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04-24-2010, 07:38 AM   #1
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Film Newbie

I just bought a Pentax Super Program from a forum member and I'm looking to fool around with film.

Because I know nothing about film, I'm also here to ask advice on how to get started and to see if my expectations are realistic.

I plan to have Costco develop the negatives. I have a negative scanner, so I'll put them on computer anyway. I don't plan to have prints made directly from the photos, but maybe to print digital versions.

I have no idea what film to use. I think ISO 400 is pretty nice for digital, but it seems like it might be fast for film.

I'm not committed to B&W or color. Either would be fun.

Any tips on where I can buy the film, too?

04-24-2010, 07:48 AM   #2
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With respect to the ISO of the film, it depends on what you are shooting and when. 100 ISO film is good for portraits and landscapes where there is good lighting. 400 ISO film is better for when the lighting is not so good or where there is movement in the subject. For indoor shots without flash you might even want to use a 3200 ISO film.
04-24-2010, 07:55 AM   #3
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Congrats on the new SuperProgram. I enjoy mine tremendously. You're right; ASA400 is a little fast for film. That being said, Kodak's Ultramax 400 is perfectly serviceable and widely available (and at times, cheap). I get most of my Ultramax at CVS when it's on sale ($8 for a box of four rolls - 24 exp each). Box is usually around $13. I would imagine Costco would carry film. I know Target and Walmart do. Kodak Gold 200, Fuji Superia 200 and 400 are usually available, along with Kodak's chromogenic B&W (B&W film that gets color processed) BW400CN. Of all these "drugstore" films, I've had the best results with Ultramax 400 and BW400CN, but YMMV. Anything more esoteric (or better), you'll have to find a local photographic store which is getting harder and harder to do or look on line.

I would also point you to the "Let's see those film shots" thread to give you a sense of the results you can expect from different films.

Welcome to the wonderful world of film. I started with digital and began shooting film last May (2009). It's now my preferred photographic medium. That being said, for flash, low light, and anytime I'm shooting for someone else, I still shoot digital. This says more about my lack of skill and experience with film than it does about any shortcomings of the medium .

Best and happy shooting,
Kevin
04-24-2010, 08:09 AM   #4
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I was at Costco last night and they didn't sell film. But they'll process negatives for about $2.00, which seems like a fair deal.

So is it the case that esoteric films require esoteric processing, which probably isn't available at Costco?

04-24-2010, 08:19 AM   #5
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Congratulations. Apart from what's been mentioned already, any supermarket/drug store ASA 200 film will be fine, they tend to be less contrasty than the 400 speed films. I've had good results with the CVS store brand... Kevin's suggestion of BW400CN or Ilford XP2 is a good one also - these are easy ways to get into b&w.

If you want a taste of what pros use, both Kodak and Fuji make 160 speed color films, each of which is excellent. Not necessarily always better than the drug store 200 speed, but still

All color negative film gets standard development- any lab will do it. Where you need special development is if you get into slide film or 'real' black and white.
04-24-2010, 08:28 AM   #6
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Aegon, that's correct, although maybe my choice of the word "esoteric" was a little much. "Real" B&W (Tri-X, Acros 100, TMAX, etc) will require different processing. Slide film is different yet again. Costco most likely does C-41 (color negative) processing. Slide film is usually E6. Of all the different films, the easiest to do at home is B&W, but with the right equipment and chemistry, you can do them all at home. That being said, I send all my stuff out to two local pro labs.

Edit: Nesster nailed it, particularly about the contrast in ASA200 film - I was disappointed in Kodak Gold 200 (lack of contrast) and much happier w/ the Ultramax, but it's largely a matter of taste.

Hope this was helpful.

Best,
Kevin
04-24-2010, 08:28 AM   #7
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Now that you mention slide film, Nesster, I think I've dug up some good memories from the past. My dad shot slide film when I was a child and I've scanned them all in. The colors and the look are comforting. Authentic and timeless. I'll probably try some regular films first, but I think that over time I will want to try slide films and see if it can do for my family what it did for my dad.
04-24-2010, 09:12 AM   #8
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I agree with the comments above regarding ISO 200 color negative film. It is widely available as both name and house brands (check out Walgreens, Walmart or Target). If you want to try the professional grade stuff, Pro Photo Supply in downtown Portland has walk-in film cooler with a decent selection. Beyond that there is mail order. I have been buying my Ektar from Knight Camera here in Vancouver when I take my film in for processing.

