Why in the world would I choose to write about my love for Kodak Ultramax? Isn’t that the outcast of the consumer films? I mean, it doesn’t have the same cult following as Kodak Gold or the cache of Fuji Superia XTRA400.
In fact, when I first started shooting it, I HATED it.
I had a small stash, and I dreaded loading it into my camera, just wanting to get rid of the supply I had. That’s when I began using it in my point-and-shoot cameras, because, let’s face it, shooting with those can be a bit of a crapshoot anyway.
But something amazing happened, I found out I love Kodak Ultramax 400. Like, actually love it.
How To Rate Kodak Ultramax 400
What made the difference? In the grand tradition of film photography, I had been overexposing my Kodak Ultramax 400, always rating it at 200. I didn’t like skin tones at that rating; they were too yellow (which I now know is a sign of a Kodak film being overexposed).
When I shot the film in my point-and-shoots, the DX code reading took over. This automatically rated the film at 400. Magically, I began to like my images from this stock.
Let me phrase it this way: Kodak Ultramax is a film you can (and maybe should) rate at 400. FOUR HUNDRED. In the world of film, this makes it so versatile. I shoot this film outdoors on sunny days or on cloudy days, and it’s even feasible to shoot this film indoors throughout the year.
Metering And Getting The Most Out Of This Film
Rating Kodak Ultramax at 400, I get the skin tones I want, the pop of color I love, and just the right amount of contrast. I almost always meter in the shadows, unless my subject is in full sun, then go for highlights or midtones to not get wonky skin tones.
But go ahead and photograph people, photograph landscapes, photograph pets! But try it at 400 if you haven’t liked your results, and let me know if you, too, fall in love with the outcast of the films.