Fuji have been trimming the number of film stocks they produce for a good few years now, and it’s always a shame when another one falls by the wayside. But for reasons we’ll explore in this review, losing this Fujicolor Natura 1600 was a bigger shame than most.
A large part of why people wish it was still made is that it was just really good. Nobody would miss it if it weren’t. Another part is probably because it was a genuine they don’t make ’em like that anymore kind of film.
I’m not sure anyone really laments the passing of Industrial 400 when there are other ISO 400 colour films to shoot instead. But when this one and its Superia-branded sibling went, so too did your last chance to buy new ISO 1600 colour film.
Read on to see exactly how good it was and what you could do with it in this full Fujicolor Natura 1600 review. If it makes you want to buy a roll today though, I’ve got bad news. You’ll probably only find it at hugely inflated prices on eBay.
What is Fujicolor Natura 1600?
In or somewhere around 1998, Fuji introduced its new Superia line of films to replace its Super G Plus range. Both sets featured films of various speeds, with Superia being available from ISO 100 all the way up to ISO 1600.
As well as the options for different speeds, the Superia range also included a few additional names. Some of which you might recognise if your memory is good enough, like Superia Reala 100 or Superia X-tra 800.
A few of the Superia range also had different names depending on where they were being sold. The X-tra 800 sold in most of the world was packaged as Superia Venus 800 in Japan, while Superia 1600 was known there as… Natura 1600.
This name was linked to a point and shoot camera the company produced and sold in Japan from 2001 to 2006 called the Fujifilm Natura S, with further versions appearing in later years too. You can find them all on eBay of course, but they don’t come cheap.
The Natura cameras had a special NP – or Natural Shooting – mode. This worked by disabling the flash and setting the exposure compensation to +2 when ISO 800 and / or ISO 1600 film was loaded, depending on the model.
This allowed the camera to use the ambient light of indoor or night scenes for its main light source while ensuring the rest of the shot was bright enough too.
Working with no flash but ensuring the dark areas weren’t underexposed gave the shots taken using NP a natural look. Hence the name of the shooting mode, the camera, and of course the film.
Although the names matched up, you could use any film in your Natura camera. Likewise, any other 35mm camera you have could be loaded with Natura film 1600 too. Which was good because it was a very nice film.
Unfortunately, I have to write that in past tense as it got discontinued in 2017. And the version known as Superia 1600 sold outside of Japan actually went before that, in 2016.
The whole Superia range has steadily been chipped away at since the ISO 100 version was the first to go sometime around 2009. Put like that, I suppose Natura / Superia 1600 did well to hang on as long as they did.
In all honestly, the demand for a high-speed colour film in the 2010s must have been minuscule in the grand scheme of things. The fact that Kodak weren’t bothering to make one of their own says something, and you can’t blame Fujifilm for not wanting to keep the machines running to produce it.
At the time of writing, the Fujifilm Superia range now consists of Superia X-tra 400 and Superia Premium 400. Which isn’t the most diverse set, in my opinion.
So to recap the original question after all that. A tl;dr, if you like. What is Fujicolor Natura 1600?
It’s the discontinued Japanese market version of the also discontinued Superia 1600, which was part of the now nearly all discontinued Superia range, given a different name as a tie-in with the Japan-only Fujifilm Natura cameras of the early-to-mid 2000s.
Fujicolor Natura 1600 image qualities
Even when not being used in a Natura camera using the NP shooting mode, Fujicolor Natura 1600 promised high-quality and natural-looking images.
More specifically, straight from their datasheet, were claims like highly uniform grain thanks to the newly developed Nano-structured Σ (Sigma) Grain Technology, vibrant and dynamic reds, blues and yellows, violets and greens with enhanced fidelity, and extremely sharp depiction of all aspects of the subject.
Wide exposure latitude also allowed great results outdoors under clear skies, providing good image depth and high fidelity even if underexposed. Which is very helpful indeed for an ISO 1600 film.
Like all of the original Superia films, Natura featured a 4th cyan colour layer that was designed to provide improved colour reproduction under fluorescent lighting – again helping with the natural theme we have going on here.
Having shot my roll in a variety of lighting conditions, I can agree with pretty much all of the above. The overall colours are muted when compared to something cheap and cheerful like Kodak Gold, but that all ties in with the name and theme again.
The sharpness is very good too, and the high ISO rating lets you maintain that even in low light and shooting handheld. Just find a strong enough artificial light source to illuminate the parts of the scene you need and you’ll be fine.
The most impressive thing for me though just might be the grain you get considering this is an ISO 1600 film. There’s definitely a link between better light equalling less grain and more sharpness in the low light shots, but get that right and the results are fantastic.
When shooting in daylight, the grain is no worse than some far lower ISO films I’ve shot, and that claim of colours still looking natural under fluorescent light was proven with the shots I got at the indoor market.
