Best Film for the Canon A-1

´╗┐The best film to use in your Canon A-1 will have to be based on the lighting conditions, your lens, and if you want to use color or black & white.

Taking advantage of an ISO 400 film or higher speed will help you skip being burdened with a tripod or flash.

If you have a need to capture photos in low light, such as indoors, make sure that you have a fast lens. Have a look at my post on the 5 Best Lenses for the Canon A-1 for lens ideas.

Kodak UltraMax 400 35mm Film
Kodak UltraMax 400 35mm Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - An excellent selection for a variety of lighting conditions. Using this film you should be able to handhold the A-1 in most situations.

The images will have terrific colors and leans towards the warm side.

Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400
Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Based on where you are in the world, this film can have greater availability. It is a top quality alternative to Kodak.

In comparison to Kodak, Fuji appears to be a little cooler with an emphasis on blues and greens.

Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO
Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO

Lomography 800 - There are only a small number of choices if you want an ISO 800 speed color film. For film geared towards consumers, Lomography 800 is the single choice.

Furthermore, if you have a medium format camera, it is also available in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200
Kodak Gold 200

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film that debuted in the mid-1980s. The film offers the look and feel of snapshots from the 80s and 1990s. For the classic experience have an on-camera flash.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to reveal the most popular look the film can achieve. This will provide the appealing colors people love Gold 200 for.

Box of Kodak Portra 400 ISO 35mm film
Kodak Portra 400

Kodak Portra 400 - Among photography enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is the most widely used color negative film. Overexpose the film by 1 or 2-stops to get the appearance the film is highly regarded for.

There’s also ISO 160 and ISO 800 emulsions of Kodak Portra. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 are also available.

These film emulsions have affordable costs and very good quality, making them very popular to use in the Canon A-1.

The major appeal for budget minded photographers and photography students is the reasonable cost. Even if you would not put yourself in that group, it’s great to have affordable rolls of 35 film around for testing newly purchased used cameras.

Kentmere ISO 400 Film
Kentmere 400

Kentmere 400 - It’s produced by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is excellent due to the fact that allows this to be the most commonly available B&W film out of the three.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action
Foma Fomapan 400 Action

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - Can be much easier to obtain in Europe as the film is manufactured in the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.

A solid film emulsion to try for your initial few attempts at film photography or developing film at home. Also a good selection if you happen to be attempting to test out a camera to ensure that it’s functioning properly.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400
Ultrafine eXtreme 400

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - The cheapest store to purchase this film is online directly from Ultrafine.

They manufacture chemical developer kits for color film, so if you process film at home you may have previously interacted with them.

The two most popular black & white 35mm film stocks are Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400. While they both have individual looks, they possess many qualities that are equivalent that makes them so well liked.

You can obtain professional photographs after pushing both emulsions 2-stops. This makes the film versatile as a roll can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600.

Ilford HP5 Plus 400
Ilford HP5 Plus 400

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The largest differences are that HP5 Plus is cheaper and has less contrast in comparison to Tri-X. Minimal contrast can be nice because contrast can be changed when making a darkroom print or editing digitally.

The film stock still appears very good when pushed 2-stops. It is also notable for having subdued grain.

Kodak Tri-X 400
Kodak Tri-X 400

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film stock provides a stronger look to it. To produce the traditional grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it needs to be developed in Kodak D-76.

Tri-X 400 certainly has far more contrast. That is awesome if it is the style you are after because it involves a smaller amount of work when during digital processing or making a print.

Films that create a positive image can be called slide, reversal, or transparency film. That means a lightbox or projector can be used to display the pictures.

The colors are not required to be inverted to be viewed, unlike the more readily available negative films.

Slide films are considered tough to shoot because slide film has much less dynamic range and latitude when compared to negative film.

Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Slide Film
Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Transparency Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a film known for exquisite skin tones and fine grain. The colors won’t be seen as oversaturated. It’s daylight balanced.

Fujichrome Velvia 50
Fujichrome Velvia 50

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is a exceptionally sharp daylight color balanced slide film with lots of contrast and saturation, giving photos a signature rendering. It has the top resolving power of any available transparency film emulsion.

