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Kodak has two popular consumer 35mm color film stocks: Kodak UltraMax (400 ISO) and Kodak Gold (200 ISO).
For this article, I decided to compare the two when shooting both at 400 ISO (and Kodak Gold pushed one stop).
Kodak UltraMax 400 and Kodak Gold 200 on Amazon. What I Assumed Would Happen When Comparing Kodak UltraMax to Kodak Gold
Honestly, and maybe this is me being naive, but I thought the results would be pretty similar. After all, UltraMax and Gold are both Kodak films. Both are 35mm. And both are consumer grade.
I’ve shot Kodak UltraMax and Kodak Gold separately before and have always loved the results. The colors for both stocks seem to be super punchy and vibrant.
As a predominantly black and white film shooter, when I shoot color, I love the colors to feel exaggerated. That’s why I seem to be drawn to these stocks.
How I Shot the Comparison
I don’t have two of the same 35mm cameras, so I tried to get as close to apples-and-apples as I could.
I shot the roll of
Kodak UltraMax using my Olympus OM-1 with a 50mm prime lens, and I shot the roll of Kodak Gold (pushed 1 stop) with my Nikon F2 Photomatic and a 50mm prime lens.
Each frame had the same shutter speed and aperture as its counterpart on the other camera.
I really, truly tried to keep everything the same on each of the corresponding shots. But, I am human. Clouds sometimes move quickly. The wind blows. Blah blah. You get the idea. I tried, but nothing is perfect.
Developing, Scanning, and Editing
I developed, scanned, and edited all of these images at home.
I developed the rolls of Kodak UltraMax and Kodak Gold separately (obviously, because one roll was pushed one stop). I used
CineStill Cs41 “Color Simplified” Two-Bath processing kit and followed the directions for box speed for UltraMax and pushing one stop for Gold.
To scan the photos, I used my
Epson V600 Photo scanner and SilverFast 9 software. I opted not to scan them exactly the same as each other. Because they are different film stocks, with different looks, I wanted each to be able to show off those unique differences. Here’s more about how to scan your film negatives with the V600.
Instead, I scanned the Kodak UltraMax using the Kodak UltraMax 400 template and the Kodak Gold using the Kodak Gold 200 template.
From there, I edited each image in
Adobe Lightroom individually – but really only added exposure to a few images that felt under exposed. Results of Kodak UltraMax vs Kodak Gold Pushed 1 Stop
Spoiler alert… the results are not what I expected.
Kodak UltraMax photos turned out as I anticipated. Punchy, vibrant, a little gritty, with cool color (blue/purple undertones).
The Kodak Gold, on the other hand, felt lacking in a few areas. I found I had to edit them a little more – adding brightness to the images.
I also noticed just how warm Kodak Gold is – everything has a yellow/green hue to it. Because the Kodak Gold has those warm undertones and is a 200 ISO stock, it responded to light pretty well.
Breaking it Down: Kodak UltraMax 400 (Box Speed) Kodak UltraMax 400 shot at box speed handled the sun and shade very well.
Is there grain in the images? Yes. But, in my opinion, it doesn’t detract from the image at all. I think that’s because it is a punchy, cheap-feeling stock that you almost expect it? But the grain feels natural.
The colors also hold up very well in direct sunlight (see the flowers?!) as well as shaded areas (look at the greenery under the trees).
You can read
more about Kodak UltraMax here, and read a comparison of UltraMax and Fuji Superia here. Breaking it Down: Kodak Gold 200 (Pushed 1 Stop)
To be honest, I’ll probably never push
Kodak Gold 200 again.
It’s such a great stock for a sunny day, but the second it gets a little cloudy, it starts to struggle. The colors get a little washed out and the grain becomes very obvious and a little distracting.
Just look at the different between the mailbox. That was a very sunny day, but my camera was shaded by a tree.
You notice tons of grain in the Kodak Gold and the colors aren’t as vibrant as the Kodak UltraMax (or really, the other Kodak Gold images taken in the sunlight).
You can read a more detailed review of Kodak Gold 200 here. Final Thoughts
Overall, I really adore both of these film stocks for what they are.
Kodak Gold is light-hungry and looks really great in ideal conditions. Kodak UltraMax is vibrant and feels like summer.
Moving forward, I think I’ll stick what each film stock does best and not push my luck (pun intended).
Thank you so much, Jen! Jennifer is a regular contributor here at Shoot It With Film, and be sure to
check out her other articles, like Lomography Lady Gray and Berlin Kino Film Stock Comparison and The Joy of Using Vintage Cameras.
You can also check out more of Jennifer’s work on her
website and Instagram.
Leave your questions about Kodak UltraMax and Kodak Gold below in the comments, and you can pick up some for yourself here on Amazon:
Kodak UltraMax 400 and Kodak Gold 200