Film Review: Adox Color Mission
2022 has been a pretty good year for fans of film with some high-profile new color emulsion releases; one being Adox Color Mission which we finally got our hands on here in Tokyo. Since the German photographic supplier released Color Mission in the spring, we have been keeping our eyes peeled but alas it was not to be found until Kawauso had some at their stall at the Matsuya Ginza Camera Fair a couple weeks back. So I decided to skip meals for the day and pick up a roll :( High film prices and a terrible yen exchange rate be damned, the excitement was palpable and I couldn’t wait to see the results.
Adox is one of the oldest producers of photographic materials, with its history dating back to 1860 when they opened their doors in Frankfurt, Germany. They produced chemicals, film and photographic paper until 1970 when its then-new owner, chemical giant Dupont, sold its production line machines to Fotokemika, a film manufacturer based in what was then Yugoslavia and subsequently dissolved the brand.
In 2003, Fotoimpex resurrected the brand from 6 feet under and has been producing various photographic materials like paper and focusing on monochrome film since. However, this isn’t the first time an Adox has dabbled with color film, having produced its ‘Color Implosion’ that was discontinued in 2017.
The film was co-researched with and coated for Adox by a company of unknown appellation which unfortunately went bankrupt shortly after the first run. Adox has since kept the film in cold storage until it was released to the world in February 2022. Instead of creating a crowdfunding campaign like most others, Adox decided to make Color Mission to bring in revenue that Adox plans to use for research and development of new color emulsions. With the proceeds, the company is projecting an entirely new color film hopefully in four years.
- Film type: Color Print Film
- C-41 Process
- Film Format: 35mm
- Speed: ISO 200/24°
- Length: 36 Exposures
The Canister Design
The Adox Color Mission canister goes for a dark teal/dark orange/white color palette which I find appealing and stands apart from other canister designs out there. It’s a bit of pity though that the print quality isn’t the greatest. The colors and fractal patter designs on the label with benefit and pop even more with an upgrade in print quality.
I do like the slightly stubbier type plastic film containers with the fatter lids. For some reason it’s just more satisfying to pop open. The orange cap is also a nice touch and reinforces the branding nicely. I’ve always appreciated minute design choices such as these.
Speaking of choices, the decision to forgo camera DX coding on the canister is peculiar as I think it hinders access by excluding those who only have point and shoots and can’t set the ISO manually. The code ‘512504’ (Kodak 200) is placed on the Color Mission canisters to provide the closest film profile that most labs will have for processing. So it is more a benefit for the labs than the photographer.
As with any mystery film, it is customary to peel back the sticker and investigate. Here we see the original Forte SP100 canister label. These days, film canisters are nigh impossible to source due to a monopoly. The Forte canisters used are a new stock purchased from Forte when they shuttered in 2007. Adox remanufactured them with their cores, press-closed them and are now filling them with Color Mission. When the current stock is depleted they will have to find a way to manufacture them on their own.
Adox Color Mission Sample Images
The following images were shot at box speed and in a Leica M6 with a mix of MS-Optics Apoqualia 35mm f1.3, Leica Summicron 50mm f2, and Leica Summicron 90mm f2. Developed with Cinestill cs41 and scanned on a Plustek Opticfilm 8200i.
From my initial results, Adox Color Mission is a high saturation and contrast film definitely tilting on the warm side. You see deep rich oranges, with a wide range of greens from mint to lush darker shades. Blues are also deep and yellows give off a warm retro feeling.
The press release states “it is a film with delicately vibrant minty greens, peachy reds, airy grain” which is mostly accurate. Not sure what “airy grain” means but it seems more pronounced to me than other 200 speed films I’ve tried.
Adox Color Mission doesn’t seem to have a very high dynamic range either. Other 200 speed films such as Kodak Gold 200 have a better latitude for overexposing and underexposing, it almost feels like a slide film in terms of its thin margin of error in exposure. Shadow detail is not the greatest, especially lower light situations.
But in good light, the colors really sing. I dig the color rendition and it reminds me a lot of Agfa Vista, which I adored when it was still available (Got 1 roll left for a special occasion). Forte SP100 being a rebrand of Agfa XRG200 has fueled speculation that Color Mission is some derivation of that. The truth? The world may never know…
It could use a bit of work in reducing contrast and adding some more latitude but I look forward to hopefully trying some more and in some small way helping build a new emulsion. Let us know your thoughts and experiences with Adox Color Mission below.
Hiii Michael, one more great article these days from JCH. Gratitude.
Film is in good shape. Many many many people start to use it again.
Like the pictures, especially the elegant young Lady and the wonderful TRUE mini.
haha, thanks for noticing Eric!
There seems to be a pretty pronounced magenta cast to the shadows. Not a great look, for portraits especially. :/
Yeah those “peachy reds” are especially prevalent in the shadows. I wonder though if other chems could help with that. Will try a lab dev next time.
I’ve not used this film, but the photo of the billboard where the temperature gauge reads “IDIOT” made me laugh. There are some good shots in your examples here!
Thanks RIch, yeah I love Joan Cornella’s work
I’ve shot 2 rolls of this and I found that exposing it +2/3 of a stop over box speed really helped the film. Any underexposed areas just turned to mush otherwise.
Interesting, thanks for heads up Patrick! Will give that a go next time
Same experiences here, too much grain for a 200 ISO film…
Second roll I shot at 100 (+1 Stop) was better. The Colours are special and I really liked the look.
I also thought about my home-chemicals being not ideal for this film (Digibase C41), but it seems
also other chemicals give this grainy contrasty look…
Although I liked the special looks of this stock (green mint colours), I would stick to Gold or Color Plus in that
Iso 200 range…
Thanks for your input Chris and I have to agree, especially in terms of cost performance. Though I have seen less grainy samples so we’ll have to see what a good lab can do.