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05-17-2017, 12:02 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Jumping head first into film

I was helping my grandpa and mom clean out some old storage this weekend when we came across some of his old camera gear. Among them was a Nikon FE2 that looks to be in great shape.

Embarrassing confession time...I've never shot film...beyond disposable cameras. digital cameras pretty much took over while I was a very young lad. Alas I know very little about film.

I'm looking for film advice and recommendations. I plan on buying a variety of film, both B/W and color.

After digging through old threads here (and other forums), here's my current short list:

B/W
Ilford Delta 400
Kodak Tri-X 400
Kodak TMax 400

Color
Fujifilm Velvia 50 (really hard to find)
Fujifilm provia 100F
Kodak Portra 400

05-17-2017, 12:39 PM - 1 Like   #2
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You will shortly have every film shooter on the forum chip in with their recommendations, so be prepared.

Personally, I'll avoid recommending anything specific but I will recommend avoiding the positive films (Velvia and Provia) for your first outing as they're very sensitive to getting the correct exposure, and the camera may not do that after a long time without use. It may also be difficult and expensive to get them developed.

The world of film is great fun and has a lot to explore, and the old cameras are wonderful to use.
05-17-2017, 01:24 PM - 1 Like   #3
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First things first - sort out whether the camera fires up, and what sort of general condition it is in.
Then - find a manual online (not hard to do in this day and age).
Third - play with the camera for a while WITHOUT film, getting a feel for what all the buttons, levers and knobs do.
Fourth - buy a roll of the cheapest colour film you can get your hands on, shoot a whole bunch of boring pics you won't cry over if it turns out awful, and send it in to be developed. This is something I do with every film camera I acquire, and it sorts out for real whether the meter is accurate, film transport is working, etc.

B&W (and quality colour) is expensive - don't over-invest until you are sure you have a properly functioning camera in your hands.
05-17-2017, 02:50 PM   #4
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I may have gotten ahead of myself in my excitement.

But I'll take the recommendations. Cheap film and make sure it works first. Gotcha.

05-17-2017, 03:00 PM   #5
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I'd be inclined to just buy one type of film - ie a bunch of rolls of colour or a bunch of rolls of b&w - If you are not planning to develop the film yourself then stick to c-41 (negative) films to begin with - they're cheaper to have people develop them for you.

Better to buy 50 rolls of one type and get used to it - you also get a discount when you buy in bulk.
05-17-2017, 04:12 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by serothis Quote
I may have gotten ahead of myself in my excitement.
If you don't get excited about something you'll never get into it. This is harmless enough. Perhaps not to your bank balance if you get in deep, but certainly to you.
05-17-2017, 08:30 PM   #7
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You might want to try shooting Ektar before you commit to slide film, as slide film might be crazy expensive to develop. At least it's that way for me, no one develops slide film anywhere close, so I have to ship it out. I've seen Ektar described as the color negative slide film. So it might give you an idea of what it's like to shoot super saturated slide film with a narrow dynamic range.

Kodak Portra is by far my favorite film, and 400 is definitely the best balance of the qualities of the Portra range. If you want something cheap to get you started, there's always Kodak Gold 200.

This guy makes some nice videos talking about different film types, he's worth checking out.

Last edited by Dipsoid; 05-17-2017 at 08:36 PM.
05-17-2017, 08:48 PM   #8
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Any one of those black and white film will do fine, no need to buy all three. If you are new to film shoot a roll of Portra 160 or 400 to first test the camera and to see if film is right for you. The only reason that I have a variety of 35mm films is that many people have given me film when they learn I still shoot it. Enjoy and explore. Try to stay away from something that affects so many new to it and that is wanting to try all the different films at once and buying lots of cameras to try them out as well.

05-17-2017, 09:27 PM   #9
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I actually think (after a bit of time w/ the camera) you should occasionally shoot one roll of color slide film to assess your, and the camera's, ability to get proper exposure. With negative film the range that can yield a satisfactory picture is huge, and you probably cannot "read" the negative to see if your exposure was great--but it does matter that you know that you can get a spot on exposure when taking a huge dynamic range image.

