Best 35mm colour negative films on a budget
Here’s my top 6 list of really cheap colour negative (c-41) films. I’ll keep the film descriptions short and sweet, because on a general note, they are all surprisingly capable and nice looking films. Especially for the price! I personally nowadays prefer many of these films over, for example, Kodak Ektar or Portra, just for the image quality and lower cost.
1. Fujifilm C200
I’m starting the list with my favourite choice, the Fujifilm C200. A roll of 36 exposures costs only 3€. (Well, depending of course where you’re buying it) For that price, you’d think it’s total garbage, but it is actually extremely pleasant looking film. Every Fuji film has a really nice colour palette and C200 isn’t an exception. It’s not anything over the top, but not entirely boring and sterile either. It’s nicely stylised and warm, with medium speed (ISO 200), grain and sharpness.
Somehow Fuji C200 just resonates with me more than most colour negative films. It’s hard to describe, but imagine having the nicest Instagram filter you’ve ever seen and having that embedded to the image straight from the box, but without looking like you’ve added one. Like I said, hard to explain… it just looks really nice.
2. Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400
Fujcolor Superia 400 is another really good budget film from Fuji — almost as nice as C200. It is one stop faster (ISO 400) which is of course very practical. The colours are a bit more true-to-life compared to C200. I recently happened to grab a special deal of 24 exposure rolls for something like 1,50€ per roll. I don’t know what the typical price would be but it is none the less from the cheaper end. There’s really nothing bad to say about Superia 400. It’s cheap and it works! The only gotcha is the fact it’s now being discontinued, but there are still plenty of the stuff in stock. It’ll probably be a while until the stores run out of it so grab it while you can!
3. Kodak Gold 200
In my experience Kodak Gold 200 is a bit similar than Superia 400. It is also very basic film, but it’s not sacrificing image quality. It’s surprisingly sharp and my only complain would be it’s “basic” colour palette. It’s almost too true-to-life, as opposed to the stylised palette of Fuji C200 for example. The film has very little graininess and it’s very sharp. I’ve seen Kodak Gold typically around 4—5€ per 36 exp roll. As you guessed, it’s an ISO 200 film, as the product name suggests.
4. Kodak ColorPlus 200
Kodak ColorPlus 200 is another great budget film that cost around 3€ per roll. In my opinion, it looks almost exactly the same as Kodak Gold and I really don’t know what the difference is. To me it looks exactly as good!
5. Kodak Pro Image 100
Pro Image is a new acquaintance to me and even though it’s a pro film, it’s still definitely from the cheaper end. Typical price would be somewhere around 5—6€. A bit more perhaps than Kodak Gold, but my lord how much better it looks. Pro Image 100 has amazing soft colours — calming, but yet vivid. It’s medium sharp and grainy, but the over all look is very pleasing. It somehow reminds me of Ektar, but a grainier and more distinct film look. Excellent stuff!
Pro Image is a bit slower film (ISO 100) which is why, I’m guessing, it gets compared to the almighty Kodak Ektar so often, which is another much loved ISO 100 film. Slow films, such as Pro Image 100, are great for sunny days!
6. Agfa Vista 200
Agfa Vista is also now being discontinued, but you can still find it. As far as I know, it is actually a Fuji emulsion, which of course explains why it has that super pleasing colour palette. Agfa Vista is dirt cheap. At the moment I’m seeing two roll packs sold at 4€. Again, the cheap price doesn’t mean bad quality. The first time I shot it, I was positively surprised about the outcome. I’d definitely grab the stuff while it’s still being sold!
Agfa Vista is an ISO 200 film, much like Fuji C200 or Kodak Gold.
Cheap black and white films?
Check out also the list for recommended cheap black and white films.