Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Choosing Film

Buying film can be intimidating if you’re not familiar with the process.  C-41, black and white, C-41 black and white, infrared, 35mm or 120…

Whatever your film needs, the first step is to buy from Freestyle Photo.  They are trying to support analog photography and will continue to make film products until they go broke!  Support Freestyle who supports keeping film alive!


Whether you buy 120 or 35 will depend on your camera - that should be pretty straight forward.  Picking a film processing type will be a different thing.

Black and white professional films (I heart Kodak Tri-X, which isn’t shown here because I shot all of it) need to either be processed by hand using black and white developing chemicals or taken to/sent to a lab that has the chemicals.  In Siskiyou County, you have a couple places in Medford, Crown Camera in Redding or you can send away to Photoworks in SF, who doesn’t charge very much to process film.

Black and white film also varies in price, just like black and white darkroom paper.  It has to do with the amount of silver in it.  Images are created using silver halide, and since silver is spendy, more silver = better film = more money.

On a totally unrelated note, this is why I love Ilford Warmtone paper even though it’s more than a dollar a sheet.


Next, we have C41 process film.  This is basic color film processing.  They happen to make black and white film that can be processed in C41 chemicals, but most of the prints will have a tint and you can’t hand print from them in a black and white darkroom.  C41 processing is simple.  Drop it off at Rite Aid, Crown Camera or (if you have time) send it away to Photoworks.  Rite Aid sometimes abuses my film, so a professional lab is preferable.


Infrared film works just like black and white film, only you pre-soak it in water.  Oh, and it records a totally different spectrum of light, has to be loaded and unloaded in total darkness and requires an R72 filter to get those neat IR effects.


Weird film is weird.  So weird, I couldn’t get a clear shot of it.  Rollei, Holga and Lomography make some great stuff.  Just follow the directions.


Finally, if you’re not cross processing, slide film is processed in E6 chemicals and gives you a positive slide (instead of a negative).  This is one to send to Photoworks as well.

That’s about it.  Finding a film you love has a lot to do with personal taste.  I like Tri-X because I like grain, but it’s not for everyone.  The reason I have all these film types is because I intend to shoot all of them and compare and understand them all.  Look for more on that in… a long time… there’s a lot of film there!

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