Best Film for the Canon AT-1

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: May 10, 2020
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Best 35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in the Canon AT-1 will have to depend on the lighting, lens, and type of film you want to shoot.

To eliminate having to lug around a tripod and/or flash, select a 35mm film that has an ISO of 400 or higher.

If you want to be able to shoot images inside or anywhere there is low light, make sure that you have a fast lens. Check out my article on the 5 Best Lenses for the Canon AT-1 for lens recommendations.

Color Film

Consumer

Box of Kodak UltraMax 400 ISO 35mm film for cameras

Kodak UltraMax 400 - The film handles a wide variety of lighting conditions well and is a good option for a 35mm color film. The film is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the AT-1 in just about all circumstances.

The pictures will have terrific colors and tend to be on the warm side.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - A different option than Kodak that might have far better availability based on what country you are in.

When compared to Kodak, Fuji appears to be a little bit cooler with an emphasis on greens and blues.

Lomography 800 - If you want a color film with an ISO of 800, there are only a small number of offerings. This is the only 35mm film targeted towards consumers.

Additionally, if you own a medium format camera, it is also for sale in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200 - An awesome option to achieve that mid-1980s through 90s rendering. For the classic experience take advantage of an on-camera flash.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to produce the best look the film can achieve. This will provide you with the exceptional colors people love Kodak Gold for.

Professional

Box of Kodak Portra 400 ISO 35mm film

Kodak Portra 400 - Among enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is undoubtedly the most frequently used color negative 35mm film. Overexpose it by 1 or 2-stops to get the appearance the film is known for.

Kodak Portra is also offered in ISO 800 and 160 emulsions. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 film are also easily found.

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm counterpart to Portra 400, but with a different color appearance. Expect more vibrant greens and blues.

8x10 or 4x5 sheets of film are not offered, but 120 film is.

Black and White Film

Consumer

These film stocks have affordable prices and more than acceptable quality, making them favorable to try in the Canon AT-1.

The main attraction for budget-minded photographers and photography students is the reasonable price. Even if you would not put yourself in those groups, it's great to have inexpensive rolls of 35 film on hand for testing recently obtained camera gear.

Kentmere 400 black & white 35mm camera film

Kentmere 400 - It's made by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is excellent considering that allows this to be the most broadly available film out of the three.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It is easier to get in Europe as the film is produced out of the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.

A very good 35mm film to choose for your initial few attempts at analog photography or developing film at home. Also, a good selection if you're testing out a camera to check that it is totally operational.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - The best store to get this film is straight from Ultrafine.

They distribute developer kits for 35mm color film, so if you process film at home you could have previously done business with them.

Professional

The 2 most commonly used black and white 35mm film stocks are Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5+ 400. While they both possess distinctive rendering, they do have quite a few capabilities in common that help makes them so well-liked.

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

Ilford HP5+ ISO 400 35mm Film

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - Between the two film emulsions, HP5 Plus has lower levels of contrast and is cheaper. Minimal amounts of contrast can be nice because of the fact contrast can be changed when making a darkroom print or through digital post-processing.

The film stock still appears great when pushed 2-stops. It is also noted for having subtle grain.

Kodak Professional Tri-X 400TX Film Stock

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film provides a more distinctive rendering. To showcase the old-school grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it will need to be processed in Kodak D-76.

You are going to unquestionably see a higher level of contrast with Tri-X. That's helpful if it happens to be the look you would like because it involves a great deal less work when making a darkroom print or editing digitally.

Transparency Film

Films that create a positive image can be called reversal, slide, or transparency film. This allows the slides to be showcased with a lightbox or projector.

Colors don't need to be inverted to be viewed, in contrast to the more often used negative film emulsions.

Slide films have much less dynamic range and latitude than negative film and so they are perceived as challenging to work with.

