Film for the Digital Photographer – Film By Dan K


by Bellamy /

12 min read

Film for the Digital Photographer – Cameras, By Dan K
Dan K returns with part 2 of this 3 part series on film for digital photographers. In this article Dan outlines film choices available for people just getting into film (and some for old hands too).

In my previous articles, Shooting Film AND Digital and Film for the Digital Photographer – Cameras, I introduced the idea of digital photographers’ migrating back to film and suggested several genres of photography equipment to get started with and work up to. In this article, I will discuss the selection and characteristics of the various films currently available.

“Can You Still Buy Film?”
For sure! Film is far from dead. If I had a roll of film for every time I heard this, I’d have more film than I could ever shoot. In fact, being an overly paranoid hoarder, I have more film than I can possibly shoot before it expires. There’s no need to hoard though; film remains varied and plentiful and looks set to be so for a long time yet.

Yodobashi film store display

Yes, we often hear of film emulsions being discontinued, but I strongly believe that we will always be able to buy and develop film, if we are willing to go to a little effort. The consumer market has already evaporated and pros have moved on, but what remains is a small but vibrant enthusiast market. Daily I hear of newcomers, digital apostates converting to film. This series of articles is dedicated to them. In this piece, I’ll revisit some of the film formats and emulsions currently available.


Film comes in various formats. The ones you might expect to find in a good high street store are called “135” (35mm perforated film in cans) and “120” (roll-film).

You can get 36 to 40 full frame sized exposures out of a 36-exposure can, and it is sometimes sold in 24(27) frame cans. I also buy film in 100′ cans from a supplier and use a bulk loader to refill my cartridges, saving money in the process.

Bulk Loader and 100 Foot Rolls

A roll of 120 film will give 10 exposures of 6cm x 6cm frames. 220 is the same size as 120, but with twice as many exposures. Film sold in 120 or 220 rolls is known as “medium format”.

Large format film comes in boxes of sheets. The most common size is 8″x10″. 135 and medium format film is easy to get processed. To develop large format film, you’ll need to find a specialist lab or do it yourself.

A frame of 135 or roll-film can be any length, depending on your camera and its frame mask. Typical lengths of medium format film frames are 6×4.5cm, 6×6, 6×7, 6×9 and occasionally 6×12.

Lomography Belair 6×12

Most 135 cartridge frames are 36x24mm, but half-frame is 18×24 and longer frames are possible. For example, the Hasselblad X-Pan can shoot 65x24mm frames and being larger than a Full Frame, you could class that as medium format.

Hasselblad X-Pan, Including Sprockets

As you can see, changing the frame length changes the aspect ratio. Not all odd aspect ratio cameras use a longer or shorter full width strip of film. Crop frame panorama cameras cut off the top and bottom of the image, leaving the total length the same as Full Frame (36mm, with a standard 2mm gap between frames).

Crop Frame Panorama with Kodak ColorPlus 200

The longer the frame, the less pictures you get per roll. Half frame gives a little under twice the number of exposures. At the same time, the bigger the sensor (frame), the bigger you can enlarge an image and the better the lens can resolve an image onto it.

Half Frame Tri-X vs Full Frame B/W Slide

Depth of Field is also affected, as it the apparent grain size. Shooting larger negatives gives less grain in the print or scan and smaller negatives make grain seem larger. Film frame size affects image quality, even more so than with digital photography. I recommend you start with Full Frame 35mm and work up or down to the other formats as your requirements change.

In my last article on film cameras, I described how other formats can be obtained or re-spooled from common film stocks, but as they represent more of a challenge, I suggest you cut your teeth on 135 cartridges and 120 rolls.

Recently Shot but Long Discontinued Fujicolor 110 Film

Types of Film

Print film is the most common type. You expose and develop a negative. The negative is processed and either scanned and printed, or optically enlarged into the final image. The negative itself contains the detail of the image, but reds, greens and blues, dark and light is reversed. Print film is robust, both in terms of storage and exposure. Consider it the first stage of forming your image. The true artistry is done in the darkroom. The darkroom may be a true darkroom, filled with papers, chemicals and equipment, but a good job can be done through a digital post-process similar to the way you’d deal with a digital image. Unfortunately, while the development is standardised and straightforward, printing is not. The lab technician must make subjective and artistic adjustments to determine the final look of the image and that has led to a great many people being disappointed with the output. It is best to do all your own work, or find a specialist lab that listens to your instructions and does a consistent job.

