Choosing the right film for the lighting, time of day and activity or event, can be a real challenge. With all the different types of film available, it’s like a big jumble of information. However, it’s not as hard as it looks.
The three most popular print film speeds are 400, 200 and 100. All camera’s are equipped to handle these three speeds. However, there are other films out there. There’s some that are 1000 or greater, and some that have a name like Kodak Gold Max.
As a scrapbooker, I often recommend using Kodak Gold Max film. It seem to be the best film out there for movement, low and high lighting and regular picture. I have not had a roll come back in a long time that did not look great!
So here’s a quick breakdown of films and when to use them.
100 Speed Film – This film is best used in bright outdoor sunshine. When it is used correctly, it delivers a bright, clear picture with the most accurate color and the sharpest detail. This is the perfect film for still life and close up shots.
200 Speed Film – This film is definitely one step up from the 100 speed. It perfects that color a bit, and produces nice sharp images. It is best used for slow action, and can be used both indoors and outdoors.
400 Speed Film – For a long time this was the film of choice for most people. It was like the all-purpose film. It had nice bright color and a distinct sharpness. It was the best for using with a flash, and worked perfectly both in indoor and outdoor conditions. It was known as the “action” film. If you were at a sporting event or trying to photograph a moving child, this was the film of choice. I still really enjoy using 400 Speed film, but now there’s even better.
800 Speed Film – In Kodak’s world, this high speed film is known as Gold Max. The 800 Speed Film tolerates exposure errors relatively well and is extremely tolerating of overexposure. However, as we get higher up in the speed, it is much grainier than low-speed films. It also has reduced color saturation and reduced color accuracy, which can be extremely disappointing to a scrapbooker who is excited to get their photos back and do a layout with the bright vibrant colors they purchased for paper!
1000-3200 Speed Film – Typically this film is reserved for professional photographers. Although in more recent years, many people utilize it for general photography purposes as well. It is the perfect film for extreme movement, but lacks tremendously on the color/saturation and is has an extremely grainy development.
Many wonder why they should not use the higher speed films all the time, because they almost seem like a nice general all-purpose film. But the reason this is not a good idea is because you get more graininess the higher you go with the ISO number. Simply because the higher the ISO, the more sensitive the film is to light.
So it’s important to try and maintain the correct ISO for the situation you are photographing.
I hope this took a little guess work out of choosing the right film. I recommend buying several kinds, and experiment. See what works best for you. I honestly think 200-400 are the best for “everyday” use.
Which is your favorite speed film and why?