Street photography with Fujicolor Natura 1600
With most of the films I’ve shot and reviewed so far, and actually with most of those I haven’t yet either, you’re not going to find the inherent versatility in one single roll that you get with Natura 1600.
You could probably shoot an ISO 800 film during the day and at night with no flash, but there aren’t that many of those around.
I might one day try shooting handheld at night with an ISO 400 film but the lens would have to be wider open than normal. An ISO 200 or ISO 100 though, forget about it.
And that’s one thing that made this Natura 1600 such a good street photography film. The fact that I could shoot it under good sunlight, take it indoors, and then outside at night and get good results in every case.
You will need a camera with a fast enough shutter speed to handle the daylight, though. I don’t know exactly what my shutter speeds were as I shoot in aperture priority mode, but I did use a Nikon FM3a that can go to 1/4000.
Add to that its image qualities as mentioned earlier, with those nice colours and lifelike skin tones, and you have what was once a very good street photography film.
The only reason it isn’t one now is that it got discontinued and if you do manage to find some, it’ll be that expensive that you might be too worried about wasting frames to really enjoy taking it out to shoot.
Fujicolor Natura 1600 specs and development
Fujicolor Natura 1600 is – or was – a daylight balanced, high-speed colour negative film produced by the Japanese manufacturer from around 1998 to 2017. It was only available in 35mm format in DX-coded cartridges, with the DX number 006344.
It incorporated a 4th cyan colour layer for improved colour reproduction under fluorescent lights as well as Nano-structured Σ (Sigma) Grain Technology – aka crystals 60% thinner yet more uniform in size – to achieve sharp and smooth image quality.
Thanks to its ultrahigh speed, Natura 1600 was suitable for low-light environments like indoor home scenes, weddings, parties, stage performances, sunset and night scenes, as well as fast action, sports scenes, night-sky photography, and press work.
Known as Superia 1600 everywhere outside of Japan, it was the fastest colour negative film available until its discontinuation.
If you get hold of any and shoot it today, it can be developed using the standard C-41 method, which Fuji themselves call CN-16. The datasheet you’ll need is right here.
Where to buy Fujicolor Natura 1600
As a film that’s been out of production for a few years now, Fujicolor Natura is unfortunately not easy to track down. Not for a reasonable price, anyway.
You probably stand a better chance of finding some old stash in a shop if you’re in Asia than anywhere in the western world, but that’s clearly not practical buying advice for a lot of people. If you’re limited to online hunting, your best option for quantity is eBay.
The problem is the amount people on there list it for. Alternatively, you could try eBay for some Superia 1600. Again though, expect to be met with a silly asking price or very limited stock now.
You can check current prices and availability through the links below if you want, though.
Final thoughts on Fujicolor Natura 1600
I usually end these film reviews with a general message that I liked the results I got from the stock I’m writing about and that if you haven’t tried it for yourself yet, I recommend you do.
That’s never an empty sentiment either. I’ve felt that way about the vast majority of them. I can think of Ilford Pan 400 – another film made only for selected markets – that I didn’t like quite so much, but not really any others.
It’s not something I can say about Natura 1600, though. And not because it’s not a good film, because it really was. And it’s a real, real shame that it’s now gone.
The reason I can’t recommend you get some is because supply and demand now means that, unless you got lucky and found a forgotten lot somewhere, you’d have to pay a king’s ransom to get it.
I feel lucky that I didn’t have to. Around the time it was being discontinued, my friend Dmitri from Analog Cafe advised me to buy some before stocks ran dry. I did, but I only got around to shooting it when another friend Joshua lent me his Nikon FM3a and I could do so at box speed.
In hindsight, I wish I’d have bought more than one roll. If only for the good karma I could have gained by selling some on at a fair price once it became scarce.
If you have any yourself in your fridge now and are looking to sell, perhaps consider whether that’s more important in the long run than the extra cash you could bring in with it.
If you don’t have any and are unprepared to pay what it’d take to get some, I don’t blame you at all for that. It’s a shame you missed the boat, and it’s a shame all round that we don’t have an ISO 1600 colour film now Natura / Superia is gone.
More recent news has revealed the two remaining Fuji Superia stocks – Superia X-tra 400 and Superia Premium 400 – might not be long for this world either. I should probably pick some of those up while I still can.
You could too. Or any of the other films we do still have. For high-speed colour films, there’s Kodak Portra 800, Lomography 800, and CineStill 800T.
All of these are still being made and are available at a fair price. By that I mean the price set by the manufacturer. Film costs may be rising overall, but we’re not at the mercy of eBay resellers across the board just yet.
But the bottom line for Natura 1600 for me is this. I’m glad I got to shoot a roll. If it was still here I’d shoot it again. But it isn’t, so I’m not going to look back. Not when there are so many others I still have to try for the first time. 🙂
If you found this Fujicolor Natura 1600 review useful, why not take a look at these other fantastic films too:
- A review of another Japanese market Fujicolor film
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