Slide film, or reversal film, has its advantages and disadvantages as compared to print film. With a slide, you expose your film as you would a negative, but the negative image is reversed by a chemical process in the lab to produce a positive. Reds, greens and blues, highlights and shadows come out as shot. You can scan and even print from slides, but like negative prints, this may require a degree of skill. Slides also produce better images. Colours and shades are more vibrant and consistent. Many serious photographers swear by slide film and wouldn’t shoot negatives.

Why then, are negatives so much more popular than slides? The first reason is cost. It is more expensive to buy and much more expensive to process. Secondly, it is less robust than negative film. It is badly affected by improper storage, both before and after exposure. Exposure has to be spot on, because what you expose is exactly what you get.


Film is comprised of a plastic base, an anti-halation layer that reduces halos, emulsion layers and a protective gelatin coating. All the light sensitive chemical activity happens in the emulsion.

Whereas there used to be much more variety of films available, only the most popular and easy to process have survived the digital onslaught. That doesn’t mean that the modern photographer’s palette is severely curtailed. I still actively use a score of different film types depending on the light and look that I want. I’ll present some of the films available below. They show the rich palette of colours and tones still available to the film shooter.

Most are current production films. Others may be discontinued, recently expired, or domestic-market only, but are available in specialist stockists, or on eBay.

Black and White

• Kodak Tri-X 400 – the classic photojournalist film. Sharp
• Fujifilm Neopan 1600 Super Presto – ultimate street shooting film. Daido Moriyama look
• Eastman Double-X 200 – beautiful tone curve, good dynamic range
• Kodak P3200 – globulous grain like coarse ground pepper
• Bluefire Police 80 – ultra fine-grained tech pan film
• Lucky SHD100 – lacks anti-halation for glowing highlights
• Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros – unbeatable all-round quality at 100ASA
• Kodak T-Max 400 – a bulletproof, scanner-friendly film
• Kodak T-Max 100 – great 100ASA film for scanning
• Kodak BW400CN – good all-round film for when only C-41 lab chemistry is available

• I used to use the many excellent Ilford films not pictured, including HP5, Delta 400, Delta 100, FP4, HP5 and will revert to them if necessary. I do often use Ilford Delta 3200, which is like P3200 (but still widely available), an 800ASA film for pushing up to 6400ASA.
• Chinese films like ERA and Shanghai – Chinese black and white films have always been excellent quality and while being the cheapest on the market. Sadly, all the brands I know of have recently gone, but there is plenty of old stock about.
• Agfa APX and other Agfa films – Agfa films, especially those with a high silver content have a wonderful classic era look.
• Fujifilm Neopan SS and other black and white films – all top notch, just harder to get and pricey outside of Japan, so I mostly stick to Kodak products.
• Rollei Retro 100 Tonal – good tone, good dynamic range, medium grain

Retro 100 Tonal

Delta 3200


Trix 400

Colour Negative Film
• Fujicolor Superia Reala 100 – perfect skin tones and landscape colours
• Kodak Ektar 100 – super fine grain and exceptional colours, especially blues and greens and reds and well … it’s just perfect
• Provia 400H – low contrast film for harsh light
• New Portra 400 – for shooting portraits, you can’t beat Portra
• Portra 800 – my favourite 800 film. Fast, with vast latitude. Lovely skin tones
• Portra 400VC – punch up your colours without making skin tones look bizarre
• Fujicolor Natura 1600 – formerly Japan-only, but now the best all-round low light colour film, especially beautiful when overexposed a couple of stops
• Fujicolor Superia Premium 400 – same idea as Portra
• Kodak Profoto XL 100 – a premium, fine grain 100-round 100ASA colour print film, less punchy than Ektar
• Konica 100 – this is so long expired I reach for it when I want an aged photo look

