While it’s true that film’s not dead, it’s an unfortunate fact that some films are.
Agfa Vista Plus 200, perennial favourite of many a budget-conscious shooter, is one of them, discontinued as it was in 2018.
When you dig into who produces it, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. But that doesn’t make it any less of a shame. What it did make it was an item on my to-do list. To shoot some before it disappears forever.
Now it’s on my done list, I can tell you what I thought of it, along with the real world results it gave me from the Yashica Electro 35. I can also give some thoughts on its demise and current availability (in late 2018).
But first, for the uninitiated, some background information on what Agfa Vista Plus 200 actually is.
What is Agfa Vista Plus 200?
If there’s one thing I’ve read consistently about Agfa Vista Plus 200, it’s that it was for a long time available in shops like Poundland in the UK.
Being sold alongside 5-packs of cigarette lighters and 8-packs of Kit Kats in a place where everything is priced at £1 gives you some clue to what we’re dealing with here. It’s not a rival to Ektachrome.
What it is, is a budget colour negative film that’s not even made by Agfa. It’s a repackaged Fujifilm stock, produced for and distributed by Lupus Imaging & Media.
It being made by Fujifilm explains why it got killed off, as the company announced in 2017 they’d be discontinuing most of their C-41 colour film lines.
A quick check on this very helpful website, which identifies your film based on its DX code, tells you this AgfaPhoto film is likely Fujicolor 200. This has been the case since around 2013.
For the eight years previous to that, the film packaged as Agfa Vista 200 – without the Plus – was made by the Italian company Ferrania. Prior to 2005, when life was much simpler, it actually was made by Agfa-Gevaert. Imagine that.
Nowadays, the only real Agfa film – made by Agfa and branded as such – is produced for B2B aerial photography use. It is available at a consumer level, but under the Rollei label, just to muddy the waters even more.
Agfa Vista Plus 200 image qualities
As a budget offering, the results you get from this Fuji-made Agfa 200 film were always absolutely fine, at worst. A lot of people even thought they went over and above what you’d expect for the price.
Common observations tend to point out good sharpness and detail in mid-tones and shadows, although highlights are prone to being a touch blown out. The grain is there but not overbearing in any way; especially when you consider you’re shooting, you know, film.
It doesn’t have the warm yellow hue that ColorPlus does, nor quite so much the exaggerated greens and reds of the Industrial 100.
Hence, more neutral and natural looking images, albeit still with bold colours and punchy contrast.
Street photography with Agfa Vista Plus 200
Agfa Vista Plus 200 shares one attribute with the aforementioned Kodak Colorplus if you’re using it for street photography, and a couple of differences. Unfortunately, one of those differences means I probably won’t shoot another roll of it before it’s gone for good.
As with the ColorPlus, the ISO 200 rating gives you more speed than ISO 100 stocks. This can be crucial to not having a roll full of blurred shots when out on the street in less than optimal light.
You could go for an ISO 400 colour negative film, but then you’d be paying more and getting away from the advantage ColorPlus has and Agfa had, which was their low price.
Agfa Vista used to be a good alternative if you didn’t want the sunny hues of Colorplus, which not everyone would. When it was a budget film, you could choose based on the look you wanted. While that low cost used to be a shared attribute though, it’s now another difference.
You see, as Agfa Vista stocks dry up – Analogue Wonderland are often sold out, for example – so the prices on Amazon and eBay rise up. It is what it is, unfortunately, and it means shooting street photography with Agfa Vista isn’t something I see myself doing much, if any, more of.
Unless you have a film shop near you with a reasonably-priced supply, I don’t think the cost is worth it. Not for me anyway, when I can spend the money trying out different and higher-quality film instead.
At the time of writing, there actually is a shop near me that still sells it at the price they always did, but at that price I preferred the results I got with the ColorPlus anyway. The ones here are from the Agfa.
Agfa Vista Plus 200 specs and development
AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200, to give it its full name, is (or was) a DX-coded colour negative film that was produced in both 24 and 36 exposure rolls.
As mentioned, it’s been manufactured by a number of different companies in its lifetime and in a number of locations. Older rolls made by Ferrania were called Agfa Vista 200, without the Plus, with Made in EU stated on the box. The one I shot was Fuji-made, being Plus and labelled Made in Japan.
It’s developed using the regular C-41 process. Unlike some other films I’ve reviewed, the data sheet was easy to find online. You can go to it right here.
As I don’t develop my own film and there’s nothing out of the ordinary about processing this stock, that’s all I really have to say for this section.
Final thoughts on Agfa Vista Plus 200
Agfa Vista Plus 200 getting discontinued was a real shame, although possibly not unexpected seeing as Fujifilm were the people making it.
The move may not have affected me directly as I preferred the shots I got with Kodak ColorPlus, so I may have just stuck with that in future anyway. I will say, though – admit, even – that I haven’t been shooting film long enough to build any kind of attachment to Agfa Vista.
But none of that is the point. That’s just me, and a lot of other people will prefer and will have formed an attachment to it.
Regardless of either view, it was just better when there were more options available to everyone. One less budget film on the market is not a good thing for the present and could be a sign of things to come in the future. What if someone else decides to follow Fuji out of the film door?
So while it may not have affected me directly, it has others. If that’s you, I’m sorry for your loss. It may indirectly get me one day too.
You might be thinking the thing to do is to stock up while you still can. That would be the plan so long as you can find some for a reasonable cost. As mentioned, at the time of writing, a film shop near me still has a decent amount left and are selling them at the price they always have.
If you’re not so lucky and have to order online, you might well have to pay a premium. Again, places like Analogue Wonderland seem to struggle to stock it, while marketplaces where anyone can sell stuff – like Amazon and eBay – have people listing rolls at jacked up prices.
In some cases, the £1 film has become a £10+ film. In other cases, around the price of four rolls of other budget films:
You can be angry at those sellers or not. It’s a capitalist world and supply ‘n’ demand is a real thing. I’ll say this, though: I wouldn’t be mad if the demand wasn’t as high as the supply they’ve hoarded.
I also see no point looking back from here. Agfa Vista Plus 200 is gone and, unless it’s going to find salvation in the form of becoming yet another repackaged film, there’s not a great deal we can do about that.
Whether you buy some at an inflated price, once that becomes the only option, is up to you. I’m not, though. Nor am I going to complain about it. Not when there’s a whole load of other films out there sold at fair prices that I haven’t yet shot.
Some are from new players who need our support while others are from established companies who aren’t abandoning the market but might do without our support.
A budget king is dead. Long live the new kings and the old ones who are still making the effort to continue, IMO.
… p.s. if you’ve shot Agfa Vista Plus 200 yourself and have anything to add to this, let us know in the comments below
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