Analog Photography: The Beginner’s Guide to Film Cameras (2024)

We’ll begin with coloration movie, which is available in two flavors, optimistic and damaging.

Positive Film vs. Negative Film

Positive movie data the picture as you noticed it once you pushed the shutter. It produces wealthy, saturated colours and tends to have robust distinction. It’s a lot much less forgiving in my expertise. You must get the publicity proper and there is not a lot you are able to do about it after the actual fact in the event you do not. I are inclined to keep away from high-contrast scenes with optimistic movie (or use graduated neutral-density filters to scale back distinction). Positive movie is normally mounted as slides when you’ve got it professionally developed.

Negative movie data the other of what you noticed. In black and white, all the pieces is reversed, blacks are white, and whites are black in order that once you shine gentle via it to print, the black areas maintain again the sunshine, making them lighter within the print, and light-weight areas let extra gentle via, rendering them darkish within the print. The identical is true of coloration damaging movie, however it tends to look extra like a yellow-orange mess as a damaging. Negative coloration movie usually has a softer look than coloration optimistic, with decrease distinction, and better dynamic vary.

Which must you use? I recommend experimenting to see which you want one of the best. Below are just a few movie suggestions based mostly on the kind of photographs you need to make.

Best Film for Landscapes

Best Overall

Fujifilm Fujichrome Velvia 50

Fujifilm’s Fujichrome Velvia 50 is ridiculously costly at $30 per roll, however I’ve nonetheless but to search out some other color-positive movie that appears pretty much as good as Velvia. Its coloration saturation is famous (tending towards the pink/magenta), and its impartial grey stability means you nearly by no means get bizarre colours in shadows and highlights. The value means I do not shoot it fairly often, however when I’m heading out into the wilderness, that is what I deliver.


Kodak Professional Ektachrome E100 Color Transparency Film

Kodak’s E100 is a brand new movie for me, however I’ve shot just a few rolls now, and I can say that it is vitally completely different from Velvia. There’s not one of the Velvia heat; colours are slightly impartial with a light inexperienced forged to the highlights. If you are trying to shoot landscapes with a unique look than the previous 50 years of Velvia-influenced photographs, that is the movie I’d suggest.

Budget Pick

Kodak Professional Ektar 100 Color Negative Film

This is one other new one for me; I’ve shot solely two rolls of this color-negative movie, however to this point, my overwhelming impression is that that is movie inventory that replicates what you get with a digital digicam. Grain may be very high-quality, and colours are extraordinarily near what my Sony digital sensor data: natural-looking coloration tending towards the cooler facet. I’ll confess I did not prefer it the primary time I noticed the outcomes, however it’s rising on me, and the worth is troublesome to beat.

Best Film for Portraits

Kodak Professional Portra 160 Color Negative Film

Portrait movies must deal with pores and skin tones effectively. My favourite, Fujifilm’s 160 Pro, has been discontinued, which leaves the ever-popular Kodak various. At $14 a roll, that is in all probability one of the best worth in movie, interval. Porta 160 is a superb movie for portraits, rendering pores and skin just about as it’s more often than not. If you want one thing quicker for taking pictures in low gentle, there’s additionally a 400-speed model and even an 800-speed model. I discover that one to have an excessive amount of grain for coloration portraits, but when that is the look you need, it is accessible.

Best Black-and-White Films

There’s a seemingly countless array of black-and-white movies on the market, together with reissued variations of a number of the hottest movies from earlier a long time. This is a really biased listing since “greatest” on this case is solely subjective. Again, experiment to determine which you want.

Best Overall

Kodak Professional Tri-X 400 Black and White Negative Film

Tri-X was launched within the Nineteen Forties and has been in steady manufacturing ever since. It’s gone via just a few modifications through the years, the newest being a reengineering in 2011 that decreased the grain (which is when it acquired the TX designation). A favourite of photographers as numerous as Sebastiao Salgado, Vivian Mayer, and Gary Winogrand, Tri-X is beloved for its versatility, with simply the correct quantity of grain and distinction that give photographs a sure look and texture that nothing else matches. There are wealthy black shadows, nice distinction, and sufficient grain with out being an excessive amount of. Tri-X can also be lifeless easy to course of in the event you do it your self. If I may solely shoot one movie, this might be it.


Ilford HP5 Plus Black and White Negative Film

Another versatile movie, Ilford’s HP5 has a large publicity latitude, that means it will do effectively in combined and troublesome lighting. It has much less general distinction than Tri-X, giving it a smoother look. It additionally pushes very effectively, with out changing into overly grainy like Tri-X tends to once you push it. If you need a good all-around movie with a easy, even tonality, it is a good choose.

Best for Low Light

Kodak Professional T-Max P3200 Black and White Negative Film

Let’s get one thing out of the best way first. Kodak calls this a “multispeed” movie; there is no must shoot it at 3200. I prefer to shoot it at 800 and course of it at 1600. It took me just a few years to understand what I used to be doing there was making my T-Max look extra like Tri-X, however the level is, the T-Max 3200 is extra versatile than the velocity implies. That stated, I have a tendency to achieve for this when taking pictures within the evenings or out at evening.

Developing Film

There was a movie growth lab on each road nook. Or at the very least in these little kiosks in parking tons, however these days are gone. That stated, there are many skilled labs on the market with mail-order companies and fast turnaround instances. Most of them will probably be completely satisfied to scan your negatives as effectively, although this does add to the fee.

There are a whole bunch of excellent labs on the market, and your greatest wager is to go to the pictures retailer nearest you and discuss to them. Building a relationship at your native photograph store will assist you get higher outcomes, as a result of they will know what you want and what you do not and can assist you push and pull and talk with the lab as wanted. That stated, many digicam shops have outsourced their growth to large on-line providers (the shop nearest me sends movie off to Nation’s lab), so be sure you ask the place they’re creating.

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