Guide to Choosing Photographic Film

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Here at Allcam we stock a massive range of films for all your photography needs. We have films from top brands such as Kodak, Ilford, Fuji and Agfa. There are lots of options to consider when choosing film so this guide should help you make sure you make the right selection.
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Film Formats

The first thing to consider when purchasing film is what film format your camera uses. This guide covers 120, 35mm and 4x5 large format films as well and films for instant cameras.
                 
The most common size is 35mm film (135 format). It is a cartridge film with a film gauge of 35 mm, typically used for hand-held photography in 35 mm film cameras. If you are digging out that old point and shoot film camera to take some snaps it most likely uses the 135 film format. Many SLR film cameras also use 35mm film. This film is commonly available with 24 or 36 exposures per cartridge.
 
Next most common is 120 film. This is a medium format film and is supplied in rolls. It comes backed in opaque paper and tightly rolled on a plastic spool. Compared to 135 format 120 format SLRs provide a higher-quality image with a negative that can be more easily retouched.
 
Large format 4x5 film is a much larger specialist film. The main advantage of large format film is the higher resolution. A 4×5 inch image has about 16 times the area, and thus 16× the total resolution, of a 35 mm frame.
 
Always make sure to check what film format you camera uses. If you are not sure then please check with the manufacturer. There is a great wealth of information on older cameras available online. 
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Films for Instant Cameras

Instant film cameras have seen a resurgence in popularity of late. We stock film to suit Fuji Instax and Polaroid cameras.
                      
Fuji Instax film comes in mini and wide formats. Mini film is for the smaller Instax cameras such as the Mini 90, 50, 25, 8, 7s, 7 instant cameras. It is available with a plain border or you can choose from a selection of colourful designs. The wide format film is for the larger cameras such as the Fuji Instax 300, 210 and 200 cameras.
 
Polaroid no longer manufactures instant films for their cameras but fortunately there are a great range of films made by Impossible for Polaroid models. There is colour and black and white film available for Polaroid 600 cameras, Polaroid Image / Spectra cameras and Polaroid SX70 cameras. Film with coloured borders for the 600 series cameras is also available. You will find that most Polaroid cameras are compatible with one of these types of film. See our range of Impossible film for Polaroid cameras on eBay here

Black and White Film

There is still a great range of black and white film available. We stock lines from Ilford who are known worldwide for their quality specialist B&W films. For certain subjects black and white can look great. If your composition includes lots of well defined shapes and textures then you should consider trying black and white. Subjects with high contrast are perfectly suited to shooting in black and white. Strong blacks and bright highlights really help bring out the detail and create impact

We have black and white films to suit all budgets so it’s easy to give shooting in black a white a try. Get an Ilford HP5 Plus 400 135/35mm 24 Exposure Black & White film for only £5.98 at our eBay shop

Developing Processes

Most colour film sold today is colour negative film and it is developed using the C-41 process (also known as CN-16 by Fuji, CNK-4 by Konica, and AP-70 by AGFA). This film produces a negative image when it is developed, requiring it to be reversed again when it is printed onto photographic paper.
                                       
Colour reversal or slide film is a type of photographic film that produces a positive image on a transparent base. The film is processed to produce transparencies or diapositives. Films of this type include Agfa Precisa, Fuji Provia and Fuji Velvia lines. This type of film is developed using the E-6 process. Some photographers prefer slide film for its crisp, bright colours and higher contrast range compared to colour negative film.
 
Black and white film is developed with its own process. You can find lots of mail order companies where you can send your black and white film to be developed. 

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Film Speed

Film speed is the measure of a photographic film's sensitivity to light. Film speed is measured on the ISO system. Relatively insensitive film, with a corresponding lower speed index, requires more exposure to light to produce the same image density as a more sensitive film, and is thus commonly termed a slow film. Highly sensitive films are termed fast films. We stock films ranging from ISO 50 to 3200.     
                                              
ISO 100 or 200 film speeds are best for bright lighting conditions and outdoor photography. As this is a slower film, more light will be required for exposures. If there is not enough light available, slow film may result in dark or blurry photographs. A tripod is highly recommended when using low-speed film unless the photographer has an extremely steady hand for slightly longer exposure times. Slower speed film is best used to photograph outdoor landscapes, inanimate objects, and outdoor events on a bright day. Slow speed film should generally not be used for dimly lit areas and fast-moving subjects.
 
ISO 400 film speed is a great all-purpose film that can be used for most situations. Photographs can be taken without the need for high amounts of lighting and moving subjects can be photographed with ease. The versatility of this film makes it ideal for use in a variety of circumstances such as open landscapes or indoor areas. Indoor photographs can be taken with significant lighting available through a window or doorway. Medium speed film is best used to photograph overcast outdoor images, indoor portraits with natural lighting, and when photographing a combination of indoor and outdoor images on the same roll. Medium speed film should generally not be used with fast motion photography such as sporting events, indoors without much lighting, or in extremely bright lighting.
 
Fast speed film will result in the grainiest photographs but is great to use when shooting fast-moving subjects in low light conditions. This film is often used by sports photographers or journalists who do not always have the best lighting to work with and need to capture images without blur. In addition, it is typically not used for larger prints due to the noticeable grain. Fast speed film should be used for fast-moving subjects in low light, dimly lit situations without a tripod, and when using a zoom lens in low light conditions. Fast speed film should not be used in bright conditions.
                                                                                                      
Here are some examples of when you might want to use different film speeds:
  • ISO 50 (or lower): Bright sunlight (the beach in the afternoon, for example), studio lights
  • ISO 100: Bright sunlight, bright overcast, studio lights
  • ISO 200: Sunlight, overcast, some shade, studio lights
  • ISO 400: Outdoor (sunlight/overcast), indoor (during the day or very well lit)
  • ISO 800: Outdoor (very overcast), dusk, interiors, motion/high speed
  • ISO 1600: Night, interiors (day or night), motion/high speed
  • ISO 3200: Night, interiors, motion/high speed

Where to find our products

You can take a look at our range of photographic films at our eBay shop
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