You may already know the Reto project from their Reto 3D camera or their newer Ultra Wide and Slim and Kodak Ektar H35 cameras. But did you know they now sell colour film as well?
Say hello to Reto’s new cine film offerings and the Amber Spark and Tungsten disposable cameras. The newest products in Reto’s lineup are motion picture films that have been rolled into 35mm still photography format with the remjet layer removed. The film can be processed in C41 chemistry, making it easy and cost effective to get it developed rather than the more expensive and less common ECN-2 processing.
Reto are offering two daylight balanced films, D100 (ISO100) and D400 (ISO 400), and one tungsten balanced film, 800T (ISO800), at the time of writing.
The films have been out for a little while now, but Reto kindly sent me their Amber Spark and Tungsten disposable cameras to try, so I wanted to wait until I had received the images to show you the results!
The Amber Spark disposable camera is loaded with Reto’s D400 daylight balanced film. Amber Tungsten is loaded with their 800T tungsten balanced film. So the Spark is perfect for everyday use and Tungsten for the times when you may be indoors or surrounded by night lights.
Talking with Reto’s Vivienne Tsang
I asked Reto’s Sales and Marketing Director, Vivienne Tsang, a few questions about the new films and disposable cameras.
On why Reto wanted to provide a film offering, Vivienne says the team saw a gap in the supply of film to the market but yet an ever increasing demand. The company wanted to offer the community with a new choice for film. The films are based on the Kodak Vision movie film series and then Reto works to remove the remjet layer so that the cine film can be processed in C41 chemistry.
Curious about the reason why disposable cameras were created, I asked Vivienne about the decision to produce them.
She says, “Our goal is to make film photography affordable and attractive to new beginners. Therefore, we try to make some disposable cameras to let people try film photography. It’s easy and fun to use. Also, the films give a bluest tone which is unique and quite cool indeed. We hope it might serve an opportunity to reach youngsters/people who have no knowledge about films at all.”
Vivienne says the response has been really great so far, though the company is always open for comments and recommendations to improve their products.
Testing the Reto Disposable Cameras
Onto the review of the disposable cameras and of course the resulting images! I had the cameras processed and scanned at a lab for consistency and top quality results, but they could be processed at home in C41 chemistry with care taken to remove the film from the disposable camera shells.
Let’s start with Spark shall we?
Reto’s Amber Spark – The All-Rounder
The Amber Spark is loaded with Reto’s Amber D400 film, which is a 27 exposure 35mm motion picture film that can be processed in C41 chemistry. The D400 film is versatile and can be used during the day but also at night with the flash. While you do not have to set any settings with the disposable cameras, if you buy the film cannister on its own, it does not automatically have a DX code attached. Instead, Reto provides you with a DX code sticker to attach if you are using a camera that automatically reads the DX code and cannot be set manually.
This was the first disposable camera set I had used in a long time and it took me right back to my childhood. So cliche, I know. The camera is easy to use as you would think. It comes with everything included so there are no extra parts you need. There is a flash that can be turned on with the press of a button, but other than that, the only button you need to press is the shutter. There is a nice grip on the camera so it feels comfortable and sturdy when holding. In fact, the whole camera feels quite sturdy compared to other disposable-like cameras I have used (reusable plastic ones).
You can see two things in the images above, strong halation and softness around the outer edges. The lens seems to have that character of slight edge softness usually associated with disposables. Then, even with the daylight film, the halation from the D400 is quite strong in the highlights with bright sunny weather conditions. I enjoy this look and it’s definitely something different than other non-cine colour films.
Amber Tungsten – Made for Indoors and Night Lights
The only difference in the mechanics of the Amber Tungsten to the Spark disposable camera is that the Tungsten 800T roll comes with 36 exposures instead of 27. It has the same flash button, shutter button, and grip. There are instructions on the back of the camera so you have everything you need to use it on the camera itself. These cameras truly are made easy for anyone to pick up and use, which is Reto’s goal.
The results from the Amber Tungsten are interesting. I took the above image inside the Cardiff Train Station and it looks like there are red light leaks on the image. However, I’m not sure if these are actually light leaks or a factor of the lens or other reason. My previous experience with motion picture film that has had the remjet layer removed and rolled into 35mm canisters is that sometimes light leaks can occur during the finishing process. However, I don’t mind and it looks cool to me, but something to note.
I found that at night, you really need bright lights and perhaps subjects that are closer. I took an image of the lights from the BBC Wales building (below) and aside from the lights, you wouldn’t be able to tell what I am photographing. It is very abstract and again the red light leak-like effects show up. Again, I enjoy these results and find it part of the fun with disposable cameras or cine film, but know not everyone will feel the same way, which is ok!
Wanting to test the Amber Tungsten camera and film out in different settings, I also took several images during the day and with flash. The garden image below was taken in daylight and with the flash on. I love it! The daylight images were more blue/green with the 800T as expected compared to the D400 since this film is balanced for indoor lighting.
I really enjoyed using the Reto disposable cameras and do see them as a great gateway into film photography. Of course, there is the environmental impact to consider as well as we know reusable cameras are much more sustainable than disposable. However, for someone to try out film photography for the first time, these cameras are perfect and a fun way into the creative medium.
Keeping Film Alive
Reto’s philosophy is very much centered around keeping film alive but also drawing in new users with fun, exciting, and easy-to-use products.
For more information on the Reto Project and their offerings, follow this link to their website here. You can also follow them on Instagram as well. They have two segments now with the new Kodak licensed products. For the Reto project items such as the Amber films, disposables, 3D camera, and UWS camera, you can find them at @reto.project. For the Kodak licensed products such as the Ektar H35 camera, the Instagram page is @kodakfilm.reto.
Product images provided by and used with permission from Reto.