Harman Phoenix 200 – First Roll Review & Experiences

By Hamish Gill

Sometime mid October I had an ominous message from Michelle at HARMAN Technology saying she needed to talk to me about something. I must admit, seeing as it was the day before the Analogue Spotlight event I was a little worried – for a split second I thought they might not be coming which would have been a disaster… Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, what she wanted to talk to me about wasn’t anything to worry about at all, quite the opposite in fact, it was actually something to be quite excited about – not to mention something that came totally out of the blue – she wanted to bring me up to speed about the forthcoming release of their first colour film, HARMAN Phoenix 200.

If you’ve not heard of HARMAN technology, they are the parent brand to ILFORD Photo. ILFORD Photo is the brand that markets the black & white films that HARMAN technology produces at the HQ in Mobberley in the UK. This new film is a colour film and due to the agreements that HARMAN have to use the ILFORD photo brand, it can’t be marketed as an ILFORD photo film. Hence HARMAN Phoenix 200. Because of this, it’s also worth noting that if you want to keep up with film related news from HARMAN Photo (as opposed to ILFORD) then there’s a whole load of social media channels that I will link to at the bottom.

The main point of mentioning this is to highlight a couple of things. Firstly, whilst this isn’t an ILFORD film, the team behind the scenes is the same. More importantly, the manufacturing is done in the same place as the black & white ILFORD films. And what’s important about that…? Well, in case it’s not obvious, all this means that this is a new film, not a rebrand, not an outsourced product, it’s an organisation with a track record of making films in the UK making a new to market film. And not just any film, but a colour film.

Talking to Michelle, it sounds like there’s more to come too. This first film, as you will see, is possibly best defined as an “experimental” film. That is to say, the colours aren’t exactly accurate or perfect. HARMAN have been experimenting trying to make a commercially viable film and this is what they’ve produced first. Michelle told me that this might end up being a limited edition film that they run with whilst they are further perfecting the manufacturing processes. Personally, whilst I’d applaud progress toward making more films that can compete with the likes of Kodak’s Portra and even the more consumer – but arguable colour-accurate – film ranges from Kodak, I hope they also keep making films like this that are a little more wild when it comes to the colours

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To some I’m sure the idea of colour film that isn’t “accurate” will make the eyes roll – “experimental” films aren’t for everybody. Personally though, I think there’s absolutely space in the market for these sorts of films. I’m a big fan of Lomo Metropolis for example, but there are a lot of other even more extreme films out there such as the likes of Dubble’s range that look to add to the serendipitous nature of shooting the medium. And then of course there’s experimental processes such as cross processing and film souping that bring more wild and inaccurate colours to the table.

That, I suppose, is the context for the conversation around the colours Phoenix 200 produces. They are, without doubt, not perfectly accurate. Though, how accurate or otherwise they are also depends on subject matter, development and printing/digitisation processes. I’ve seen loads of samples from other photographers who also had early access to this film and there’s definitely a wide range of results out there already. Molly, for example, has shared her results in our more “official” announcement and review where you can see some very vibrant colours captured in bright sunlit circumstances.

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The only “sunny” moment I shot with the roll

Having seen these and a bunch of other similar results, I thought I’d put Phoenix 200 through its paces in lower-lit and more overcast lighting. I loaded my roll into my Nikon F80 and first took it out for a little family outing to an indoor crazy golf venue where I shot it with the flash.

Phoenix 200 flash
Flash testing

I then took a couple of lower/low lit “urban” shots. Phoenix 200 is DX coded at 200 ISO and that’s what I shot it at. The shooting instructions say there’s some flexibility for under and over exposure allowing it to be shot at between EI 100 and 400. Judging by my results from this first roll, especially considering the accuracy of the meter in the Nikon F80, I’d probably err toward sticking at EI200 or 100, especially in lower lit conditions. There’s also a couple of other character traits this film will impart onto your images. One of which is very apparent in the nighttime shots. This film seemingly lacks any anti-halation layer. The result of this is some fairly serious halos around points of light. I personally really like this effect.

