Written – 17/07/2023
I’ve shot Colorplus for a very long time and through the years I’ve learned all the pros and cons of this great film stock.
Kodak Colorplus is a consumer-grade film stock that has a vintage feel, is quite contrasty and doesn’t have a great dynamic range. Colorplus is mainly seen as a budget film stock that’s best used for travel and day-to-day life.
If you want to find out more about Kodak Colorplus, what its attributes are, what type of photography it’s best for and much more, then read on!
A Brief History Of Kodak Colorplus
Kodak Colorplus seems to have been a staple of film photography for as long as I can remember. When I was a little skater kid, my first camera was a Nikon Litetouch and the film that my mum bought for me was always Colorplus.
But Colorplus’ roots go much further back than the early 00’s, in fact, about 50 years back, to 1972. Colorplus was initially ‘Kodacolor II’ and it was made in 110mm at 100 ISO. It slowly developed into a 35mm film stock and a 120mm film stock.
It’s crazy to think we could be shooting Colorplus on 120 but to be honest, it doesn’t quite have the kind of quality you’d want for a medium format film stock.
Towards the end of the 90s, Colorplus was the film stock of grannies, festival goers, holidaying families and all things in between. Soon becoming the 200 ISO film stock we know today it was ideal and super affordable.
It was still this when I started to shoot film again in the early 2010s, I could get rolls for £2-3 each, but the boom hadn’t quite happened yet. Those were the good old days, now you’d be lucky to get Colorplus for £10 or less for a roll.
Kodak Colorplus is a consumer-grade film stock, so high quality and sharpness are not really at the forefront.
For a 200 ISO film stock, Colorplus has moderate grain that’s quite crunchy.
As you can see above in this zoomed-in picture, it’s quite a textured grain, it’s definitely not as sharp as Kodak Gold as you’ll see below.
You can see above, Kodak Gold has a bit finer grain and it’s a bit more clear, this is because Gold is a bit more modern of an emulsion. Colorplus is quite an old emulsion that isn’t really made to be high quality.
So, it’s not super grainy but it’s not as clear as a 200 ISO film stock should be.
Saturation & Colour
Well, it may be named Kodak Colorplus but I don’t think it’s as saturated as something like Kodak Ultramax.
I guess, it’s complicated, it’s not muted or pastel like Kodak Portra, the colour is there as you can see in the pictures above which are exactly how they were scanned, with no editing.
Colorplus has a slight vintage feel, with a slight (but not overbearing) yellow hue. Unlike the Kodak Portra series, it’s not made to be edited, it’s made for you to enjoy it as it is.
The picture above shows the difference between Colorplus’ yellow hue and Kodak Gold’s. It’s definitely there for Colorplus but not with nearly as much intensity as Kodak Gold 200.
I guess there are a lot of reasons to like Colorplus’ colour, it does have that vintage feel, it’s not as washed out or flat as a lot of professional film stocks, and it’ll let you know that colour is there.
Kodak Colorplus does a pretty good job of rendering skin tones. Of course, it does have a yellow hue but generally, this is a welcome thing rather than something you’d want to avoid.
While nobody would consider Kodak Colorplus to be a portrait film stock, I’ve managed to take a lot of great portraits and street photos with it.
I guess it makes sense that Colorplus should provide nice skin tones because it’s basically marketed as the day-to-day film stock, weddings, birthdays and everything in between, it’s pretty much made for shooting people and places, just not professionally.
So, for what it is, Colorplus has really great skin tones, especially for a budget consumer film stock.
If you don’t already know, exposure latitude is basically how much you can over/underexpose your film and it’ll still retain data. What that means when it comes to film photography is that if you have a film stock with good exposure latitude (or dynamic range), you’re more likely to get a more evenly exposed picture.You can see in the pictures above, Kodak Colorplus’ exposure latitude isn’t really its strong suit. It’s generally seen as quite a contrasty film stock because of this reason.
Now, typically a good dynamic range/exposure latitude is seen as very desirable because it means you’re much more likely to get a well-exposed picture. However, some people may want a natural level of contrast from a film stock, in which case, perhaps Colorplus is the stock for you.