Rollei Digibase CN 200 Pro

• Kodak Ultramax 400 – this unpretentious film is almost the cheapest film you can buy here, but the results never cease to impress me. Universal appeal and ubiquitous availability
• Kodak Super Gold 400 – lovely if you can get it. Colours and fine grain, good in lower light too
• Kodak 400 Ultracolor – was a great film, but this batch is tired. 400VC was better anyway
• Fujicolor Superia 800 – ‘cheap’ fast film but fresh and fast
• Fujicolor Superia 1600 – likewise, ‘cheap’ fast film but fresh and fast
• Fujicolor Superia Venus 800 – Fuji’s equivalent of Portra 800

Colour Slide Film
• Fujichrome Velvia 50 – super saturated super contrast
• Fujichrome Provia 400X – if I have to go to 400 in slides this is the film
• Fujichrome Sensia 100 – cheap and less finicky. I miss the 200ASA
• Fujichrome Provia 100F – a very versatile film for all colours from vivid to pastels
• Fujichrome Fortia 50 – aka consumer Velvia
• Kodak E100G – for true-to life colours. VS was good, but not like VELVIA
• Kodak Elite Chrome Extracolor 100 – great saturated colours
• Agfa Precista CT – cross processes with strong colour shifts
• Fujichrome T64 – long expired but cross processes with strong reds and greens
• Lomography XPRO Chrome – comparatively more subtle cross-processing


• Velvia 100F – not quite the punch of Velvia 50
• Fujichrome 160T – again for XPRO


• Fomapan R – it’s a clear base black and white suitable for reversal if you can get a lab to process it
• Rollei Infrared 400S – a portrait film that has the blessed ability to reduce acne and scarring redness in skin tones
• Ilford SFX 200 – best used with an IR filter
• Efke IR820 – consider it an extreme version of SFX
• Lomography Redscale – I know redscale is just colour print film that’s spooled reversed, but the Lomo product gets better results than when I’ve done it myself.

Remember this huge selection is only a fraction of what is still out there in 135 (35mm) format. I have stocks of a variety of films in 120, 127, APS and other formats. Yes, I still shoot APS and yes, I can get it developed.


The primary consideration in the selection of film is whether I can reliably expose my image. If I am eyeballing the light level with an un-metered camera like my Leica M4, or worse, a fixed exposure toy camera, I personally do not have the skill to get slide exposure just right. Some photographers do, but if you’re transitioning from an automated digital camera, the chances are you won’t… yet.

The second consideration is the level of lighting. This is a bit like setting a fixed ISO setting in a digital camera. I select a film speed that suits the level of lighting. I pick a film that is in the ballpark of the typical aperture and shutter speed that I plan to use. I might choose a fast film for low light, a 400ASA (a.k.a. ISO) for general daylight city photography, or a slow film for bright daylight or flash photography.

The third consideration is the look. This is like choosing the creative style in a digital camera, but it is more critical with film. I ask myself several questions. Do I want a grainy or smooth image? Do I want high or low contrast? Do I want vibrant colours or muted tones? Strong colour casts and deep blue skies, or neutral? Will I be photographing people, vegetation or objects? Is monochromatic tone and texture more important to what I’m trying to say, or is colour needed? Would it look better with orthochromatic black and white film or infrared film? Will I filter and post process, or get it right in camera? Does the film push well? What does it look like cross-processed? More often than I’d like to admit, it comes down to “What do I have left in my camera bag?” It pays to go out with a selection of film and if shooting in the late part of the day migrate from fine-grained colour film to fast or push-able black and white film as the light starts to fail.

Velvia 100 Cross-Processed

The fourth consideration is to choose daylight or tungsten film. This is akin to the white balance setting in a digital camera. It’s not such a big deal with print film, but it makes a big difference in slide film. The bad news is I don’t know of any remaining slide films that are tungsten balanced, so you’ll just have to beware of the limitation. Likewise, when in early twilight, or under fluorescent lighting, you’re best off using print film. The good news is that daylight balanced films handle flash well, as the colour temperature is similar. If you’re picky, you can gel your flash.

