Fujifilm Fujichrome Velvia 50 (RVP50) vs. Kodak Ektachrome 100VS

A brief history of the two films

Fujichrome Velvia (RVP) colour slide film was introduced in 1990. It was the first high contrast, high saturation, E–6 compatible transparency. The film almost immediately became the first choice for landscape and nature photography and remained the king of the hill from then on and well into this century.

The original RVP was discontinued in early 2005 because vital raw materials used in the production of the emulsion became unavailable. Photographers, however, decried this development and, in response to it, Fujifilm's R&D teams developed substitute raw materials and found new manufacturing technologies that have enabled the restart of production of this famous emulsion. In the spring of 2007 Velvia 50 (RVP50) was introduced and, according to Fujifilm, "the characteristics of the new emulsion will mirror that of the previous product". Note that the name of the original Velvia was "Velvia RVP" without the "50" designation; the re–introduced film is called Velvia 50 (RVP50).

Kodak E100VS was introduced in 1999 and is the member of the Ektachrome (colour transparency) family that was designed to deliver vivid and saturated (hence the "VS" designation) colours.

Why the comparison?

As of late 2007 Velvia RVP50 and Kodak E100VS are arguably the primary choices for nature and landscape photographers who are after highly saturated, vivid colours. While some swear by the E100VS, others claim that nothing beats RVP50. At the same time, some (more moderate) photographers suggest that "Velvia is for the spring and the Kodak VS is for the autumn". Whichever the case, seeing how the two emulsions compare against each other should certainly be of interest to serious photographers.

Testing procedures

It has become popular among Internet photo reviewers to disclaim that any tests that they do or reviews that they write are not scientific, or that the reviews are not even reviews at all (as if this gives any immunity against criticism). Along similar lines, I was only interested to see the differences in rendering signatures of the two emulsions. This being said, I conducted the tests as scientifically as I possibly could to make sure that what I see is a reliable basis to draw conclusions.

Each pair of test pictures was taken with the same lens (scene one and two with the Hasselblad CFi 4/50, scene three with the Hasselblad CFi 4/150) without any filters, Hasselblad 503CW camera mounted on a sturdy tripod and a cable release. A roll of RVP50 and a roll of E100VS were loaded in two film backs and every scene was photographed with each of the films within seconds of each other (as fast as I could change backs and adjust shutter speed). The same settings were used for each pair of test shots with the only exception for shutter speed that was adjusted to compensate for ISO difference. Ambient light was stable.

The transparencies were then carefully examined with a 15X loupe on a light table. Each pair of test shots you see below was scanned and adjusted in Photoshop (levels only) as one shot; each of the scans was cropped into two pictures, resized and sharpened (the same amount of sharpening applied to each picture) only after the adjustments were done. The scans below, therefore, preserve relative colour reproduction of the two films. To my eye, they are true to the original transparencies (this will not hold if your monitor is not calibrated).


Let us have a look at some basic specifications first. A comprehensive datasheet for Velvia RVP50 can be found here; datasheet for Kodak E100VS can be found here.


Velvia RVP50

Kodak E100VS





E100VS is faster but slow films come in handy when you need to obtain slower shutter speeds in daylight.

Maximum push/pull

From -1/2 to +1

Not specified

For some reason Kodak do not give specification in their literature. Online reports, however, suggest that 100VS looks rather harsh if pushed more than 1/2 stop (but keep in mind that it is one stop faster than RVP50).

RMS granularity



RMS stands for "Root Mean Square" and is a widely used standard for measuring the degree of grain in photographic film. The lower the RMS number, the smaller the apparent grain. Kodak 100VS is noticeably more grainy.

No exposure correction or colour shift for exposure of up to

1 second; not recommended for exposures of over 64 seconds

10 seconds

Due to the problems related to reciprocity law failure RVP50 is not a good choice for long time exposures. Kodak 100VS is better in this respect (but only marginally—Fujifilm Provia 100F, for example, requires no correction for exposures of up to 128 seconds).


Storage period with almost no change below at 10C and 30-50% humidity: more than 20 years

Not specified

Velvia is excellent; why such an important characteristic is not specified by Kodak?

Technically speaking, none of the emulsions is better on an absolute basis. Some will prefer faster speed and better reciprocity failure characteristics of the E100VS, others will choose RVP50 for its finer grain and better sharpness. Furthermore, I reckon that differences in colour rendition will be far more consequential for most photographers (unless one's particular applications put an enormous emphasis on any of the technical characteristics, that is).


Although I only shot two films and have twelve pairs of pictures to compare, the scenes are quite representative of the types of subjects and lighting that I tend to photograph. Some of the observations are obvious in the scans; others cannot be seen online and you will have to take my word for it. So here is what I see when looking at the slides on my light table.

  • First and foremost, both films boast highly saturated colours that at times border on surrealism. This is great for landscape and nature photography but, of course, is not suitable for, say, portraiture.

  • Although this is not always the case, E100VS tends to show a yellowish cast and RVP50 tends to exhibit a greenish cast. In my opinion the green cast of the RVP50 is not really noticeable unless you make a side–by–side comparison with another emulsion. At the same time, I personally find that the yellow cast of the E100VS is quite objectionable and gives an overall impression of the lack of "snap"; compared to it, RVP50 produces what I would call a more clear–cut statement. This can be clearly seen in the second pair of test photos above.

  • RVP50 appears more saturated in the blue to green spectrum and, moreover, tends to bring these colours out and emphasise them over all other colours. The film, therefore, is ideal for photographing predominantly green scenes, e.g. meadows, forests, etc.

  • E100VS seems more saturated in the yellow to red spectrum and, furthermore, tends to bring these colours out and emphasise them over all other colours. As a result, the film is a good choice for photographing scenes where these colours dominate, e.g. sandstones, cliffs, rocks, etc.

  • It is really interesting to see how the two emulsions behave when green and brown colours are intertwined—they interpret such scenes entirely differently! RVP50 thinks that "the beer glass is half full", it is spring time, and brings out all shades of green; E100VS, on the other hand, believes that "the beer glass is half empty", the season is autumn, and tries its best to bring out any and all shades of red, orange and brown that it can find.

  • The above two points can be clearly seen in the first and the third pair of test photos. How did it look in reality? In my memory, it was somewhere between the rendering of the two films.

  • I seriously dislike what E100VS does to the blue sky. Compared to RVP50, E100VS renders it with a yellowish, washed out staleness.

  • Both films retain shadow detail equally well. RVP50, however, generally tends to tone darker areas down (this, in fact, is one of its unique characteristics that is often mistakenly misinterpreted as incorrect ISO rating) and thus renders shadows in a more solid manner.

  • Velvia 50 holds highlight detail noticeably better.


The two films are very different beasts and, whereas it is possible to observe certain tendencies in their behaviours, juxtaposing the two is a very difficult task. None of them is better on the absolute basis and each has its merits in certain situations. However, a virtually infinite combination of possible subjects, colours and lighting condition that is further complicated by personal preferences makes it impossible to give an advice on when to use which film. Only extensive experience with both emulsions can serve as a sound foundation for choosing between the two in different circumstances.

Personally, I like how E100VS renders brown colours—the film, indeed, is ideal for certain subjects (including autumn colours); however, the way it treats the blue sky as well as the occasional amber cast scare me enough to not use it as my only high saturation film. I will be taking a few rolls of E100VS with me next time I go to, say, The Yellow Mountain, but RVP50 is going to remain my primary weapon.

Related article: Fujifilm Fujichrome Velvia 50 (RVP50) vs. Velvia 100 (RVP100)