Best Film for the Olympus OM-1

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: February 24, 2020
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35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in the Olympus OM-1 will depend on the lens, available light, and type of film you want to use.

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

If you would like to shoot photos in low light, such as inside, make sure that you have a fast lens.

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - A very good selection for a plethora of lighting conditions. Using Kodak UltraMax 400 you should be able to handhold the OM-1 in the majority of circumstances.

Expect pictures to look a little bit warm with pleasant colors.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Based on where you are in the world, this film could be more widely available. It's a top-quality alternative to Kodak film.

Fujifilm photographs appear to have cooler tones with notable blues and greens when compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - You're limited to just a small number of choices if you want an ISO 800 speed color 35mm film. This happens to be the only 35mm film emulsion targeted towards consumers.

It is for sale in the 120 film format, to be used in medium format cameras.

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film stock that started production in the mid-1980s. It gives the look and feel of home snapshots from the 1980s and 90s. For the classic shooting experience try an on-camera flash.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to reveal the most popular look the film can achieve. This will help you achieve the idyllic colors everyone loves Gold 200 for.

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

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

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

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm film that is closest to Kodak Portra 400, but with "Fuji colors." Expect more vibrant blues and greens.

4x5 or 8x10 sheets of film aren't available, but 120 film is available.

Black and White Film

Consumer

With reasonable prices and good favorable to use in the Olympus OM-1.

The main attraction for budget-minded photographers and photography students is the affordable price. Even if you do not put yourself in those groups, it's nice to have inexpensive rolls of film available for testing recently delivered camera gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - Manufactured by Harmon Technology, which is also the parent company of Ilford. This is great considering that makes this the most commonly sold 35mm film of the three.

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

A pretty good film emulsion to employ for your initial couple of attempts at developing film at home or film photography. Also, a good selection if you are trying out a camera to guarantee that it's operating properly.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the cheapest price by ordering it directly from Ultrafine.

They manufacture developer kits for 35mm film, so if you process film at home you could have already interacted with them.

Professional

Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5+ 400 are the two most commonly used black & white 35mm films. While they both have individual appearances, they possess a number of characteristics that are equivalent that makes them so popular.

You can create good quality images after pushing both film stocks 2-stops. This makes the film versatile as a roll can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600.

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

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The fundamental differences are that HP5 Plus is cheaper and has lower levels of contrast when compared to Tri-X. Minimal amounts of contrast can be an advantage because contrast can be changed when making a darkroom print or editing digitally.

The film stock still appears great when pushed 2-stops. It is also recognized as having subdued grain.

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film emulsion has got a more distinctive aesthetic. To achieve the old-school grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it will need to be processed in D-76.

Tri-X 400 clearly has more contrast. That is perfect if it is the look you want because it means considerably less work when through digital post-processing or printmaking.

Reversal Film

Transparency film, also known as reversal film or slide film, creates a positive picture. That means a projector or lightbox can be used to view the photographs.

This is unique from the more commonly available negative film emulsions that produce photographs that require the colors to be inverted for the image to be seen.

Slide films have substantially less latitude and dynamic range compared to negative film and so they are believed to be tougher to use.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a film known for fine grain and terrific skin tones. There is virtually no hypersaturation of colors. The film is daylight color balanced.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Produces distinct looking photographs that have increased amounts of saturation and contrast. It is remarkably sharp with a daylight color balance. Matched against all the slide films you can get, it has the best resolving power.

An ISO 100 speed is also available to buy.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Creates vivid and realistic colors with medium contrast and color saturation. It is an ultrafine grain film balanced for daylight.

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white transparency film, claimed by Fomapan as having increased levels of contrast, very good resolving power, and fine grain. It's also mentioned as an alternative for the long-discontinued Agfa Scala reversal film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Pro films cost more due to the fact they have a greater dynamic range, are easier to push, and expanded latitude.

There's a disparity in where 35mm rolls of film can be purchased. Consumer films can frequently still be obtained from big-box stores and pharmacies in anemic quantities. Professional level film emulsions will need to be ordered from an online retailer or photography store.

Film ISO

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

The less light available to expose an image, the bigger the film's ISO will be necessary. This comes at the trade-off of more noticeable film grain.

ISO 100 and slower films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc) are often hard to shoot handheld with the OM-1. This is due to the fact that 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 help you with longer shutter speeds. The extra gear may not be needed if you pick a higher speed ISO 800 or ISO 400 film.

As a quick note, the dial to select film speed is listed as ASA on the Olympus OM-1. The shift to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Latitude

Latitude is the range of stops a film can be overexposed while producing tolerable quality. Pro films have a greater latitude paired with a somewhat increased cost.

Negative film has more latitude when compared to reversal film. That is a reason why it is perceived as more difficult to use.

Dynamic Range

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

When shooting in a variety of quickly shifting lighting situations, films 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

Reversal film is considered to be challenging to shoot on account of the small dynamic range. The golden hour is the prime time to use slide film.

Film Type

35mm film that is sold in metal canisters is used by the Olympus OM-1. It can also be described as 135 film, and it's the most popular film format.

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

Switching the film you are using will alter the look of your pictures. This is an example of the terrific things about shooting film.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Virtually all commercially available 35mm film for sale currently has a DX code. This lets electronically controlled cameras to detect and set the ISO of the film put in the camera.

ASA (ISO) on the Olympus OM-1 needs to be dialed in manually. So DX-coding will not do anything.

Olympus OM-1 Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

You will find only a few options for where to have 35mm film processed. For a more in-depth discussion of the choices, you can check out my guide on Where to Develop Film.

WARNING: Film doesn't get processed on site at big box stores and pharmacies. They mail film off to be developed by a separate company. As a consequence, you won't receive 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

Sending your film to a mail-order photo lab to be processed and scanned is the most convenient solution if you are just getting started using film. A drawback to this is that it can become very expensive if you are consistently using film.

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

Bulk Loading Film

Buying a roll of 100' of film and manually loading it into canisters yourself is considered one of the most widely used ways to lower your expenses.

A 100' bulk roll will fill approximately 18 canisters of film containing 36 frames. Expect to save 20-30% based on the film.

Keep in mind that you are limited to rolls of black and white film. This is because black and white film is a lot easier and more affordable to process yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

It's simple to develop and digitize any film at home. It is a great option to spend less so that you can shoot more film with your Olympus OM-1.

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

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