LEARN: Buying the Right Film for Your Camera

In this Guide

1. Types of film
2. Pro vs. consumer
3. Film-buying tips
4. Glossary

Useful Resources

Glossary of Terms
Read Print Film Reviews
Read Slide Film Reviews
Read Black and White Film Reviews
Read APS Film Reviews
Ask Questions About Film

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Buying the Right Film for Your Camera

Today's photographic films offer rich clarity and detail that can't yet be matched by digital cameras. But choosing the right film for your pictures calls for a little forethought.

Serious photographers have varying opinions on film brand and behavior. For them, film is a matter of preference, much as an artist chooses watercolors over oils. No matter what kind of pictures you shoot, you'll need to take several factors into consideration when choosing a film stock. Types of Film

Types of film

All films have ISO numbers. The higher the number, the more sensitive a film is to light. The lower the number, the "slower" the film speed, and the less sensitive it is to light. For example, an ISO 50 film requires bright daylight or long exposures, while an 800-speed film can often capture photos in limited room light.

35mm film display

Two types of film -- 35mm and Advanced Photo System (APS) -- meet most picture-takers' needs. Each goes in a different type of camera; APS cannot work in a 35mm camera, and vice versa. APS film has a magnetic coating that records data from the camera. APS offers three speeds of color (100, 200, 400) and one speed of black-and-white print film (400). Unlike 35mm film, APS film comes encased in a cassette. It remains in this cassette from the time it is loaded into the camera until after it's processed. Some photographers find the APS cassette to be a handier storage option than filing loose negatives. APS films are fine for family pictures and travel photos, but most APS cameras are automatic; you can't set exposure or shutter speeds.

For more flexibility, go with 35mm film. You get a larger negative -- 35mm vs. 24mm -- so you can make sharper enlargements. And, 35mm films are widely available in speeds from slow ISO 50 (good for daylight) to fast, ISO 800 or 1600 (good for shooting in low-light conditions). You can select color or black-and-white print film, transparency film for slides, and infrared films for more surreal images.

Pro vs. Consumer Films, P.2 >>