Santa sent me an exciting early Christmas present in the mail! Neatly packaged in a small recycled cardboard box were five rolls of SantaColor 100 color negative film, each showing St. Nick in his festive red hat snapping a photo.
The birth of this cleverly named film comes from a crowdfunding campaign by the people who operate Finland-based Camera Rescue and KameraStore. Like most 35mm film, this is not a brand-new emulsion, but a creative repurposing of film already manufactured in the USA for air surveillance called Kodak Aerocolor IV. Its fine grain and red sensitivity increase green saturation and haze penetration, making it optimal for aerial mapping.
But how did this film go from aerial surveillance to in your hands? With help from the successful crowdfunding, the good folks at Camera Rescue and KameraStore took this aerial surveillance film and hand-spooled it down to over 15,000 rolls so analog photographers could try this superb color-negative film worldwide with the normal C41 process.
And the best news is that it is still available for purchase today, bringing much happiness to this film photographer here since it’s currently my favorite 35mm film!
Shooting Recs for SantaColor 100
The box speed for SantaColor 100 film is 100 ISO, which is how I shot the rolls in St. Augustine, Florida. Since it’s a color-negative film, I metered for my shadows unless it was super-bright outside or in a well-lit area. For scenes at the beach, I usually overexpose by two stops to maintain proper exposure regardless of the film used.
You can push this film to 800 ISO, but I have yet to try this. At 800 ISO, expect more contrast and nominal color shifts, but it’s supposed to maintain most of the detail.
It’s technically a color-accurate film, but the exposures might be warmer or reddish, depending on the lab scans. Personally, I love warmer tones, so this isn’t an issue for me. I think it all depends on your scan and editing preference.
Oh! Don’t forget that this film is very light-sensitive, so you may not want to load your camera or remove the film in brightly-lit settings. I didn’t read this warning at first and slightly panicked that I ruined the exposures I had already shot. Luckily, all was well. Whew!
Walking Around in the Old City
Knowing that SantaColor 100 film has red sensitivity, it sat in my fridge for a few months while I contemplated locations that I envisioned that would bring out the red punchiness and slightly warmer tones. For some reason, I was having a hard time thinking of my ideal location until we started to talk about St. Augustine one night, completely unrelated to the film.
A little lightbulb went off in my head, and I suddenly had many ideas of how to shoot this film with the Spanish Renaissance architecture in the vibrant city that I know and love. There are many colorful historic buildings in St. Augustine where I knew the colors would just “pop” with SantaColor 100 film. And I am very pleased with the results.
The unexpected bonus was the stunning sunrise we experienced on our first vacation day at St. Johns County Ocean and Fishing Pier on St. Augustine Beach. Rosy and golden hues of daybreak cast light upon the waves and surfers, creating a very warm tone and dreamy look in the images. The film’s fine grain preserves details in the highlights and the shadows while maintaining rich, gorgeous colors.
Final Thoughts on SantaColor 100 Film
The bold, beautiful colors and sharp detail in SantaColor 100 Film are incredible, and I regret not having more rolls in St. Augustine. It definitely leaves me yearning to buy more, and I am glad they have a fresh new batch available this year. Also, next time, I think I’ll try shooting it at ISO 400 and ISO 800 for comparison to ISO 100.
I look forward to shooting more SantaColor 100 color negative film in the future!
If you plan to visit St. Augustine, don’t forget to check out my article How to Spend 3 Days in the Vibrant St. Augustine!