Best Film for the Pentaflex SL

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: February 17, 2020
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35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in the Pentaflex SL should be based on the lighting, your lens, and type of film you want to shoot.

Choosing an ISO 400 35mm or higher speed will help you skip being weighed down with a flash or tripod.

If you need to shoot pictures inside or anywhere there is low light, ensure that you are using a fast lens.

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - A great option for a diverse range of lighting conditions. Kodak UltraMax 400 is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the SL in almost all circumstances.

Expect pictures to look slightly warm with amazing colors.

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

Fuji photographs appear to have cooler colors with notable blues and greens when compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - You're limited to just a small number of offerings if you want a color ISO 800 film. For film stocks geared towards consumers, Lomography 800 is the only available option.

In addition, if you own a medium format camera, it's also offered in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film emulsion that was launched in the mid-1980s. Kodak Gold 200 produces the look of family snapshots from the 80s and 1990s. For the genuine photography experience try a flash.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to produce the most popular look the film can achieve. This will produce the beautiful colors everyone loves Kodak Gold 200 for.

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

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

Plus, ISO 800 and ISO 160 versions of Kodak Portra. Portra is also offered in rolls of 120 film, 4x5 sheets, and 8x10 sheets.

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm counterpart to Kodak Portra 400, but with a distinctive color appearance. Expect to see more vibrant blues and greens.

It is offered in 120, but not in sheets of 8x10 or 4x5.

Black and White Film

Consumer

With reasonable costs and more than acceptable favorable to try in the Pentaflex SL.

The primary attraction for photography students and budget-minded photographers is the competitive price. Even if you do not put yourself in those groups, it's good to have inexpensive rolls of film on hand for evaluating newly delivered used gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - It's manufactured by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is good considering that allows this to be the most commonly sold B&W film out of the three.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It will probably easier to buy in Europe as the film is produced by Foma Bohemia inside of the Czech Republic.

A good 35mm film to employ for your initial few attempts at developing film at home or analog photography. Additionally, a good selection if you happen to be attempting to check out a camera to guarantee that it's totally operational.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the lowest price by purchasing it straight from Ultrafine.

If you process film yourself, you could have done that with developer sold by them.

Professional

The 2 top-selling black & white 35mm film emulsions are Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400. They do have numerous attributes that are similar that helps make them popular while keeping unique rendering.

Both emulsions can be pushed 1 or 2 stops and deliver good images. This makes the film versatile as a roll can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600.

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 compared to Tri-X. Minimal amounts of contrast can be advantageous because of the fact that contrast can be adjusted when making a darkroom print or through digital post-processing.

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

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film has a stronger aesthetic to it. To produce the legendary grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it needs to be processed in Kodak D-76.

You're going to undoubtedly see considerably more contrast with Kodak Tri-X 400. That's fantastic if it's the style you need because it involves a smaller amount of work when during digital processing or printmaking.

Reversal Film

Film stocks that produce a positive image can be called reversal, transparency, or slide film. This means the pictures can be showcased with a lightbox or projector.

Colors are not required to be inverted to be viewed, in contrast to the more commonly available negative films.

Slide films have much less dynamic range and latitude when compared with negative film and so they are believed to be harder to use.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

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

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Delivers unique looking images that have considerably increased amounts of contrast and saturation. It is remarkably sharp with a daylight color balance. It has the greatest resolving power of any available reversal film.

An ISO 100 speed is also available to buy.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Produces realistic and vibrant colors with moderate contrast and color saturation. It is an ultrafine grain film balanced for daylight.

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white slide film, described by Fomapan as having very good resolving power, increased contrast, and very fine grain. It's also regarded as a substitute for the long-discontinued Agfa Scala Film Stock.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Professional films cost more due to the fact that they have a greater dynamic range, are easier to push, and larger latitude.

You should expect to see a big difference in supply. Consumer films can often be found in pharmacies and big-box stores in meager amounts. Professional quality film emulsions should be ordered from camera store or online.

Film ISO

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

The less light available to expose an image, the bigger the ISO of the film will be required. In addition, be prepared for larger sized film grain.

It is often challenging to handhold the SL with ISO 100 or slower films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc). They might take more time than what you could handhold without leading to motion blur unless you're shooting in full sun.

A fast lens, flash, and/or tripod are going to assist you with longer shutter speeds. The additional gear may not be needed if you use a higher speed ISO 400 or ISO 800 film.

As a quick note, the ISO knob is labeled as ASA on the Pentaflex SL. The change to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Film Latitude

Film latitude is the range of stops a film can be overexposed while keeping good results. Pro film emulsions have a larger latitude to go along with a slightly increased cost.

Negative film has more latitude when compared to slide film. That is a reason it's deemed to be harder to work with.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range is the range between the highlights and shadows details of a picture that can be recorded. Sections of a picture that fall out of this range will appear as totally white overexposed highlights or solid black underexposed shadows.

When working in a variety of quickly changing 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

The small dynamic range of reversal film is another factor it's viewed as challenging to shoot. The golden hour is the ideal time to shoot reversal film.

Film Type

The Pentaflex SL takes 35mm film that is sold in metal canisters. 35mm film can also be described as 135 film, and it is the most popular film format.

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

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

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Nearly all new 35mm film distributed today has a DX code. This allows electronically controlled cameras to detect and set the ISO of the film canister loaded into the camera.

ISO (ASA) on the Pentaflex SL is required to be dialed in manually. As a result DX-coding isn't going to do anything.

Pentaflex SL Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

You will find a variety of possible choices for where to get film processed. For a more complete explanation of the choices, go look at my guide on Where to Develop Film.

WARNING: Film doesn't get processed locally at big box stores and pharmacies. They send film off to be processed by a 3rd party. Because of that, you won't get 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

The most convenient method and the method I suggest using if you are just getting started shooting film is to send off your film to a lab to be developed and scanned. If you frequently use film, this might be a disadvantage since it can get pricey.

There are a couple of activities that can be done to decrease the expenses required to use film, on condition that you're using a moderate to high-volume of film.

Bulk Loading Film

Investing in a roll of 100 feet of film and loading it into canisters by hand is considered one of the most widely used methods to lower expenses.

A 100' bulk roll will load around 18 rolls of film containing 36 frames. You should expect to save 20-30% depending on the film.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you are limited to bulk rolls of black & white film. This is due to black & white film is easier and cheaper to process yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

All film can be processed by hand. It's an intelligent way to lower your costs so you can shoot more film with your Pentaflex SL.

Black & white film is significantly easier to develop. Developer temperature and time are both not as imperative to do correctly with black and white films as temperatures and time are for transparency or color negative.

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