If you want to shoot film on a budget, Fujicolor C200 is hard to beat for value, but is it any good? In this month’s roll review we find out.
Fujicolor 200 or C200 depending on how and where you buy it is a medium-speed, daylight-balanced consumer film made by, you guessed it, FujiFilm.
C200 renders reasonably nice colors, fairly accurate skin tones, all with an average amount of grain. To tell the truth, there isn’t anything all that special about C200, except it’s cheap.
And when I say it’s cheap, it’s all relative. The days of cheap film are all but over, but when a roll of Ektachrome will run you $13 or more, C200 is downright affordable. Assuming it’s in stock, you can find 36 exposure rolls of C200 for about $4, sometimes less if you can find a three-pack on sale.
For this review, I put three 36-exposure rolls of C200 through my Canon EOS-1 over the course of about a week. If you’d like to learn more about the EOS-1 and why I shoot with a 30-year-old Canon, you can read my review here.
The images were captured in a wide variety of natural lighting conditions including broad daylight, open shade, golden hour, and blue hour. I did not shoot under artificial light, as I don’t own a camera with a flash.
The film was developed and scanned by Mike’s Camera here in Denver.
Additional corrections to exposure, color temperature and composition were made in Lightroom. You can learn more about how and why I edit my scans here. These corrections are noted in the image caption.
Getting to know Fuji C200
I had high hopes for FujiColor C200 since you can find it just about anywhere you can still buy film. And after putting three rolls through my Canon, I wasn’t disappointed.
I can certainly see why so many photographers swear by the stuff. For fairly affordable film you can get some stellar results if you’re willing to put up with a couple of caveats and a little bit of a learning curve.
Speaking of learning curves, C200 has something of a split personality that can make it a polarizing option for photographers shooting it for the first time. While it has a reasonably wide exposure latitude, the film is best shot at box speed and metered for the shadows to avoid the characteristic green cast FujiFilm is famous for.
The daylight-balanced film also has a slightly warm quality to it that makes it quite versatile regardless of whether you’re shooting inside or out.
The film really shined in the particularly warm light of golden hour as well as in bright, flat light. If you’re looking for a film to take on your next ski trip in the mountains, you could do a lot worse than C200.
During my tests, the film proved to be surprisingly forgiving in open shade or on overcast days, rendering fairly neutral colors without taking on too much of a blue cast.
For those of you who prefer to do things in camera, blue casts can be mitigated by screwing on a mild warming filter when shooting in the shade or on cloudy days. Or, if you don’t want to invest in a warming filter, you can add a bit of warmth digitally in Lightroom or your photo editing app of choice.
Metering for C200
FujiColor C200 is a pretty forgiving film. Slightly over or underexpose it and you’re not going to ruin your shot. But while the film does have a reasonable margin of error, I found it is best shot at box speed where the film renders nice skin tones and reasonably saturated colors.
Like most color-negative films, C200 does handle overexposure far better than underexposure, and in the case of portraits, you may want to overexpose by a stop to keep skin tones from taking on a magenta cast.
The only downside to overexposing C200 seems to be that colors quickly become desaturated and take on an almost pastel quality, something that I actually quite like for portraits, but wouldn’t work well for landscapes.
When underexposing C200 by more than a stop, be prepared for some strong color casts. Shadows will quickly become murky green, while highlights and skin tones will become flush with magenta.
My advice with C200 is to meter for the shadows and you probably won’t be disappointed.
If you like film grain then you’re going to like C200. Personally, I fall into this category. I think grain can add character to an image. It’s why I’m so fond of pushing black and white film.
However, for an ISO 200 film, I was surprised by how much grain there was. It’s certainly not overwhelming, and I don’t dislike the aesthetic, but there are certainly faster (and more expensive) stocks out there that do offer finer grain.
If you’re looking for a really clean look, C200 is probably not for you and something like FujiFilm 160NS or Kodak Portra 160 might be more your style, but you will pay for it. You can get at least two rolls of C200 for the cost of one roll of Portra 160.
Note: because these images were scanned, it is difficult to say how much of what we’re seeing here is actually film grain and how much is noise introduced by the scanner.
What you should know before shooting FujiColor C200
1. Avoid underexposing to prevent color casts
FujiColor C200 is fairly forgiving of poor exposure. Like most color-negative film stocks, C200 handles overexposure better than underexposure. Meter for the shadows to avoid Fuji’s characteristic green shadows and magenta-tinted highlights. C200 really seems to perform the best when shot at box speed.
2. Overexpose for skin tones
In less than perfect lighting conditions, a magenta cast can creep into the skin tones. This is easily remedied by overexposing slightly. Between 1/3 and a half stop of extra light seems to do the trick. However, overexposing too much can result in muted, pastel colors.
3. Embrace the grain
C200 renders fairly grainy images as ISO 200 films go. If you’re not a fan of pronounced film grain, this might not be the film for you. I personally love film grain and find C200’s grain to be lovely.
4. C200 is perfect for warm sunny evenings, snowy adventures
I shot C200 in a wide variety of lighting conditions and found it worked best during golden hour and in bright, flat lighting conditions. This is a fabulous film for summer hikes and snowy ski trips. On cloudy days, I found C200 tended to produce very neutral images that heavily emphasized greens.
5. It’s cheap
The best thing about C200 is it’s about as cheap as film gets. I found myself taking a lot of shots that I would never take on more expensive film because I wasn’t thinking about what each frame was going to cost me.
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FujiColor C200 is an affordable color negative film that is excellent for photographers dabbling in film photography for the first time or experienced shooters looking for an inexpensive way to shoot more film.
It’s medium sensitivity and slightly warm white balance makes it an incredibly versatile film, that can be used in practically any environment and render useable images.
The film’s two biggest caveats are its pronounced grain and propensity for strong green and magenta casts when underexposed.
And while I consistently got great results by metering for the shadows, your results may vary, especially if you’re shooting with an older SLR or point and shoot with a more rudimentary meter.
However, for the price, I think it’s definitely worth giving C200 a try.
If you temper your expectations you’re sure to find something to love about C200. I think it’s a great film for summer vacations, trips to the beach and or adventures in the mountains.
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