Best Film for the Olympus OM-3

The best film to use in your Olympus OM-3 will have to be based on the lighting conditions, lens, and type of film you want to shoot.

To avoid having to lug around a tripod or flash, opt for a 35mm film that has an ISO of 400 or higher.

If you have a need to take photos in low light, such as inside, make sure you are using a fast lens. For lens lens recommendations go read my post on the 5 Best Lenses for the Olympus OM-3.

Kodak UltraMax 400 35mm Film
Kodak UltraMax 400 35mm Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - A great option for a plethora of lighting conditions. Kodak UltraMax 400 is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the OM-3 in lots of scenarios.

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

Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400
Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Another option that may have greater availability depending on what country you are in.

Fujifilm pictures tend to have cooler tones with stronger blues and greens, compared to Kodak.

Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO
Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO

Lomography 800 - You’re limited to only a small number of offerings if you want an ISO 800 speed color film. For 35mm film stocks focused on consumers, this is the single option.

The emulsion can also be purchased in the 120 film format, for use in medium format cameras.

Kodak Gold 200
Kodak Gold 200

Kodak Gold 200 - A great solution to achieve that mid-1980s through 90s look. Use an on-camera flash to get the “nostalgic” look.

To bring the ideal look out of this film, make sure to over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will produce the eye-catching colors people love Kodak Gold for.

Box of Kodak Portra 400 ISO 35mm film
Kodak Portra 400

Kodak Portra 400 - Among film enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is the top color film. Overexpose Portra 400 by 1 or 2-stops to get the color the film is well known for.

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

These film stocks have affordable prices and excellent quality, making them favorable to try in the Olympus OM-3.

The largest appeal for photography students and budget minded photographers is the reasonable price. Even if you do not put yourself in those groups, it is nice to have affordable rolls of film available for evaluating newly acquired used gear.

Kentmere ISO 400 Film
Kentmere 400

Kentmere 400 - It is manufactured by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is excellent because that allows this to be the most widely available 35mm film out of the 3.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action
Foma Fomapan 400 Action

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

An excellent film emulsion to employ for your first few attempts at film photography or home developing. Also a good choice if you happen to be trying out a camera to make sure that it’s completely functional.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400
Ultrafine eXtreme 400

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

If you process color film yourself, you might have done that with chemicals sold by them to process your film.

Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 are the 2 top selling black and white 35mm film emulsions. They do have several capabilities in common that make them popular, while keeping different appearances.

You can achieve great photographs after pushing both films 2-stops. A 35mm roll of film can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them quite versatile.

Ilford HP5 Plus 400
Ilford HP5 Plus 400

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - Between the two film stocks, HP5 Plus has less contrast and is more affordable. Minimal amounts of contrast can be advantageous due to the fact contrast can be added when making a print or editing digitally.

The film stock has subdued grain and still looks great when pushed 2-stops.

Kodak Tri-X 400
Kodak Tri-X 400

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film stock possesses a more distinctive style. To achieve the legendary grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it should be processed in Kodak D-76.

You’re going to undoubtedly see considerably more contrast with Kodak Tri-X 400. That’s perfect if it is the style you would prefer because it means less work when during digital processing or making a print.

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

This is different from the more widespread negative film stocks that make images that require the colors to be inverted in order to be seen.

Slide films are thought to be tough to work with because slide film has far less dynamic range and latitude than negative film.

Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Slide Film
Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Transparency Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a fine grain film known for beautiful skin tones. There is not any hypersaturation of colors. It has a daylight color balance.

Fujichrome Velvia 50
Fujichrome Velvia 50

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Provides special looking photos that have considerably increased levels of saturation and contrast. It is razor-sharp and balanced for daylight. It has the greatest resolving power of any available reversal film stock.

You can also get it in an ISO 100 emulsion.

Fujichrome Provia 100F
Fujichrome Provia 100F

Fujichrome Provia 100F - Creates vibrant and realistic colors with moderate color saturation and contrast. It is a ultra fine grain film balanced for daylight.

Foma Fomapan R100
Foma Fomapan R100

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white slide film, marketed by Fomapan as having elevated levels of contrast, high resolving power, and fine grain. It is also regarded as a substitute for the long discontinued Agfa Scala.

Professional film stock are easier to push, have greater 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 bought in pharmacies and big-box stores in limited amounts. Professional film will need to be ordered from a online retailer or photography store.

The filml speed is represented by ISO, which can also be thought of as the film’s light sensitivity.

The bigger the film’s ISO, the less light will be needed to capture a photograph. This comes at the tradeoff of more film grain.

It is often difficult to handhold the OM-3 with ISO 100 or slower speed films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc). This is because without full sun, the shutter speeds can be longer than what you’re able to handhold without producing motion blur.

A flash, fast lens, and/or tripod are going to assist you with longer exposure times. The extra accessories may not be needed if you use a higher speed ISO 400 or ISO 800 film.

The ISO selection knob is labeled as ASA on the Olympus OM-3. The switch to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Latitude is the number of stops a film can be overexposed while holding onto tolerable results. Pro films have a greater latitude paired with a somewhat higher cost.

Negative film has a greater amount of latitude than transparency film. That is a reason it is regarded as more difficult to work with.

Dynamic range represents the range between the shadows and highlights details of a picture that can be recorded. Sections of an image that fall out of this range will be seen as totally white overexposed highlights or completely black underexposed shadows.

When working in a wide variety or quickly shifting lighting situations, films with a larger 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 thought to be hard to shoot because of the small dynamic range. A very good time to try it is during the golden hour.

35mm film that is sold in metal canisters is used by the Olympus OM-3. It is also the best-selling type of film and occasionally called 135 film.

The only other type of film you are likely to notice is 120 or 220 film that is used in medium format cameras}.

One of the excellent properties of film is that you can change the film emulsion you use and get a totally different look to your photos.

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister
DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Nearly all new 35mm film distributed currently has DX encoding. This will allow electronically controlled cameras to detect and set the ISO of the film loaded into the camera.

DX-coding will not make a difference for the Olympus OM-3 because ISO must be manually set with the ASA knob.

There are a variety of possibilities for where to have 35mm film developed. For a more thorough discussion of the possibilities check out my article on Where to Develop Film.

WARNING: Pharmacies and big box stores don’t develop film at the store. They mail the film off-site to be developed 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

Sending your film to a mail-order lab to be processed and scanned is the most straightforward option if you are new to shooting film. If you consistently shoot film, this can be a disadvantage since it can get very expensive.

As long as you are using a medium to high volume of film, there are two actions that can be done to decrease your costs.

Certainly one of the ideal options to cut costs on film is to buy a bulk roll of 100’ of film and load canisters by hand.

A 100’ bulk roll will fill up roughly 18 canisters of film containing 36 exposures each. Expect cost savings of 20-30% depending on the film you purchase.

Take into account that you are going to be limited to 100 foot rolls of black and white film. This is because black & white film is easier and more affordable to develop yourself.

You can develop and scan any film yourself. In fact it is a great way to cut costs so that you can use more film with your Olympus OM-3.

Black and white film is by far the simplest to develop at home. Chemical temperature and time are not as critical to get correct with black and white film as they are for transparency or color negative.