Best Film for the Canon AV-1

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

The best film to use in your Canon AV-1 should be based on the lens, available light, and if you want to shoot color or black & white.

To avoid having to haul around a flash and/or tripod, opt for a 35mm film that has an ISO of 400 or higher.

If you would like to take images in low light, such as inside, make sure that you have a fast lens. For lens recommendations, see my list on the 5 Best Lenses for the Canon AV-1.

Color Film


Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - This film handles a large range of lighting conditions well and is an excellent choice for a color film. Using Kodak UltraMax 400 you should have the ability to handhold the AV-1 in the vast majority of circumstances.

Expect images to look slightly warm with pleasant skin tones.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Based on your location, this film could be more widely available. It's a fantastic alternative to Kodak.

Fuji photos tend to have cooler tones with an emphasis on greens and blues, compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - If you want a color 35mm film with an ISO of 800, there are only a small number of possible choices. For 35mm film emulsions focused on consumers, Lomography 800 is the single available choice.

It can also be bought in the 120 film format, for use in medium format cameras.

Kodak Gold 200 - An outstanding solution to achieve that mid-80s through 90s look. Use a flash to get the "nostalgic" look the film is known for.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to bring out the best look the film can achieve. This will produce the gorgeous colors everyone loves Kodak Gold for.


Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

Kodak Portra 400 - Among the enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is easily the most popular color 35mm film. Overexpose Portra 400 by 1 or 2-stops to get the look the film is highly regarded for.

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

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

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

Black and White Film


With reasonable prices and more than acceptable quite popular to try in the Canon AV-1.

The primary attraction for photography students and budget-minded photographers is the reasonable price. Even if you don't put yourself in those groups, it's good to have low-cost rolls of 35 film on hand for evaluating recently delivered used gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - Manufactured by Harmon Technology, which is the owner of Ilford. This is notable considering that allows this to be the most broadly available 35mm film out of the three.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It's easier to buy in Europe as the film is manufactured by Foma Bohemia out of the Czech Republic.

A great film emulsion to work with for your initial few attempts at analog photography or developing film at home. Also, a good option if you're testing out a camera to confirm that it's operating properly.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the best price by ordering it straight from Ultrafine.

They make chemical developer kits for 35mm color film, so if you develop film at home you might have already interacted with them.


Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5+ 400 are the two most commonly used black & white film emulsions. They possess several attributes that are equivalent that help make them so well liked, while preserving unique looks..

You can enjoy good quality images after pushing both film stocks 2-stops. A roll of film can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them quite useful.

Box of Ilford HP5 Plus ISO 400 35mm Black & White Film

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The primary differences are that HP5 Plus is more affordable and has lower levels of contrast in comparison to Tri-X. Minimal contrast can be an advantage because contrast can be adjusted when making a print or editing digitially.

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

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film emulsion features a stronger aesthetic. To achieve the classic grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it needs to be processed in Kodak D-76.

Tri-X 400 undoubtedly has far more contrast. That is fantastic if it happens to be the look and feel you would prefer because it involves not as much work when making a print or through digital post processing.

Transparency Film

Film emulsions that create a positive image are commonly referred to as transparency, slide, or reversal film. That means a light box or projector can be used to display the photographs.

Colors don't need to be inverted to be seen, unlike the more common negative film stocks.

Slide films have a smaller amount of dynamic range and latitude compared to negative film and so they are thought to be more challenging to shoot.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

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

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Produces distinctive looking shots that have increased levels of contrast and saturation. It is amazingly sharp and color balanced for daylight. Matched against all the reversal films offered, it has the greatest resolving power.

An ISO 100 emulsion is also available.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Delivers natural and vivid colors with medium contrast and color saturation . It's a ultrafine grain film with a daylight color balance.

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white transparency film, described by Fomapan as having increased contrast, fine grain, and excellent resolving power. It is also regarded as a substitute for the discontinued Agfa Scala transparency film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Professional film stocks cost more because they have better dynamic range, latitude, and can more easily be pushed.

There will also be a difference in business that sell 35mm rolls of film. Consumer film emulsions can generally be purchased from big-box stores and pharmacies in anemic amounts. Professional film stocks often need to be bought from a online retailer or specialized camera store.


The filml speed is shown as ISO, which can also be regarded as the film's sensitivity to light.

The less light available to get an image, the bigger the film's ISO will need to be.. Additionally, be prepared for larger film grain.

It may be challenging to handhold the AV-1 with ISO 100 or slower films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc). The will take longer will take longer than what you are able to handhold without resulting in 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. Using a high speed ISO 800 or ISO 400 film often makes the extra accessories not needed.

The ISO knob is labeled as ASA on the Canon AV-1. The switch to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) came after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).


Latitude is the number of stops a film can be overexposed while keeping usable images. Professional films have a larger latitude paired with a somewhat increased cost.

Negative film has more latitude when compared to transparency film. That is one of the reasons it is deemed to be difficult to shoot.

Dynamic Range

The difference between the highlights and shadows details of a picture is described as dynamic range. Sections of a picture that fall out of this range will appear as solid black underexposed shadows or solid white overexposed highlights.

A bigger dynamic range is ideal given that a bigger range makes working in a variety of lighting conditions easier.

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

Transparency film is considered to be a challenge to use due to the small dynamic range. Golden hour is the ideal time to shoot reversal.

Film Type

35mm film that is sold in canisters is used by the Canon AV-1. 35mm film can also be referred to as 135 film, and it is the most popular film format.

120 or 220 film, used with medium format cameras, is the only other film format you are likely to come across.

One of the fantastic things about film is that you can change the film you work with and get a fresh look to your pictures.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Most new 35mm film on the market at this point has a DX code. This lets cameras to auto detect and set the ISO when the film canister is loaded into the camera.

DX-coding will not change anything for the Canon AV-1 because ISO needs to be dialed in manually with the ASA knob.

Canon AV-1 Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

You will find a variety of possible choices for where to have 35mm film processed. For a more detailed explanation of the possible choices take a look at my article on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Pharmacies and big box stores have stopped processing film at the store. They send the film off-site to be processed by a separate company. That is why you won't be given your 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 film to a mail-order photo lab to be processed and scanned is the easiest solution if you are new to using film. A downside to this is that it ends up being pricey if you regularly shoot film.

As long as you are using a moderate to high volume of film, there are a couple of actions that you are capable of doing to cut back on your expenses.

Bulk Loading Film

Ordering a roll of 100' of film and manually loading it into canisters by hand is considered one of the most well-known methods to lower expenses.

After you've finished, you'll end up with typically around 18 canisters of 36 exposures each. Based on the film you will probably save 20%-30%.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you're going to be limited to 100' rolls of black & white film. This is due to black & white film is a lot easier and more affordable to process at home.

Home Developing and Scanning

You can process and scan film at home. In fact, it's a smart method to cut costs so that you can use more film with your Canon AV-1.

Black and white film is significantly less difficult to process at home. Temperature and time are not as essential to get correct with black and white films as they are for color negative or transparency film.

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