Kodak Ultramax 400: Cold Hard Facts
The Ultramax 400 is Kodak’s consumer-grade color negative film, available to use for 35mm film cameras. Its consumer-grade label means that it is designed for the ordinary snapshooters (instead of professionals) and should be readily available as well as affordable. You should not have any issue finding it at a local store or online. Typically sold in 36 exposures, the Kodak Ultramax 400 retails for around EUR 7.50, slightly more expensive than its counterpart, Kodak Gold 200, and yet cheaper than professional-grade film Kodak Ektar 100.
The Kodak Ultramax 400 is designed for general purposes and features a wide exposure latitude. With its wide exposure latitude, the Ultramax 400 provides flexibility for film photographers to take consistently better pictures in a wide variety of lighting conditions, even more than its lower-ISO sister, the Kodak Gold 200.
Kodak Ultramax 400 in Action
To see how the Kodak Ultramax 400 performs, take a look at some of the photos I’ve taken with the film loaded on my point and shoot camera, Olympus AF-1. The film consistently gives a warm tone to the photos much apparent in other Kodak films. It also adds a well-contrasted and saturated finish to the results that give them a more vibrant feel.
You can also clearly judge how the film performs in different lighting conditions based on the photos. Most of these photos were taken during wintertime in two different countries: Malta and Sweden. From the photos above, you might be able to see how they were taken under well-lit conditions, and there is no denying that the Ultramax 400 can handle plenty of light.
While Maltese winter is mild and sunny by any comparison, the photo right below was taken during (or perhaps even after) sunset, and the film still manages to produce a relatively well-exposed shot. You can also see the same result from the next two photos below that were taken in the thick of winter in Sweden. The Ultramax 400 delivers, even under poor lighting conditions.
Another feature apparent in the photos is increased grain, which is expected from an ISO 400 film. The larger grain size is more sensitive to light and in return gives the film its higher speed and ISO (ASA) rating. Therefore, the higher the ISO the more grain you should expect to see.
In the case of the Kodak Ultramax 400, while the grain may be negligible at first glance, it is still apparent, especially under poor lighting conditions.
Would I shoot again with the Kodak Ultramax 400? Absolutely.
Is it my favorite? Not quite.
Being a general-purpose, consumer-grade film, the Ultramax 400 is great fun for casual photo-taking or those just starting out with film photography. It is extremely reliable and promises consistently well-exposed shots under a wide variety of lighting conditions, leaving you plenty of room for mistakes. Be it a sunny day in the Mediterranean, or dark winter days up north, you know you can still take your shots.
Image characteristics of the Ultramax 400 show warmth, contrast, and saturation, which might not be everyone's cup of tea. Personally, I am not a fan of high contrast and saturation, and the Ultramax 400 results in too much of both for my taste. I like my photos to look a bit more toned down and dreamy, and I find that the Gold 200 is better in providing such result. In addition, at ISO 400, the Ultramax can show a bit too much grain for my liking, especially under poor lighting conditions.
None of this, however, is a deal-breaker. Hence why I would definitely shoot again with the Kodak Ultramax 400.
But don't just take my word for it, check out these other reviews:
Have your own take on the Ultramax 400? Share in the comments below.