You may find yourself wanting to go out and shoot, but you're blocked by one thing: what film should I use?

This is a tough question that only gets easier over time, so don't you worry. 

If you're totally new to film and/or photography, it's important to know the basics of ISO/ASA. To put it simply: ISO is how sensitive your film is to light as well as how grainy your final image will be. The higher the number (800 ISO, for example), the more sensitive it will be to light and it will have a higher amount of grain. 

Higher sensitivity to light = better as light becomes more scarce. This is why a lot of people opt to shoot 400/800 ISO film if they plan on being out later in the day.

Now you may be wondering: why would I shoot lower ISO than this? 

Any film ISO 200 and under are referred to as outdoor/daytime film. This is because lower ISO films allow you to open your aperture more, for situations like daytime portraits. Low ISO films are often the choice of landscape photographers since they offer the lowest amount of visible grain. 

In the crossfire of all of this is 400 ISO film. This is my favorite speed because it allows me to comfortably shoot in almost all conditions. 

So now that you know a bit about choosing what speed, what are your options?

These are my personal favorites by film speed:

100 ISO: Kodak Ektar 100. Ektar combines low grain with punchy colors. Great for landscapes with lots of colors to show off. 

200 ISO: Kodak Gold 200. A cult classic, Gold lives up to its name. Warm colors, consistent results, at a consumer-level price. 

400 ISO: Kodak Portra 400. This is what I would consider the "industry standard" film stock. Portra offers the most true-to-life colors while still managing to knock your socks off. It's hard to find right now, and for good reason. 

800 ISO: Lomography 800. I know, I know, most people will die on the hill of Portra 800. But Lomo 800 is easy to come by and offers colors that I find very enjoyable. I've used this day and night, both with great results. 

There are so many film types out there, there's so much to discover and try. I've personally been shooting for 3 years and I've only scratched the surface. Hopefully with these samples I've been able to at least point you in a good direction.


Happy shooting!

Matt Rygh

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