In this Fuji Superia 400 review, I will demonstrate how Fuji Superia 400 is one of the most affordable film stocks with a great color rendition and fine grain.
I started using this film as a beginner, so it’s accessible regardless of your experience level. With more practice, I still turned to the Fuji Superia 400 to get unique images and vibrant colors.
I’ll explain how this versatile film can handle daylight and low light while still producing quality images with fine grain.
Introducing Fuji Superia 400
Fujifilm first created photographic and X-ray films in the 1930s. By the 1980s, they manufactured photographic film for consumers. As film photography fell out of style, they merged with Xerox and produced digital cameras. These days, they only manufacture a few types of consumer film.
The History and Evolution of the Fuji Superia 400
Fujifilm first produced Superia film in 1998, when film photography was still pretty standard. It was a line of film prioritizing color reproduction and image sharpness. These rolls use Super Fine-∑ (Sigma) Grain Technology, producing a finer grain and resulting in bright, crisp photos.
A shortage of materials recently impacted their supply. However, you may get lucky enough to find some rolls of Fuji Superia 400. In that case, you’ll see why so many photographers of all skill levels appreciate the simplicity of using this film.
Key Features of Fuji Superia 400
The Fuji Superia 400 is a C-41 color negative 35mm film with a cellulose triacetate film base. The speed is ASA-400 with a latitude of +/- one or two stops.
The Aesthetic Qualities of the Fuji Superia 400
Photo by Jonathan Burley
If you shoot with film, you’re interested in the aesthetic qualities of each roll. While it’s possible to change everything in Photoshop, harnessing the organic aspects of the film can help you create stunning, unique images. Understanding what Fuji Superia 400 offers empowers you to let it play up the beauty of your photos.
Breaking Down the ASA of Fuji Superia 400
The best way to maximize the images from Fuji Superia 400 is to rate it at 200 and meter your camera for the shadows. As with most 400-speed films, it looks best with plenty of light. The correct settings will prevent underexposed pictures.
It’s also possible to set your camera to 800 and develop the film normally, which means the final images are under-exposed by one stop. If you develop the film and push a stop, it’s overdeveloped and will show more detail in your shadows. You’ll get more grain, but it can create a stunning image.
Fuji Superia 400: Grain and Color Reproduction Analysis
Rolls of Fuji Superia 400 have a fine grain that makes pictures look like classic film images. You can see the fine grain in the photo details, but it still provides an edge sharpness that surprised me. Even in low light conditions, the images remained relatively crisp. I noticed more grain in the shadows of pictures taken in low light, but it didn’t interfere with the overall image quality.
If you want the most precise image possible, I recommend at least partly sunny conditions, but it’s hard to take a bad picture with this film.
The color in my images from rolls of Fuji Superia 400 has a warmth that makes the reds, oranges, and yellows stand out strongly. The blue tones seem a little weaker, making photos look like I shot them in overcast conditions even though I didn’t. So while I can’t say the film gives an accurate natural reproduction of the scene, it adds a nice tone to the images.
If you’re taking photos in autumn, I think this film would do a fantastic job of naturally accentuating the foliage. It can also counterbalance the cool tones if you shoot in an environment overpowered by blues.
Beyond the specific color tones, the overall richness of the colors in the Fuji Superia 400 is impressive. Even when I took photos in low light, the colors looked vibrant and bright. However, it seemed like the film produced the best results with natural or bright light conditions.
Fuji Superia 400 in Various Photographic Contexts
While I recommend Fuji Superia 400 for beginner and expert photographers alike, specific photographic contexts play up the strengths of this film. You may want to choose this film for certain photography tasks while using an alternative for others.
Portraits With Fuji Superia 400
Photo by Roman Coropets
When I take portraits with Fuji Superia 400, I notice that paler skin tones have a pink hue. It’s possible to over-expose the film to make the skin brighter and look more natural. As a plus, over-exposure also reduces the contrast of facial shadows, resulting in an engaging portrait.
Landscape Photography Using Fuji Superia 400
Photo by christian L
Landscape photography is where Fuji Superia 400 shines. The vivid colors look rich and natural without oversaturation. When I take photos in partial to full sunlight, I get incredibly crisp images with ideal color balance. It’s only when I’m in low-light situations that I notice the red tint mentioned above.
Fuji Superia 400: A Go-to Film for Street and Documentary Photography
Street photography with Fuji Superia 400 pops because of the bright colors that help you capture specific objects of interest. The fine grain adds just a hint of grit to urban cityscapes, giving the picture personality.
Comparing Fuji Superia 400 To Other Color Films
This Fuji Superia 400 review may inspire you to try the film, but if it’s easier to find other 400 options, you should know how they compare.
Fuji Superia 400 vs. Portra 400: A Head-To-Head Comparison
Fuji Superia 400 and Kodak Portra 400 are relatively similar in terms of stats, with the main difference being that Portra has an acetate film base while Superia has a cellulose triacetate film base. Portra has a finer grain than Superia, resulting in sharper images.
Portra, as you might expect from the name, is ideal for portrait photography. It’s a low-contrast film though you can increase the saturation and contrast with overexposure. The colors aren’t vibrant enough to suit landscape photography or even cityscapes since the images have a pastel tint, but that feature makes portraits look incredibly flattering.
Superia, on the other hand, produces vibrant colors for landscape photography, especially in ideal natural light settings. It’s not as favorable with portraits since it tends to add a pink hue to the skin, requiring some tweaks in Photoshop.
Fuji Superia 400 vs. Agfa Vista 400: A Battle of the 400s
These films are incredibly similar, though Agfa Vista 400 has a daylight balance. That means that you get the best results when taking photos outside in natural sunlight. If you’re working in a studio or with tungsten lighting, you’d want to add a filter. Even then, you might still need to remove the image’s green tint in Photoshop.
Agfa Vista 400 has a finer grain than Fuji Superia 400, along with a wider exposure latitude. You can play with overexposure and still get high-quality images. You can increase the highlights without losing any of the shadow detail in overexposure. Vista also holds up better after the expiration date, while photos from expired Superia are less vibrant and have more visible grain.
Interestingly, Agfa discontinued producing Vista 400 film in 2018. Since then, people have guessed that Fuji actually rebranded the film as Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400. Therefore, you might want to get your hands on a roll of each and do some comparison shots to see if you can prove the rumor true.
Developing and Scanning Fuji Superia 400: Practical Guidelines
As with any film, scanning prints may lead to some color discrepancies. I have an Epson scanner and found that the scans had a heavier magenta cast than the original images. It was easy to balance the colors in Photoshop, but I think the combination of the film having vibrant warm tones made the scan act up more than other documents would.
Developing Fuji Superia 400
With film photography making a comeback, it’s relatively easy to find a drugstore or film lab to develop your rolls of Fuji Superia 400. You can also develop the color film yourself with these tips.
Hopefully, this Fuji Superia 400 review inspired you to mix up your shooting routine with a new film. I think it’s worth a shot—no pun intended—because it creates clear images with impressive saturation. Since it’s one of the most affordable color-negative films left on the market, you can try it out without breaking your budget.
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Fuji Superia 400
Some of the advantages of the Fuji Superia 400 include the following:
- Easy for all skill levels to use
- Fine grain produces sharp images
Some of the disadvantages include:
- Film tends to skew toward warmer tones
- Grain is more obvious in low-light conditions
- Images may look overcast in natural settings