We’re roughly 20% of the way through the 21st century as I write this – in 2020 – and we’re still lucky enough to be getting new films coming onto the market.
In relatively recent times, CineStill started modifying motion picture film and putting it in 35mm canisters for us. Kodak brought back the legendary Ektachrome. And Lomography produced the first new colour negative film we’ve had for 5 years.
All of these are fantastic, but sometimes you just want to kick back with an old familiar face. Someone you may have known since your childhood if you’re old enough, or that your parents will have if you’re not.
Someone, or something, like the iconic Kodak Gold 200. As explained in this review, it’s a bit like the best of the 1980s in one roll of film. It’s also cheap. Read on to see how it looks when you shoot some street with it.
A quick rundown on Gold 200
This assertion is based mainly on the fact that it’s been around since the days when families would shoot their holiday photographs on film and Gold 200 was a really common one to use.
Early versions of Ultramax 400 were called Gold 400 right up to 2007 when it took on its current name, while ColorPlus was once Kodacolor Gold too and has only been ColorPlus for somewhere around a decade.
All this means that anyone who ditched film for digital may not be too familiar with these two while having fond memories of the Gold brand. Hence why I’d say it’s Kodak’s best known and indeed most iconic budget colour film.
Whether it’s the most liked, most shot, best seller, or gives the best image quality of the three is another matter entirely though and not something I’ll be addressing here.
How Kodak Gold film became so iconic
One reason Kodak Gold was popular among holidaymakers was the warm feel it gives to its results; especially when compared to some of the budget Fujicolor films that tend to be a little cooler.
You may think that preferring a more yellow tint than a blue one is a matter of personal taste, but think about this. What kind of memories do you want to have of your summer holiday?
When you consider that actual memories fade or become distorted over time, the representations of them in photographs are going to genuinely shape how you remember the time you spent.
I can’t speak for you but I’d rather mine were of a happy time spent somewhere resembling summertime in South California than a dull week in a wintertime South Shields.
Many people felt the same, which helped Kodak Gold become so widely used back in the day. The fact it was cheap and could be found anywhere also contributed, and those are two things that are still true today.
The only difference is you might not want that warm feel if you’re shooting street photography. I concede that in this instance, that really is a matter of personal taste.
Why you might want to shoot Gold 200 on the street
Yes, those last two pictures have out of focus faces in them. That’s not the film’s fault, though. That’s mine as a photographer, for not getting my zone focus quite right.
I hope you can tell from the rest of the shots you’ve already seen in this post that Gold is not a bad film for shooting out on the streets, though. Not everything has to be gloomy, grimy, or gritty.
In fact, I like the feel these have. It reminds me of spring days in Shanghai when the winter is over and the weather is warming up. Although I was living in the city, it’s almost like a holiday memory now that I’ve left.
As an ISO 200 film, you don’t really want to be shooting Kodak Gold on dreary days anyway. You do need some good light, and that can lead to making the film work hard to retain detail in bright and dark spots. Its ability to do so or not depends on how good its dynamic range is.
Some of the shots below show how it managed with more extreme examples of this. I have to say I love how it did in the first one with the light on the ladies’ faces and all the darkness behind.
For the next two, it seems to have been right on the edge of losing detail in those people’s faces, although it did just hold on.
This would appear to be the difference in metering for the face on the first one and metering for the whole scene on the other two. You can see the difference in how dark the shadows are and come to this conclusion too.
The bicycle one was shot in a side street with less light than the main road in front of it, which again the camera has metered for. That’s fine though. You can’t change the direction of the sun and I don’t think it ruins the photograph anyway.
I think the final image came out well enough too, with decent shadows. Overall, I wouldn’t let Gold 200’s reputation as a warm film deter you from using it for some general street snapshots.
These are hardly masterpieces on my part and the film did plenty well enough for what I wanted it to do.
Wrapping up this little post on Gold 200
While we’ve already covered how Gold 200 isn’t a cool film in terms of the look it gives, I get the feeling – again because I haven’t done a survey – that it might not be the coolest film in another sense of the word either.
Based on what gets posted on the kind of platforms where a photograph’s value is decided by likes and upvotes, it seems to me the likes of Portra 400 and CineStill 800T are far more in vogue than good old Gold 200 right now.
I also think that shouldn’t affect what you buy and shoot in any way whatsoever. This is a film that’s stood the test of time. It’s an iconic name in the analogue world for good reason.
Whether it’s suitable for your kind of photography is up to you to decide. If you need more help to do that, you can read this comprehensive review. Or you can just go order some from Amazon, from eBay, or from Analogue Wonderland.
I could well see myself getting some more the next time I have a special occasion or take a trip that I want to preserve some warm memories of. Because it’s absolutely ideal for that. 🙂
- Excellent latent-image keeping characteristics: Excellent consistency & Excellent processing robustness.
- High sharpness and high resolution: Excellent results for general-purpose photography & Great for enlargements.
- Exposure versatility: Designed for exposure by daylight and electronic flash.
If you found that post useful, why not take a look at these others to stay inspired or learn more about the Kodak Gold 200 film I used here:
- My comprehensive review of this Gold 200 film
- Shooting another ISO 200 Kodak film in the streets
- Some colour street shots on Kodak Portra 400
And if you think others will enjoy this post on shooting some Gold 200 in the streets too, help them find it by sharing or pinning. 😀