Recommended Beginner Film for the Canon F-1

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

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

Taking advantage of an ISO 400 35mm or higher speed will allow you to avoid having to lug around a flash or tripod.

If you have a need to shoot images inside or anywhere there is low light, make sure that you are using a fast lens. Have a look at my list on the 5 Best Lenses for the Canon F-1 for ideas.

Color Film


Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - The film handles a wide variety of lighting conditions well and is a great pick for a 35mm color film. The film is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the F-1 in almost all scenarios.

The photos will have extremely good colors and tend to be on the warm side.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Based on your location, this film could have greater availability. It is a fantastic alternative to Kodak.

Compared to Kodak, Fuji appears to be a little bit cooler with notable blues and greens.

Lomography 800 - If you want an ISO 800 color 35mm film, there are only a small number of choices. For 35mm film stocks geared towards consumers, this is the sole choice.

In addition, if you own a medium format camera, it's also sold in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film that started production in the mid-1980s. Kodak Gold 200 provides the look of home snapshots from the 1980s and 90s. For the genuine experience try an on-camera flash.

To really bring the ideal look out of this film, over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will ensure that you get the wonderful colors everyone love's the film for.


Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

Kodak Portra 400 - By far the most popular color negative film among photography enthusiasts online. Overexpose Portra 400 by 1 or 2-stops to get the overall look the film is well known for.

Plus, ISO 800 and 160 versions of Kodak Portra. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 are also available.

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm emulsion that is most similar to Kodak Portra 400, but with a distinct color appearance. Expect more vibrant blues and greens.

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

Black and White Film


These film stocks have low prices and excellent quality, making them quite popular to use in the Canon F-1.

The biggest attraction for budget-minded photographers and photography students is the low cost. Even if you would not put yourself in those groups, it's great to have low-cost rolls of 35 film on hand for evaluating newly delivered camera gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - It is made by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is notable due to the fact that makes this the most broadly sold 35mm film of the three.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It is less difficult to get in Europe as the film is manufactured by Foma Bohemia inside of the Czech Republic.

A suitable film emulsion to use for your initial couple of attempts at home developing or analog photography. Also, a good selection if you happen to be trying out a camera to confirm that it's totally functional.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the lowest price by purchasing it directly from Ultrafine.

They produce chemical developer kits for color film, so if you process film at home you could have previously had interactions with them.


The 2 most popular black & white 35mm films are Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400. They possess a lot of qualities that are equivalent that helps make them a favorite while retaining individual looks.

Both emulsions can be pushed 2 stops and produce excellent results. A 35mm roll of film can be used at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them remarkably useful.

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

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

The film stock has subdued grain and still appears outstanding when pushed 2-stops.

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

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

You are going to without a doubt see far more contrast with this film stock. That's awesome if that is the look and feel you would prefer because it means a great deal less work when through digital post-processing or making a print in the darkroom.

Transparency Film

Film emulsions that create a positive image are referred to as reversal, transparency, or slide film. That means a lightbox or projector can be used to showcase the pictures.

This is different from the more readily available negative film emulsions that make photographs that require inverting the colors for the image to be viewable.

Slide films have a smaller amount of dynamic range and latitude compared to negative film and so they are viewed as more challenging to use.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

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

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Provides beautiful looking photos that have highly increased amounts of contrast and saturation. It is astonishingly sharp daylight balanced film. When compared to all the transparency films you can buy, it has the highest resolving power.

An ISO 100 speed is also available for purchase.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Offers realistic and vibrant colors with medium contrast and color saturation. It has a daylight color balance and ultra-fine grain.

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white slide film, noted by Fomapan as having very good resolving power, elevated levels of contrast, and very fine grain. It's also regarded as a replacement for the long-discontinued Agfa Scala Film Stock.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Pro films cost more since they have larger latitude, are easier to push, and expanded dynamic range.

There will also be a disparity in businesses that sell rolls of film. Consumer film emulsions can generally be bought in pharmacies and big-box stores in anemic amounts. Pro film emulsions need to be purchased from an online retailer or photography store.


A film's light sensitivity is listed as the ISO.

The bigger the ISO of the film, the less light will be needed to expose a picture. This comes at the cost of noticeably increased film grain.

It is often tough to handhold the F-1 with ISO 100 or slower speed films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc). The might take longer will likely take more time than what you could handhold without producing motion blur unless you're shooting in full sun.

To stop this you are going to need to use a tripod, flash, and/or fast lens. Using a high-speed ISO 400 or ISO 800 film often makes the additional gear not needed.

The ISO knob is marked as ASA on the Canon F-1. The shift to using ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Film Latitude

Film latitude is the number of stops a film can be overexposed while keeping satisfactory photographs. Pro film emulsions have a larger latitude to go along with a somewhat higher cost.

Negative film has more latitude than reversal film. That is one of the reasons it's deemed to be harder to work with.

Dynamic Range

The difference between the shadows and highlights details of an image is described as dynamic range. Sections of a picture that do not fit within this range will be seen as totally white overexposed highlights or totally black underexposed shadows.

When shooting in a wide variety of quickly changing lighting situations, films with a bigger dynamic range are a better choice.

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

Slide film is regarded as a challenge to shoot because of the limited dynamic range. Golden hour is the ideal time to use reversal.

Film Type

35mm film that comes in metal canisters is used by the Canon F-1. The film can also be described as 135 film, and it's the most widely used type of film.

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

One of the marvelous things about film is that you can swap the film stock you use and get a different look to your shots.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

All commercially available 35mm film for sale at this point has DX encoding on the canister. This will allow cameras to detect and set the ISO when the canister is loaded into the camera.

DX-coding is not going to change anything for the Canon F-1 because ISO needs to be manually set.

Canon F-1 Resources

Where to Get Film Developed?

You will find only a few possible choices for where to develop 35mm film. For a more in-depth explanation of the possibilities go to my article on Where to Develop Film.

WARNING: Film doesn't get developed locally at big box stores and pharmacies. They ship the film off-site to be processed by a separate company. Because of this, you will not be given 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 option and the method I suggest using if you are just starting to use film is to mail your film to a photo lab to be developed and scanned. A disadvantage of this is that it will get very expensive if you regularly use film.

Assuming that you're going through a medium to high volume of film, there are a couple of actions that can be done to cut back on your expenses.

Bulk Loading Film

Investing in a roll of 100 feet of film and manually loading it into canisters by hand is one of the most widely used options to save money.

All said and done, you'll end up with about 18 canisters of 36 frames. You should expect to save 20-30% based on your pick.

Bear in mind that you're only going to find 100-foot rolls of black & white film. This is in part because black & white film is quite a bit easier and cheaper to develop yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

You can process and digitize any film at home. It's a smart way to spend less so that you can shoot more film with your Canon F-1.

Black and white film is significantly less difficult to develop. Developer temperature and time are not as necessary to get correct with black & white films as time and temperatures are for transparency or color negative.

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