Which film should I get?

Discussion in 'Film Discussion and Q & A' started by Hobbes, Mar 12, 2009.

  1. Hobbes

    Hobbes TPF Noob!

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    Well I bought an used Canon EOS Rebel X-s 35mm film camera last week and I am kinda wondering what film I should get for it. I am totally new to film photography so I don't really know anything about films. I do remember back in the days Kodak and Fuji film were two well known brands. Anyway I usually take landscape/cityscape photos if there are any film out there that are optimized for that. Any information and advice would be very appreciated. :)
     
  2. bhop

    bhop No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Black and white? Color? Day? Night? Handheld at night? Tripod at night?
     
  3. blash

    blash TPF Noob!

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    Do you plan on doing development yourself, or dropping it off at a lab? If you're going to drop it off at a lab, do you need it back in an hour or can you wait a week while they send it out?

    Color or black and white?

    I'm going to throw some names at you, do some Googling:

    E-6 (one kind of color processing)
    Velvia (color positive film, requires E-6) (slide film)
    Ilford (specifically their FP4 and HP5 films) (black-and-white negative film) (print film)
    home black-and-white processing
     
  4. Hobbes

    Hobbes TPF Noob!

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    Ooops! haha I guess I am more of a noob to film photography than I thought :D. Sorry about that. I think I'll try day time and color photos first and b&w later on when I have get used to shooting with a film slr and of course I will send it to a lab and I am sure I am patient enough to wait for a few days. Btw I have heard that ISO speed is very different with films compared to digital slrs. Is that true? and how sensitive should the film be if I shoot in broad day light. Thanks for the replies though :)
     
  5. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If and when you decide to work in b&w, there's a series of articles on this site [under 'Articles of Interest'] which can take you, step by step, through the process -- from exposure to final print.

    At the very least, developing your own film [and bulk-loading] helps to keep the cost down if you find yourself taking many exposures. You incur the cost of a final print only for those negatives you choose to process further [or have printed by an outside lab.]

    And welcome to the world of film. It has its own quite specific pleasures. In particular, I enjoy the [tenuous] link to the great street photographers of the '30s whenever I'm wandering about with one of my old 'Ruskies' -- Kiev, Zorki or Fed. Of course, those greats [Henri Cartier-Bresson et al,] were usually Leica or Contax toters, but it's still a lot of fun.
     
  6. KevinDks

    KevinDks TPF Noob!

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    Going with colour print film first is a good approach - it's almost impossible to mess up. My recommendations are:

    Colour print - personally I'd go for Fuji Superia, which you can get in ISO100, 200, 400, 800 or 1600. It's Fuji's everyday consumer grade print film and it's cheap and good.

    Black & white - I suggest you start with either Ilford XP2 Super, Fuji Neopan 400CN or Kodak BW400CN. All ISO400, all are C41 process just like colour print films and can therefore be processed in a colour minilab, all will give good results - little grain, good exposure latitude (dynamic range in digi-speak).

    Colour slide - maybe not something to try in your first couple of weeks with the camera, but for me there is nothing so exciting as putting a set of slides on the lightbox for the first time. Fuji's consumer slide film is Sensia, and I've used the ISO100, 200 and 400 versions. All are a little more forgiving exposure-wise than professional slide films, but the results are very good.

    ISO figures mean the same whether shooting film or digital, but with film many people use the 'box speed' as a starting point and experiment to get the results they want. If you are processing your own b&w then exposure is one of the factors you have to play with and often people will expose something like an ISO125 film at ISO80 to get more detail in the shadows (Google "expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights"), but with colour negative film and lab processing just set your camera to the manufacturer's recommended speed. The exposure latitude of negative film is so wide that you can get acceptable results from disposable cameras with fixed apertures, so you won't have any problems with your Canon.

    What speed depends on what you mean by 'broad daylight', but ISO400 is probably as much as you will need and I think ISO200 is a good compromise that will often be fine except on very dull days. Think about what ISO setting you would use on your dSLR to get the shutter speed and aperture you want in the kind of light you have in mind and pick a film to match that.

    Kevin
     
  7. elemental

    elemental TPF Noob!

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    For general purpose "my first film" sort of shooting, I would recommend Fuji Superia 400 (decent, cheap, and a versatile speed) for color or Kodak 400CN (because it's the easiest to find of the C-41 black and white films, and they're relatively interchangeable for your purposes anyway) for black and white. If you do buy black and white film, be careful that it's one of the above-mentioned C-41 films, as traditional black and white is something you almost definitely have to develop at home these days. The C-41 films can be developed anywhere that does film devloping. When I started shooting 35mm, I shot a roll of Tri-X and it sat for months until I bought the setup I needed to develop black and white film myself.

