Best Film for the Canon AL-1
The best film to use in your Canon AL-1 will have to be based on the available light, lens, and if you want to shoot color or black & white.
To prevent having to lug around a flash or tripod, pick a 35mm film that has an ISO of 400 or higher.
If you have a need to capture photos in low light, such as indoors, make sure you have a fast lens. Go read my article on the 5 Best Lenses for the Canon AL-1 for suggestions.
Kodak UltraMax 400 - A very good choice for a wide range of conditions. Kodak UltraMax 400 is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the AL-1 in lots of scenarios.
Expect images to look a little bit warm with pleasant skin tones.
Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Based on your location, this film may be more widely available. It is a top quality alternative to Kodak film.
When compared to Kodak, Fujifilm tends to be a bit cooler with stronger blues and greens.
Lomography 800 - You’re limited to just a small number of possibilities if you want an ISO 800 speed color film. For 35mm film focused on consumers, this is the only choice.
Additionally, if you own a medium format camera, it is also available in 120 film format.
Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film that started production in the mid-1980s. The film gives the look and feel of home snapshots from the 80s and 90s. Use an on-camera flash to get the “classic” look the film is known for.
Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to produce the most popular look the film has to offer. This will provide the attractive colors everyone loves Kodak Gold 200 for.
Kodak Portra 400 - By far the most popular color negative film among photography enthusiasts online. Overexpose the film by 1 or 2-stops to get the look the film is well known for.
There’s also ISO 160 and 800 emulsions of Kodak Portra. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 are also manufactured.
These film stocks have low prices and more than acceptable quality, making them very popular to be used in the Canon AL-1.
The main appeal for budget minded photographers and photography students is the reasonable price. Even if you would not put yourself in those groups, it is good to have low-priced rolls of 35 film on hand for trying out recently delivered camera gear.
Kentmere 400 - It’s made by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is great due to the fact that makes this the most commonly sold B&W film of the three.
Foma Fomapan 400 Action - Might be less difficult to acquire in Europe as the film is made out of the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.
An appropriate film stock to try for your initial few attempts at film photography or developing film at home. Also a good option if you happen to be trying out a camera to be sure that it’s operating properly.
Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the best price on this film by getting it from Ultrafine.
If you process color 35mm film yourself, you might have done that with chemicals sold by them.
The two top selling black and white films are Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5 Plus 400. They do have numerous characteristics in common that make them a favourite, while maintaining unique rendering.
You can still get very good photographs after pushing both film stocks 2-stops. This makes the film versatile as a roll can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600.
Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The primary differences are that HP5 Plus has lower levels of contrast and is cheaper when compared to Tri-X. A lack of contrast can be advantageous because of the fact contrast can be changed when making a darkroom print or through digital post processing.
The film has subtle grain and still looks outstanding when pushed 2-stops.
Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film emulsion has a more distinctive aesthetic. To create the legendary grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it will need to be developed in Kodak D-76.
You will undeniably see far more contrast with Tri-X. That is helpful if it happens to be the look and feel you are looking for because it means significantly less work when making a print in the darkroom or during digital processing.
Film stocks that make a positive image can be called transparency, reversal, or slide film. This means the slides can be displayed with a light box or projector.
This is distinct from the more common negative film stocks that result in photographs that need the colors to be inverted for the image to be seen.
Slide films have far less dynamic range and latitude when compared to negative film and so they are regarded as harder to work with.
Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a fine grain film known for beautiful skin tones. There’s virtually no hypersaturation of colors. The film has a daylight color balance.
Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Provides unique looking shots that have high amounts of saturation and contrast. It is sharp daylight balanced film emulsion. Out of all the reversal films available to buy, it has the top resolving power.
It is also available in an ISO 100 emulsion.
Fujichrome Provia 100F - Offers vivid and natural colors with moderate color saturation and contrast. It is a ultrafine grain film balanced for daylight.
Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white transparency film, described by Fomapan as having excellent resolving power, very fine grain, and elevated levels of contrast. It’s also regarded as a substitute for the long discontinued Agfa Scala slide film.
Pro films cost more due to the fact they can more easily be pushed, have greater dynamic range, and latitude.
There will also be a disparity in business that sell it. Consumer film emulsions can oftentimes be bought in pharmacies and big-box stores in small amounts. Pro film needs to be ordered from a online or camera store.
The ISO refers to the speed of the film, that can also be regarded as the film’s sensitivity to light.
The higher the film’s ISO, the less light is needed to get a photograph. This comes at the cost of noticeably increased film grain.
ISO 100 and slower films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc) may be troublesome to use handheld with the AL-1. This is because without full sun, the exposure times will most likely take longer than what you are able to handhold without producing motion blur.
A flash, tripod, and/or fast lens can assist you with longer exposure times. Using a fast ISO 800 or ISO 400 film will likely make the extra equipment not needed.
The ISO knob is listed as ASA on the Canon AL-1. The shift to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).
Film latitude is the range of stops a film can be overexposed while still having adequate results. Professional films have a larger latitude paired with a somewhat increased price.
Transparency film has a smaller amount of latitude when compared to negative film. That is a reason it is viewed as challenging to use.
The difference between the highlights and shadows details of a photograph is described as dynamic range. Areas of a picture that are not in this range will be seen as completely black underexposed shadows or white overexposed highlights.
A larger dynamic range is advantageous due to the fact that it tends to make working in variable lighting situations easier.
- Digital cameras 14+ stops
- Negative film up to 13 stops
- Slide film 6-8 stops
The constrained dynamic range of transparency film is a second reason why it’s regarded as difficult to shoot. Golden hour is the prime time to shoot transparency.
The Canon AL-1 uses 35mm film that is in metal canisters. The film can also be described as 135 film, and it is the most often used film format.
The only other type of film you are likely to see is 120 or 220 film that is used in medium format cameras}.
Switching the film stock you are working with will alter the look of your photographs. This is one of the terrific things about film.
Virtually all available 35mm film made these days has DX encoding. This lets cameras to automatically detect and set the ISO when the canister is put in the camera.
DX-coding is not going to matter for the Canon AL-1 because ISO has to be set manually.
There are a handful of possibilities for where to get film processed. For a more thorough explanation of the possible choices you can check out my article on Where to Get Film Developed.
WARNING: Film does not get developed on site at big box stores and pharmacies. They mail film off to be developed by a third party. As a consequence, you won’t be given your negatives back.
- Develop Film at Home
- Use a Local Photography Lab
- Use a Mail Order Photo Lab
- Pharmacy or Big Box Store
The most straightforward option and what I suggest doing if you are just starting to use film is to mail your film to a lab to be developed and scanned. A drawback to this is that it can become expensive if you consistently use film.
Assuming that you’re shooting a moderate to high volume of film, there are a couple of things that can be done to decrease your expenses.
Considered one of the most common ways to reduce costs on film is to buy a roll of 100 feet of film and load it into canisters by hand.
A 100’ roll will load about 18 rolls of film containing 36 frames. You should expect to save 20-30% based on your selection.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you are going to be limited to 100 foot rolls of black and white film. This is due to the fact black and white film is a lot easier and less expensive to process yourself.
Any film can be developed by hand. In fact it’s a smart method to reduce costs so that you can shoot more film with your Canon AL-1.
Black and white film is significantly easier to process at home. Developer temperature and development times are both not as essential to do correctly with black and white films as they are for transparency or color negative.