The final consideration is cost and processing. The cheapest and easiest to buy and have processed in a lab is colour negative film. Hunt about. I buy 135 format colour negative film at prices ranging from US$3 to $10, but mostly it’s at the lower end of the range. I can get it processed and scanned for $2 and $2 respectively. Slide film is at the upper end of the purchase price range and costs double to process. Black and white is costs around $4 to buy and $4 to process, but I develop mine at home for almost nothing in cost of chemicals.

Bags of Processed 135 Film Cans

Care and Storage

It is generally recommended to store your negative film in a cool dry place, away from direct sunlight, sources of radiation (for example, if you’re a radiologist or air traveller) and humidity. Slide film needs to be stored cold. If you store your film in a fridge, remember that the inside of a fridge can get very damp, so make sure your film is sealed.

My Refrigerator at Home

Japan Camera Hunter also sells egg-carton style boxes to protect your film. This can save time if you go through a lot of film and can also allow you to bring a variety of film. This is for on-the go storage.

JCH Film Case

Remember to let your film warm up to room temperature before loading and using it.

I realise all this information is a lot to take in. There’s no harm in just trying lots of different films till you have found the ones that suit your style.

I recommend you start out with these:

Colour Print: Kodak Ultramax 400. Robust, ubiquitous, cheap and much better than the price would suggest. It’s just so good that Kodak makes it in huge quantities.

Colour Slide: Velvia 50. It will blow your socks off. Shoot it on bright but overcast days when print film would look drab.

Black and White Print: Kodak Tri-X 400. If Kodak discontinued that one, the uproar would be deafening. It’s so popular that it is often used as the baseline/ test emulsion for developing experimentation, so information abounds. It’s also fairly robust and you can push it 2, maybe 3 stops.

Black and White Slide (yes it exists!): Scala 200X. If you can find a lab that can process it, you will have a quasi-religious epiphany. If not it makes good print film with rich blacks and whites and a glorious tone curve.

Please share all your comments, observations and questions in the comments below. I would love to hear your opinions on this topic, especially if they differ from mine! I am still learning and I will until the day they bury me with my Zeiss Ikon ZM and a roll of Tri-X. Hmm, they’d better include a spare set of batteries, as I don’t know how long my current set will last!

In my next article, I will discuss the peculiarities of film technique and processing as compared to digital photography.

In case you missed part one you can catch it here.

If you haven’t already done so, please read my article Using Film and Digital and check back here for more instalments on this theme.

You can follow Dan on his social networks. He always has something interesting to say about photography and cameras.

He was also on ‘In your bag’

Photos and text © Dan K. All rights reserved.
Yodobashi photo © Japan Camera Hunter. All rights reserved.


52 comments on “Film for the Digital Photographer – Film By Dan K”

    hogarth f June 4, 2013 at 9:08 pm / Reply

    Great article, lots of good info. I would like to make one correction, with a 6×6 on 120, you get 12 shots, not 10.


      ZDP-189 June 4, 2013 at 10:42 pm /

      Thanks, it’s been ooooooh about 6 years since I last shot with a Rollei TLR.

    pengelana June 4, 2013 at 9:16 pm / Reply

    — “A roll of 120 film will give 10 exposures of 6cm x 6cm frames.”

    10 exposures in 6×7.
    12 exposures in 6×6, with Hasselblad’s C12 back you can make 13 exposures ;-)

    Jukka Watanen June 4, 2013 at 10:52 pm / Reply

    Well, the story omitted maybe two of the best B&W films now available:
    Rollei RPX 400 and RPX 100 both available both in 35mm and 120 spools..
    I have them available for hobbyists here:
    Otherwise, very useful information ! regards JW

      ZDP-189 June 4, 2013 at 11:08 pm /

      Keep the good suggestions coming. I only wrote about the films that I use regularly. The more info commenters share here the better. The objective of this article is to inspire people to get started with film.

