Best Film for the Pentacon Super

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: February 20, 2020
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35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in the Pentacon Super will be based on the lens, available light, and if you want to use color or black & white.

To eliminate having to lug around a tripod and/or flash, get a film that has an ISO of 400 or higher.

Ensure you have a fast lens if you want to capture photos in low light, conditions that are frequently encountered indoors.

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - The film handles a variety of lighting conditions well and is a fantastic pick for a color 35mm film. Using Kodak UltraMax 400 you should have the ability to handhold the Super in just about all situations.

Expect photos to appear a little bit warm with beautiful colors.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Based on your location, this film can be more widely available. It's an excellent alternative to Kodak film.

Fuji images appear to have cooler tones with stronger blues and greens compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - If you want a color film with an ISO of 800, there are not many possible choices. This is literally the only 35mm film emulsion focused on consumers.

In addition, if you have a medium format camera, it is also available in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200 - An excellent solution to achieve that mid-80s through 90s feeling. Use a flash to get the "nostalgic" film look.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to produce the best the film can achieve. This will produce the wonderful colors everyone loves Kodak Gold for.

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

Kodak Portra 400 - Among enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is by far and away the most popular color film emulsion. Overexpose it by 1 or 2-stops to get the look and feel the film is known for.

There's also ISO 160 and ISO 800 versions of Kodak Portra. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 are also easily found.

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm equivalent to Portra, but with a distinct color appearance. Expect to see stronger greens and blues.

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

Black and White Film

Consumer

With reasonable costs and more than acceptable quite popular to try in the Pentacon Super.

The primary appeal for photography students and budget-minded photographers is the low price. Even if you don't put yourself in that group, it is good to have comparatively cheap rolls of 35 film available for evaluating newly acquired used gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - Manufactured by Harmon Technology, which is the owner of Ilford. This is notable considering that allows this to be the most widely sold B&W film out of the three.

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

A suitable film emulsion to choose for your first few attempts at developing film at home or analog photography. Also, a good selection if you happen to be testing out a camera to guarantee that it's fully functional.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the cheapest price on this film by getting it 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 most widely used black & white 35mm films. They possess many characteristics that are equivalent that helps make them a favorite while maintaining individual rendering.

You can achieve high-quality results after pushing both emulsions 2-stops. A 35mm roll of film can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them very useful.

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

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The most significant differences are that HP5 Plus is less expensive and has lower levels of contrast in comparison to Tri-X. Less contrast can be nice because contrast can be increased when making a print in the darkroom or through digital processing.

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

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film features a stronger look. To produce the traditional grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it will need to be processed in Kodak D-76.

Kodak Tri-X 400 certainly has higher levels of contrast. That's perfect if it is the look you are looking for because it means a smaller amount of work when editing digitally or printmaking.

Transparency Film

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

Colors are not required to be inverted to be seen, contrary to the more common negative film emulsions.

Slide films have much less dynamic range and latitude than negative films and so they are considered more challenging to use.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

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

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is an extraordinarily sharp color balanced for daylight transparency film with high levels of contrast and saturation, giving photos a special look. Velvia has the highest resolving power of any available slide film.

It is also available in an ISO 100 speed.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Delivers 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 transparency film, described by Fomapan as having very good resolving power, increased levels of contrast, and fine grain. It's also billed as an alternative for the long-discontinued Agfa Scala reversal film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Professional film stock have better dynamic range, latitude, and can more easily be pushed, which is the reason pro-film costs more.

You should expect to see a disparity in availability. Consumer films can generally be obtained from big-box stores and pharmacies in anemic amounts. Professional level film emulsions has to be ordered from a specialized camera store or online retailer.

Film ISO

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

The bigger the ISO, the less light is necessary to capture a frame. This comes at the expense of larger film grain.

It might be troublesome to handhold the Super with ISO 100 or slower films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc). This is because if you do not have full sun, the shutter speeds will take longer than what you can handhold without producing motion blur.

To get around this you are going to need to use a tripod, a fast lens, and/or a flash. Using a fast ISO 400 or ISO 800 film will help make the additional equipment unnecessary.

The ISO knob is marked as ASA on the Pentacon Super. The move to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Film Latitude

Latitude is the amount of stops film can be overexposed while still maintaining tolerable photographs. Professional films have a larger latitude paired with a slightly increased cost.

Negative film has more latitude when compared to transparency film. That is one of the reasons it's believed to be challenging to use.

Dynamic Range

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

A larger dynamic range is preferable given that a bigger range helps make shooting in variable lighting conditions easier.

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

Slide film is considered to be tricky to use due to the limited dynamic range. The golden hour is the ideal time to use reversal film.

Film Type

35mm film that is sold in metal canisters is used by the Pentacon Super. 35mm film can also be referred to as 135 film, and it's the best-selling film format.

The only other film format you are likely going to notice is 120 or 220 film that is used with medium format cameras.

Switching the film emulsion you are working with will alter the look of your photographs. This is an example of the fantastic things about using film.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Nearly all new 35mm film sold today has a DX code. This will allow cameras to detect and set the ISO when the film is loaded into the camera.

DX-coding will not matter for the Pentacon Super because ISO has to be manually set with the ASA knob.

Pentacon Super Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

You will find just a few possibilities for where to have film processed. For a more in-depth discussion of the possibilities, take a look at my article on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Film doesn't get developed locally at big box stores and pharmacies. They ship the film off-site to be processed by a separate company. That is why, you won't be given your 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 simplest option if you're just beginning to use film. If you frequently shoot film, this might be a drawback since it can get pricey.

There are two actions that can be done to reduce the expenses involved in using film, assuming that you're shooting a moderate to high-volume of film.

Bulk Loading Film

Ordering a roll of 100 feet of film and manually loading it into canisters yourself is certainly one of the ideal methods to get a better price.

A 100-foot bulk roll of film can fill up roughly 18 canisters of film containing 36 frames each. Based on the film stock you are likely to save 20%-30%.

Be aware that you are going to be limited to 100-foot rolls of black and white film. This is because black & white film is less difficult and more cost-effective to process yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

All film can be processed by hand. In fact, it's a very good method to spend less so that you can use more film with your Pentacon Super.

Black & white film is much less difficult to develop yourself. Developer temperature and development times are both not as crucial to get correct with black and white film as they are for transparency or color negative.

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