Best Film for the Canon AV-1

The best film to use in your Canon AV-1 should be based on the lens, available light, and type of film you want to use.

To prevent having to lug around a flash and/or tripod, choose a film that has an ISO of 400 or faster.

Ensure you have a fast lens if you want to capture photographs in low light, conditions that are commonly encountered indoors. Go read my blog post on the 5 Best Lenses for the Canon AV-1 for suggestions.

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

Kodak UltraMax 400 - A terrific option for a wide range of conditions. The film is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the AV-1 in the majority of scenarios.

The photos will have fantastic colors and leans towards the warm side.

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

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Depending on your location, this film can have greater availability. It’s a top quality alternative to Kodak.

When compared to Kodak, Fuji tends to be a little cooler with stronger blues and greens.

Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO
Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO

Lomography 800 - There are a few options if you want an ISO 800 speed color 35mm film. This happens to be the only film stock targeted towards consumers.

Furthermore, if you have a medium format camera, it’s also sold in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200
Kodak Gold 200

Kodak Gold 200 - A great means to get that mid-1980s through 90s look. Use a flash to get the “classic” 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 provide the idyllic 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 top color film emulsion. Overexpose Portra 400 by 1 or 2-stops to get the rendering the film is known for.

Kodak Portra is also available for purchase in ISO 160 and ISO 800 versions. Portra is also offered in rolls of 120 film, 4x5 sheets, and 8x10 sheets.

With affordable prices and excellent very popular to be used in the Canon AV-1.

The primary appeal for photography students and budget minded photographers is the competitive cost. Even if you wouldn’t put yourself in that group, it is great to have affordable rolls of film on hand for testing recently delivered camera gear.

Kentmere ISO 400 Film
Kentmere 400

Kentmere 400 - It is produced by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is notable considering that allows this to be the most broadly sold 35mm film out of the 3.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action
Foma Fomapan 400 Action

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

A good 35mm film to employ for your initial few attempts at analog photography or developing film at home. Also a good selection if you are trying out a camera to check that it is fully operational.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400
Ultrafine eXtreme 400

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the best price on this film by getting it straight from Ultrafine.

They produce developer kits for 35mm film, so if you develop film at home you may have previously interacted with them.

The two top selling black & white 35mm films are Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5 Plus 400. They do have many traits that are equivalent that help make them so well received, while keeping individual looks.

Both film emulsions can be pushed 2 stops and still create professional photographs. A 35mm roll of film can be used at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them quite useful.

Ilford HP5 Plus 400
Ilford HP5 Plus 400

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - Between the two film stocks, HP5 Plus has lower levels of contrast and is cheaper. A lack of contrast can be helpful due to the fact contrast can be changed when making a print in the darkroom or editing digitally.

The film emulsion still looks very good when pushed 2-stops. It is also recognized as having subtle grain.

Kodak Tri-X 400
Kodak Tri-X 400

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film features a more distinctive style to it. To reveal the legendary grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it should be processed in Kodak D-76.

You’re going to certainly see higher levels of contrast with Kodak Tri-X. That is notable if that is the style you would prefer because it requires not as much work when editing digitially or printmaking.

Reversal film, also known as transparency or slide film, results in a positive image. This means the photographs can be showcased with a projector or light box.

This is distinct from the more often used negative films that result in photographs that need the colors to be inverted so that they can be seen.

Slide films are perceived as very hard to use because slide film has a lot less latitude and dynamic range compared to negative film.

Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Slide Film
Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Transparency Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a film known for striking skin tones and fine grain. The colors will not look oversaturated. Ektachrome has a daylight color balance.

Fujichrome Velvia 50
Fujichrome Velvia 50

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Delivers appealing looking photos that have increased amounts of contrast and saturation. It is sharp daylight balanced film. It has the highest resolving power of any increased elevated.

There’s another emulsion that is ISO 100.

Fujichrome Provia 100F
Fujichrome Provia 100F

Fujichrome Provia 100F - Creates vivid and realistic colors with moderate color saturation and contrast. It’s a daylight color balanced film with ultrafine grain.

Foma Fomapan R100
Foma Fomapan R100

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white slide film, claimed by Fomapan as having increased contrast, fine grain, and excellent resolving power. It’s also mentioned as a substitute for the long discontinued Agfa Scala slide film.

Pro film stocks cost more since they can more easily be pushed, have improved latitude, and dynamic range.

There is a difference in supply. Consumer film emulsions can oftentimes be purchased from big-box stores and pharmacies in anemic amounts. Pro film will need to be ordered from a specialized photography store or online.

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

The less light available to capture an image, the higher the film’s ISO will need to be. This comes at the expense of more noticeable film grain.

ISO 100 and slower speed films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc) is often a challenge to use handheld in the AV-1. The can be longer can be longer than what you could handhold without producing motion blur unless you’re shooting in full sun.

To avoid motion blur you’ll need to use a flash, fast lens, and/or tripod. The extra accessories may not be needed if you decide to use a faster ISO 400 or ISO 800 film.

As a quick note, the ISO dial is marked as ASA on the Canon AV-1. The move to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) came after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Latitude is the range of stops film can be overexposed while keeping adequate images. Pro film stocks have a larger latitude paired with a somewhat higher cost.

Reversal film has a smaller amount of latitude than negative film. That is one of the reasons why it is believed to be more challenging to work with.

Dynamic range is the difference between the darkest and brightest details of a photo that can be recorded. Areas of a photo that are not in this range will appear as completely white overexposed highlights or solid black underexposed shadows.

A bigger dynamic range is better because a larger range tends to make shooting in a variety of lighting situations easier.

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

The small dynamic range of slide film is another factor it’s thought to be hard to shoot. The best time to try it out would be during the golden hour.

35mm film that is sold in metal canisters is used by the Canon AV-1. In addition, it’s the most frequently used type of film and in some instances is described as 135 film.

The only other type of film you are probably going to see is 120 or 220 film that is used by medium format cameras}.

Switching the film you are using will change the look of your pictures. This is an example of the marvelous things about using film.

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

Almost all commercially available 35mm film on the market today has a DX code. This makes it possible for electronically controlled cameras to auto detect and set the ISO when the canister is loaded into the camera.

DX-coding does not matter for the Canon AV-1 because ISO must be manually set with the ASA knob.

You will find only a few possibilities for where to have 35mm film developed. For a more thorough discussion of the possible choices check my article on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Film doesn’t get developed on site at pharmacies and big box stores. They ship the film off-site to be processed by a third party. As a consequence, you will not 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

Sending film to a mail-order photo lab to be developed and scanned is the least difficult solution if you’re just getting started using film. A downside to this is that it gets expensive if you regularly shoot film.

As long as you’re going through a moderate to high volume of film, there are two things that you are able to do to decrease your expenses.

Certainly one of the most popular ways to cut costs on film is to buy a bulk roll of 100’ of film and manually load it into canisters by hand.

A 100 foot bulk roll of film will fill approximately 18 canisters of film containing 36 exposures each. Based on the film you are likely to save 20%-30%.

Keep in mind that you’re going to be limited to 100 foot rolls of black and white film. This is in part because black and white film is quite a bit easier and more affordable to develop at home.

You can process and digitize film yourself. In fact it is a very good option to spend less so that you can shoot more film with your Canon AV-1.

Black and white film is by far the least complicated to process. Developer temperature and time are not as essential to do correctly with black and white film as time and temperatures are for color negative or transparency film.