    Bram June 4, 2013 at 11:28 pm / Reply

    Great article

    Erik June 4, 2013 at 11:38 pm / Reply

    Well done! You’ve got me on a search for some new emulsions. Thank you.

    Bill McCarroll June 4, 2013 at 11:54 pm / Reply

    Really enjoyed this series of articles and have saved the all. Part III will be a handy reference for trying out new films and going back to for handy tips. I’m one of those recently converted digital shooters now using both digital and film. Both have their place.

      ZDP-189 June 5, 2013 at 11:29 am /

      Thanks for your kind words. This series of articles was written for people like you.

      Now that the readership has been introduced to cameras and film, the next installment will addresses some of the fundamental differences of technique between film and digital photography.

      That article is already substantially written and will be released soon. I have also collaborated with some of the most inspirational lomo/toy camera photographers on twitter to write an article on that genre. I am presently finishing editing that article and it may be released here or on another site.

    Dieter Fröhling June 5, 2013 at 12:15 am / Reply

    Well Scala 200X. Had some rolls back in the day (last century) shot. Great slides – Needed exact exposure :-)
    Another story (not told here) is to scan those sildes :-( Haven’t used a really high-end scanner yet. But all models up to that….

    Use b&w film since nearly 30 years. Delevop them myself.

    And need a source (well reasoned priced) for Neopan 1600 ;-) Have tried most usual

      ZDP-189 June 5, 2013 at 11:51 pm /

      Yes, legendary Neopan 1600 is no more.

      Bellamy had a stash, but I think he’s out now. Send him wheelbarrows full of cash and send him on a quest.

      I bought a 10 pack from Filme Home in Hong Kong. I tried to buy everything they had but they wouldn’t even tell me how much they had. So naturally I told all of my friends and they probably got bought out.

      A workable alternative is Ilford Delta 3200. The chap sitting in the easy chair outside of the temple was shot on Delta 3200. The grain and contrast is comparable. Rumour has it, Delta 3200 and defunct Kodak P3200 are just pushable 800ASA films, so maybe it’s not far off. The main issue for me with all these high ASA films is the dark base.

      Another thing some people do is push the heck out of Tri-X 400 or TMAX 400. I rarely push over one stop. Kodak recommends you don’t even need to push TMAX if you’re a stop under, just leave it to the film latitude. 2 stops with push is quite doable.

      I’ll talk more about things like this in my next article. I apologise if you know all this already; hopefully the info may help someone out there.

      helinophoto June 10, 2013 at 5:26 pm /

      You cannot really get hold of Neopan 1600 any more.
      The last batch that was sold, had expiration 7/2012, which I have around 46 rolls of sitting in my freezer (i know, it won’t last for very long, even deep frozen :) ).

      Your best bet would be eBay to be honest, but make darn sure it has been stored cold, or better yet, frozen from the purchase.

      helinophoto June 10, 2013 at 5:27 pm /

      Pushing Neopan 400 in ie. Super prodol or micropen can give very nice results, I’ve read many threads where people are discussing the subject.

      helinophoto June 10, 2013 at 5:36 pm /

      You can also push Neopan 400 in Spur SLD, you can get that in Germany, but it’s wet chemistry, so I am not sure if it is shippable to the US for example.

    tx June 5, 2013 at 5:43 am / Reply

    I’m just (re)starting to shoot film, but so far I’ve had excellent luck with ilford xp2 super. C41 so it’s easy to get developed, and exposes well anywhere from 100-400. Crisp but not too contrasty, it perfectly matches the black and white look I have in mind

      ZDP-189 June 5, 2013 at 11:24 pm /

      Some people on twitter are singing XP2’s praises. The Kodak equivalent is BW400CN. Both process in regular colour machines so it’s cheaper if you can’t develop your own black and white, but it costs more to buy the film.

      I don’t use either much, because I develop at home, but the clown mask picture above is BW400CN.

    Luke June 5, 2013 at 6:59 am / Reply

    Great article to get people buying film!

    Alex Hartwin June 5, 2013 at 8:32 am / Reply

    Great article. Where do you get your colour film developed and scanned so cheaply?

