A NEW Colour Film!
Harman Technologies have been busy since late 2022 making their own branded colour film and were very excited to, after a very good and teasing coming soon campaign, release the film to the public on the 1st of December 2023. And I was one of the lucky few to receive a few rolls of the film to try out!
You can see my Video Review here.
Me and Colour Film
Most of you know I am a Black and White Film shooter, that dabbles here and there with colour film. And when I do I just go off and shoot anything I see that I see would look nice in colour. Get back to my darkroom, develop the film myself and the buck stops there! I don’t have a colour head in my darkroom to make colour prints. Well, I do have the Intrepid Enlarger if I want to set it up but then I have to have the chemicals and paper also and for the amount of colour I shoot I am just happy to shoot and scan. But, I do enjoy seeing the results after shooting, developing and scanning, so I was excited to see what this new Harman Phoenix 200 can do. And I liked it!
My go to for anything colour is usually digital. I photographed a Ford dealership a while back for the company website and I shot Digital and Film. Kodak Portra 160. After pulling the film out of Photoshop I literally couldn’t tell the difference between the film and digital shots. Not much fun in that. But with Phoenix 200 I could not match with digital without the use of some funky Photoshop Filters.
Hold the negative thoughts for now. Harman say this is an “Experimental” Film, for us and for them. It is their first attempt at creating a brand new colour film at their plant in Mobberly, UK. I can’t imagine the amount of sleepless nights their tech boffins had making a colour film from scratch. Let alone all the testing, boardroom meetings, financing and everything else that goes on behind the scenes bringing a new product to the market. Especially the Film community. It is relentless! After all, if we are going to spend money we want quality, right?
My first attempt
I loaded the film into a Nikon F6 with a Zeiss Milvus 50mm f1.4 lens. My car was having a new windscreen fitted so I had time to walk around this industrial estate taking photos. The lighting conditions was Light overcast and looking for colour on a cold winters day was limiting.
I developed the film in Cinestills C41 Kit in a rotary processor keeping all the temperatures up to standard. I then scanned using my DSLR andput the imaged into a NEW software from Filmomat called “Smart Convert”. I just pressed the Auto Button and the software did it all for me. Lazy, I know! But I got good results.
Wow. I was amazed… I had pictures!
Were they the best colour pictures I’ve seen? No. But then to be honest, I’m not one for being a colour film connoisseur. I’m just looking to make sure my colours look right and I have sharpness and detail. And there is plenty of that.
Grain? It’s there. Surprisingly strong for a 200 film but it’s nice. It tells you are shooting film, enjoy it ad embrace the grain. Unless you don’t like grain. But that is part of its character.
Harman say the film is contrasty and quirky. And it is.
I wanted to see how this film performed at night. Something I rarely do is night photography so I went to places where there would be lots of light, and not living in a City I am left with petrol stations and fast food places.
I changed cameras to a Nikon FM3A with a 28mm Lens and a tripod and cable release.
Well that was interesting!
Harman do say this film gives halation in the highlights. Very bloomy!
These were around 2 second exposures at f11.
The next day my car was in for its annual MOT, where I had a couple of hours to walk around and shoot the rest of the roll. This should have been easy but I was overthinking for colour, and being winter, there was not a lot of colour about.
Above, 180mm Lens
I gave up outside and decided to shoot the rest of the roll indoors on various subjects which was interesting as I am now looking for colour as apposed to shades of grey.
Portrait of my Daughter, Jess. Her face is pale but maybe that was due to the silver reflector I used for some bounce. The reds are so vibrant and her blue eyes.
I liken film to food. Whats nice to some isn’t to others. These are the photos I took and developed at home. Do I like them? I don’t think I would risk shooting a wedding on this film, however, it is, as Harman say, quirky! Nice visible grain, vibrant, contrasty and appears sharp too!
If you put it against digital you will see the difference. And as I said about shooting Kodak Portra 160 at the Ford dealership, I can see its film! Big time! And I guess thats why we enjoy shooting film over digital. For the look. Some will like the look of Phoenix 200 and some will not. Thats choice.
As film photographers we all have a fantastic choice out there to choose from when deciding how we want our prints to look. Films, developers, toners, papers. It’s all there to show a different look and feel to our photographs without looking for a quirky filter to make our digital photos stand out.
Take a project for example. Whatever it may be. Shooting an entire project on this film wouldn’t be a bad idea at all. A gallery displaying your selected prints of fruit, portraits, boot laces or whatever. They would all have that similar unique look. Spectators would admire the collection if the subject, lighting and photography was good and maybe some would get curious as to what film was used. Some would know nothing of film and enjoy the art of your work.
I would love to shoot this film in the summer possibly at a car show and as an added bonus would love to make prints from it.
Above all I think this film is exciting news for the film community that manufacturers such as Harman have that confidence in the community to invest in making a brand new colour film when they are already ticking along nicely with their black and white products. And let’s face it, we thought film was on its way out a decade ago.
So well done to Harman for bringing this film onto the shelves. No doubt they will receive much feedback and listen to the community and make tweaks if necessary. And if all goes well look to manufacturing other colour films for the future in 35mm and 120 formats.