Best Film for the Pentaflex ME-F
The best film to use in your Pentaflex ME-F should depend on your lens, lighting conditions, and type of film you want to shoot.
To prevent having to lug around a tripod or flash, opt for a 35mm film that has an ISO of 400 or higher.
If you intend to shoot photographs inside or anytime there is low light, ensure you are using a fast lens. Go read my blog post on the 5 Best Lenses for the Pentaflex ME-F for ideas.
Kodak UltraMax 400 - A good selection for a wide range of lighting conditions. Using Kodak UltraMax 400 you should be able to handhold the ME-F in just about all scenarios.
Expect pictures to look a bit warm with wonderful skin tones.
Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Depending on where you are in the world, this film may be more widely available. It is a top quality alternative to Kodak emulsions.
Fujifilm photos tend to have cooler tones with stronger greens and blues, when compared to Kodak.
Lomography 800 - If you want an ISO 800 color 35mm film, there aren’t very many possible choices. For 35mm film emulsions focused on consumers, this is the sole choice.
Additionally, if you own a medium format camera, it is also available in 120 film format.
Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film emulsion that debuted in the mid-1980s. Gold 200 has the look of snapshots from the 80s and 90s. Use an on-camera flash to get the “authentic” look.
Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to produce the best the film has to offer. This will ensure that you get the wonderful colors everyone loves Kodak Gold for.
Kodak Portra 400 - By far the most popular color negative film among film enthusiasts online. Overexpose it by 1 or 2-stops to get the look and feel the film is well known for.
There are also ISO 800 and ISO 160 emulsions of Portra. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 are also easily found.
Black and White Film
With low prices and more than acceptable very popular to use in the Pentaflex ME-F.
The major draw for budget minded photographers and photography students is the low cost. Even if you wouldn’t put yourself in those groups, it is nice to have inexpensive rolls of 35 film on hand for testing recently obtained used cameras.
Kentmere 400 - It’s manufactured by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is notable considering that makes this the most broadly sold 35mm film of the 3.
Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It’s much easier to buy in Europe as the film is made inside of the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.
A very good 35mm film to choose for your first few attempts at developing film at home or analog photography. Also a good option if you’re looking to check out a camera to ensure that it’s operating correctly.
Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - The best place to get this film is straight from Ultrafine.
If you develop 35mm color film yourself, you may have used developer sold by them to process your film.
Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 are the 2 most commonly used black & white films. They possess numerous qualities in common that help make them so popular, while retaining individual styles.
Both film stocks can be pushed 2 stops and result in very good photographs. A 35mm roll can be used at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them very flexible.
Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - Between the two film emulsions, HP5 Plus has lower levels of contrast and is more affordable. A lack of contrast can be advantageous because contrast can be increased when making a darkroom print or during digital processing.
The film stock still looks good when pushed 2-stops. It is also recognized for having subtle grain.
Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film emulsion provides a more distinctive style to it. To showcase the old-school grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it will need to be processed in D-76.
Tri-X 400 undeniably has far more contrast. That is very good if that is the look and feel you are looking for because it involves considerably less work when making a print or during digital post processing.
Reversal film, also known as transparency film or slide film, gives you a positive image. That means a lightbox or projector can be used to showcase the photos.
The colors don’t need to be inverted to be seen, contrary to the more often used negative film emulsions.
Slide films have far less dynamic range and latitude than negative films and so they are thought to be more difficult to use.
Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a fine grain film known for beautiful skin tones. The colors don’t appear oversaturated. Ektachrome has a daylight color balance.
Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Makes beautiful looking photos that have elevated amounts of contrast and saturation. It is sharp with a daylight color balance. Velvia has the top resolving power of any increased increased.
You can also get it in an ISO 100 emulsion.
Fujichrome Provia 100F - Delivers vibrant and realistic colors with moderate color saturation and contrast. It has ultra fine grain with a daylight color balance.
Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white transparency film, noted by Fomapan as having very fine grain, higher levels of contrast, and very good resolving power. It is also billed as a substitute for the long discontinued Agfa Scala slide film.
Consumer vs Professional Film
Pro film stocks cost more due to the fact that they have a greater dynamic range, are easier to push, and increased latitude.
There’s a significant difference in where 35mm rolls of film can be purchased. Consumer film stocks can usually be obtained from pharmacies and big-box stores in meager quantities. Professional film emulsions will need to be ordered from a specialized photography store or online.
The ISO signifies the film speed, which can also be thought of as the film’s sensitivity to light.
The less light available to capture an image, the bigger the ISO of the film will have to be. This comes at the tradeoff of bigger film grain.
ISO 100 and slower films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc) may be difficult to shoot handheld with the ME-F. This is due to the fact that if you don’t have full sun, the shutter speeds will probably take longer than what you can handhold without resulting in motion blur.
A flash, tripod, and/or fast lens can assist you with longer exposure times. The extra accessories might not be needed if you decide to use a higher speed ISO 800 or ISO 400 film.
As a quick note, the ISO selection knob is labeled as ASA on the Pentaflex ME-F. The switch to using 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 still retaining satisfactory images. Pro film stocks have a larger latitude paired with a slightly increased cost.
Reversal film has less latitude when compared to negative film. That is a reason it’s perceived as challenging to work with.
The range between the shadows and highlights parts of a picture is described as dynamic range. Areas of a photograph that do not fit in this range will be seen as totally black underexposed shadows or completely white overexposed highlights.
When working in a variety or quickly shifting lighting conditions, films with a larger dynamic range are a better choice.
- Digital cameras 14+ stops
- Negative film up to 13 stops
- Slide film 6-8 stops
The small dynamic range of reversal film is one more factor it is thought to be a challenge to shoot. A great time to try it would be during the golden hour.
The Pentaflex ME-F takes 35mm film that is in canisters. The film can also be referred to as 135 film, and it is the most popular type of film.
120 or 220 film, used in medium format cameras, is the only other film format you are likely to encounter}.
One of the wonderful things about film is that you can switch the film emulsion you use and get a totally different look to your shots.
DX Coded Film
Most available 35mm film on the market currently has DX encoding on the canister. This makes it possible for electronically controlled cameras to automatically detect and set the ISO of the film canister put in the camera.
DX-coding doesn’t matter for the Pentaflex ME-F because ISO needs to be manually dialed in.
Pentaflex ME-F Resources
Where to Get Film Developed?
There are a variety of options for where to get film developed. For a more complete discussion of the possibilities check out my article on Where to Develop Film.
WARNING: Pharmacies and big box stores no longer develop film at the store. They ship film off-site to be processed by a third party. Consequently, you will not receive your negatives back.
- Develop Film at Home
- Use a Local Photography Lab
- Use a Mail Order Photo Lab
- Pharmacy or Big Box Store
Sending film to a mail-order lab to be developed and scanned is the least difficult choice if you are new to shooting film. If you consistently use film, this may be a drawback due to the fact that it can get very expensive.
There are a few activities that can be done to limit the expenses required to shoot film, provided that you are going through a medium to high volume of film.
Bulk Loading Film
Getting a roll of 100 feet of film and loading in into canisters yourself is one of the most common methods to lower expenses.
A 100 foot roll of film will fill up around 18 rolls of film containing 36 exposures each. Based on the film stock you are likely to save 20%-30%.
Bear in mind that you are only going to be able to get bulk rolls of black & white film. This is in part because black & white film is quite a bit easier and less expensive to develop yourself.
Home Developing and Scanning
You can process and digitize any film yourself. It is an intelligence way to spend less so that you can shoot more film with your Pentaflex ME-F.
Black and white film is by far the least difficult to process at home. Developer temperature and time are not as necessary to do correctly with black and white films as time and temperatures are for color negative or slide film.