The cool thing about shooting film is the choices! There are so many films to choose from – some are fairly basic, day-to-day films, some not so much. I have tried quite a few films, so here are some notes on them. There is some overlap with the Amsterdam On Film
I’m going to start with the most interesting, at least for me. I’ve only actually shot one roll of this, but I enjoyed it enough that I have another couple of rolls ready to go for when I next get a decent opportunity to shoot it. It has a wide latitude (though I did find mine ended up being a little thin, there was still a very nice usable image on the film). I’ve mentioned it before in this series – it is based on Kodak Vision3 500T – they estimate it to be around 800T when processed in C41 (that’s “standard” colour negative processing) but I’ve seen tweets from them claiming it is usable in the range ISO 100-1600 or so without push/pull processing! (though they do say the optimal range is 500-1600)
Colour motion picture negative films like Vision3 500T are similar in many ways to stills negative films, but there are a few important differences. For starters, given that the biggest market for film is for motion pictures, this stuff tends to be slightly more modern in technology than other films. The most obvious difference though, is that Vision3 is designed to be processed with the ECN-2 process. This is similar to C41 but with an extra step to remove the anti-halation backing (sometimes called the remjet layer) from the film. The remjet layer is a black, powdery coating to the back of the film to stop light bouncing off the back of the camera and back through the film. If you don’t do this, the remjet layer can actually make quite a mess of processing machines. Usually, remjet removal is the first step of processing. The cool thing about CineStill though is that the have figured out a way of removing the coating before the film is exposed. They call this “Premoval” and while they are somewhat secretive of exactly how it’s done, the result is a film that can be processed as if it were normal C41.
What do the images look like from this? Well I think the biggest trait of this film is the way reds end up incredibly
saturated. Blues as well – being tungsten balanced, it is much more sensitive to blue than most films (I’ve heard figures suggesting about a third more). Being based on Kodak Vision3, it has a very cinematic look to it – In fact, I have recognised it in certain films based on the way it handles reds indoors! Since the remjet backing has been removed though, this film is very prone to halation. That is, bright light sources tend to blow out, resulting in red circles around lights. Some people love this effect, others hate it. Personally? I love it a lot of the time!
There is a company in Kent that packages Vision500T without removing the backing. They also offer a processing service which incorporates a step to remove the backing. I’m very tempted to give this a go at some point to see what it’s like.
Kodak Ektar 100
Ektar 100 is one of the most modern colour negative films available. It borrows much of the technology from Kodak’s Vision line and incorporates it into a colour negative film that actually has many of the properties (good and bad) of slide film! The good is of course colour saturation. The bad? It doesn’t have as wide an exposure latitude as some other negative films. It is, however a very nice film. I’ve mentioned it before in my post about shooting film in Amsterdam. I’ve also shot some of the 120 variant of Ektar, so it will be interesting to see what comes out of that.
HP5 is a fairly fast (ISO 400) black and white film. I’ve used a few rolls of it in 120 form – including a roll I put through a Holga. It is versatile, and gives some interesting results. I’ve got some 35mm rolls as well now, so no doubt I’ll be having some fun with that soon. You can get some interesting results by push processing this film.
Kodak T-Max 100
A slower (ISO 100) black and white negative film claiming to have very fine grain. I’ve been shooting this in 35mm and I must admit, I do find it to be a bit grainy – but the interesting thing with black and white film is that the is as much to do with the developer used as it is the film. I must admit I find this to be a little slow for day-to-day use, but it has been handy for testing out cameras since I can process it straight away and see the results quickly.
Washi X 400 Maskless
This is an odd one! It is ISO 400 colour negative film, but rather than the film base being an orangy colour, it is clear! There isn’t a huge amount written online about this stuff. It is, however, an interesting idea. Supposedly it was originally designed for road traffic surveillance. It is claimed that it can be processed as either negative film (C41) or slide (E6) which makes sense when you think about it since it doesn’t have a mask. I’ve found some photos online where it has been processed as E6 and it doesn’t look bad – though I’d be tempted to process mine as C41 to see how that turns out. I’ll post more on this once I’ve seen the results!
Some others I will be trying soon
I have quite a stash of different film to try out. For example:
- Fujifilm Velvia 50 – both fresh and really quite expired
- Kodak Double-X 5222 – Black and white motion picture film
- Kodak Portra 400 – Versatile, fairly fast 120 roll film
- Kono Donau – this stuff is crazy – ISO 6 film that is actually intended for digital prints back to film.
- Kono Kolorit 125T – Claims to be based on motion picture film but doesn’t go into more details
- Dufay Pan – Some insanely old (think 1970s or maybe earlier) ISO 20 black and white film – no clue what, if anything, will come out of this!