differences we see here are mostly due to the nature of these two films. The Vericolor III is simply more muted than the Kodak Gold. Some of that may come from the film being 36 years past its expiration, but it’s probably mostly due to the differing formulations of these films. The Vericolor III was marketed as a portrait film, and so had qualities that made it a good choice for that. The Gold 200 is a general-purpose film meant for everyday photographers to capture memories.

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6 responses to “Fresh Kodak Gold 200 vs. 36-year-expired Kodak Vericolor III, because why the heck not”

  1. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Vericolor was not one of Kodak’s great series of films. It’s good to remember that when it came to Kodak, if you were buying a “professional” color negative film, the assumption was you were a portrait photographer, or maybe wedding. This film was formulated “flat”, because many portrait studios way into the 70s, and maybe even early 80s, were using large pan (Reflector) strobe lights, of maybe 16 inches, maybe with a diffuser over it. This was way “harder” than professional commercial studios, that had adopted soft boxes and umbrellas early on. We actually used to build our own soft boxes out of foam core, hot glue, and diffusion material, far before anything was commercially available. Commercial pros shot color transparency film for reproduction, so the closest thing you could really get to “real” color and contrast, in a color negative film, was going to be amateur film. It took Kodak a fairly long time to get something as nice as the “Gold” series films, and of course, the Ektar series, which was something as close to a negative version of transparency film as I’ve ever seen.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I love it when you bring this kind of perspective.

      I enjoy just trying these films on the kinds of subjects I shoot and seeing what happens. It’s especially good that I don’t shoot anything that matters for my income!

  2. P Avatar

    Expired or not, I actually prefer the flatter, more muted tonality of the Vericolor III. It could just be how the lab scanned it (or due the scanner’s defaults), but the Vericolor scans are also warmer, which I prefer. This is especially true in the shadows, where the Gold exhibits a lot more blue (again, it could just be down to the scanner’s profiles, but still). Color saturation is not everything. Excluding slide film—which generally should be saturated—most older color negative emulsions were substantially less saturated and less contrasty than what we’ve got today. I preferred those films. ColorPlus 200 is actually my favorite still-in-production (or is it?) color negative stock for this very reason (conversely, Ektar is my least favorite for the same reason). Sadly, I think my entire remaining stash of ColorPlus is now very close to being expired, and the price has become so ludicrous there’s no way I’ll ever be buying more unless Kodak gets real and lowers the price back down to Earth. Gold 200 is in, I believe, it’s eighth major revision which was made in the mid-to-late 2000’s, if I’m not mistaken. The earlier versions of it were far less saturated and much more attractive in my opinion. Of course, this could in part be to updates made by Kodak to the film profiles of professional lab/minilab scanners at the same time. Regardless, I didn’t like it then, and I still don’t like it now. It’s as if once digital came into existence, Kodak tried to make Gold look like digital. That’s sure what it seemed like to me, and, if so, what sense does that make? At least Gold 200 in 120 doesn’t seem to come off minilab scanners quite as contrasty and saturated as the 35mm variety, for whatever reason.

    With regards to the new blog design, I like the tags now being right up at the top, Jim. Also, thanks for putting the comments link back up there, showing how many comments there are and providing a quick jump down the page to them—very helpful.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I like Gold for everyday photography, and the 120 version looks less saturated to me than the 35mm version. But I see your point about the Vericolor’s qualities.

      Another commenter asked for the Comments link to be restored. Turns out that wasn’t hard to do. I also added a Search icon to the menu.

  3. Kodachromeguy Avatar

    Interesting comparison. I’ve used some of the new Gold 200 recently and am waiting for a roll to come back from the lab. But I really wish I had bought a pile of the older Gold 100 (the genuine USA market version) and stashed it in my freezer. Why do I miss these things??

  4. Jim Grey Avatar

    Oh man, that Gold 100 was good stuff. I miss it.

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