Which is the Best 35MM Film to Shoot?

posted in: Film

 A lot of my customers ask me, “what is the best 35mm film to shoot?” First we would need to understand what does ISO speed on the box means and what type of results does each ISO number (25, 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 etc) produce in terms of image quality. We will focus on the 3 main things film speed affects.


So what does “ISO” mean? The lower the ISO, let’s say ISO 100 the less sensitive your films emulsion is to light. The higher the ISO, let’s say ISO 800 the more sensitive your film is to light. You are probably asking which type of film is right for you shoot?

ISO 100 like Kodak Ektar 100 would be great for outdoor photography in sunny days.

ISO 800 like Kodak Portra 800 is more suited for low light situations. I use this film mainly for nighttime photography or indoor photography with a high speed lens. Like my Nikon F3 with its 50mm f1.2 lens. 

The best ISO that I would recommend for people that are just starting off in Film Photography is ISO 400. This is like middle of the road in film sensitivity. Great for outdoor and indoor photography. But you MUST use a flash for indoor photography. 

Now if you want really contrasty images, saturated with color that just pops out, I recommend lower ISO film like ISO 100. There used to be Kodak Royal ISO 25 and Kodak Ektar ISO 25 back in the day. Those images gave you really high contrast, amazing color. Thank God that Kodak still makes Kodak Ektar 100. This is also one of my go to film for getting high contrast images. But sometimes you do not need high contrast film. Too much contrast in images will blow out any detail in the highlights and shadows. So the lower the ISO the higher the contrast and the higher the ISO the lower the contrast: HIGH Contrast ISO 100, ISO 200, ISO 400, ISO 800 LOW Contrast. 

Film grain determines how detailed your photos will look. I also don’t find grainy images to necessarily be bad. For one I love some grainy photos. I just love the look of prints enlarged to a poster size that has lots of grain. To get fine grain on your images you would need to shoot a low speed film. Like Kodak Ektar 100. This film will get you fine grain and high contrast. For lots of grain you would need to shoot a higher ISO. Like ISO 800 so my go to film is the Kodak Portra 800. This film has a good grain to images. It’s not too fine but the grain is also not too big. The films contrast is also neutral, so you’ll receive more detail from shadows and highlights.


My Top 5 Films to Shoot!

#5 CineStill 800t

The CineStill 800t is my go to film for nighttime photography. The images from the CineStill 800t give you a cool tone. Street lights also give a red halo effect around the outer edges. 

  • Low Contrast 
  • High Sensitivity to light
  • High Grain 
  • Perfect for low light situations 
  • Great for Street Photography 
  • Cool Tone

#4 Lomo Purple ISO 100-400

The LomoChrome Purple is my go to film to get some crazy looking photos. Beautiful Purple tones. High Contrast Images that just pop! Especially on Sunny Days. I would recommend for portraits dressing the individual with an outfit that has a high contrast from their surroundings, for the best effect. 

  •  High Contrast 
  • Medium Sensitivity to light
  • Medium Grain 
  • Perfect outdoor photography and Street 
  • Purplish Tones

#3 Kodak Ektar 100

Introduced in 2008, the Kodak Ektar 100 is the lowest ISO and finest grain film that you can get from Kodak. Back in the 90s I loved shooting Kodak Royal ISO 25 film, but that has been discontinued for years. This is the best film for images that just pop with high contrast and really fine grain. My go to film to photography during Fall time. 

  • High Contrast 
  • Low Sensitivity to light
  • Fine Grain for amazing detail
  • Perfect Sunny Days
  • Great for Landscape Photography
  • Warm Tones

#2 Fuji Superia 400

This is a film goes under the radar. The Fuji Superia 400 produces outstanding color tones, ISO 400 for indoor and outdoor photography. This film is also cheaper than most 400 speed films. Like the Kodak Portra 400! Great for inexpensive reloadable and reusable camera like the Kodak Ektar H35 and Ilford Sprite II. 

  • Medium Contrast 
  • Medium Sensitivity to light
  • Medium Grain 
  • Perfect Indoor/Outdoor Photography 
  • Great most lighting situations
  • Cool Tones

#1 Kodak Portra 800

This is the film that I shoot the most. I mostly shoot in low light situations without a flash and I need a high speed film with great color rendition. If they offered a ISO 1600 film for some extremely low light situations. 

  • Medium Contrast 
  • High Sensitivity to light
  • High Grain 
  • Perfect low light Situation Photography
  • Great most lighting situations
  • Warm Tones

Portra 800 Sample Nighttime Photography

CineStill 800T Nighttime Portra Photography

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