Film Review: Kodak Elite Color 200
Keeping up with the marketing tricks of rebranding names for the same product can be confusing like the first Mission Impossible movie and Kodak Elite Color 200 is no exception. I was given just the roll initially with the label “200UC”; I remember seeing Kodak 100UC and 400UC back in the day but not the 200 so that raised an eyebrow. Confounded with the actual box labelled “Elite Color”, I was thoroughly confused with what this film is/was. Nevertheless, experimenting with mysterious expired film floats my boat and finds the lost remote so let’s find out what Kodak Elite Color 200 is all about.
An initial search of Kodak 200UC in the google machine unveiled nada other than there apparently was a Kodak Professional Portra 200UC (Ultra Color) film that was “developed with commercial, fashion, editorial, architecture, advertising, and nature images in mind.” I had never even heard of a Portra 200 let alone seen it so I was excited that this might be some version of that. Alas upon seeing the box they came in as a 3-pack, the Elite Color moniker through me off. Was this related to Elite Chrome which I loved the one roll i was able to shoot with? Or was this some rare rebadge of old 400UC? Why is it Elite Color and Ultra Color at the same time? Is this just the predecessor to Kodak Gold? So many questions swirled.
Some digging in the forums revealed that some believe this to be the same as, or very similar to, the products formerly known as Royal Supra 200 and Royal Gold 200. This cannot be confirmed at the moment. Kodak Royal Gold 200 replaced the original Ektar and ended in 2004 so if it were true Elite Color would have its root from OG Ektar.
The film that was originally Portra 400UC in the US had indeed become Ultra Color 400 in the US and Elite Color 400 in Europe. So this led me to believe that perhaps it is the predecessor to Kodak Color Plus and not Kodak Gold.
Kodak Elite Color 200 Tech Specs
For the geeks out there, the whole data sheet for Kodak Elite Color 200 can be seen here.
Kodak Elite Color 200 Sample Pics
Em over at Emulsive has a wonderful and comprehensive article on how to shoot expired film here. The roll I have expired in 2009 so the co called rule of thumb is minus a stop for every decade but he writes at length why that is a broad generalization. Not knowing anything about how it was kept, I decided to risk it and shoot it adding half a stop. It was then developed with Cinestill Cs41 and scanned with a Plustek Opticfilm 8200i.
Shooting expired film is a controversial endeavor. Many don’t see the practicality of risking 36 precious, carefully calculated frames on a crap shoot. I am of the opinion that creativity is about taking risks and trying out any tools that may be at hand. A major point of film photography for me is not knowing what you’re gonna get.
That being said, the look of this expired Kodak 200UC can be beneficial in certain light for certain subjects. Shadow detail is not retained well so well lit situations are ideal. I think this worked well shooting the ghost town of Bodie, California. The T-GRAIN Emulsion’s chunkiness, along with the faded shadows amplify the coarse hands of father time.
Regardless that this ultimately could just be expired Colorplus, the dive into its history was an insightful look into the marketing tricks of the film industry. Keep on experimenting, learning and shooting.