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Best Film for the Olympus OM-2

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Best Olympus OM-2 35mm Film

´╗┐The best film to use in your Olympus OM-2 will depend on your lens, lighting, and if you want to use color or black & white.

To eliminate having to lug around a flash or tripod, go with a 35mm film that has an ISO of 400 or faster.

Make sure you have a fast lens if you want to take photographs in low light, conditions that are often found indoors. Have a look at my article on the 5 Best Lenses for the Olympus OM-2 for ideas.

Color Film

Consumer

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Kodak UltraMax 400 35mm Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - This film works well in a large range of lighting conditions and is an excellent option for a 35mm color film. Using this film you should be able to handhold the OM-2 in almost all scenarios.

The photographs will have very good skin tones and is on the warm side.

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Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Based on where you are in the world, this film can be more widely available. It is a great alternative to Kodak.

In comparison to to Kodak, Fujifilm appears to be a little bit cooler with stronger greens and blues.

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Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO

Lomography 800 - There are a few offerings if you want a color ISO 800 film. For 35mm film targeted towards consumers, Lomography 800 is the single choice.

Lomography 800 is also sold in the 120 film format, to be used with a medium format camera.

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Kodak Gold 200

Kodak Gold 200 - An excellent means to achieve that mid-1980s through 90s rendering. For the authentic photography experience have a flash.

To bring the best out of this film, you’ll have to over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will produce the appealing colors everyone loves Kodak Gold 200 for.

Professional

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Kodak Portra 400

Kodak Portra 400 - Among enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is hands down the most frequently used color 35mm film emulsion. Overexpose Portra 400 by 1 or 2-stops to get the overall look the film is well known for.

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

Black and White Film

Consumer

These film stocks have reasonable costs and very good quality, making them very popular for use in the Olympus OM-2.

The largest attraction for photography students and budget minded photographers is the very low cost. Even if you wouldn’t put yourself in those groups, it is nice to have low cost rolls of film readily available for testing newly delivered used gear.

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Kentmere 400

Kentmere 400 - Made by Harmon Technology, which is also the parent company of Ilford. This is great due to the fact that allows this to be the most widely sold B&W film out of the 3.

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Foma Fomapan 400 Action

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

A very good film stock to choose for your initial few attempts at film photography or home developing. Also a good choice if you are trying out a camera to guarantee that it is fully functional.

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Ultrafine eXtreme 400

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the cheapest price on this film by purchasing it from Ultrafine.

They make chemical developer kits for color film, so if you process film at home you may have previously interacted with them.

Professional

The two most frequently used black and white 35mm films are Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400. While they both possess distinctive looks, they possess many traits that are similar that makes them a favorite.

Both film stocks can be pushed 2 stops and still create solid photographs. A roll of film can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them very flexible.

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Ilford HP5 Plus 400

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - Between the two film emulsions, HP5 Plus is more affordable and has lower levels of contrast. A lack of contrast can be helpful because contrast can be changed when making a print or through digital post processing.

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

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Kodak Tri-X 400

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film features a more distinctive aesthetic. To create the classic grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it will need to be processed in Kodak D-76.

Kodak Tri-X 400 definitely has a higher level of contrast. That is fantastic if that is the look you need because it means a great deal less work when editing digitially or making a print.

Slide Film

Film stocks that produce a positive image are known as transparency, reversal, or slide film. That means a lightbox or projector can be used to view the photographs.

Colors are not required to be inverted to be viewed, contrary to the more commonly available negative films.

Slide films have less latitude and dynamic range compared to negative film and so they are thought of challenging to use.

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Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Transparency Film

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

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Fujichrome Velvia 50

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Delivers distinctive looking pictures that have increased levels of contrast and saturation. It is razor-sharp and balanced for daylight. When compared to all the slide films you can get, it has the top resolving power.

It is also available in an ISO 100 emulsion.

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Fujichrome Provia 100F

Fujichrome Provia 100F - Creates vivid and natural colors with medium color saturation and contrast. It has a daylight color balance and ultrafine grain.

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Foma Fomapan R100

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white slide film, reported by Fomapan as having increased levels of contrast, very good resolving power, and very fine grain. It’s also regarded as a replacement for the discontinued Agfa Scala transparency film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

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

There is a disparity in availability. Consumer film stocks can quite often still be purchased from big-box stores and pharmacies in limited quantities. Professional film will need to be ordered from a online or specialized photography store.

ISO

Film speed is displayed by ISO, that can also be regarded as the film’s light sensitivity.

The less light there’s available to expose an image, the bigger the ISO needs to be. This comes at the tradeoff of noticeably increased film grain.

ISO 100 and slower speed films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc) is often tough to shoot handheld in the OM-2. This is because in the absence of full sun, the shutter speeds might take more time than what you are able to handhold without producing motion blur.

A flash, tripod, and/or fast lens will assist you with longer exposure times. The additional equipment might not be needed if you choose to use a faster ISO 400 or ISO 800 film.

As a quick note, the ISO knob is listed as ASA on the Olympus OM-2. The switch to using ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) came after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Latitude

Latitude is the number of stops a film can be overexposed while maintaining good results. Professional film emulsions have a larger latitude paired with a somewhat higher cost.

Negative film has a greater amount of latitude when compared to transparency film. That is one of the reasons it’s viewed as more difficult to shoot.

Dynamic Range

The range between the highlights and shadows parts of a photo is referred to as dynamic range. Parts of a photo that fall out of this range will appear as black underexposed shadows or totally white overexposed highlights.

When shooting in a wide variety or quickly shifting lighting conditions, films with a larger dynamic range are a superior choice.

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

Slide film is thought to be a challenge to shoot on account of the constrained dynamic range. An ideal time to give it a try would be during the golden hour.

Film Type

35mm film that is sold in metal canisters is used by the Olympus OM-2. It is also the most widely used type of film and in some instances is referred to as 135 film.

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

Changing the film you are working with will change the look of your photographs. This is one of the excellent things about film.

DX Coded Film

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DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Virtually all available 35mm film distributed these days has DX encoding on the canister. This lets electronically controlled cameras to automatically detect and set the ISO when the canister is loaded into the camera.

ISO (ASA) on the Olympus OM-2 must be manually set. As a result DX-coding does not matter.

Olympus OM-2 Resources

Where to Get Film Developed?

There are a range of possibilities for where to get film processed. For a more comprehensive 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 mail the film off-site to be processed by a 3rd party. This means that, you will not get 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 most convenient option and the method I suggest using if you are just beginning to use film is to ship your film to a photo lab to be processed and scanned. A disadvantage to this is that it will become expensive if you consistently shoot film.

As long as you are shooting a moderate to high volume of film, there are a few activities that you are able to do to reduce your expenses.

Bulk Loading Film

Considered one of the leading options to lower your expenses on film is to buy a roll of 100 feet of film and load canisters yourself.

After you are done, you’ll end up getting roughly 18 canisters of 36 exposures. Expect to save 20-30% depending on the film.

Be aware that you are going to be limited to 100 foot rolls of black & white film. This is in part because black and white film is quite a bit easier and less expensive to develop yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

It is simple to develop and scan film yourself. It is a smart option to lower your costs so that you can shoot more film with your Olympus OM-2.

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