      ZDP-189 June 5, 2013 at 11:12 pm /

      I go to Dot Well and Sunrise…. and my local lab and… wut? It costs more outside Hong Kong? It can’t be by much. You can still save a lot by scanning at home.

      Alex Hartwin June 7, 2013 at 11:13 pm /

      Ha ! Yeah it costs more outside Hong Kong. Generally here in Canada, for the lousiest common Photo Lab (they only do C-41 / Colour 135) you pay around $20 (US – not HK) for one roll of film developed and scanned. If you want to do BW or any 120, you have to go to somewhere more professional which will costs you at least US $30 develop and scan per roll. *sigh*

    mark June 5, 2013 at 1:26 pm / Reply

    Dan knows where you can still find “ERA” film I want in on that secret.

    In 4×5 I found Shanghai to be an acceptable substitute but found nothing in 135 that give the same retro look

      ZDP-189 June 5, 2013 at 10:50 pm /

      Dot Well in Hong Kong still has stock, at least they did last time I was there. Reach out to me on twitter and I’ll see if I can help.

    Ralph Hightower June 5, 2013 at 7:04 pm / Reply

    For tungsten film, there’s Fujichrome 64T Professional Tungsten Color Slide.

    I enjoyed the article, but I’m still shooting film in a digital world.

      ZDP-189 June 5, 2013 at 10:43 pm /

      64T was discontinued in 2009, AFAIK. I still have a couple of rolls, but they’re hopelessly out of date and won’t shoot right. The best hope is to XPro. 64T xpros with wonderful golden red tones.

      Ralph Hightower June 6, 2013 at 6:33 am /

      I checked B&H Photo in NYC just before posting about Fuji tungsten film and they have it in stock.

    markg June 5, 2013 at 8:07 pm / Reply

    Good informative article. I still have my old Nikon F3, which gave me some of the best shots I’ve ever taken (Tri-X was my usual film choice). Here’s a selection of my 35mm work on Flickr:

    If I had the time, money and (importantly) space I’d probably still shoot some film. What I’d really love to do though is try a glass plate camera.

      ZDP-189 June 7, 2013 at 12:27 am /

      I tweeted your flicker page. It is seriously impressive. I love your artistic focus on one look and emulsion. I’m not at that level yet. Playing the field.

    troy holden June 6, 2013 at 12:55 am / Reply

    Another home run, Dan. Thorough and easy to read. Your passion for film shooting is abundantly clear in this post.

    “In fact, being an overly paranoid hoarder, I have more film than I can possibly shoot before it expires.” << My favorite line, which begs the question: How many rolls are you currently sitting on?

    Looking forward to your post on scanning, I hear it's a nightmare, and as such I've been dragging my feet on scanning a 400+ roll backlog.

      ZDP-189 June 6, 2013 at 11:58 pm /

      Thanks! I’m overwhelmed by the response to my articles. I seem to have tapped into a huge pent-up demand from digital photographers converting to film and evangelical film photographers.

      I have a whole pipeline of articles on the topic that are already substantially written and will be published here over the coming month or so. The next follow-up article will be about the differences in the craft of film photography versus digital photography. Later, I’ll talk about scanning, but while I have been improving my scanning technique for years, I have yet to perfect my art. I know I can get even better results without buying a cubicle-sized drum scanner.

      As for how many rolls I’m sitting on, that’s really hard to say. I don’t keep an inventory. I just know it’s a warm and fuzzy feeling. The problem is that I won’t be able to shoot it all before it expires. That’s not good considering how much professional slide film I have; it doesn’t keep well. At least I can XPRO it even when the colours are off. The excess grows constantly, I can’t pass up a deal. I’m shortly going to plunder B&H for the 64T that Ralph’s kindly put me onto. Sometime in July some 40 rolls of Lomochrome Purple are due to arrive as well. I guess I can support my local friends who missed Lomography’s first pre-order.

      Troy Holden June 7, 2013 at 12:43 am /

      Looking forward to more articles. The overwhelming response is well deserved! I appreciate you sharing your knowledge on the subject with folks like me who are newer to film photography.

