Harman Phoenix 200: An Honest Review

It's always pretty fun when we have a new 35mm film to try out. Here is an honest review from a day shooting in Dublin City Centre, on a Canon AF35M.

Typical Dublin, the weather was gloomy and skies were filled with the most boring of grey clouds, but we shot a full roll on a camera we were testing. (Testing 2 things at once is sometimes not good idea, but hey here we are.)

  • Location: Dublin
  • Camera: Canon AF35M
  • Film: Harman Phoenix 200 35mm 

    Features

    • Medium speed ISO 200
    • High contrast and strong grain
    • C41 processing
    • Available as a DX coded 35mm 36 exposure film

    First Impressions

    I was very excited to get the scans back after trekking around town for hours, finishing this roll. It's a shame to say, spoiler alert, I was quite disappointed. BUT, not with the film itself. My little Canon let me down in a lot of the shots, as the focus on the lens wasn't quite accurate.

    A lot of the pictures didn't turn out how I expected. That said, there were a couple absolute bangers, which gives me an idea of how to use this film effectively.

    I will only examine the pictures that came out well to give this film a fair judgement.

    This picture ended up being the best one from the roll. Due to it being clear, not too grainy and its overall composition.

    It shows a lot of the cool characteristics about this film and its interesting colour palette, with its red cast, which is unique and a nice variation from the more yellow palette that kodak and Fuji lean towards.

    What struck me at first was an imposing characteristic of this film's colour palette, which is its capture of the colour red. Red hues stand out with their high saturation, and contrast against the blues. 

    Personally, I love this feature, as it gives us a new unique film that is weirdly subtle at times but also makes certain colours stand out.

    Pros

    A major pro about this film is, as mentioned before - it's unique colour palette. It is very warm and suits a bright Summer's day - to get the best out of this film.

    Another feature, which I personally like, but I can see why people might not like it, is the heavy grain of the film. Unlike something like Kodak Ektar 100, the grain is quite apparent, which leads to your pictures looking less sharp.

    Another great pro about this film is that is can make the coldest of days feel very warm! I am yet to shoot this roll on a Summer's day, as Ireland is in Winter mode for 300 days of the year.

    Cons

    There are a few potential cons with this film, (that I personally found). One being there was an inconsistency with the colouring of photos. Some photos were more red than others, even ones shot with similar settings in similar conditions. 

     

    I suppose I could mention the next point as a con, but it can be a positive or a negative, depending on your desired results. That being the heaviness of the grain and the sharpness of the picture. Heavy grain isn't for everyone and I understand that, so just take that into consideration before shooting. 

    As you can see from this photo, people's faces are grainy and over saturated. While this film could potentially give cool portrait results, for group shots I will be sticking to Kodak and Fujis colour offerings

    Final-ish Verdict

    My final-ish verdict is, that I like the film, but would I use it as my main film? No, it does give some really interesting results if you know what you are shooting. It wouldn't be an every day film for me and what I like to capture, but I would enjoy shooting a few rolls now and again.

    I am going to continue to use it as much as I can and hopefully I can get better results as I become more familiar with the film (And with a more suitable camera)

    To get the best out of this roll, It will require shooting with various settings, testing what works and what doesn't. My initial findings are that the film needs to be overexposed. The films exposure latitude definitely leans more towards being overexposed than underexposed. I would definitely suggest shooting this film at 100 ISO instead of the recommended 200 ISO, this will help reduce the grain as well as brightening your pictures.

    Some film brings out certain colours better than others and when shooting it's important to play to the strengths of your film, rather than blaming the film for not achieving your desired results, this is especially the case with Harman Phoenix.

    I'm also Hopeful, as this is Harman's first ever batch of this film, and as they get more familiar with creating c41 colour film and refine their techniques they will improve the quality.

    Now that its getting brighter in the evenings I will be shooting another roll of this film, and will post my results soon!

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