Film Review: Fujifilm Fujicolor / Industrial 100
Fujifilm discontinued all of their 100-ISO colour negative films many years ago as far as most of the world is concerned, whilst at least one emulsion lived on in Fuji’s home country of Japan without interruption.
Fujicolor 100 still lives on in Japan, although it’s cheaper identical twin (Industrial 100) has been discontinued. For those who don’t know, the Fujifilm “Industrial” line were available only in Japan and only sold direct to business in commercial quantities of 30 or 100 rolls. The most direct translation of it’s name is something like “for business use”, which gives you an idea what it was inteded for, but that didn’t stop photo stores cracking open a brick and selling them individually.
Industrial was available in 100 and 400 ISO varieties – the 400 being discontinued about a year ago, and the 100 just starting to disappear now. If you never got the chance to try Industrial 100, don’t fret – it appears to be the exact same emulsion as the commercially sold but slightly more expensive “Fujicolor 100” so you’ve still got a chance to give it a go (at least until Fuji discontinues Fujicolor 100 as well). This film is technically only available in Japan, but is readily available from local importers on websites like eBay.
Because it was so cheap, I usually used this film for junk throwaway shots when testing a camera I was about to sell; I’d shot a few rolls here and there, but never really used it for anything important. So when I was in New Zealand recently I decided to change this and shoot a serious roll. Here are my initial thoughts.
Travers Saddle, New Zealand. Taken on Fuji Industrial 100 with the FujiFIlm Klasse W
Initial Thoughts; Grain
First things first; yes, as you’ve probably heard this film is a touch grainier than what you might expect from 100 ISO film. However, to be fair most people will be comparing it to Kodak EKTAR which does advertise having the “world’s finest grain” which is a pretty high mark to compete against. If you compare this to something like Lomography 100, I would rate the grain as pretty comparable, which is to say it’s on par with most 400 speed films.
Of course technically this extra grain is a flaw, but personally I actually quite like the grainier sort of look.
Travers Saddle Track (a) and Blue Lake (b). Taken on Fujifilm Industrial 100 with the FujiFIlm Klasse W
Colour & Contrast
Like most Fujifilm colour negative films, this emulsions seems to preference the greens. I found this to be more prominent in the shadows and less directly lit scenes. Images lit by strong or direct warm sunlight maintain quite a strong warm tone, not dissimilar to popular Kodak emulsions like Gold 200 or Ektar 100, but without the red-bias that Kodak is known to sometimes exhibit.
I found the contrast to be a bit stronger than the higher speed Fuji colour neg films like Superia or PRO 400H, which may or may not be to your preference, depending on your style.
Sabine River, West Branch. Taken on Fujicolor Industrial 100 with the FujiFIlm Klasse W
In general I expect colour negative films to maintain a wide and impressive dynamic range. Sometimes cheaper films suffer a little from excess contrast which limits the dynamic range, but Fujicolor 100 did not disappoint with a nice wide latitude that resisted crushing the blacks or blowing out the whites in all but the most extremely contrasty scenes.
If the widest exposure latitude is what you’re after, this isn’t the film for you. But if you just want a good, affordable film with a decent dynamic range, Fujicolor 100 doesn’t disappoint. I would rate it just a smidge above Kodak Gold 200 for dynamic range, although that’s anecdotally – without doing a true side-by-side test.
Descending from Travers Saddle. Taken on Fujicolor Industrial 100 with the FujiFIlm Klasse W
Price and Availability
Unfortunately this film is no longer officially available outside of Japan. This means that apart from the discontinuation of the Industrial variant making us pay more for the commercially packaged Fujicolor 100, unless you live in Japan you’ll also be paying a bit extra to have this film unofficially imported.
In Australia you’re looking at $8.50-10.50 for a roll of 36 exposures, which is below something like Kodak Ektar but not by much. At this price, it’s still appealing to try but it’s not the no-brainer it was at $6-7 a year ago.
Travers Saddle. Taken on Fujicolor Industrial 100 with the FujiFIlm Klasse W
Sabine River East Valley. Taken on Fujifilm Industrial 100 with the FujiFIlm Klasse W
The grain and dynamic range are not up to modern professional colour negative standards, but like most colour neg films Fujicolor 100 is still a solid performer. It gives a very classic, identifiably film look which I think many people will be happy with. The question most people will probably ask is; “Is it worth it?” especially when more “professional” films are around for less than 50% more.
My answer is twofold. In a purely objective, technical sense; no, probably not, but shooting film has never been about what is technically superior or objectively better value. I think there’s still some extra value in trying a unique colour film emulsion that’s only (officially) available in Japan, and whilst it’s still not entirely discontinued and still fairly affordable, now seems like a good time to give it a go.
If you happen to visit or live in Japan, where this film is readily available, Kodak is expensive, and it doesn’t need to be unofficially imported, definitely give it a go before Fujifilm decide it isn’t selling well enough and it’s gone forever.
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