800 is a big number in film photography, at least if you’re using colour film. The most sensitive colour films currently available all top out at 800 ISO. Kodak Portra is beautiful but expensive. Cinestill 800T is expensive and an acquired taste. Lomo 800 is out of stock.
For alternatives, you need to leave the beaten track of commercially available films. One option is expired film but sensitive films deteriorate quickly so I wanted to find something that wasn’t too old, if possible. I had read somewhere that some disposable cameras use 800 speed emulsions (it’s often claimed in comment sections that this is where Lomo 800 comes from).
I liked this idea. It was cheap and I was interested to see how less advanced emulsions would look when used on a sharp, multi-coated lens.
My original plan was to buy disposables, remove the film and reload it into my Canon EOS 650. This hard work was unnecessary, however, as I came across some Fuji 800 disposable camera film being sold at a bargain price on Ebay. I now have 12 rolls of it.
The Canon EOS 650 is a nice, basic camera that takes all the modern Canon lenses. I got mine for £35, untested, as it was attached to the 50mm f1.8 mk1 that I actually wanted to buy. I’ll enjoy using it until something electronic inevitably dies inside and it becomes a decorative doorstop. I tend to use the smaller, wider 40mm f2.8 with this body now. It is very sharp, very small and very cheap. Loaded with 800 speed film, this combination is a lot of bang for your buck.
Results? Pretty nice. I got these developed at Labyrinth in East London. They’re a pro lab and use dip and dunk developing. My results from Labyrinth are always more saturated and less grainy than rolls I develop myself and these are no different. In fact, the grain is less prominent than on Portra 800 that I’ve developed at home in my bathtub. I really like the Fuji colours; something a bit different to the ubiquitous Kodak look. Magenta and cyan pop – so much so that I spent some time toning the colour down in post.
I’m considering this experiment a success and I’m glad I have another option to choose from for fast colour film. I’d love to hear other suggestions for interesting film/camera combinations I could try so let me know below or get in touch on Instagram.
Images were scanned using a Canon 2000d and converted in Darktable using Negadoctor.