You can also get it in an ISO 100 speed.

Fujichrome Provia 100F
Fujichrome Provia 100F

Fujichrome Provia 100F - Produces natural and vibrant colors with medium contrast and color saturation. It is a film balanced for daylight with ultra fine grain.

Foma Fomapan R100
Foma Fomapan R100

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white reversal film, reported by Fomapan as having excellent resolving power, elevated contrast, and fine grain. It’s also billed as a replacement for the long discontinued Agfa Scala reversal film.

Professional film stock have a greater dynamic range, are easier to push, and increased latitude, which is the reason pro-film costs more.

There is a significant difference in supply. Consumer film emulsions can generally still be bought from big-box stores and pharmacies in limited amounts. Professional film emulsions will need to be purchased from a online retailer or specialized photography store.

A film’s light sensitivity is shown as the ISO.

The less light available to get an image, the bigger the film’s ISO will need to be. This comes at the cost of larger film grain.

ISO 100 and slower speed films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc) might be a challenge to use handheld with the A-1. The will probably take longer will probably take more time than what you can handhold without leading to motion blur unless you are shooting in full sun.

A fast lens, flash, and/or tripod are going to assist you with longer shutter speeds. The extra accessories might not be needed if you decide to use a higher speed ISO 400 or ISO 800 film.

As a quick note, the dial to select film speed is marked as ASA on the Canon A-1. The change to using ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Latitude is the number of stops a film can be overexposed while still producing acceptable quality. Pro films have a greater latitude to go along with a somewhat increased cost.

Slide film has less latitude in comparison with negative film. That is one of the reasons why it is thought of challenging to use.

The range between the brightest and darkest details of a picture is described as dynamic range. Parts of an image that don’t fit within this range will be rendered as completely black underexposed shadows or completely white overexposed highlights.

A bigger dynamic range is preferable since a bigger range makes shooting in a variety of lighting conditions easier.

  • Digital cameras 14+ stops
  • Negative film up to 13 stops
  • Slide film 6-8 stops

The limited dynamic range of reversal film is an additional reason it’s thought to be difficult to shoot. Golden hour is the ideal time to use reversal.

The Canon A-1 takes 35mm film that is sold in metal canisters. It can also be referred to as 135 film, and it’s the best-selling type of film.

The only other film format you are likely to see is 120 or 220 film that is used with medium format cameras}.

Swapping the film emulsion you are using will change the look of your images. This is an example of the fantastic things about shooting film.

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister
DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Just about all new 35mm film for sale these days has DX encoding on the canister. This allows electronically controlled cameras to detect and set the ISO when the film is loaded.

DX-coding will not change anything for the Canon A-1 because ISO is required to be manually selected.

There are limited choices for where to get 35mm film processed. For a more extensive discussion of the possibilities you can check out my guide on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Big box stores and pharmacies no longer develop film at the store. They mail film off-site to be processed by a third party. Because of that, you won’t get your processed negatives back.

  1. Develop Film at Home
  2. Use a Local Photography Lab
  3. Use a Mail Order Photo Lab
  4. Pharmacy or Big Box Store

Shipping your film to a mail-order lab to be processed and scanned is the simplest option if you are just beginning to use film. A downside to this is that it gets expensive if you regularly use film.

There are a few activities that can be done to limit the costs required to shoot film, as long as you are shooting a medium to high volume of film.

Certainly one of the most well known ways to spend less money on film is to buy a roll of 100’ of film and load it into canisters yourself.

Once you are done, you will find yourself with typically around 18 canisters of 36 frames each. Based on the film you are likely to save 20%-30%.

Bear in mind that you’re going to be limited to bulk rolls of black & white film. This is in part because black & white film is a lot easier and cheaper to develop at home.

You have the ability to process and digitize film yourself. It’s an excellent method to reduce costs so that you can use more film with your Canon A-1.

Black and white film is significantly easier to process at home. Temperature and time are both not as important to do correctly with black and white films as time and temperatures are for transparency or color negative.