5 frames with...

5 frames with Kodak Gold pushed to 400 – By Ivan Studynskyi

February 16, 2020

Kodak Gold 200. An icon consumer film from the ’80-’90s. It is beloved by some and hated by others. What you definitely can’t say is that shooting it left someone indifferent. I find myself loving this film (I am not crazy about it, though), especially the warm tones and high contrast. What is even more impressive, is that Kodak Gold has a decent sharpness and fine grain for a consumer-grade film. Like that is not enough, the price for the Kodak Gold is quite cheap. Considering all of the above, the film seems a great choice for everyday use to have fun and store some personal memories.

So, if you also like Kodak Gold, you would understand my happiness when I, while being on a trip, stumbled upon a bunch of 3packs of it for a laughable price – 7.95 euro. Not giving it much thought, I bought 2 packs of the film. But then I got back home and, well, it is winter here. And Kodak Gold does not thrive in cloudy conditions. Still, leaving all 6 rolls for the next three or four months in a freezer seemed a bizarre thing to me. That is why I decided to do a little experiment – to push one roll to 400. Surely it is not a huge difference, but I wanted to have fun trying something new. The ironic thing though, both days I was shooting it there was no overcast. Despite that, my mind was already committed to the idea of pushing to 400, so I went for it.

I apologize for keeping you waiting, but I also have to write a couple of lines on the gear before showing you the result of pushing Kodak Gold to 400. That way you will have a complete perspective. I used Olympus OM-2n and Zuiko 28mm f2.8. I mostly used f5.6 or f8 and let the camera decide at what shutter speed to fire. Developing and scanning were done by a lab. I did not adjust colour or light, and also did not give any specifications to the lab on adjusting during scanning. After the photos, you can find my thoughts on the outcome.

This photo, to me, looks kind of flat

Blacks, saturated colours, love it


Before сonducting this little experiment, I searched some tips or at least anything related to an experience of pushing Kodak Gold to 400. As expected, there was not much, because it is not common to push consumer film.

Anyway, photos came out more saturated, they look more punchy as the contrast is higher. Also, grain became more noticeable (but less than I anticipated). Naturally, skin colours shifted a bit farther to the yellow because of the increased saturation.

Frankly, I can’t say I did not like the results. I really appreciate some photos. Yet, I do not see myself trying it once more, let alone making a habit out of it. The thing is when I saw scans, they did not resonate with me. Not some specific shot, but the whole film overall. Perhaps, I am used to the conventional Kodak Gold look. Or maybe it is another thing that I can’t articulate properly. In the end, I am gonna stick to shooting Gold at box speed and for more tricky light conditions gonna use Ultramax ox Portra 400.

In the meantime, I do not want to discourage anyone to push Kodak Gold to 400 or even 800. Objectively, there is nothing wrong with the results, it is just my eye. Actually, I would like to encourage those who rarely or never have done it before. Because it could be so much fun to see something different from the film you got used to. For those who got hooked up on the idea of pushing Kodak Gold to 400 (or any other film) and are not familiar with how to do it, I recommend reading an article about the process from thedarkroom. It may save some of your photos from being ruined.

I use film to document the streets of my hometown (and sometimes other cities). You can find me as octo_ivans on Instagram.

Ivan Studynskyi

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  • Reply
    February 16, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    I like shot #2 there, I don’t care for beautful landscape photography so unsightly powerlines are always a plus. 😉

    When you say pushed to 400, do you mean shot at exposure index 400 and developed as normal? Either way it looks nice. I shoot a lot of Gold and since I started doing C41 at home I am pretty happy with the results, especially shot at EI 80 and pulled accordingly. It’s not quite Portra, but that’s ok because I don’t shoot portraits on color neg.

    I think a lot of people dismiss the budget stocks because their only experiences with them were either a long time ago, or when they were first starting out in the analog revival era. Typically sending their poorly exposed c200 & Gold to the drugstore lab.. I know I did.
    If you expose it well, play with the EI and developing – make it your own – you can get some great results.