Also a set of well exposed color slides can be really something special to look at. (If they still made the 64/160/320 tungsten slide films I seriously wonder if I would have gone digital.)

BTW above it was mentioned (by Dipsoid) that Kodak Ektar (iso 100) is said to be "color negative slide film." And while it is now my film of choice to supplement my digital (and I had been using Ektar 125 and then Royal Ektar), it is extremely wide in dynamic range--probably about twice the 6 stop dynamic range of many color slide material. And anyway today you end up scanning the negative film, which you don't need to do to assess a slide.

Last edited by dms; 05-17-2017 at 09:47 PM.
05-18-2017, 03:58 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
I actually think (after a bit of time w/ the camera) you should occasionally shoot one roll of color slide film to assess your, and the camera's, ability to get proper exposure. With negative film the range that can yield a satisfactory picture is huge, and you probably cannot "read" the negative to see if your exposure was great
Interesting. My advice for a roll of cheapo colour was based on the theory of checking for adequacy of function and result (which is arguably all the OP needs when he's just starting out), but there's something to be said for this viewpoint too (especially in the long run). A bunch of my cameras are with Eric Hendrickson at the moment, but when they get back I might consider doing that for the metered bodies to see how they stack up. That being said, I have had some really dismal results with colour negative film (sent away), and there's no doubt in my mind at those points when I've made a mistake!! As for black and white, I develop and DSLR-scan all that myself, and it's too easy to make up for indifferent exposure in deveopment, scan, and/or post to act as a good guide.
05-18-2017, 02:01 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by serothis Quote
B/W
Ilford Delta 400
Kodak Tri-X 400
Kodak TMax 400
There are two general categories of BW film. The old school cubic grain film such as 400TX (Tri-X) in your list and the newer tabular grain films such as 400TMY (T-Max 400) and Delta 400, FYI. They can have a slightly different look and feel. I'd add a 100 film to your list too.
05-18-2017, 04:22 PM - 1 Like   #12
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Let's leave this poor person alone and stop trying to spend their money for them!!! Pick ONE colour and ONE black and white film, stick with them and learn their little quirks for a few rolls. A lot does depend on the weather, though; depending on the exposure possibilities allowed by your camera and lens (maximum shutter speed and extremes of aperture), 400-speed film may be too fast in full sun in the summer and 100 may be too slow under cloudy skies in shade in autumn. Remember, once it's in the camera you can't change it the way you can digital!!
05-18-2017, 06:43 PM   #13
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With small format you can easily shoot 100 film under cloudy skies handhold. A typical overcast, outdoor exposure via the Sunny 16 rule says f8 @ 1/125th or f11 @ 1/60. And I can think of a lot of shots you can capture with a 50mm or wider at those apertures with decent DOF not to mention all the shallow DOF shots you can do. The DOF on a 35mm lens at f11 is significant if you are focusing at 10 feet or more.
05-18-2017, 07:07 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
Let's leave this poor person alone and stop trying to spend their money for them!!! Pick ONE colour and ONE black and white film, stick with them and learn their little quirks for a few rolls. A lot does depend on the weather, though; depending on the exposure possibilities allowed by your camera and lens (maximum shutter speed and extremes of aperture), 400-speed film may be too fast in full sun in the summer and 100 may be too slow under cloudy skies in shade in autumn. Remember, once it's in the camera you can't change it the way you can digital!!
I'm actually quite enjoying this conversation. Lots of good info for a film noob.

I ended up buying a four pack of fujifilm superia x-tra 400 and 3 rolls of Ilford hp5 400.

Last edited by serothis; 05-19-2017 at 12:56 PM.
05-22-2017, 05:30 PM   #15
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Shoot a roll of that superia 400 just for practice and to see if your camera works. Dev the first roll, when it comes back and you know the camera works keep shooting that film for a little while as you hone in your skills.

When you think you are ready then you can look up reviews on several different kinds of film to find the character you are looking for. Try a few different types yourself. I went through several different types of B&W before I figured out that Plus-X and Tri-X are my favorites. I also tried several different kinds of color film before I settled on Portra.

Don't be afraid to experiment.
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