Here at The Camera Store, we really like film. Many of our customers do too. In fact, in 2021 we kept selling out of many types. It’s not an exhaustive list, but here are some of the staff favourites and our most popular 35mm stocks, along with a few left-field options.
Reliable, high quality, and suitable for professional work, ranging from studio to photojournalism or other demanding situations our heavy hitters are the best at what they do.
Kodak Portra – A legendary film stock, available in 160 or 400s speed, handles overexposure like a champ and plays well with different light sources. The grain structure is formulated to scan well. So it suits a hybrid workflow. Portra is the most versatile colour stock for the demanding pro shooter.
Kodak Portra 800 – A slightly different formula than 160 or 400, delivers punchy images in low light. The grain is more present, suitable for tripods at night, or if you’re shooting from morning till night.
Kodak Ektar 100 – This modern film stock isn’t quite as popular as Portra, but it deserves praise nonetheless, a deeply saturated almost grainless film, it’s a landscape photographer’s best friend. The 100 speed is slow, so if shooting at night is your thing, this might be a pass. Shooting in daylight, the colours will come out almost chrome-like.
Fujifilm Acros II – Acros reintroduced after public demand for the original rose after discontinuation is a highly technical black and white film. Incredible exp latitude and low reciprocity failure, when used to the fullest makes for a versatile film. Can be pushed to much higher speeds while still retaining detail.
ILFORD HP5+ – HP5 is a workhorse, it’s the choice of teachers around the world due to its availability, relatively low cost, and wide exposure latitude. HP5 pushed to 3200 iso can still produce a usable image. You can trace the lineage of Ilford’s HP5+ back to 1931, it’s been a standard in the photographic industry for a long time, and for good reason. It’s a cubic grain film, which means it can come out with high contrast and “chunky”. Great classic look.
ILFORD Delta – Ilford’s tabular grain film is available in 3 speeds, 100, 400, and 3200. Delta holds detail incredibly well, its grain in 100 is smooth and incredibly fine. Going up to 3200 the grain is noticeably larger and has a pleasing look when shot for concerts, nightlife, or other low light situations. Delta 3200 shares the title of the fastest black and white film with Kodak’s T-Max 3200, whose characteristics are similar.
Overall a consumer-grade film won’t have the latitude of its higher-end siblings, and likely hasn’t been cold stored, leaving them best shot at box speed unless you’re confident in your processing. While not as distinct as some of the films listed above, these stocks can still deliver amazing results and cost less than most of the films listed above.
KODAK Ultramax 400 – Bold colours trade-off with high grain, still readily available in single or three packs. A perfect film to throw into a point-and-shoot for a vacation day or indoors with flash.
Kodak Gold 200 – Kodak Gold hasn’t changed much since 1997, it shares some characteristics with Portra 160, delivering lower saturation than Ultramax, but with less grain. It won’t handle overexposure quite as well, but its slow speed makes for a great sunny day of shooting.
Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400 – Much like Gold, Superia is a standard 400-speed film that’s been on the shelves for a few decades. The colour can land on the cooler side, and it has a fine grain structure and a lot of colour pop.
ILFORD XP2 – If you want to shoot some black and white photos, but don’t have the setup to develop your own film, grab a roll of XP2! While it doesn’t quite deliver the flexibility and contrast of true black and white film, the development can be done by any photo lab.
We’ve mostly touched on tried and true classics, but there are other options too. Consider a new development process, or embrace the unknown.
Flic Film – A newer supplier of film and chemistry in Alberta, FLIC sells motion picture film rolled into a 35mm cassette. It’s a slightly different development process but FLIC also supplies chemistry kits. Their lineup features some interesting films that you won’t see in standard 35mm, like tungsten-balanced or double X cinema film.
LOMO – Lomography still supplies 400 and 800-speed colour film alongside 100 and 400 iso black and white offerings. Mostly known for their more experimental films, which can produce results ranging from subtle colour shifts to high contrast alien landscapes. Lomography’s standard films are slightly grainy with lots of contrast. Sold in three packs, a great option for a weekend trip.
Expired Film – An old roll of Fuji you found in a backpack? Maybe your photographer uncle has some Kodak in storage. At its worst you might not get an image at all, sometimes you’ll get some extra grain or a weird colour shift. The results are whacky, but the film was probably cheap.