Fortunately, there are, at the moment, a number of expired film stocks still found today, under 15 years old, that can still produce good results. While these films may not be readily available, or even consistent from roll to roll, they can at least make for a fun new shooting exercise to throw into a trusted camera to see what you get.
One such film is Kodak Supra 100, an emulsion that appears to have shown up on the market around 2000, just as the world of digital photography was about to take off. The introduction of a slower 100 speed film during an era when compact point and shoot cameras (that tended to need faster speed films) had gained so much traction in the market is an interesting and refreshing thing to note. I'd presume that this film was marketed towards serious amateurs using SLR cameras or similar equipment.
Information on Supra's selling points today can be a tad scant given that many web pages contemporary with the period the film was sold, have since vanished into cyberspace. It seems that this film's main strengths were a vivid color and fine grain in comparison to the Kodak Gold and Royal Gold products at the time. Supra was discontinued in all speeds around 2003, and remaining stocks of the film appear sporadically on eBay and other sales outlets, often in quantities of 5 rolls or less.
I happened to snap up a small lot of expired film from an ebay auction that included one roll of Supra, and was curious to see what this film could do, though the most recent examples of the film I could find on the web were a bit too "Lomo" for my tastes. I elected to set out close to home with this film loaded in my Exakta VX, swapping from the Domiplan 2.8 to the Primotar 3.5 lens, and then finishing the roll in the Minolta A5 in order to see what sort of color the latter camera might provide.
At the onset of the roll, the Supra provides a look that certainly doesn't look like a roll of film that was likely 15 years old, offering up bright colors that embody the vivid morning on which I rambled about. Grain increase is evident in the sky, but is by no means distracting.
Supra handled contrast well, offering a natural yet vibrant rendition that still showed adequate shadow detail.
One of the advantages of the Exakta's waist level finder is not having to pull a muscle to get a low shot like this. Contrast is a bit low, but the Domiplan offers up some bubbly bokeh.
Shot at a near wide open aperture, this image still gives off a good color with particularly true to life green tones.
Another shallow depth of field shot doesn't offer the same bokeh as my lower perspective shot from above, but does show the vivid color strengths present, even on this old film stock.
With a somewhat backlit scene, the Supra's colors are still quite nice. The blue sky rendering tends to be a bit more flat however.
Another try at a shallow depth of field shot shows off a nice result on what is typically an overlooked lens in the Domiplan, as well as the rich green tones this film can provide, even under overcast.
The film's rendition wasn't always consistent however. as the yellow hues here tend to suggest.
Skin tones in the shots above and below aren't very flattering, with a greenish cast evident. This seems a film more suited to landscape work.
A mid-afternoon shower provided me a quick chance to see how this film performed in such conditions, and it responded with a similar cool green cast.
I switched to the Primotar for the last few images, and found results to be acceptable, but not particularly stirring.
The Primotar however, had the disadvantage of having all of its shots taken under overcast. STill, the tones here are particularly lush and pleasant.
Again, a cool, but not distracting, tone embellishes the images taken on Supra 100.
My last shot on the Exakta was this one, proving that even with a slow f/3.5 lens and a vivid waist level finder, it can be tricky to get the shallow depth of field effect desired. The image lacks any true focus, but the color rendition is quite lovely.
After switching to the A5 for the last few shots, I didn't get a lot of sun with which to shoot. Still, the Supra delivered some decent results in light that it was not really optimal for, even when it was new stock.
When given a modest amount of sun, the Supra tended to have a bit more of the green cast that made it work well under overcast, but in this case, it gives off a soft muted portrayal.
But with the sun at my back in softer light, the muted look was actually pretty favorable.
A pair of close focus shots under overcast have a nice balance, and the fine grain works well in spotlighting the sharpness of A5.
A wide open shot doesn't quite nail focus, but still gives off a lush result.
Closing out with this one, the sky takes on a hazy hue that is a bit unappealing, with an excess of pale yellow in the green tones.
Supra, in my view, provided impressive, but not stellar results. The grain structure was quite good, and the colors could render nicely. Generally, the film has aged well, but was still prone to some shifts and casts, particularly under light to moderate overcast.
Looking through the results of this roll, it seems as if Kodak was aiming to compete with Fuji's Reala with their Supra film. Having tried both films, I can find things to like in both, but am certainly partial to the Fuji product. I wouldn't actively seek out a stash of Supra in the future, but if it came my way in a mixed lot, I would certainly shoot it without hesitation, provided that I was shooting landscape images and the lighting was favorable.