Movie Review: Adox Color Mission

2022 has been a pretty good year for movie fans with new high-profile color emulsion releases; a being Adox Color Mission which we finally got our hands on here in Tokyo. Since the German photographic supplier released Color Mission in the spring, we had our eyes open but alas it was only found kawauso had some on their booth at the Matsuya Ginza Camera Fair a few weeks ago. So I decided to skip meals for the day and grab a roll 🙁 To hell with the high movie prices and a terrible yen exchange rate, the excitement was palpable and I couldn’t wait to see the results.

background story

Adox is one of the oldest producers of photographic equipment, its history dating back to 1860 when they opened their doors in Frankfurt, Germany. They produced chemicals, film and photographic paper until 1970 when its new owner, chemical giant Dupont, sold its production line machinery to Fotokemika, a film manufacturer based in this which was then Yugoslavia, then dissolved the brand.

In 2003, Fotoimpex resurrected the brand from 6 feet under and has since been producing various photographic materials like paper and focusing on monochrome film. However, this isn’t the first time an Adox has dabbled in color film, having produced its ‘Color implosion‘ which was dropped in 2017.

The film was co-researched and coated for Adox by an unknown naming company which unfortunately went bankrupt shortly after the first airing. Adox has since kept the film in cold storage until its worldwide release in February 2022. Instead of creating a crowdfunding campaign like most others, Adox decided to create Color Mission to generate revenue that Adox plans to use for research and development of new color emulsions. With the product, the company is projecting an all-new color film, hopefully four years from now.

Technical specifications

  • Film Type: Color Printing Film
  • C-41 process
  • Film format: 35mm
  • Speed: ISO 200/24°
  • Duration: 36 exposures

cartridge design

The Adox Color Mission cartridge opts for a dark teal/dark orange/white color scheme which I find appealing and stands out from other cartridge designs. Too bad the print quality isn’t great. The colors and fractal patterns on the label benefit and stand out even more with improved print quality.

I like the slightly chunkier type plastic wrap containers with the bigger lids. For some reason, it’s just more satisfying to open up. The orange cap is also a nice touch and reinforces the brand nicely. I’ve always appreciated careful design choices like these.

Speaking of choice, the decision to forgo the camera DX coding on the cartridge is special because I think it hampers access by excluding those who only have points and shots and can’t not set the ISO manually. The code “512504” (Kodak 200) is placed on Color Mission cartridges to provide the closest film profile most labs will have for processing. It is therefore more of an advantage for the labs than for the photographer.

As with any detective film, it’s customary to peel off the sticker and investigate. Here we see the original Forte SP100 cartridge label. Nowadays, film cartridges are almost impossible to find due to a monopoly. Used Forte canisters are new stock purchased from Forte when they closed in 2007. Adox remanufactured them with their cores, closed them to the press and now fills them with Color Mission. When the current stock runs out, they will have to find a way to make them themselves.

Adox Color Mission Sample Images

The following images were taken at box speed and in a Leica M6 with a mix of MS-Optics Apoqualia 35mm f1.3, Leica Summicron 50mm f2 and Leica Summicron 90mm f2. Developed with Cinestill cs41 and scanned on a Plustek Opticfilm 8200i.

Final Thoughts

From my initial results, Adox Color Mission is a high saturation and high contrast film, definitely leaning to the warm side. You see rich, deep oranges, with a wide range of greens from mint to lush darker shades. The blues are also deep and the yellows give off a warm retro feel.

The press release says “it’s a film of delicately vibrant minty greens, peachy reds, airy grain” which is mostly correct. I don’t know what “airy grain” means, but it seems more pronounced to me than other 200 speeds I’ve tried.

Adox Color Mission also doesn’t seem to have a very high dynamic range. Other 200 speed films such as Kodak Gold 200 have better latitude for overexposure and underexposure, it is almost like slide film in terms of low margin of exposure error. Shadow detail isn’t the greatest, especially in low-light situations.

But in good light, the colors really sing. I dig the color rendering and it reminds me a lot of Agfa Vista, which I loved when it was still available (I have 1 roll left for a special occasion). Forte SP100 being a new brand of Agfa XRG200 has fueled speculation that Color Mission is a derivative of it. The truth? The world may never know…

It might take a little work to reduce the contrast and add a bit more latitude, but I’m looking forward to trying some more and helping create a new emulsion. Let us know your thoughts and experiences with Adox Color Mission below.

MN

About Debra D. Johnson

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