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35mm Film Advice

15 Mar 2012 11:06AM
As a kid I occasionally borrowed my dads 35mm SLR's and had numerous 35mm compact cameras that were little more than toys. For years as an adult I never even owned a camera and then digital took off and I was an early adopter and have used it for well over a decade.

Recently though I bought myself a dedicated negative scanner to digitise all the photos my dad took of us all as kids. These slides are nearly 40 years old and yet I have been really impressed with the quality and 'feel' of the photos even though many of them where taken on a crappy compact camera (before he had an SLR).

So impressed have I been that I've just bought myself two 35mm cameras.

One was a Russian Fed 2 (based on a Leica but obviously nowhere near the quality) which to be honest I bought because I just loved the look of it and liked the 'rustic & imperfect' results I've seen others capture with it - kinda Lomo inspired but a bit better quality.

The other was, I think a bargain, it is a Canon EOS 5 with grip and a 24-70 lens for which I paid just 44. Admittedly the lens is not up to much, it's fully working and clear but it's only the Sigma f/3.5-5.6 and I have a much nicer f/2.8 version that I'll be using. The camera is fully working and in excellent condition and I've already run a few rolls through it.

The trouble is, I really don't know much about film in terms of stocks and processing. I just bought a few reels of Kodak Ektar 100 to begin with because I simply liked the look of a few photos I'd seen online shot using it and understood it to be a very fine grain. This leads me on to the biggest difference I've found between film and digital (so far) is the lack of ability to change ISO between shots. Yesterday I was going around Camden Market and found that some of it was in bright sunshine whilst other areas were in the shade and I simply couldn't get the shutter speeds I needed.

I'm thinking that perhaps ISO 200 or possibly ISO 400 might be a better 'all round' film speed to use but wondered what others thought?

I'm also interested in any recommendations for film stocks, both colour & B&W. For colour I quite like vibrant colours (hence the Ektar stock) and for B&W I like high contrast with very rich blacks.

Also can anyone recommend any companies for 35mm processing as I have no idea what to look for in one? As I'll be scanning the negs I'm only really interested in processing only.

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thewilliam 9 6.1k
15 Mar 2012 11:21AM
Mono (non-chromagenic) film processing can easily be done at home as I used to do 50 years ago before I had my own darkroom.

There are plenty of books that will tell you exactly how to do it - "The Negative" by Ansel Adams is probably the definitive work. Basic books sell for a few pence in charity shops and jumble sales.

The kit is almost given away.

When you develop your own film, you can do what you like. The wonderful image qualities of Ilford HP5 or Kodak TMZ developed in Rodinal become accessible.
Pete Plus
17 18.8k 97 England
15 Mar 2012 11:23AM
This may help you find a processor...most are still going Film Processing Labs reviewed
franken Plus
15 4.6k 4 United Kingdom
15 Mar 2012 1:34PM
Kodak have recently announced that they are to stop manufacturing all of their slide films but are continuing with print ones.

When I use film these days I tend to use Fuji as they continue to have a good range of colour and b/w.

ISO 400 is a good all round one.

Not sure if you want any ideas of where to get film? I use 7dayshop.com on line as they are a reliable and well established company and their prices include postage.

Link here to b/w ones.

Sooty_1 7 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
15 Mar 2012 2:52PM
I second developing your film at home. If you want to shoot black and white a lot, I would also suggest buying a bulk film loader. By the time you have rolled your first dozen rolls, you will have saved the money. Plus, they are another thing that is almost given away these days (look for a Watson Bulk Film Loader).

Bulk film like HP5/FP4 etc is usually less than 60 for 30m/100', and the reloadable cassettes are a few pence each If you dev your own stuff, you will only ever need a few. This makes a 36 exp film about 3 max. (I used to roll 35 shots plus a couple of blanks as 5 lots of 7 negs fitted perfectly on a 8x10 contact sheet). Doesn't matter so much now if you're going to scan, but you can roll films of any lengths.

It is possible to get it much cheaper if you shop around.

Being in control of the whole process from load, shoot, develop through to print is a great experience.

KenTaylor Plus
13 3.1k 2 United Kingdom
15 Mar 2012 3:44PM
Home processing is fine although it would take time and effort to get hold of a tank & spirals plus the chemicals not forgetting storage sheets.
Those that have done it all in the past are likely to have the bits and pieces lying around with only the chemicals to get hold of.
There is the higher risk of damage for the novice particularly at the drying stage.