    400 is a good general-use speed (at least for my purposes- I shoot my black and white 400 films at anywhere from 100 to 1600), and it should become pretty clear as you work through your first few rolls if you need to jump to a faster or slower film. Ideally you'll have a few on hand for various situations, but for now I think one of those two will get you off on the right foot.
     
  8. Hobbes

    Hobbes TPF Noob!

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    Wow! Thanks so much for the information and advice! I guess I will have to google around for more information because it seems that shooting with a film slr is quite different and there are a lot of things you guys mentioned that I don't quite understand lol. Well I am going to have my photos developed at a lab though because developing photos by myself just seems to be too much for a total newbie like me lol. I actually rarely use ISO 400 while shooting in broad day light (on a nice and sunny day) but I will listen to you guys and buy one of those ISO 400 film as my first roll :D.
     
  9. christopher walrath

    christopher walrath No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    There are innumerable resources available regarding the use of film and film cameras online, not the least of which is the film forums right here at TPF. The best thing to do is to get a film photography for dummies kind of book and your owner's manual. Get out there and burn smoe film. Look at your results and then get back to us with more questions.
     
  10. blash

    blash TPF Noob!

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    You are definitely right, film is a much more involved process than is digital. Digital is take a picture, upload to your computer, print it out, and you're done, maybe you touch things up in Photoshop here and there. Film requires you to make deliberate decisions when a) shooting, b) developing, and c) printing, which is also why a lot of people prefer to develop their own film.

    This is why a lot of people start learning film photography with B&W, since it can be developed at home without a darkroom and offers a lot of latitude in areas that newbies often make mistakes in, namely as you will discover, development times and temperature. Color film processing, on the other hand, requires things to be very precise during the process which is why it's mostly handled by machines (i.e. at a one-hour photo lab), although it can of course be developed by hand with some care. But, if you are content to simply drop it off a lab, which will often produce inferior results to what you could make yourself, then B&W versus color is irrelevant.

    The thing about ISO on digital versus film is that digital often allows much higher ISO speeds, with consumer DSLRs using up to 1600 ISO and professional DSLRs going much higher, up to 6400 ISO. Film, on the other hand, is usually much lower, commonly 100, 125, 160, 200, and 400 film speeds - anything higher, and the grain is often too distracting to be worth taking the photo in the first place (there are some slower ones, 25 and 50 but they are rare). As a result, digital convertees should start with ISO 400 film since it will give them the most flexibility when shooting out in the field - as time goes on, you will want to switch to ISO 100 or 125 film for superior clarity, once you understand how the widest aperture on whatever lens you use will effect the shutter speed that you can use, as well as how the focal length of your lens determines the longest shutter speed that you can use without camera-shake, and thus understand what kind of light you will be able to use ISO 100 or 125 film in while hand-holding without camera shake.

    The best advice you can get, is to go get some very cheap film (Arista Premium 100 goes for under $2 a roll at Freestyle), get out, shoot a LOT, and learn from and interpret the results.

    Good luck :D
     
  11. Hobbes

    Hobbes TPF Noob!

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    Well I am kinda lazy when it comes to post processing that's the main reason why I shoot digital because it's so easy and convenient lol. The main reason why I bought a film camera is that I kinda want to take some real b&w pictures instead of using the in-camera b&w setting on my 40D which kinda makes the pictures look fake and not very uhh old looking, retro. Oh and speaking of very cheap film I saw at the local dollarstore that they sell those 1 dollar ISO 100 films :D I wonder if they are any good at all or shall I just go to a real camera store and buy films there?
    I didn't know that pictuers taken with high ISO films would show grain too :eek:. I'll probably bring my digital camera with me to use it to get the right settings on the film camera :D. Anyway thanks so much everyone for all the advice. It was a lot more than I expected to get ;)
     
  12. flea77

    flea77 TPF Noob!

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    One conception I want to correct is that you HAVE to develop standard B&W film yourself. This is simply not true. I send mine off to North Coast Photographic Service (same place Ken Rockwell uses) and they develop my Ilford FP4+, scan them, and mail it all back to me. The results so far have been outstanding, both in processing and scanning.

    Allan
     

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