Ektar has been the name for various products from Kodak since the 1930’s. Apparently the word is derived from combining “Eastman” with “Tessar,” the famed Zeiss lens.
Today, Kodak Ektar film is probably one of the coolest, most ambitious films that has been released in the 21st century.
When it hit the streets in 2008, a near complete film-to-digital transition was feeling very eminent. In 2 years, the iconic Kodachrome succumbed to the war. In 3 years, Fuji would discontinue all motion picture film. In 4 years, Kodak itself would file for bankruptcy. But in 2008, film shooters were feeling confident and hopeful when the new Ektar 100 film first graced the shelves of their favorite photo retailer and I was certainly one of them.
Ektar made its first splash in 35mm but its popularity inspired Kodak to churn it out in medium and large format too, all of which is still readily available 8 years later, even after Kodak was bought by Alaris.
Ektar was a sign that Kodak was not going to give up without a good fight. It’s a film with properties and character like no other.
Kodak Ektar is a 100 speed C41 process color print film. Kodak touts on its packaging that it features “The World’s Finest Grain”. And that is a pretty accurate claim, Ektar is near grainless at size compared to other 100 speed print films. In the past, grainless film photography was the domain of large format and slide film. Ektar does a very good job of providing it in small 35mm format with enlargements up to, by my experience 11×14 with a good exposure.
What is really remarkable about Ektar to me though, is its incredible saturation that, with the right scene, can be practically mouthwatering yet skintones remain accurate. Blues and reds pop and look damn near 3D. Purples, as it stands to reason, also take on an ultra-real presence. Incidentally, digital cameras have a really hard time rendering purple, but Ektar delivers in spades. Was Ektar designed to be a digital killer?
Essentially Ektar is what you shoot when you want the grainlessness and saturation of a good slide film but want the tonality and more convenient processing of a print film. Being that it’s a print film, Ektar also handles push processing and under-rating with ease and grace.
What was Kodak thinking?! They were being mavericks making a final stand, that turned out not to be so final in my opinion. With Gold covering the consumer end of Kodak films and Portra 160 covering the professional end, Ektar 100 was a completely unnecessary film to release, particularly for a company, and maybe industry on the verge of total collapse. Ektar might have been a final hurrah if it weren’t for the dogged commitment of so many talented photographers to continue working in film. And Ektar aided in supplying that commitment with enthusiasm and zest.
Kodak Ektar 100, an unexpectedly awesome film by Kodak that is still going strong. Maybe it’s helped keep film alive.
Let me know about your experiences with this awesome film and please feel free to share links to your work! Thanks for perusing mine!