Well worth the attempt that again depends on how much film you use but cant help thinking the post box would be an easier option.The link Pete has given is useful.
15 Mar 2012 3:55PM
Thanks all for your replies, very much appreciated. I like the idea of eventually developing my own film but until I had a bit more experience of using film, rather than my current 24hrs Wink , I'll feel more comfortable sending it away. Many thanks for the links to labs and to 7dayshop. The film I had bought I got from 7dayshop via Amazon so I'd certainly buy direct from them.

It's interesting that after just 24hrs of using film it's already made me re-evaluate my next purchase of a DSLR. I currently use a Canon EOS 30D and have had my eyes and heart set on the 7D since it's release but now I'm very strongly thinking it should be the 5D and to ditch my Sigma 10-20 and buy the Canon 17-40 (which I used to own but sold because I didn't find it wide enough on my 30D).
thewilliam 9 6.1k
15 Mar 2012 4:23PM
If you reload your own film, make sure that cassettes are kept clean. The velvet light-trap picks is very effective at picking up muck which can scratch the film.

Always store them in a closed plastic pot when they're not on use and NEVER floating about in your pocket. With Ilford type cassettes, you can remove both end-caps and get good access to clean the velvet.

If you have the space, you can get a proper drying cupboard for very little.
ljesmith 13 1.1k United Kingdom
15 Mar 2012 5:31PM
If your going to stick with film I can highly recommend moving up to 120, the quility will blow you away.
thefizz 14 353
21 Mar 2012 1:40PM

Quote:Kodak have recently announced that they are to stop manufacturing all of their slide films but are continuing with print ones.

Can you provide a link to this information?
thefizz 14 353
23 Mar 2012 11:29AM

Quote:Kodak have recently announced that they are to stop manufacturing all of their slide films but are continuing with print ones.

Can you provide a link to this information?

Found it.
pablophotographer 6 936 334
6 Apr 2012 12:24AM
I have been using Kodak ColorPlus negative 200 iso (24 rolls from quidland, bargain) Kodak UltraMax colour negative 400 iso for faster subjects or darker conditions, and the impressive BW400CN iso 400 black and white negative with same process as the other two, C41. If you want transparency film try Fujifilm, or Boots, they make an own brand manufactured in Japan (by whom , I wonder). I have only shot one roll of the transparency film and it was part a newly acquired camera and part my trial and error approach that the results were not as the ones I had from the other films I have used far more often.

I had an issue with the developing labs, when you get your picture digitalised a part from the frame scanned is missing... the developers may not pay attention to detail and my suggestion is to bear that in mind when you are taking pictures, shoot the cheapest film I told you to test what I mean. There was a time that I had shot boats I decided to make larger prints to support a charity at work. All of the boat parts were in the frame but on the print the bow and the stern were chopped. Thankfully the lab managed on a second attempt to include the bow so they saved the day.

A good working relationship with the developers and the printers is more than necessary. I cannot stress enough how important they are also in having the result you want printed.

If you do have space and time to develop your own film, go for it! The plain black and white films do not need temperature regulating while processing, C41 process films do. Start with black and white printing first. Kodak and Fujifilm have dedicated parts in their websites for films, worth a look.

Remember not to leave the batteries in the camera for long periods of inactivity. Keep snapping, keep the world smiling!
Shcokete 7 32
29 Apr 2012 5:59PM
Kodak are going down the pan, they were too slow to think digital. The slide films are already out of production. Colour negative will go the same way and you will have to buy Fuji.
thefizz 14 353
29 Apr 2012 6:28PM
Apparently kodak's film division was the only one making a profit. Yes Fuji's transparency films were more popular than kodak's but I think kodak have the upperhand with neg film.
landscapepics 7 15 3 United Kingdom
30 Jun 2012 11:32PM
The issue with loss of part of the frame, which pablophotographer referred to, may be due to print dimensions not matching the negative dimensions.

35mm film is 24mm high by 36mm wide, therefore a 2:3 ratio. The only way you can get prints which cover 100% of the image is to choose print sizes which also have a 2:4 ratio, for example 5 * 7.5 (not 5*7 which is a common option), 6 * 9, or 12 * 18.

I covered this issue in a blog article -

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