Phoenix 200 night shot
Nice bit of Halation

Following on from this outing at night, I took the opportunity to shoot the rest of the roll of Phoenix 200 on a walk on the Malvern hills on what could best be described as a somewhat overcast autumn day. Having seen a lot of higher contrast vibrant shots from sunny days, I thought it’d be interesting to see what some flat cloudy weather would bring to the table. I didn’t really know what to expect, but it’s fair to say that the film really seems to suit the autumnal colours. The results I have achieved have a wonderful warmth to them.

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At this point, I should probably emphasise an earlier point I made about the development and scanning being a variable in results. This particular roll of Phoenix 200 was developed and scanned by Analogue Wonderland. The team at the AW lab, which includes Duncan from Silverpan Film Lab (who were bought by AW earlier this year) have also been aware of this film for at least the time I have and, as I understand it, have been involved in the process working out the best way to develop it and scan it commercially. I don’t know the rest of the team at AW particularly well, but I trust Duncan’s skills in terms of scanning with a Noritsu pretty much beyond anyone else I know. When the results were sent to me, it was reported back that they had worked on the scanning process using the Noritsu in a way that maintained the core nature of the film but just slightly helped retain highlight detail and kept the reds under control. Whatever they have done, I think the results are really quite attractive.

Phoenix 200 portrait

In short, if you’re in the UK and planning on shooting Phoenix 200 and having a lab scan it, I’d highly recommend Analogue Wonderland or Silverpan as they have something of a head start in terms of getting the best out of it. Of course, if you’re scanning yourself there’s a whole other element of fun to be explored.

A final note I wanted to make about this film is something that I think is evident in all of my results and that’s the sharpness and grain. My result back from AW did seem more soft than I’m used to from the Nikon AF-D lenses I shot with, as such I don’t think it’s a massively “sharp” film. A little bit of post process sharpening in Lightroom helped, although of course this brought out the grain more. For my tastes I possibly favour a little more definition and clarity, but the colours and overall vibe of the film made up for what’s lacking here for me.

Phoenix 200 – Final thoughts

Well, what can I say really…? Firstly thanks to HARMAN for including me in the list of first people to try out Phoenix 200. On a personal level, I’ve really enjoyed it! I’m also pretty impressed with the results I’ve achieved. I especially like the warmth of the film in the overcast circumstances I shot it. Seeing early results I thought it might be a bit of a one trick pony in terms of it just producing bright vibrant colours on sunny days. Seeing it can also be harnessed to produce more warm and cozy colours on an overcast day brings a whole other dimension to how I think it can be harnessed.

Aside from those more subjective observations, I also think it’s really exciting that another company is coming to market with legitimately new colour films. Not that I have much against rebrands as such, but seeing something new to market is always a little more exciting.

Of course, seeing something like a new colour film coming to market from HARMAN is another level really. Even in its own right – albeit as an experimental film with some objective “imperfections” in terms of things like colour rendering, halation, softness etc – I think it’s very exciting. Of course, what’s all the more exciting is the fact that Phoenix 200 is a new colour film. New! And that’s not to mention the fact that this is just the beginning. This is just the start for HARMAN and colour film. This is their first colour film and they have no plans to stop here. Only time will tell what they manage to produce, but having another player in the colour film marketplace can only be a good thing in my opinion!

You can see the rest of my shots from my first roll here

Harman Photo Twitter – HarmanPhoto
Harman Photo FB – HARMANPhoto
Harman Photo IG – harmanphoto

Check out Molly’s news post and review here! Her images were scanned on a Fuji SP3000 so you can see the differences to the Noritsu there.

If you are in the UK, Analogue Wonderland has Phoenix in stock (and film developing) here.

