NATURA 1600: A Legend We Barely Knew

Fuji Natura 1600

My first encounter with Fuji Natura was through complaining that I can barely use my film cameras at night, which leaves me with no choice but to my digital camera. A guardian angel then insisted that I give Fuji Natura 1600 a go, and gave me a roll for free because that’s how much he believed in it. Who am I to refuse a freebie? 

This elusive film in fact, single-handedly changed my attitude towards shooting street at night. It’s to many film junkies, a secret weapon. But before I drown you with my love for this gem, let’s talk about its origins and specifications first.

Fuji Natura 1600 (or word has it, also Superia 1600) is a 35mm color negative film that was exclusively made in Japan. It’s the highest rated colored ISO film in the market today. Clocking in at 1600 ASA, it gives you the sweet freedom to shoot without flash in low light scenarios, as well as in night markets/concerts without hitch.

Natura’s closest competitors are Cinestill 800 and most probably, Lomo CN800. But here’s where it really shines above them: for its high ISO grade it has low pleasing grain structure, the ability to render skin tones quite beautifully, and an insane exposure latitude. While Natura has been known to perform quite well between 600-1600 (some have vouched for up to 3200), I have not shot Natura above/below its box speed (especially with how rare this film has become).

There is an article detailing Natura’s wide exposure latitude from ISO50-1600.

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I cannot stress how incredible this film is when it performs in its element. I’ve mostly shot Natura at night at box speed so I asked for help in the community to show you how the film performs at daytime. As you can see, it is equally impressive as well. The general advice I received was to shoot Natura at ISO 600 or 800 in the daytime.

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Unfortunately, your elation is about to get some bad news. The reason why I felt the desperate need to write about Fuji Natura was the news that it has been permanently discontinued. Quite depressing because it’s just beginning to get the buzz it needs. As the stocks are dwindling, this film will get really expensive. (Anyone familiar with Neopan 1600? You know how those are priced/prized today.)

I’m personally clutching 3 bricks at home. Most film shooters I know are at the hoarding stages, so it is still available to buy in the market. While Fuji Natura is priced at a premium (hay, NATURA-ly) I promise you, the investment is worth it.

As I did not delve too much on its technical characteristics, this video by David Hancock is the most comprehensive I’ve seen.

Please give Ms. Chi a follow on Instagram, she’s an amazing Japanese photographer whose gotten photographing with expired film down to a science.

Also follow Ms. kimmiechem2, whose adventures with various cameras and films will open your aesthetic to a different level.

Original text by Ms. Aislinn Chuahiock.

The Film Traveler

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