It's not every day you walk into a photo lab with a small amount of cash and walk out with a lot more than you bargained for. For a mere £20 ($31.75) you can snap up 20 rolls of Fuji Reala 100 35mm 36 exp. That's extreme value for money, £1 ($1.58) per roll; that's something worth shouting about!
On a trip to London with a couple of associates seeking a darkroom equipment supplier or dealer we stumbled upon this gold mine based in a rather urban housing estate in West Croydon called Mr. Cads. I would be highly surprised if this shop hasn’t already made several appearances on this site already as its an actual paradise for analogue photographers/lomographers/film enthusiast. They stock pretty much anything you could think of from; Ensign Leica bellows models to Rolleiflex TLR medium format models and Holga’s to Mamiya M7ii’s. If you cant get what you want there you won’t be able to get it anywhere!
Swiftly moving on with this review, I bought this film (Fuji Reala 100) and 19 others just like it from the shop I listed above and although I have only shot 3 rolls so far I have had nothing but solid great results.
As we all know grey clouds have a silver lining in this case the silver lining has to be the value of the film. I believe Fuji Superia had replaced Fuji Reala in production years ago, (without researching it) with Fuji putting there Superia film’s out as stable reliable films I had great confidence with Fuji Reala.
The initial issue with the film, especially if you aspire to only catch the finest shots with the richest of contrast and boldest of colour tones, the film would be cast aside due to its average expiry date of around 2007. So with your local lab, the LomoLab or with your own C41 development kits at home or college you can expect to have some cold aged washed low contrast shots. I develop all my own film C41, E6, and E1 but here are a couple of examples of shots I developed:
With the Olympus OM10 the automatic shutter speed function aids the shots allowing it to not over expose but the film clearly holds and exposes both well to low and high exposure tones.
Regardless of the slow film rating of 100ISO with a decent lens offering aperture rating of f1.8 (Holga 120N, Diana mini etc average at f1.8) the film also provides good results in dark settings at dusk.
The film also doesn’t fail to enhance the tones that you want to pick up when shooting close up shots.
I would happily recommend this film to anyone looking to get started on analogue photography or those who have been hit by the recession and feel the need to budget as analogue photography is a very expensive yet rewarding hobby.
To those like me who develop their own film using either Nova Speed or Tetenal Colortec C41 development kits to really push the contrast to the fullest: if you ignore the guidlines of your kit and Fix and Bleach the film for maybe 30 seconds longer at a slightly higher temperature than recommended and ignore the stabilizing and dry and scan the film from there it holds colours a lot better. But take note if you wish to retain the negatives (E.g Sister’s wedding photo’s) stabilizing the film is essential to refer back to them in 20 years time.
Overall, it’s a good quality film, great value for money, exposes well in light and low light conditions, offers between 36-38 exposures depending on how much you advance the film before shooting and is a pleasure to develop.