When I shoot film, I always enjoy the process of trying different film stocks. It's awesome having your own "preset" built right into each different variety of film. When it comes to inexpensive "consumer grade" films, I have found a couple that I really tend to favor. Fuji's C200 ranks in my top 3 budget films for a number of reasons. Click "read more" below the photo to find out why!
Strengths of Fuji C200
Fujifilm's C200 film stock is extremely easy to find. In a world where film has become much more scarce, I can almost always count on being able to find Fujicolor C200 out in the wild. Wal-Mart typically carries it along with just about every pharmacy I've been to in recent times. I have to give Fuji credit for keeping their consumer films out and available for their consumers. It seems like the C200 and Superia line of films are readily available just about everywhere. From Amazon, to local camera stores, to the aforementioned big box stores, I can find C200 and I appreciate that.
Another thing I've found with this film is that it seems to be one of the sharper, finer grained consumer grade films I have shot so far. I would go so far as to say it matches Kodak's ColorPlus 200 pretty well in this regard. While it seems to get slightly muddier fine details with sharp lenses and grand landscape scenes, it handles portrait shots and bokeh shots with aplomb (compared to the "Pro-Grade film options). It renders excellent sharpness with isolated subjects, then provides a beautifully soft transition to the out of focus elements.
As is the case with many color negative films, C200 has good exposure latitude. It handles highlights extremely well, but you will want to mind your shadows. Underexposed areas shot on C200 feature a bit more grain and sometimes a slight green shift, depending on how your shot is processed. I've found in situations with high dynamic range with C200, I like to make sure my blacks are truly black. This kind of post-processing seems to garner the cleanest shots in my hybrid workflow.
I'm also quite fond of the color reproduction of Fuji C200. It has a nice, cool tone to it. The greens look excellent, a well known quality of Fujifilm film stocks. The saturation level is quite normal with this stock as well. It isn't light and pastel when exposed at box speed, nor is it overly colorful and vibrant. It's a great choice for a budget portrait film. Skin tones are accurate and easy to get looking great.
I really enjoy using C200 as a "daily driver" walk-about type of film as well. On my last trip down to the White River, I threw a roll of C200 into my SF1n expecting to shoot a few photos and scout a location, only to end up shooting some of my favorite photos in recent memory.
Downsides to Fujicolor C200
As with most "consumer grade" films, there are a few downsides to using C200. Perhaps one of the biggest negatives, in my opinion, is that the film is only available in 35mm. I sometimes imagine what it would be like to shoot this stock in 120. It would be interesting to see it available as an alternative to Lomography's offerings for budget medium format film stocks. I can only postulate that the grain structure would be relatively fine, the exposure latitude would be excellent, and the color reproduction would maintain it's uniquely Fujifilm look.
As it stands, the 35mm Fujicolor C200 does feature slightly more noticeable grain than the pro-grade stocks out there. Thankfully, the grain structure of the film is mostly pleasing. While opinions on grain are about as diverse as opinions on bokeh, I find that the grain on this film isn't distracting and under the right conditions is barely even noticeable to me. While it wouldn't be my first choice for serious landscape work, it will do in a pinch. As noted above, with proper care taken to maintain your shadow detail, the film can handle a relatively broad range of light.
That brings us to the final thing of note with Fuji's C200 film stock. When shooting this film stock, you definitely want to mind your exposure. While, like most color negative films, its ability to retain highlight detail is rather good, its capability to deal with underexposure is rather limited. Mind those shadows when shooting and processing, and you'll likely be satisfied with shooting this film.
In ending this blog post, I'll leave you all with my YouTube video of my recent trip down to the White River. I encountered some lovely foggy conditions at the river and made some fun and interesting photos on C200 with my Pentax SF1n. I hope you enjoyed this article and that you will enjoy the video! Thanks for stopping by and reading my thoughts on Fujifilm's Fujicolor C200!