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About The Author

By Hamish Gill
I started taking photos at the age of 9. Since then I've taken photos for a hobby, sold cameras for a living, and for a little more than decade I've been a professional photographer and, of course, weekly contributor to 35mmc.
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Comments

Peggy on Harman Phoenix 200 – First Roll Review & Experiences

Comment posted: 17/12/2023

I bought two rolls, but I think I will save them for a nice spring day rather than the dull overcloudy rubbish we have now. I love that Harman are making a new film from scratch, it bodes well for the future. The future is bright, the future is in an orange box.
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Philip Boreham on Harman Phoenix 200 – First Roll Review & Experiences

Comment posted: 15/12/2023

Three rolls acquired, one roll down. I've just received scans back from the lab and so far it's looking like a bad Ektar trip, i.e. totally wacky colours and blown highlights. Perhaps a bit of home scanning is required to see what's going on. I used the F80 which is superb for metering. Another two rolls to tinker with and we'll see where we end up.
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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 15/12/2023

Who did the scanning for you?

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Philip Boreham replied:

Comment posted: 15/12/2023

AG Photolab, Birmingham. I'm going to dig out the Nikon LS-50 and have a go, although the reason I started getting lab scans was because my colour adjustments could be quite terrible.

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Chris Livsey on Harman Phoenix 200 – First Roll Review & Experiences

Comment posted: 05/12/2023

Really not sure why you spent so much time on the "colour accuracy" of this film, as I'm sure you are aware no film "out of the box" or indeed out of any scanner, you kindly made that exact point re Fuji SP3000 v Noritsu yourself, is accurate and that's without going into what we mean by "accurate" regarding colour. Images produced for art conservation have a tortuous path to achieve acceptable colour accuracy, applied to a "normal" scene the result is not pleasing to the eye, colour film has always been produced with a bias and let's not get into the "colour accuracy" f whatever monitor/screen the readers are viewing you results on.
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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 05/12/2023

Yeah sure, but some films are more natively capable of producing more accurate colours than this film. There is a scale of how accurate film is before it enters the rest of the processing chain, and this film is not up there with even the more basic lines from Kodak and Fuji

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Khürt L Williams on Harman Phoenix 200 – First Roll Review & Experiences

Comment posted: 03/12/2023

While I recognize the artistic intent behind the unique colors and grain of this 35mm film, they don't quite appeal to my tastes. I acknowledge the potential for improvement over time, as the film was developed rapidly. I'll keep an eye on future developments before considering it further. It's clear this film might appeal to others, but currently, it doesn't suit my preferences.
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Geoff Chaplin on Harman Phoenix 200 – First Roll Review & Experiences

Comment posted: 02/12/2023

Hamish you certainly got excellent results from the film, the portraits in particular are stunning! Accurate colours or not? I never feel colour film produces accurate colours - which is driving me increasingly to B&W - so let's take outlandish for what it is and enjoy!
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Alexander Seidler on Harman Phoenix 200 – First Roll Review & Experiences

Comment posted: 02/12/2023

Thanks for testing and nice to hear that you injoyed it. It is not my taste at the first look, but interesting to see that there is development in the market. Is it possible to share a negativ from scan as a tif file ? cheers Alex.
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Geoff on Harman Phoenix 200 – First Roll Review & Experiences

Comment posted: 02/12/2023

Hamish I’m finding it difficult to read 35mm posts. Clicking on usual ‘read more’ leads to a blank page. I have to click on ‘comments’ to get into post. Is anyone else having problems? Geoff
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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 02/12/2023

Hi Geoff, see here: https://www.35mmc.com/19/11/2023/website-issue-emails-not-working/

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Tristan Colgate-McFarlane on Harman Phoenix 200 – First Roll Review & Experiences

Comment posted: 02/12/2023

I've got 4 rolls on order. All the results I've seen look great. Certainly unique, and not accurate, but not overtly gimmicky. Harman are talking about long term planning for potential colour, which is really quite exciting.
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Huss on Harman Phoenix 200 – First Roll Review & Experiences

