Ever since my stint on film photography, I was deeply and seriously immersed in my relationship with film (think snapping jaws and growling teeth whenever someone goes near my “stash”). We’re talking about scrutinizing and inspecting every camera shop that may have the slightest hint of film inside. And the swap of passion from coffee to those small canisters with strips of silver and other chemcials inside that makes the yummy photos must really made the love for it serious.
Before I start going numb and drooling on my keyboard, I want to share what I know about films. These are compiled tidbits from all around. From my teacher to my idol to film heads and film experts and to a lot of forums I go and absorb information at work…(oops, did I just say work?)…Well anyway, here we go.
Currently, I have used the following types of films : The Color Negatives, Black and Whites, and Slides. Here’s what I know about them (This post is also because of a certain friend who have asked me what I know of film so here’s a neater, less scatter-brained tutorial for everybody to learn).
But before we go into the more intricate details of each, I would like to point out some general facts.
- Films commonly used today because of the lomo craze come in either 135 or 120 format. 135 is the regular 35mm film used by the masses when digital was an idea so far way. Then there’s the 120 format film which is also the medium format film or dubbed as square film. because prints/negatives come out square. One type of film I know of also is the 110 format. Which was used on those cute little rectangular boxy spy cameras.
- All films has an ASA number which is film’s counterpart to the digital’s ISO (International Organization of Standardization) Sensitivity of Light measurement. Which is American Standards Association (ASA) Film Speed scale. Remember the ISO settings of your Digital Camera that range from 80-1600 (sometimes 3200) or maybe always switched on auto, thats the ASA on film. So your ASA will depend on what/where you shoot, for bright daylight you can go for ASA 50 – 200, for indoor or anything dimmer or sports 400 – up is more appropriate. There are also some very unusual ASA like the Kodachrome 64, which is a select ASA speed for tungsten film. It’s slower because it needs more light. :) These are the HUGE numbers you see printed on every box of film.
- Each film has an approximate number of exposures. Unlike today’s digital world of memory cards and countless terrabytes of storage space. You get only a maximum XX number of exposures (or shots) in film. Which is around 10s for 120 format and 12s, 24s, and 36s for 135. Be sure to check the exposures to get your money’s worth. I remember accidentally buying a Kodak Gold ASA 100 12 exp film for 71 pesos because I thought it was cheaper than the other Kodak Film being sold at ASA 200 for 24 exp at 79 pesos. Which ms. Kodak girl never mentioned the difference besides the ASA. Darn you!
- They also have some sort of Processing Number . I only know of 3 types. C-41. Dx-76 (a B&W processing for Kodak). and E-6. More of that when I go into the different types of film.
- All films have an expiry date. Like food. Although your camera will still be happy to eat the expired film you load on it you cheap-ass! (Joke!) Films are still usable beyond their date, the results will just be unpredictable (just the same as food, you don’t know what your stomach will to do it until you run into the nearest bathroom or not at all :P) but keeping them in a cool place like your fridge would retain it’s quality (I will show you some expired film way back 2002, and still get good results). You can use expired films for experiments and whatnots.
- Not all but a lot do have that nifty manual at the back of each box and yep they’re actually useful little caricatures of how the weather state would be in that particular film in a particular shutter speed. For example. A Fuji Superia ASA 200 would work nicely in an f/xx aperture with the following states at 1/250
Mega-Sunny (think beach weather) : f/22
Sunny : f/16
Not-so-sunny-but-sunny enough : f/11
Sunny-but-clouds-get-in-the-way-sunny : f/8
Cloudy/Overcast : f/5.6
C-41s: The World Of Color Negatives
This is the normal everyday film that we see in our suking tindahan (general supply store) or in any Kodak/Fuji/Camera store. In bright little boxes and in ASA numbers that are usually 100,200 and 400.
Don’t think that it stops there. Different film brands and film types have different color/tone qualities. It all depends on your personal preference and budget on what to go for.
C-41 film can be brought to any developing store from the big studios to the 1-hour minilabs. Also, Thanks to technology and Digiprint, you don’t have to see every horrendous print you mistakenly took in tangible 4Rs but at the private viewing convenience in your Monitor screens because of their nifty Film to CD service. (I ♥ you Miguel Vecin and Digiprint!) plus free shipping to your home/office! :D
Just to liven things up, here are some of the color negative films that I have tried together with nifty visual examples for those who are curious on how they’d differ.
Fuji Proplus II 100
(PHP330 for A pack of 5s at 36exp)
This was my first color negative film since well, 2001. It’s professional grade film meaning it’s those Consume Immediately Upon Loading in Your Camera type of films. It’s not the one you keep at a long period of time in the camera (think of your old negatives that has immense time lapse in seasons. Pictures 1-10 could be a zoo trip in the summer, then following your christmas party photos on December and your Tita Carding’s Son’s Daughter’s graduation come March next year)
What I noticed about Proplus is it’s low constrast and light tones making it good for potraits and wedding photography and basically people shots.
