If you're like me and grown a bit tired of all the over processed digital photography that's become the norm over the past 15 years and sought refuge in the arms of an old analog film camera, you have probably asked yourself at one time or another which film stock you should be using for your work. In this post, I will share a few recommendations that I hope will help you make your decision.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT FILM FOR PORTRAITS There is no one film stock that is universally considered to produce the most beautiful skin tones, as this can be a matter of personal preference and will depend on the specific characteristics of the film and how it is used. However, some film stocks that are often praised for their ability to produce attractive skin tones include:
Kodak Portra: This film is known for its natural, warm tones and good color saturation. It is available in ISO speeds of 160, 400, and 800. I love shooting 160 and 400 though have never tried the 800 variant. Probably my favourite film stock.
Kodak Gold: This film is one of the most popular budget films ever produced by Kodak, and for good reason. It's warm midtones and pleasant colours are the perfect fit for many portrait sessions, particularly if you are looking to produce a nostalgic, warm feel to your photos. Given its lower price and similarity to Portra, I would highly recommend giving it a shot.
Fujifilm Pro 400H: Recently discontinued, this film has a reputation for producing rich, creamy skin tones and accurate colors. It is available in ISO 400. You can still find plenty of rolls available online. One of my favourites to use in medium format portraits outdoors due to the way it renders a pastel look when overexposed by a stop or two.
Ilford Delta: This black and white film is known for its wide dynamic range and smooth, detailed tones. It is available in ISO speeds of 100, 400, and 3200.
Fuji Superia 400: This is a go-to film stock for many people simply because it is one of the few stocks still sold in stores like London Drugs. While some photographers may scoff at it, I have found it to be a very versatile and forgiving stock (so long as you don't underexpose it). When I use this stock, I always meter carefully, or put my exposure compensation to plus 1 if metering in camera. Colours are natural with nice greens and neutral skin tones. Handles over exposure nicely.
Ultimately, the best film stock for capturing beautiful skin tones will depend on the specific needs and preferences of the photographer and the conditions in which they are shooting. CHOOSING THE RIGHT FILM FOR LANDSCAPE OR ARCHITECTURE
Kodak Ektar 100: This film is known for its vibrant, saturated colors and fine grain, making it a popular choice for landscape photography. It is available in ISO 100.
Fujichrome Velvia 50: This slide film is known for its punchy, highly saturated colors and excellent color accuracy.
Ilford HP5 Plus: This black and white film is known for its wide dynamic range and ability to capture a wide range of tonal values, making it suitable for capturing a range of landscapes in different lighting conditions. It is available in ISO 400.
Kodak ProImage 100: This film is known for its excellent color reproduction and fine grain, making it a good choice for landscape photography where fine detail is important. It is available in ISO 100.
Lomochrome Metropolis: This film is known for a gritty, grungy look that won't suit all scenarios. I would recommend only using it for architecture work. Comes in a flexible ISO rated 100 to 400. I normally shoot and process mine at 400.