For processing, most minilabs do a decent job though your mileage may vary. I used to use the Vancouver Costco for my Ektar 100, but had a couple of rolls that were poorly developed. I now send my Ektar to Blue Moon in Portland (through Knight Camera). Their pro lab does an excellent job. There are several other pro labs in Portland including Citizen Photo and Pro Photo Supply. It is all a matter of convenience and price. When you find a good lab, stick with them.

As far as "real" B&W films are concerned, I would suggest good old Kodak Tri-X 400 for someone getting started. Your Super Program supports 1/2000s shutter speed, so you should be able to shoot in fairly bright conditions with no issues. Tri-X is fairly forgiving and while it has "signature grain", the grain is not objectionable. If cost is an issue (and maybe if it isn't), there is one standard answer...Legacy Pro 100 or 400 from Freestyle. This is reputed to be re-labeled Fuji Neopan Acros 100 and Neopan 400. How does under $2 per roll sound? Even less if you have a bulk loader and roll your own (about $25 per 100' roll). I deal almost exclusively with Freestyle for B&W.


Steve


Last edited by stevebrot; 04-24-2010 at 09:18 AM.
04-25-2010, 06:30 AM   #9
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I picked up two rolls of BW400CN and some generic-looking fuji 400 that was on sale. I'll put these through the camera first, and then I'll have to stop by Pro Photo Supply to try Tri-X.

Thanks, stevebrot, for the info on the local stores. I wasn't expecting anything like that.

Thanks for all of the tips. I came here knowing absolutely nothing, and now I know just a little bit more.
04-25-2010, 06:34 PM   #10
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Aegon,

I myself have done a lot of film shooting since getting into the whole photography thing. I really like the Kodak 400BWCN, especially since you can develop it at any C-41 lab. I also like the 800 and 400 UltraMax Films Kodak Makes.

Among their higher-quality films, I like Kodak Porta 800 for low light shooting, Ektar 100 for bright sunlight, and Kodak Porta 160 and 400 Vivid Color for when I want the colors to really pop. Those are all C-41 films.

As far as Slide and B&W, I have only just now shot my first roll of slide film and true B&W. I'm not qualified to answer that one
04-27-2010, 05:44 AM   #11
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I went to the Kodak website and checked out Kodak Porta, and I'm pretty sure I'll have to try it sometime.

Of course, their photos were taken by pro photographers and pro equipment.
04-27-2010, 06:43 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aegon Quote
pro equipment.
Of course with your film Pentax (and 50mm lens?) your camera itself isn't bettered by any pro with 35mm... though the lighting maybe...
04-27-2010, 07:35 AM   #13
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Oh, I thought Hasselblads were medium format and not 35mm.
04-27-2010, 10:44 AM   #14
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You are correct on the Hassies. They shoot 120 or 220 roll film. The SuperProgram is a fantastic body, and you'll be hard pressed to find better glass for the money than Pentax. I get my test rolls done at Walgreens, but buy most of my film and have anything other than color negative or anything I put effort into done at Blue Moon. As long as you are shooting C-41 process color negative or B&W conversion film, you can have it done pretty much anywhere. The slides and traditional B&W take different processes that most minilabs aren't set up for. Blue Moon is in St Johns, Citizens is over about SE 7/Alder, and Pro Photo Supply is about NW 19/Marshall. One of these should be fairly convenient depending on what part of town you live in.

Pete
05-01-2010, 07:37 PM   #15
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I got my Super Program last night and put some rolls through.

I shot film and digital today. Both had their charms. The K-7 is a monstrously technological marvel, a fact that is easy to forget when you are busy comparing the latest offerings in Popular Photography. But it is clear that any modern digital comes from another era.

But the film camera worked great. It was fun. The results from my cheap-o film bring back the colors of my youth. I had a great time manually focusing and levering each frame forward. It felt good.

And it is nice to have two bodies.
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