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  • Alex

HARMAN: Phoenix - A new alternative to Kodak?

Harman are back with a colour film for the first time since the 60's (Ilfocolor) and the 90's, when they sold a rebranded Agfa stock. This is seemingly the first time in decades that a colour film has been made in the UK and with such credibility behind them, can they compete with Kodak?


Well, lets see. Starting with an overview, Phoenix is a 200 ISO colour negative film stock and as soon as you take it out of the box you will notice its very yellow base which is indicative of the fact that this is not a conventional colour negative stock like gold/colourplus etc.


However when developed looks like like no colour base currently on the market:


But, instead of over-analysing the colour of a film with a pantone colour chart (its pantone 103c by the way) let's talk about results.


I took a roll, loaded up my Leica M3 (humble brag), and set off to Brighton Beach with the sole aim of putting this film to the test in some rapidly changing lighting.


Lets take a look at the results:

Brighton Pier, Leica M3 | 1/60 f4 | 50mm DR f2 | Harman PHOENIX



Brighton Pier, Leica M3 | 1/125 f4 | 50mm DR f2 | Harman PHOENIX


Left: Original Scan (Underexposed) Middle (Corrected in Noritsu Software) Right: Corrected on Lightroom.


Brighton Pier, Leica M3 | 1/60 f4 | 50mm DR f2 | Harman PHOENIX



Thoughts:


First of all I think it is key to preface this by saying that any company willing to produce a new colour emulsion in 2023 deserves immediate respect and credit.


And although the above alludes to some overly negative review of this film... I kind of love it.


Pros:


It renders colours in a unique way that I don't think has a direct parallel with any existing kodak stock.


Phoenix has an abundance of character and charm, it almost has the look of an Instagram filter whose sole purpose is to emulate a dreamlike spectrum of colour, leaning heavily toward a pinkish hue with really warm tones.


Cons:


It is not a sharp film by any stretch of the imagination. I don't know whether it is something I did or whether the film really does favour a lot of light, but shooting on an F2 Summicron lens revered for how it renders images (https://www.kenrockwell.com/leica/50mm-f2-dr.htm) seemed like a safe bet.


However when we zoom in on the grain it is incredibly chunky and leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to clarity.





In addition to the above, or rather as a result of it, this film does not seem to capture much information in the shadows of an Image.


Conclusion:


Its a new colour film in 2023, that isn't being manufactured by Kodak. That is not so much a statement as it is a selling point.


It is the first in what I sincerely hope are a long line of colour stocks to come from Harman that continue to not only improve, but take shots at the monopoly that holds us all hostage to yearly price hikes (38% average 2023 & 10-15% 2024).


It's also key to mention that this isn't being marketed as a professional filmstock, but rather a relatively stylized colour negative film that is unique on the market and that is something I believe it excels at.


I can't wait to shoot some more.

















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