One thing I’ve learnt while shooting all these films is that their cost doesn’t necessarily translate to how good they were in my opinion. In its own way, I was just as fond of the cheap Fujicolor C200 as I was the more expensive Kodak Portra 400.
With both of those though, you are at least still paying the normal amount. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with this Fuji Natura 1600, which was also sold as Superia 1600 in western markets.
Thanks to it being discontinued and some people massively jacking up the prices of their remaining stocks on eBay, it’s surely currently – that is, in 2020 – one of the world’s most expensive 35mm films.
Luckily for me, I bought a roll when it was still plentiful and sold at its normal price. It just took me a while to get around to shooting it, for reasons I’ll explain in the next section.
Once I did though, I was pretty pleased with the results. I split the 36 exposures between daylight, indoor shots, and nighttime ones, and it’s the first two of those that I’ll show you here. Starting with this one.
Why I bought this film and why I had to wait to shoot it
I remember, when I was still getting started in film photography, I’d go into the shop in Shanghai where I bought my film and have no idea what any of it was or why I should buy any one over any other.
I also remember speaking to Dmitri from Analog Cafe who advised me to pick up a roll of Natura 1600 if they had some while I still could. It was around the time Fuji ceased production of it and supplies were only going to dry up.
So I did. I bought a roll. And then because my Yashica Electro can only shoot at a maximum ISO of 1000, I couldn’t shoot it at box speed, which I really wanted to do. If this was to be the only roll of Natura I ever shoot, I wanted to it to be at the speed it was designed for.
Not that getting it shot was too pressing a concern, though. There were still countless other films I could get through while I waited for a solution to come up. Because if you wait long enough, something always comes up. And if it doesn’t, you just need to wait a bit longer.
A couple of years later, I agreed to help a friend called Josh with a double exposure photography project. This meant I got to use his Nikon FM3a for a few weeks. And this meant I finally had a camera that I could shoot the Natura at ISO 1600 with.
So, along with a roll each of Kodak T-Max 3200 and Ilford Delta 3200, that’s exactly what I did.
Was shooting this Natura worth the wait?
The obvious question to ask here then would be was it worth the wait to shoot this roll of Natura. The quick and simple answer for me would be yes. To be able to use a camera that could get more out of it, yes it was.
As the name suggests, Natura promised a lifelike look in low light or daylight. Prime colours – your reds, blues, greens and yellows – could be vibrant but skin tones and the overall feel of your results shouldn’t be over the top in any way. I found all this to be true.
The grain would be relatively fine for an ISO 1600 film too, and you could shoot it in any reasonable lighting conditions given the right camera.
That’s where the Nikon FM3a came in very handy indeed. As well as allowing me to shoot this film at box speed, it also has a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 of a second. This meant I could get these shots out in daylight as well as indoors and at night.
I published the last of those in a separate post. It’s enough for this one to show the daylight and indoor ones and reiterate that yes, this was worth the wait for me to have the right camera to shoot it with rather than doing it sooner and having inferior results.
Shooting Fujicolor Natura indoors
Those last four photographs were a bit more repeat-y than I like to publish on here, but this is probably my only roll of Natura so I’m getting as much out of it as I can.
The last two are also the entrance to a market that I used to test out the indoor shots with this film.
For a lot of the stocks I’ve shot before that are ISO 100, 200 and perhaps even 400, it’d be difficult to get these wider shots indoors without having some camera shake. The shutter speed would just have been too slow.
The close-up shots with shallow depth of field could have been possible though, especially with an ISO 400 film, as you need to open up the aperture to get them which lets more light in anyway.
So that’s another plus for this film. It’s also another plus for the FM3a that it can shoot an ISO 1600 film with a wide aperture and have high enough shutter speed to not overexpose your photographs.
This was definitely a case of shooting a good film in a good camera. Fuji Natura and the highly-regarded Nikon SLR made a very good combination.
Maybe the composition of the shots aren’t fantastic, but that’s me. The actual tools were great.
Is this very expensive 35mm film worth its current price?
We’ve already established that it was worth the wait to shoot the roll of Natura that I had, but another question is whether it’s worth spending the money needed now to get hold of some of the ever-dwindling stock.
I’ve got another quick and simple answer for that too. And that is a big fat no. No, it isn’t.
In truth, it was never a cheap film. Depending on where you are, you could probably buy it as Superia 1600 for a more normal price, as the rolls marketed as Natura were for the Japanese market.
That means getting them outside of Asia would need more import/export costs to be covered, which makes sense. What doesn’t make sense to me though is paying the current prices it’s listed at on eBay.
Not because of what the film is, you understand, but because it is just a film. I don’t think any film is worth what some of the these people are asking for it right now.
It’s nice to see that some of the more ridiculously priced listings end without selling, but there do seem to be some folk who will pay over the odds to get hold of some of the last of the Natura.
Not something I would do, but it’s their money. Live and let live. I hope they enjoy shooting it and I hope they enjoy the results they get. Because I certainly did from my regularly priced one. 🙂
If you found that post useful, why not take a look at these others to learn more about this film or stay inspired with more film photography:
- My comprehensive review of this Natura 1600 film
- Shooting the rest of this Natura in low light
- Some colour street shots on Kodak Portra 400
And if you think others will enjoy this post on shooting some Fujicolor Natura 1600 in the streets too, help them find it by sharing or pinning. 😀