Comment posted: 02/12/2023

Excellent! Buying some tomorrow. p.s love the F80. I have two and use them more than my F6! (they also cost me $20 each..)
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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 02/12/2023

Yes indeed, brilliant camera - I am slightly favouring the 100 at the mo, but it's a tough call between them

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Huss replied:

Comment posted: 02/12/2023

I sold off my F100s after I got the F80. I find the hidden flash so useful on so many occasions but the clincher are the focus screen grid lines that you can turn on in the F80. I leave them always on. Love that, and not even my F6 offers that! With every other camera, you have to change the entire focus screen.

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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 02/12/2023

Yeah, for sure - definitely a great addition!

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Eric Norris on Harman Phoenix 200 – First Roll Review & Experiences

Comment posted: 01/12/2023

Ordered three rolls this morning! Looking forward to shooting this over the holidays.
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Ilya on Harman Phoenix 200 – First Roll Review & Experiences

Comment posted: 01/12/2023

Thanks for reviewing, it's quite interesting new product indeed. Its colours have reminded me of the Blow-Up 1960's film, also shot in the UK.
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Röd White on Harman Phoenix 200 – First Roll Review & Experiences

Comment posted: 01/12/2023

Nice one Hamish. I'm looking for some new stuff to try in December. Love the halation shots and bought some Cinestill just for that. Sounds like I should give this a whirl as well.
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Josh Moon on Harman Phoenix 200 – First Roll Review & Experiences

Comment posted: 01/12/2023

Great article. Great demo shots. It really shines with the nostalgic family photos. Would make a great fashion portrait film to complement a digital shoot.
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Tom Perry on Harman Phoenix 200 – First Roll Review & Experiences

Comment posted: 01/12/2023

Hats off to Harman for getting a new film out there. Reminds me a bit of Colorplus, with a yellow cast. Will be interested to see RRP when it starts becoming available. Regardless, it is a venture that *needs* to be backed, you pay what you are willing to pay. I'd love to see it cheaper in the UK to promote colour film photography at a time when everyone is feeling the squeeze, but I'm not sure if that's the world we live in right now, with spiralling costs for everyone (including manufacturing and distribution). Next, 120 roll requests :)
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Eric on Harman Phoenix 200 – First Roll Review & Experiences

Comment posted: 01/12/2023

Nice. Great post and sample images. Definitely trying this out.
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Robert on Harman Phoenix 200 – First Roll Review & Experiences

Comment posted: 01/12/2023

Having trouble opening links again … Even the copy and paste one Is there an issue ?
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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 01/12/2023

Yes, if this happens, just go to the website directly in the browser - the emailed articles will always be the first one on the homepage of the website

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Robert on Harman Phoenix 200 – First Roll Review & Experiences

Comment posted: 01/12/2023

Having trouble opening links again … Even the copy and paste one
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Lilianna Elrod on Harman Phoenix 200 – First Roll Review & Experiences

Comment posted: 01/12/2023

my email alerts open to a blank page. I have to manually go to 35mmc.com
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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 01/12/2023

See here: https://www.35mmc.com/19/11/2023/website-issue-emails-not-working/ Still ongoing, but should be sorted soon

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Blue Zurich on Harman Phoenix 200 – First Roll Review & Experiences

Comment posted: 01/12/2023

I've got a couple rolls coming next week and with the dreary Salt Lake weather, it won't be vibrant sunny...maybe shoot a roll of Christmas lights downtown? Test out the color and bokeh possibilities. Halation fun!
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AZD replied:

Comment posted: 01/12/2023

Blue Zurich, maybe a trip to Ogden is in order? Based on the results from Molly Kate, low angle sun (if available) and lit signs ought to look great. 25th Street offers both, weather permitting. Good luck either way, should be fun!

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