      If you’re ever in San Francisco, hit me up — would love to buy you a beer — and trade a few expired rolls ;)

      ZDP-189 June 7, 2013 at 12:00 am /

      PS/ A 400 roll scanning backlog!?! You have fallen deep down the rabbit hole, my friend. Have you considered sending it out to a local lab? You might save their business.

      Troy Holden June 7, 2013 at 12:40 am /

      I’ve asked my local lab and they want $7/roll to scan. Frankly, I can’t afford it — and my wife would frown upon spending $2800 on negative scanning.

      I’ll just tackle it head on. Start with the oldest roll and keep chipping away. Might take me 2-3 years, but I feel better about sitting on a backlog than on nothing at all!

      ZDP-189 June 8, 2013 at 1:21 am /

      Let me know if I can help you out with that. Maybe my lab will offer a bulk discount. They treat me very well; they have actually stopped charging me for scanning film that I develop there.

    J June 6, 2013 at 12:13 pm / Reply

    Awesome article. So many people where i live are new to film and this is really helpful!

    Dan Domme June 8, 2013 at 2:32 am / Reply

    I would just like to recommend all Ilford films for people who love black and white. I use HP5+ as a general-purpose film, with Delta 100 and Pan F+ for slower speeds. The only other black and white film producer I use these days is Fujifilm Acros 100.

    lukas June 10, 2013 at 1:36 am / Reply

    Hey, I just bought couple rolls of Kodak Tri-X 400TX and I was wondering what does the TX stand for? Does it have anything to do with the DX coding?

      ZDP-189 June 10, 2013 at 1:09 pm /


      I’m kidding. “TX” stands for “Tri-X”. Kodak loves it’s X’s. There’s Eastman Double-X, T-MAX and there was a Super-XX, Plus-X etc. Tri-X Pan is a panchromatic monochrome film, which means it’s sensitive to a broad spectrum of light.

      The “400” bit means 400ASA (ISO). Interestingly Double-X is a stop slower at 200ASA, and I think Super-XX was 200 as well. Plus-X was 125 ASA. Maybe you are onto something, though I would stick to actual film speed ratings.

      Titanium Mike February 15, 2014 at 5:06 pm /

      First of all, fantastic series of articles, even for as you put it ‘evangelic’ film adepts like myself :) I love lists, and it’s great to see these comparisons on one page again..makes my Saturday! Myself, I love TRI-X and Portra (especially 120), but have to say that lately I’m being won over by CineStill. I hope they keep producing this film for a long time, I think it’s amazing. But, there’s a lot of debate (when you look around) on the actual film speed of TRI-X. Some say it’s 200, some 320..and I always expose mine as 320 but have it developed as 400. Reading and researching TRI-X film speeds makes me confused, and would especially confuse digital photographers wanting to try out film. I would suggest to just buy a stash, shoot it at different speeds and have everything developed at the same lab. See what the film does and choose what suits you best. Goes for any film, obviously :) Thanks again for this article, looking forward to part 3!

    helinophoto June 10, 2013 at 5:33 pm / Reply

    Great writeup.

    Any particular reason you didn’t mention Neopan 400 ?

    Neopan 400 is, after all, a better film than tri-x in many respects (higher resolution, finer grain, just as pushable, same tonal response) and is in fact also on par with the newer delta 400 from Ilford and the TMax from Kodak.

    – I know that Americans tend to shoot Kodak and shun Fuji, and the Euro’s shoot Iford and shun Fuji, but imo it’s just sad to ignore this amazing film.

    Sadly it’s not available in 120, but it IS available in 35mm.

    For 35mm shooting in 400 ISO, most digi-converts will be scrutinizing the grain and AFAIK, of the 3 main film producers (kodak, fuji, ilford), the Fuji Neopan 400 is the most pleasing 400 ISO alternative out there today.

    Should definitely be on your list, no matter if you shoot it or not.

      ZDP-189 June 11, 2013 at 1:46 am /

      I shoot relatively little Neopan, because I am more familiar with the other brands and wanted to write from recent experience, rather than what others said about it. I honestly can’t remember the last time I used it.

