Best Film for the Olympus OM-2

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: February 25, 2020
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35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in the Olympus OM-2 is going to be based on the lens, available light, and type of film you want to shoot.

Working with an ISO 400 35mm or higher speed will help you avoid being burdened with a tripod or flash.

If you would like to shoot images in low light, such as inside, ensure that you are using a fast lens.

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - A very good choice for an array of conditions. Using this film you should be able to handhold the OM-2 in just about all circumstances.

Expect pictures to look slightly warm with outstanding colors.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Based on your location, this film may be more widely available. It is a fantastic alternative to Kodak film.

Fujifilm images tend to have cooler tones with an emphasis on greens and blues compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - If you want a color 35mm film with an ISO of 800, there are only a small number of possible choices. For 35mm film focused on consumers, this is the only available option.

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

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film stock that was launched in the mid-1980s. The film provides the look and feel of family snapshots from the 80s and 90s. For the classic photography experience have an on-camera flash.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to create the best the film can achieve. This will help you achieve the striking colors everyone loves Kodak Gold 200 for.

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

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

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

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

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

Black and White Film

Consumer

With affordable costs and very good favorable to try in the Olympus OM-2.

The main attraction for photography students and budget-minded photographers is the affordable price. Even if you don't put yourself in those groups, it is great to have affordable rolls of 35 film readily available for trying out recently obtained used gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - It's made by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is notable due to the fact that allows this to be the most widely available film out of the 3.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - Might be less difficult to obtain in Europe as the film is made by Foma Bohemia inside of the Czech Republic.

An appropriate film emulsion to employ for your first couple of attempts at home developing or analog photography. Additionally, a good selection if you are trying out a camera to make sure that it is totally operational.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - The cheapest place to get this film is straight from Ultrafine.

If you develop film yourself, you might have done that with developer produced by them.

Professional

Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5+ 400 are the 2 best black & white 35mm film stocks. They have a large amount of characteristics that are equivalent that helps make them a favorite while retaining unique styles.

You can create good photographs after pushing both films 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 main differences are that HP5 Plus has less contrast and is cheaper in comparison to Tri-X. Less contrast can be a benefit due to the fact that contrast can be added when making a print or through digital post-processing.

The film stock still appears good when pushed 2-stops. It is also noted for having subdued grain.

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film possesses a more distinctive style. To create the legendary grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it needs to be developed in Kodak D-76.

You will certainly see far more contrast with Kodak Tri-X. That is perfect if it happens to be the look and feel you want to have because it requires a smaller amount of work when printmaking or during digital processing.

Transparency Film

Film stocks that make a positive image are typically referred to as slide, transparency, or reversal film. This allows the pictures to be shown with a projector or lightbox.

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

Slide films are perceived as tricky to shoot due to the fact slide film has far less latitude and dynamic range when compared to negative film.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

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

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Provides distinctive looking images that have high levels of saturation and contrast. It is astonishingly sharp with a daylight color balance. When compared with all the transparency films available, it has the greatest resolving power.

An ISO 100 emulsion is also offered.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Produces vivid and natural colors with moderate contrast and color saturation. It has an ultra-fine grain with a daylight color balance.

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

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Professional film stock are easier to push, have increased dynamic range, and latitude, that is why pro-film costs more.

There's a significant difference in availability. Consumer film stocks can usually still be seen in big-box stores and pharmacies in anemic amounts. Pro film stocks often need to be bought from camera store or online retailer.

Film ISO

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

The less light available to get an image, the bigger the ISO of the film will be necessary. Additionally, be prepared for larger film grain.

It is often frustrating to handhold the OM-2 with ISO 100 or slower speed films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc). They will probably take longer than what you could handhold without resulting in motion blur unless you're shooting in full sun.

To stop motion blur you will need to use a flash, fast lens, and/or tripod. The additional gear might not be needed if you go with a faster ISO 800 or ISO 400 film.

The dial to select film speed is marked as ASA on the Olympus OM-2. The move to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Latitude

Film latitude is the amount of stops a film can be overexposed while still producing satisfactory quality. Pro film stocks have a larger latitude along with a slightly higher price.

Negative film has more latitude than reversal film. That is a reason why it's considered difficult to use.

Dynamic Range

The range between the darkest and brightest parts of a photograph is known as dynamic range. Sections of a photo that fall out of this range will be rendered as totally white overexposed highlights or solid black underexposed shadows.

A bigger dynamic range is ideal given that a larger range tends to make shooting in variable lighting conditions easier.

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

Transparency film is thought to be difficult to use due to the constrained dynamic range. The golden hour is the best time to use transparency film.

Film Type

35mm film that is in canisters is used by the Olympus OM-2. It can also be described as 135 film, and it's the most often used film format.

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

Changing the film emulsion you are working with will change the look of your pictures. This is one of the best things about film.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Most available 35mm film distributed today has a DX code. This lets cameras to auto-detect and set the ISO when the film canister is loaded into the camera.

DX-coding is not going to change anything for the Olympus OM-2 because ISO is required to be manually selected with the ASA knob.

Olympus OM-2 Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

You will find just a few possible choices for where to process 35mm film. For a more thorough discussion of the possible choices, read my guide on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Film does not get developed locally at pharmacies and big box stores. They mail film away to be developed by a separate company. As a result, you won't get 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 photo lab to be developed and scanned is the most straightforward solution if you are just beginning to shoot film. If you regularly use film, this could be a disadvantage since it can get very expensive.

Assuming that you are shooting a moderate to high-volume of film, there are a few things that can be done to limit your costs.

Bulk Loading Film

Purchasing a bulk roll of 100 feet of film and manually loading it into canisters yourself is considered one of the most well-known ways to get a better price.

A 100-foot roll of film should fill up typically around 18 rolls of film with 36 frames each. Expect to save 20-30% based on your selection.

Be aware that you are going to be limited to 100-foot rolls of black and white film. This is due to black & white film is quite a bit easier and more affordable to process yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

You can process and scan film yourself. In fact, it's a very good option to spend less so that you can shoot more film with your Olympus OM-2.

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

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