Colors of the photo almost match the tones and colors in real life.
as they say, they’re good for churches and weddings… here’s a shot of a wedding flower basket on the aisles of Manila Cathedral.
Kodak Professional T400 CN/Kodak Professional BW400CN
(PHP248 for 24exp/Y630(PHP260) for 36exp)
Kodak introduced their C-41 process Black and White film. (You would get why is this so important after you go over to the real Black and White section). The irony of this film name is that BW400CN means Black and White (ASA 400) Color Negative.
Say what? Well to cut the crap short, it’s merely a Color Negative that’s Black and White. A real black and white (see on the next post) negative would have a purple colored negative, while the C-41 black and white film would look like any other color negative, which is a shade of brown since it’s also Chromogenic film (used in C-41 processing).
by the way, the t400cn is the old version of the bw400cn model. So t400cn only exists in your expired film dreams. And the fresh ones are now called the BW400CN. Good for portraits, still frame and everything you want to do in black and white. with just a high enough ASA for indoor :)
Scanning however makes the shades of white a bit … purplish? (this is expired t400CN)
Black and White works well for photojournalism. This is a fresh roll of bw400cn.
Konika Minolta Vx100
(PHP 75 for 36exp)
Regular color negs for all the people out there who doesn’t want to invest on expensive films. Konika Minolta supposedly discontinued this product. But you can still see these in random Film Shops around. Nothing bad to say about it. Nice low-toned colors and skin tones.
Kodak Gold 100
(PHP 71 for 12exp)
Because I am also a cheapskate and honestly there are other films better, I will never, ever again buy this film unless needed. I was forced to just to check if my Av-1 was functioning properly and it was basically a human error of not loading the film properly in place.
But I will not forgo more into my stupidity and focus more on this film. It’s pricey, has good colors, but it’s pricey. and for 12 exp? I would just buy myself a Vanilla Silk Soy at Starbucks. Hahah
DNP Centuria 200/400
(PHP 80ish for 36exp)
When konika’s centurias were discontinued alongside the VX100s, DNP was the one who acquired the Centuria line and made it into their own. The colors were bright and natural for landscape, people, and everyday use (choose the ASA best suited for your needs :P).
DNP Centuria 200
DNP Centuria 400
Kodak Profoto 100
(PHP 250 for a pack of 5s at36exp)
Of course, Kodak and Fuji’s never ending film war will always have counterparts for every brand. Battling for Fuji’s Pro Plus II 100 is Kodak’s Profoto 100. Another one of them professional films in packs of 5s. This film also boasts of beautiful tones and colors. And I have to say I was impressed on what this film can do at such an affordable price of 50 pesos a pop.
The City in Profoto 100. (What the heck? is that a light leak? o_O)
Fuji NPS 160
(PHP 100+ish for 36exp)
This is Fuji’s uber-professional potrait film that promises beautiful skin tones and nice colors that is well-suited for your uber vain friends an colleagues (in my part). It’s set at a really quirky ISO of 160. That I do not know why.
But I have to agree on the nice skin tones and color :)
These are expired Fuji NPS film by the way.
Fuji Superia 200
(PHP ?? for 36exp)
I was given 2 rolls of these film by a friend. And I stocked them in the fridge before using. Considering it’s already 6 years expired (the date indicates expiration of 2002), I figured, what the heck? Let’s try it for the sake of trying.
Superias have a more richer and saturated color than the color negatives I’ve tried. Could be from the expiration or the actual behavior of the film I’ll never know unless I go buy myself a fresh one some day.
indoor church photography with the superia
colors are somehow more vibrant…
Lucky Color 200
(PHP 60ish for 36exp)
Being on a tight budget with a meager salary and a huge debt would always make me prowl on cheaper films. (But I am known to splurge on fresh slides given the chance.) When Photoworld 2008 came along I hunted the stalls for films and I landed on the official distributor for Lucky Films and bought a roll of this film for a insanely low price of around 60 a pop.
How can you go wrong with ASA 200 film that is less than 100 pesos? Plus the colors and tones aren’t too shabby, in fact, they passed my film likeness test better than the vx100.
Lucky Color 200 sort of gives it an almost bluish hue than the other films. Giving it a much “cooler” look. And I meant that as opposite of warer tones :P
That’s my take on color negatives. Do tune in for the next post about Black and Whites and Slides. :D
This is sidemirrorshooting ending a really insanely long post, that hopefully didn’t bore you to tears and makes you want to eat your film negatives.
Resources by Joseph Benavides, Wikipedia, Sir Jo Avila, Sir Bong Manayon, Fujifilm and Kodak film websites. All photos were shot with the Canon AV-1, except for Lucky Color 200 and the Fuji NPS film which was shot using a Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim.