Best Film for the Fujica AX-5

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: February 23, 2020
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35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in the Fujica AX-5 should be based on the lighting conditions, lens, and if you want to use color or black & white.

Getting an ISO 400 35mm or faster will let you skip being burdened with a flash or tripod.

Make sure you have a fast lens if you want to shoot photographs in low light, conditions that are frequently encountered indoors.

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - A very good option for a variety of conditions. Kodak UltraMax 400 is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the AX-5 in the vast majority of situations.

Expect pictures to look slightly warm with outstanding skin tones.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Depending on where you are in the world, this film may be more widely available. It's a very good alternative to Kodak film.

Fujifilm photographs appear to have cooler tones with an emphasis on blues and greens compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - There are a few possibilities if you want an ISO 800 speed color 35mm film. This happens to be the only 35mm film focused on consumers.

Furthermore, if you own a medium format camera, Lomography 800 is also offered in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film stock that debuted in the mid-1980s. It provides the look of home snapshots from the 80s and 90s. Use an on-camera flash to get the "nostalgic" film look.

To bring the best look out of the film, you will want to over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will provide you with the gorgeous colors everyone loves Kodak Gold for.

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

Kodak Portra 400 - Among the film shooting enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is without a doubt the most popular color negative film. Overexpose the film by 1 or 2-stops to get the appearance the film is 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 equal to Portra 400, but with "Fuji colors." Expect more vibrant greens and blues.

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

Black and White Film

Consumer

With low costs and more than acceptable very popular to be used in the Fujica AX-5.

The primary attraction for photography students and budget-minded photographers is the affordable cost. Even if you would not put yourself in those groups, it's great to have low-cost rolls of 35 film around for evaluating newly obtained used cameras.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - It's produced by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is good considering that allows this to be the most commonly available B&W film out of the three.

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

A suitable film stock to choose for your first couple of attempts at developing film at home or film photography. Additionally, a good option if you happen to be testing out a camera to check that it is fully operational.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - The cheapest store to buy this film is directly from Ultrafine.

If you develop color film at home, you might have used chemicals produced by them to process your film.

Professional

Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 are the 2 most commonly used black and white film emulsions. They do have several capabilities that are equivalent that makes them so popular while preserving unique appearances.

You can create quality photos after pushing both film emulsions 2-stops. A roll of film can be shot 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 - The fundamental differences are that HP5 Plus has less contrast and is cheaper when compared to Tri-X. Lower levels of contrast can be helpful because contrast can be added when making a print in the darkroom or through digital processing.

The film emulsion has subdued grain and still appears great when pushed 2-stops.

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film emulsion possesses a more distinctive style to it. To reveal the old-school grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it needs to be processed in D-76.

You will certainly see far more contrast with Kodak Tri-X 400. That's fantastic if it happens to be the overall look you are after because it requires a great deal less work when through digital post-processing or making a print in the darkroom.

Reversal Film

Film emulsions that produce a positive image are commonly referred to as reversal, slide, or transparency film. This means the pictures can be viewed with a lightbox or projector.

Colors are not required to be inverted to be viewable, unlike the more prevalent negative films.

Slide films have much less dynamic range and latitude when compared to negative film and so they are thought to be more difficult to use.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a fine grain film known for beautiful skin tones. The colors do not show up oversaturated. Ektachrome is daylight color balanced.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is an incredibly sharp color balanced for daylight reversal film with lots of contrast and saturation, giving photos a beautiful rendering. Out of all the reversal films on the market, it has the highest resolving power.

You can also get it in an ISO 100 speed.

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

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white slide film, noted by Fomapan as having excellent resolving power, fine grain, and higher levels of contrast. It's also mentioned as an alternative for the long-discontinued Agfa Scala reversal film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Professional film stock have a greater dynamic range, are easier to push, and larger latitude, which is the reason they will be more expensive.

There is a big difference in businesses that sell it. Consumer film stocks can oftentimes be obtained from big-box stores and pharmacies in meager amounts. Pro film stocks has to be purchased from an online retailer or photography store.

Film ISO

The ISO represents the speed of the film, which may also be regarded as the film's sensitivity to light.

The bigger the ISO, the less light is required to get a picture. This comes at the expense of increased film grain.

It might be a challenge to handhold the AX-5 with ISO 100 or slower speed films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc). They will most likely take longer than what you can handhold without producing motion blur unless you are shooting in full sun.

A fast lens, flash, and/or tripod will help you with longer shutter speeds. The additional gear might not be needed if you decide to use a higher speed ISO 400 or ISO 800 film.

The ISO knob is listed as ASA on the Fujica AX-5. 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 a film can be overexposed while still producing usable images. Pro film emulsions have a larger latitude paired with a somewhat increased cost.

Negative film has a larger amount of latitude than transparency film. That is one of the reasons why it's regarded as challenging to use.

Dynamic Range

The difference between the shadows and highlights details of a photograph is known as dynamic range. Areas of a photograph that don't fit within this range will be rendered as totally white overexposed highlights or completely black underexposed shadows.

A bigger dynamic range is ideal due to the fact that it helps make shooting in varied lighting conditions easier.

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

Transparency film is considered to be hard to use resulting from the limited dynamic range. The golden hour is the ideal time to shoot slide film.

Film Type

35mm film that is sold in metal canisters is used by the Fujica AX-5. The film can also be described as 135 film, and it's the most popular film format.

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

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

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

All available 35mm film made at this point has a DX code. This lets cameras to detect and set the ISO when the film canister is loaded into the camera.

DX-coding doesn't change anything for the Fujica AX-5 because ISO is required to be dialed in manually with the ASA knob.

Fujica AX-5 Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

There are several choices for where to process 35mm film. For a more detailed explanation of the choices, go to my article on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Film does not get developed on location at pharmacies and big box stores. They send film off-site to be processed by a separate company. That is why, you won't be given your processed 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 lab to be developed and scanned is the most straightforward solution if you are just beginning to shoot film. If you frequently use film, this could be a disadvantage because it can get pricey.

Assuming that you are going through a medium to high-volume of film, there are a few things that you are capable of doing to reduce your costs.

Bulk Loading Film

Buying a roll of 100 feet of film and loading it into canisters by hand is among the most common options to lower expenses.

After you have finished, you'll get around 18 canisters of 36 frames. Based on the film stock you are likely to save 20%-30%.

Be aware that you are limited to 100' rolls of black and white film. This is due to black & white film is a lot easier and cheaper to process yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

Any film can be processed by hand. It's a smart option to cut costs so that you can shoot more film with your Fujica AX-5.

Black & white film is by far the least complicated to develop at home. Temperature and time are both not as crucial to do correctly with black & white film as temperatures and time are for color negative or transparency film.

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