When using 35mm black and white film, you have wider contrast control and the silver-based prints you create are more stable and longer lasting than colour prints. You can find a variety of 35mm film on eBay. Before you buy, learn about the types of black and white film available, understand the importance of film speed, and know how to buy black and white film.
Types of 35mm Black and White Film
Film types are determined by the sensitivity to colours in the light spectrum, as well as developing and printing techniques. Panchromatic, or pan, film is sensitive to all colours in the visible spectrum and produces photos with more grey tones and true rendering of original colours. Isochromatic film is extremely sensitive to blue and violet, somewhat sensitive to yellow, and less sensitive to deep reds. You may need a yellow or orange filter to compensate for the film's reaction to red and orange light. Chromogenic black and white films are films processed in colour-print film chemicals for printing on professional colour paper. The negatives contain dyes like colour negatives do, so they print on diffusion and condenser enlargers. However, you cannot control contrast through printing and the prints may not last as long as conventional silver-based black and white prints.
Using ISO Ratings to Choose 35mm Black and White Film
The ISO ratings on 35mm film indicate the film speed and the sensitivity of the film to light. The lower the ISO number, the less sensitive the film is and the finer its grain. Typical black and white film speed ratings range from ISO 50 to ISO 400 and include ISO 100 and ISO 120. Adjust shutter speed to match the ISO rating of the film. When the camera lens opening is at f16, the correct exposure for an everyday subject is one over the film ISO rating. Therefore, the ideal shutter speed for ISO 400 film at f16 is 1/400th of a second.
How to Buy 35mm Black and White Film
Some films have the word 'professional' in their names. These films are typically best suited to specific applications. In addition, the manufacturer assumes that a professional photographer will use the film quickly, so it sells the film at its optimum age. Consumer films tend to be cheaper than professional films, better suited to a variety of applications, and less aged. Choose slow film for enlargements with minimum graininess and maximum detail in situations where the light is strong enough. Choose a fast film if you want graininess or graininess is not an issue, or if you must use high shutter speeds, or are shooting in low lighting conditions. ISO 100 and ISO 125 films offer a compromise between the two extremes. Experiment with different film types and speeds to find the ideal option for your photography style. Ilford, Kodak, and Fuji manufacture readily available high quality films.