Box of Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Transparency Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a film known for fine grain and exquisite skin tones. The colors do not be seen as oversaturated. The film is daylight balanced.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Offers distinctive-looking shots that have increased levels of contrast and saturation. It is definitely sharp with a daylight color balance. Matched against all the slide films on the market, it has the best resolving power.

It is also available in an ISO 100 speed.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Offers vibrant and realistic colors with moderate contrast and color saturation. It's an ultra-fine grain film balanced for daylight.

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white reversal film, marketed by Fomapan as having fine grain, very good resolving power, and increased contrast. It's also billed as a replacement for the long-discontinued Agfa Scala slide film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Professional films cost more because they have improved dynamic range, latitude, and can more easily be pushed.

There will be a disparity in availability. Consumer film stocks can more often than not be found in pharmacies and big-box stores in anemic amounts. Pro film stocks often need to be ordered online or from a camera store.

ISO

A film's light sensitivity is displayed by the ISO.

The less light available to capture an image, the bigger the ISO will have to be. Also, be prepared to see more film grain.

It might be challenging to handhold the AT-1 with ISO 100 or slower speed films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc). This is because, without full sun, the shutter speeds will probably take more time than what you could handhold without resulting in motion blur.

A fast lens, flash, and/or tripod will assist you with longer shutter speeds. The additional gear might not be needed if you get a faster ISO 400 or ISO 800 film.

As a quick note, the ISO dial is labeled as ASA on the Canon AT-1. The shift to using ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Latitude

Film latitude is the range of stops film can be overexposed while maintaining good images. Pro film emulsions have a larger latitude paired with a somewhat higher cost.

Slide film has less latitude than negative film. That is one of the reasons why it's regarded as more challenging to shoot.

Dynamic Range

The range between the brightest and darkest details of a photograph is described as dynamic range. Areas of a picture that do not fit within this range will appear as completely white overexposed highlights or completely black underexposed shadows.

When working in a wide variety of quickly changing lighting conditions, film stocks with a bigger dynamic range are a much better choice.

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

The small dynamic range of reversal film is a further reason it's regarded as tricky to shoot. Golden hour is the ideal time to shoot transparency.

Film Type

35mm film that is sold in metal canisters is used by the Canon AT-1. 35mm film can also be referred to as 135 film, and it is the best-selling film format.

120 or 220 film, used by medium format cameras, is the only other film format you are going to encounter.

One of the terrific properties of film is that you can swap the film stock you work with and get a totally different look to your photos.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

All new made 35mm film today has DX encoding on the canister. This lets cameras to detect and set the ISO when the film canister is put in the camera.

DX-coding won't matter for the Canon AT-1 because ISO is required to be dialed in manually with the ASA knob.

Canon AT-1 Resources

Where to Get Film Developed?

You will find several possible choices for where to have film processed. For a more detailed explanation of the possibilities take a look at my guide on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Big box stores and pharmacies have stopped developing film locally. They mail film off-site to be processed by a 3rd party. Because of that, you won't receive your developed 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

The least difficult method and the method I suggest doing if you are just starting to use film is to ship your film to a photo lab to be developed and scanned. If you regularly use film, this might be a disadvantage since it can get really expensive.

As long as you're going through a medium to high volume of film, there are a few activities that can be done to reduce your costs.

Bulk Loading Film

Investing in a roll of 100 feet of film and manually loading it into canisters yourself is among the leading options to lower your expenses.

A 100-foot bulk roll of film should load around 18 canisters of film with 36 frames. You should expect to save 20-30% depending on your pick.

Bear in mind that you're going to be limited to 100-foot rolls of black and white film. This is because black and white film is a lot easier and less expensive to process at home.

Home Developing and Scanning

All film can be processed by hand. It is a great option to reduce costs so you can use more film with your Canon AT-1.

Black and white film is significantly less complicated to develop yourself. Developer temperature and development times are both not as vital to do correctly with black and white films as time and temperatures are for transparency or color negative.

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