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Best Film for the Pentacon Super

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Best Pentacon Super 35mm Film

´╗┐The best film to use in your Pentacon Super should depend on your lens, lighting conditions, and if you want to shoot color or black & white.

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

If you have a need to shoot photos inside or anywhere there is low light, ensure that you are using a fast lens. For lens lens suggestions check out my guide on the 5 Best Lenses for the Pentacon Super.

Color Film

Consumer

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Kodak UltraMax 400 35mm Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - This film handles a multitude of lighting conditions well and is an excellent pick for a 35mm color film. The film is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the Super in almost all situations.

The photographs will have extremely good skin tones and leans towards the warm side.

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Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Another option that could have far better availability based on what country you are in.

In comparison to to Kodak, Fuji appears to be a bit cooler with an emphasis on greens and blues.

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Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO

Lomography 800 - You’re limited to only a few offerings if you want an ISO 800 speed color film. This is literally the only film stock focused on consumers.

In addition, if you have a medium format camera, Lomography 800 is also offered in 120 film format.

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Kodak Gold 200

Kodak Gold 200 - A great option to achieve that mid-1980s through 90s look. For the genuine experience take advantage of a flash.

To really bring the ideal look out of the film, over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will provide the attractive colors everyone loves Kodak Gold for.

Professional

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Kodak Portra 400

Kodak Portra 400 - Among the photography enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is by far and away the top color 35mm film. Overexpose the film by 1 or 2-stops to get the rendering the film is well known for.

There are also ISO 800 and 160 emulsions of Portra. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 film are also available.

Black and White Film

Consumer

With low costs and more than acceptable very popular to use in the Pentacon Super.

The largest draw for photography students and budget minded photographers is the low price. Even if you wouldn’t put yourself in those groups, it is great to have comparatively cheap rolls of 35 film available for trying out recently obtained used cameras.

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Kentmere 400

Kentmere 400 - It’s manufactured by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is excellent because that makes this the most widely available film of the 3.

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Foma Fomapan 400 Action

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

An appropriate film to use for your first few attempts at analog photography or developing film at home. Also a good choice if you are looking to try out a camera to confirm that it’s working correctly.

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Ultrafine eXtreme 400

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

They distribute developer kits for color film, so if you process film at home you may have already done business with them.

Professional

Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 are the 2 most frequently used black and white film emulsions. They have numerous traits in common that make them a favourite, while retaining unique looks.

You can still get good photos after pushing both emulsions 2-stops. This makes the film versatile as a roll can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600.

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Ilford HP5 Plus 400

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The main differences are that HP5 Plus is less expensive and has lower levels of contrast when compared to Tri-X. Low amounts of contrast can be beneficial due to the fact contrast can be added when making a darkroom print or editing digitally.

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

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Kodak Tri-X 400

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film stock has a stronger style to it. To bring out the legendary grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it should be processed in D-76.

Tri-X 400 undoubtedly has considerably more contrast. That’s beneficial if it’s the look and feel you would prefer because it requires considerably less work when editing digitially or printmaking.

Transparency Film

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

Colors are not required to be inverted to be viewable, unlike the more widespread negative film stocks.

Slide films are thought of hard to work with due to the fact slide film has much less dynamic range and latitude when compared to negative film.

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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. Ektachrome is daylight balanced.

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Fujichrome Velvia 50

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Offers beautiful looking shots that have elevated amounts of contrast and saturation. It is definitely sharp and color balanced for daylight. Out of all the slide films on the market, it has the best resolving power.

There’s also another version with an ISO of 100.

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Fujichrome Provia 100F

Fujichrome Provia 100F - Offers vivid and natural colors with moderate color saturation and contrast. It’s a daylight color balanced film with ultra fine grain.

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Foma Fomapan R100

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

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Pro films cost more since they can more easily be pushed, have larger latitude, and dynamic range.

There will also be a difference in business that sell film. Consumer film stocks can usually be seen in big-box stores and pharmacies in small amounts. Pro film needs to be purchased from a specialized camera store or online.

ISO

A film’s sensitivity to light is represented by the ISO.

The bigger the ISO of the film, the less light is needed to properly expose an image. Additionally, be prepared to see more noticeable film grain.

ISO 100 and slower speed films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc) might be tricky to use handheld in the Super. This is due to the fact that in the absence of full sun, the shutter speeds might be longer than what you are able to handhold without producing motion blur.

To prevent this you will need to use a flash, tripod, and/or fast lens. The additional equipment might not be needed if you choose a higher speed ISO 400 or ISO 800 film.

As a quick note, the dial to select film speed is marked as ASA on the Pentacon Super. The move 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 film can be overexposed while still having adequate results. Pro film emulsions have a larger latitude paired with a slightly increased price.

Transparency film has a smaller amount of latitude than negative film. That is one of the reasons why it is deemed to be challenging to use.

Dynamic Range

The range between the darkest and brightest parts of a picture is described as dynamic range. Sections of a picture that don’t fit in this range will be rendered as white overexposed highlights or totally black underexposed shadows.

A bigger dynamic range is ideal given that it can make shooting in different lighting conditions easier.

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

Reversal film is thought to be hard to shoot as a consequence of the constrained dynamic range. Golden hour is the ideal time to use transparency.

Film Type

35mm film that comes in metal canisters is used by the Pentacon Super. The film can also be referred to as 135 film, and it’s the most commonly used type of film.

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

One of the marvelous properties of film is that you can swap the film stock you work with and get a fresh look to your photographs.

DX Coded Film

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DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Nearly all available 35mm film made currently has DX encoding on the canister. This makes it possible for cameras to detect and set the ISO of the canister loaded into the camera.

ISO (ASA) on the Pentacon Super must be set manually. Which means that DX-coding does not do anything.

Pentacon Super Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

You will find a few choices for where to have 35mm film developed. For a more in depth explanation of the possible choices look at my article on Where to Develop Film.

WARNING: Film is no longer processed on location at pharmacies and big box stores. They mail film off to be developed by a 3rd party. Consequently, 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

Sending your film to a mail-order photo lab to be processed and scanned is the most convenient choice if you are just getting started shooting film. A disadvantage to this is that it gets very expensive if you consistently shoot film.

As long as you’re using a moderate to high volume of film, there are a couple of activities that you are able to do to decrease your costs.

Bulk Loading Film

Among the most popular ways to save money on film is to buy a roll of 100 feet of film and load canisters yourself.

A 100’ bulk roll of film can fill up typically around 18 rolls of film containing 36 exposures each. Count on discounts of 20-30% based on the film you choose.

Keep in mind that you’re limited to rolls of black & white film. This is in part because black & white film is quite a bit easier and less expensive to process yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

All film can be developed by hand. It’s a very good method to cut costs so you can shoot more film with your Pentacon Super.

Black and white film is by far the easiest to process at home. Temperature and time are both not as crucial to do correctly with black & white films as temperatures and time are for slide or color negative.