Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Expired Film Treasure: 120-size Kodak Ektar 25 (Abandoned Films 02g)

Dear Readers, I have written about Kodak's ultra-fine resolution Ektar 25 film before. This was the finest-grain color negative film ever made, and when new, had a vivid and contrasty color palette. But it has been out of production for two decades, and most (all?) rolls for sale on ePrey are unusable because they were not stored frozen. Awhile ago, I declared I would not try any more; it was past its time. 

Oh oh, trouble. A friend on the Photrio forum said he had two rolls for me that had been frozen. I could not resist - I know, I know, weak self-discipline. It is an example of succumbing to film GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome).

The first roll I exposed at an exposure index of EI=20. But when the film came back from North Coast Photographic, the frames were much too thin. However, I managed to save about half of the pictures via scanning. The second roll I shot at EI=12, and this one was much better. So, in no particular order, here are some examples of the famous but long-expired Ektar 25, color shifts, warts and all. These are all tripod-mounted exposures. Click any frame to expand. Comments welcome.


Bridge over Judd Bayou, Tensas National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana (80mm ƒ/2.8 Planar-CB lens)
This is one of my favorite recent photographs. The light, foliage, and setting were just right. This is the end of the road for cars, well within the forest west of the Tensas River. Unfortunately, this area was cut in World War II, so the forest is not old growth, and the loggers destroyed what may have been the last USA habitat for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. 

Vicksburg and Redwood

Former CCC Camp near Union Ave., Vicksburg National Military Park
King Davis Church, Glass Road, Vicksburg (80mm Planar-CB lens, polarizer)
Shed near abandoned cement silos, Rte 3, Redwood (80mm ƒ/2.8 Planar-CB lens, ½ ƒ/5.6)
Remnants at cement silo site, Rte 3, Redwood (50mm ƒ/4 Distagon lens)
Crushing mill, Rte 3, Redwood (50mm ƒ/4 Distagon lens, 1 sec. ƒ/8)
I have photographed this large metal object before. I am not sure what it once crushed or ground. The deep water pit may have been for cooling water or flushing the material out of the device. Now it is a perfect habitat for water snakes. This is just east of Rte 3 across the street from the old cement silos. 
Where is my food? Happy wet cows, Ball Road, Redwood
Rosedown Road, Vicksburg (80mm ƒ/2.8 Planar-CB lens, ¼ ƒ/4.05)
This is the view looking downhill from Confederate Avenue. These architecturally-boring houses have been here since before the mid-1980s. 

Eagle Lake Area

Jones Lake, near Laney Lake Road, off Rte. 465 (50mm Distagon, ¼ ƒ/11)
Jones Lake, near Laney Lake Road, off 465 (50mm Distagon, ¼ ƒ/11)

Snow in Vicksburg

Adams Street, view north (80mm Planar-CB lens)
Ready to go, Washington Street
Kansas City Southern rail yard from Levee Street
104 Locust Street (50mm ƒ/4 Distagon lens)
106 Locust Street (unoccupied)
201 Locust Street (unoccupied)
Yes, once in awhile, we get a snowstorm in Vicksburg. It changes the entire look of the landscape and is too good to resist capturing with film. The overcast sky and soft light was perfect for this Ektar 25 film.

Locust Street is in the north part of town below Fort Hill. A local dude stopped in his car and told me how the neighborhood was vibrant 20 years ago, with houses on every lot. Now at least half of the lots are grass or have abandoned houses.


Once again, I am impressed that a 25-year-old color film will still work, albeit with color shifts and minor errors in the emulsion. This film shows it amazing resolution when used with the best optics and careful technique (which means a tripod). But I have no more 120-size Ektar 25 and am unlikely to ever buy any. As I concluded before (but obviously did not follow my own advice): this is the end, no more. There is one roll of 35mm Ektar 25 in the freezer, which I will save it for a special occasion.

Update June 2021: A friend found two rolls of Ektar 25 in his mother's freezer. It looks as if I will be able to enjoy Ektar 25 again.


Mike said...

Marvelous results from that old, slow color film. I would not have thought it possible even with refrigeration.

Suzassippi said...

These are spectacular! I am partial to cows, so I really like how you lined them up in front of the old house at the gate. You are a cow whisperer. Many of these are places I have not heard of (although of course I have driven over the Tensas River on I-20 a million times in the last 17 years). Makes me want to drive somewhere I have never been. said...

Oh, no secret cow whisperer skills. They just thought I was bringing them some chow. That was a 1/4 sec. exposure, a bit tough with a film that is only EI=12.

Zoli said...

So does this film really have finer grain than Ektar 100?

Kodachromeguy said...

Zoll, that is a good question. When fresh, the Ektar 25 may have been a bit finer grain, but now that any remaining rolls are old, probably no.

Sakshi saxena said...

Great article, thanks for sharing with us. said...

very knowledgeable article , thanks

Kyle said...

Have a 1991 expired roll that was never properly stored. Highly impressed with the images I just got from it:

Kodachromeguy said...

Kyle, well done. I'm glad it worked out for you.