Best Film for the Olympus OM-3

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

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

Choosing an ISO 400 35mm or higher speed will enable you to avoid having to haul around a flash and/or tripod.

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

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - The film works well in a large range of lighting conditions and is an excellent pick for a color film. Using this film you should be able to handhold the OM-3 in the majority of scenarios.

The images will have fantastic skin tones and lean towards the warm side.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Based on where you are in the world, this film may have greater availability. It's a fantastic alternative to Kodak.

Fujifilm images appear to have cooler colors with notable blues and greens compared to Kodak.

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

It is also available in the 120 film format, to be used with medium format cameras.

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film stock that was launched in the mid-1980s. Gold 200 produces the look and feel of snapshots from the 80s and 90s. Use a flash to get the "authentic" film look.

To bring the best out of this film, make sure to over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will produce the great colors everyone loves the film for.

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

Kodak Portra 400 - Among film shooting enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is undoubtedly the most frequently used color 35mm film emulsion. Overexpose the film by 1 or 2-stops to get the style the film is known for.

Plus, ISO 800 and 160 emulsions of Portra. As well as in rolls of 120, 4x5 sheets, and 8x10 sheets.

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm counterpart to Portra 400, but with "Fuji colors." Expect stronger greens and blues.

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

Black and White Film

Consumer

With reasonable prices and more than acceptable favorable to be used in the Olympus OM-3.

The major attraction for budget-minded photographers and photography students is the reasonable price. Even if you do not put yourself in that group, it's great to have inexpensive rolls of 35 film around for trying out recently obtained camera gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - It is manufactured by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is good since that allows this to be the most broadly sold B&W film out of the 3.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - Can be less difficult to get in Europe as the film is manufactured out of the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.

An excellent film to work with for your first few attempts at analog photography or home developing. Also, a good selection if you happen to be trying out a camera to guarantee that it's completely functional.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - The best place to purchase this film is online directly from Ultrafine.

They distribute chemical developer kits for 35mm film, so if you process film at home you might have already done business with them.

Professional

The 2 best black & white film stocks are Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5 Plus 400. While they both do have unique appearances, they possess a large amount of capabilities that are equivalent that makes them so well-liked.

You can create professional results after pushing both film emulsions 2-stops. A 35mm roll of film can be used at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them remarkably flexible.

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

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The fundamental differences are that HP5 Plus has lower levels of contrast and is more affordable when compared to Tri-X. Minimal amounts of contrast can be good because contrast can be adjusted when making a darkroom print or through digital post-processing.

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

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film emulsion provides a stronger aesthetic. To showcase the old-school grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it will need to be processed in Kodak D-76.

The film stock certainly has a higher level of contrast. That is great if it's the overall look you will want because it involves considerably less work when during digital processing or making a darkroom print.

Transparency Film

Films that create a positive image can be called 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 seen, as opposed to the more commonly available negative film stocks.

Slide films are believed to be tricky to use due to the fact slide film has substantially less dynamic range and latitude when compared to negative film.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a film known for wonderful skin tones and fine grain. The colors won't be seen as oversaturated. The film is daylight color balanced.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Produces distinct looking images that have high amounts of contrast and saturation. It is extremely sharp daylight color balanced film emulsion. Matched against all the reversal films you can get, it has the best resolving power.

An ISO 100 version is also available.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Offers vivid and realistic 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 reversal film, reported by Fomapan as having fine grain, very good resolving power, and higher contrast. It is also regarded as a replacement for the long-discontinued Agfa Scala.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Pro film stock can more easily be pushed, have improved latitude, and dynamic range, which is the reason they are more expensive.

There is a big difference in businesses that sell 35mm rolls of film. Consumer films can more often than not be bought from pharmacies and big-box stores in limited amounts. Professional level film should be ordered from camera store or online retailer.

Film ISO

A film's sensitivity to light is listed as the ISO.

The less light available to properly expose an image, the bigger the ISO will be necessary. This comes at the cost of more noticeable film grain.

ISO 100 and slower speed films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc) are often frustrating to use handheld with the OM-3. They will probably take longer than what you could handhold without resulting in motion blur unless you are working in full sun.

A flash, fast lens, and/or tripod can help you with longer shutter speeds. Using a high-speed ISO 800 or ISO 400 film often makes the extra equipment not needed.

The ISO knob is marked as ASA on the Olympus OM-3. The change to using ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Latitude

Film latitude is the amount of stops film can be overexposed while keeping good images. Pro film emulsions have a larger latitude paired with a somewhat higher cost.

Transparency film has less latitude than negative film. That is one of the reasons it's perceived as difficult to work with.

Dynamic Range

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

When shooting in a wide variety of quickly shifting lighting conditions, film stocks with a bigger dynamic range is better.

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

Transparency film is regarded as hard to shoot because of the constrained dynamic range. The golden hour is the prime time to use transparency film.

Film Type

The Olympus OM-3 takes 35mm film that is sold in metal canisters. It can also be referred to as 135 film, and it is the best-selling film format.

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

Changing the film you are working with will transform the look of your images. This is an example of the marvelous things about using film.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

All available 35mm film offered for sale at this point has DX encoding. This lets cameras to detect and set the ISO when the film is loaded into the camera.

DX-coding does not change anything for the Olympus OM-3 because ISO must be dialed in manually with the ASA knob.

Olympus OM-3 Resources

Where to Get Film Developed?

You will find a handful of possible choices for where to develop film. For a more detailed explanation of the possibilities, you can check out my article on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Big box stores and pharmacies have ended processing film on site. They mail film off to be processed by a separate company. As a consequence, you won't receive 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

Sending film to a mail-order photo lab to be processed and scanned is the least difficult solution if you are new to shooting film. If you consistently use film, this may be a disadvantage because it can get expensive.

As long as you're going through a medium to high-volume of film, there are a few activities that you can do to help reduce your costs.

Bulk Loading Film

Investing in a roll of 100 feet of film and loading it into canisters by hand is certainly one of the ideal options to lower your expenses.

A 100-foot roll of film can load around 18 canisters of film containing 36 frames. Based on the film stock you will probably save 20%-30%.

Be aware that you are limited to rolls of black & white film. This is due to black & white film is a lot easier and more cost-effective to process yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

It's possible to process and digitize any film yourself. In fact, it's an intelligent option to spend less so you can shoot more film with your Olympus OM-3.

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

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