    • Reply
      Ivan Studynskyi
      February 17, 2020 at 8:22 pm

      Almost. I indeed metered as if the film was 400 (basically underexposing for 1 stop) and told a lab to compensate for it by increasing developing time. Hence more grain, saturation and contrast.
      To me, C200 is the best consumer-grade slow speed film – contrast, the saturation of greens and reds is so much fun

      • Reply
        February 24, 2020 at 9:51 am

        Hi Ivan,
        Next time try exposing at ISO 100 see what happens

  • Reply
    Nick Lyle
    February 16, 2020 at 2:55 pm

    Interesting experiment, thanks for posting. It is likely that adjustments made during scanning and post processing could make a big difference. Since I scan my own film I may have to try pushing more often.

    • Reply
      Ivan Studynskyi
      February 17, 2020 at 8:42 pm

      You do B&W or colour film?

      And yeah, I understand that labs could have adjusted scans. That is why I am considering to switch to home scanning. So I could guess some advice. Do you use flatbed?

      • Reply
        February 18, 2020 at 12:11 pm

        I had a hard time getting flatbeds to scan 35mm properly. If I were you I’d buy a second hand Plustek 7200. You don’t need the bells and whistles of the more expensive ones, and the basic version of Silverfast is good enough. One trick is to cut your negs into 5 frame strips, then they load into the carriers much easier I find, especially with curl monsters like tri-x.
        I scan everything as a transperancy (even b&w) to RAW. Only setting I touch is multi exposure, I’ve tested it thoroughly and its worth taking that second pass to get more shadow detail. Whatever you buy though the trick with scanning is to keep is as flat as possibe. Silverfast in neg scanning mode automatically adds all sorts of crap to your negs that you don’t want.. Vuescan isn’t much better. Just take your flat RAW into LR or whatever you want for post.

  • Reply
    February 16, 2020 at 5:58 pm

    Thanks for posting! I’ve got a roll of Gold 200 Pushed to 400 waiting to be developed. I’m interested to see if I have the same thoughts/outcomes as you do.

  • Reply
    February 16, 2020 at 9:00 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to experiment with this film! I have had mixed results with this film, sometimes I love it, sometimes not so much, but I imagine pushing 200 to 400 might be an option that become more popular in the future as 400 speed consumer film becomes more scarce and or more expensive.

  • Reply
    February 17, 2020 at 1:27 pm

    Interesting experiment, Ivan 🙂 I like Kodak Gold too.
    I agree with the previous post that the lab likely has made some adjustments to make the images look good to their eye. I’ve done some similar experiments in the past and noticed that going up or down in exposure by 1 stop doesn’t make that much difference for negative film. The scanning often compensates for it.
    A more systematic experiment could be to capture the same exact scene with different exposure settings, and then see how many stops it takes for colours to start to noticeably change.
    For example you could pick a scene, the determine the normal exposure setting based on what the camera recommends at box speed, then switch to manual mode, and repeat the same shot at -2,-1,+1,+2,…,+5 stops. It could turn out that images between 0 and +4 stops look essentially identical after scanning, with very subtle changes in colors tones and saturation; much of which ends up looking the same after the basic adjustments following the scanning.
    On a normal roll of film you may be able to do several such exposure sets of different types of scenes. So a single roll dedicated to such an experiment could tell quite a bit about the film.
    I find that the scanning often makes more difference than the film stock itself.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    July 23, 2020 at 5:45 pm

    While I haven’t pushed Kodak Gold film, I have pushed Fuji Superia 400 (another widely available, relatively inexpensive consumer film) two stops to 1600 on a few occasions. The results are very much as described in this article, such as enhanced saturation and contrast with more discernible grain. Since I pushed the film 2 stops those results were even further enhanced. I won’t say I really loved the final images and I don’t think I’ll push Superia like that again, but I do like the look of Kodak Gold pushed to 400 as shown here. Nice work!

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