      I hear it’s good stuff, though. I especially recommend it to photographers in Japan as Bellamy says it’s cheaper there than the Kodak equivalent.

      Regardless of what you use, I suggest shooting it regularly to get your eye in.

    Mac June 10, 2013 at 5:54 pm / Reply

    Normal B&W film can be developed as slides with great results, Scala is not needed. lots of info there on film and speed rating.

      ZDP-189 June 11, 2013 at 1:57 am /

      True; but you should pick a good emulsion with a clear base. Scala and Fomapan R are optimised for reversal development.

    Gareth June 11, 2013 at 2:17 am / Reply

    Great info to read, and I want your film stock! The Japanese shop looked very interesting.
    Keep shooting true (film!) Photography!!

    cutebun July 2, 2013 at 4:19 pm / Reply

    Wow so much info to take it. hmm.. I’m hoarding my films though XD

    David Luttmann July 2, 2013 at 10:11 pm / Reply

    A few mistakes in here. 8×10 is not the most common LF film size…4×5 is. Also, there is no colour neg film named Provia 400H. It’s Fuji Pro400h. Good article though. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    Brad Maestas September 2, 2013 at 6:31 am / Reply

    Nice article. Good to see that other folks are still serious about film like I am!

    I switched to HP5 a few years ago after many years with Tri-X mainly because I could get it cheaper. I don’t notice much of a difference in the way they look so I’m happy with it. When I don’t want much grain I usually go for Delta or Neopan. Great films.

    For color neg I’ve been shooting a lot of Pro 400H. After a tip from some wedding photog friends, I’ve been over-exposing it one to two stops and it looks amazing, especially in medium format. I’ve always found Portra a little too low contrast at times and the 400H over a stop or two is just perfect.

    Happy shooting!

    ted zuber November 3, 2013 at 8:47 am / Reply

    Where do I buy a 4×5 line film, ortho or pan ? Also, I need a true matt surface RC
    enlarging B&W paper .conventional liquid developer processed. If anyone would care
    to try an ” artsy” B&W film= orthochromatic Line film with a rough asa of 25 and
    souped in any multispeed ( D-72 ) developer, diluted 1 to 19 water and 2 minutes at
    apx. 70 degrees F. This will of course work wonders at regaining the image from
    very badly faded old prints. Have fun !

    Sarahhd April 4, 2014 at 5:10 am / Reply

    Just getting back into film as tired of digital’s teeth grinding sharpness – I’m frustrated though that fuji pro 400h and kodak Portra 800 aren’t available in 220 format. Is the fuji stock available solely in japan still do you know and if so where might be able to ship it internationally?

    Maciek July 13, 2014 at 12:01 pm / Reply

    Thank You for a great article! Some great news about more and more people getting their feet wet switching to film :)
    Just to add my 2 cents (for newbies) to your excellent article…
    * Kodak 400CN is a wonderful film! Very sharp and smooth with very nice contrast. I prefer it over Ilford XP2.
    **Shooting slide film is not that difficult with old cameras (with adjustments for aperture and shutter) by following Sunny 16 rule WITH LITTLE UNDEREXPOSE IN MIND :)
    Just be on Underexpose side, especially on a sunny day and You’ll be fine.

    Ashfaque September 18, 2014 at 3:00 pm / Reply

    Hello Dan,

    Thanks for this very useful article. Could you please tell me the name of that 35 mm bulk film loader and where I can one.



    schlem May 13, 2015 at 11:28 am / Reply

    +5 for Velvia 50 recommendation. If I could figure out how to reproduce its lusty browns or blues, I would get a tattoo tomorrow. RIGHT ON MY CHEST. Then, as they shocked my dying heart, they would be asking what and who Velvia might be. And then they’d go out and buy a film camera.

    June May 13, 2015 at 12:46 pm / Reply

    Great article ! Unfortunately it seems impossible to buy film in Jakarta – have been looking everywhere, trying for a while. Will have to stock up in England instead…

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