So, in short, Colorplus doesn’t have very good exposure latitude which isn’t surprising since it’s a low-quality film stock.
Although Kodak Colorplus is seen as a low-quality, consumer-grade film stock, I’ve still taken some great pictures with it. In my opinion, it does its job, it’s not super versatile but it’s affordable (ish), it’s got good skin tones and fairly vibrant colours and if you aren’t too fussed about it being super high-quality, then it’s a great option.
I wouldn’t say that I think it’s actually a pretty good film stock if it wasn’t for the fact that I shot with it for years because I couldn’t afford anything else.
Why’s It So Expensive?
Colorplus is one of Kodak’s cheapest film stocks but in comparison to 5-10 years ago, it’s expensive as hell.
Kodak’s reasoning for this is that for a long time, Kodak was just coasting, with no reinvestment, and no extra staff, it was producing a relatively small amount of film for the few people that still used it.
In recent years, since the boom in film usage, Kodak has had to invest more in its production in terms of machinery and staff. Also, they state that a lot of chemicals and integral parts of production have become more expensive for them over the last few years.
Finally, although they don’t say this themselves, there isn’t really any proper competition when it comes to quality film stocks. Fujifilm is, unfortunately, winding down, Cinestill offers something great but completely different and most other film stocks are simply lower quality than Kodak, they have the market by the balls.
Is It Worth It?
I guess this is a difficult question, Colorplus is only like £1.50 less than Kodak Gold 200 and most people would agree that Kodak Gold has finer grain, a sharper overall image and slightly better exposure latitude.
In terms of colour photography, there aren’t many film stocks that are much cheaper than Colorplus for a roll of 36. It’s about £10 a roll in the UK, which is much more than it used to be, but it’s about half the price of Kodak Portra 400 (they have very different attributes).
Basically, if you’re shooting it for day-to-day life, a festival or a holiday, then yeah it’s worth it. If you’re shooting it for something more professional then no it’s probably not worth it, however, I can’t really complain about my time shooting Colorplus.
What Format Is Colorplus Made In?
Colorplus, unlike Kodak Gold, is only made in 35mm format. Gold on the other hand is produced in 35mm and 120mm.
This continues to solidify it as a consumer-grade film stock.
Can You Shoot Out-Of-Date Colorplus?
The answer to any question about shooting out-of-date film is ‘Yes, but it’s complicated’.
When shooting out-of-date film, you need to consider the age of your roll of film, how it’s been stored, what ISO it is and whether you have colour of black-and-white film.
Because Colorplus is a 200 ISO film stock, it’ll last longer than a high ISO film, but, because it’s a colour film stock, it won’t last as long as black-and-white.
Otherwise, if your film has been stored in a cool, dry place then it’ll last much longer than if it was stored in a warm or damp place.
Basically, a normal roll of Colorplus, stored in normal temperatures will be fine for 5-10 years, after that, you’ll have to start adjusting the way to shoot to compensate for a loss in sensitivity. If it’s been stored in a fridge then it’ll last longer and if it’s stored in a warm place then it won’t last as long.
What Kind Of Photography Is It Best For?
As I’ve mentioned before, Colorplus is best for travel, day-to-day life, festival and all that kind of stuff. It doesn’t mean that you can’t use it for other types of photography but ultimately, there are some far better film stocks for things like portrait, landscape or street photography.
Personally, I used it for years for street photography and I loved it, it’s not the best film stock but sometimes it’s just down to personal preference!
Can You Shoot Colorplus At Night?
Well, Colorplus isn’t really built for being shot at night time but one of my favourite shots was taken on Colorplus at night time.
Although I didn’t in this picture, you’d generally really want a tripod for photos like this. Ultimately, Colorplus definitely isn’t a stock I’d choose for a night shoot, but it’s capable if you really need to.
Alright, I kind of love Colorplus, it’s so simple, it was so affordable for quite a while and I really like that vintage hue and feel that it produces.
I’ve shot so much of it over the years and I’ve produced some incredible shots with it, probably in spite of the fact that it’s really basic.
Sometimes it’s not so much about the film stock and all about what you’re pointing your camera at.