Best Film for the Pentax ME F

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: March 11, 2020
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35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in your Pentax ME F will have to depend on the lens, lighting, and type of film you want to use.

Working with an ISO 400 35mm or higher speed will allow you to eliminate having to haul around a flash and/or tripod.

If you have a need to shoot photos inside or anywhere there is low light, make sure you have a fast lens.

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - A terrific choice for a wide range of conditions. Using Kodak UltraMax 400 you should be able to handhold the ME F in the majority of situations.

Expect photographs to appear slightly warm with gorgeous colors.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Another option that may have greater availability depending on what country you are in.

Fujifilm photographs appear to have cooler tones with stronger blues and greens compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - If you want an ISO 800 color film, there are only a few offerings. For film focused on consumers, Lomography 800 is the single available choice.

Additionally, if you own a medium format camera, Lomography 800 is also sold in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200 - An awesome means to achieve that mid-80s through 90s feeling. Use a flash to get the "nostalgic" look the film is known for.

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

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

Kodak Portra 400 - Among the enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is the top color 35mm film. Overexpose Portra 400 by 1 or 2-stops to get the appearance the film is known for.

Kodak Portra is also for sale in ISO 800 and 160 emulsions. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 are also available to buy.

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

It's available in 120, but not in 4x5 or 8x10 sheets.

Black and White Film

Consumer

These film stocks have low costs and excellent quality, making them favorable for use in the Pentax ME F.

The biggest appeal for photography students and budget-minded photographers is the competitive price. Even if you don't put yourself in that group, it is nice to have low-cost rolls of 35 film on hand for testing recently purchased used gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - Manufactured by Harmon Technology, which is also the owner of Ilford. This is notable due to the fact that allows this to be the most widely sold film out of the 3.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It is much easier to find in Europe as the film is made by Foma Bohemia inside of the Czech Republic.

A suitable 35mm film to choose for your initial few attempts at home developing or analog photography. Additionally, a good selection if you happen to be looking to check out a camera to guarantee that it is fully operational.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the cheapest price by ordering it from Ultrafine.

They manufacture chemical developer kits for 35mm film, so if you process film at home you may have previously had interactions with them.

Professional

Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5+ 400 are the 2 top-selling black & white film stocks. While they both do have individual styles, they possess a large amount of attributes in common that help makes them so well received.

Both film emulsions can be pushed 1 or 2 stops and still deliver professional images. A 35mm roll of film can be used at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them remarkably useful.

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

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - Between the two film stocks, HP5 Plus has lower levels of contrast and is more affordable. Less contrast can be beneficial because contrast can be changed when making a darkroom print or editing digitally.

The film emulsion has a subtle grain and still appears great when pushed 2-stops.

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film emulsion provides a more distinctive style to it. To produce the legendary grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it needs to be processed in Kodak D-76.

Kodak Tri-X undeniably has considerably more contrast. That's helpful if it's the overall look you are looking for because it requires less work when during digital processing or making a print.

Transparency Film

Transparency film, also known as reversal film or slide film, provides a positive picture. That means a projector or lightbox can be used to exhibit the pictures.

The colors are not required to be inverted to be viewable, contrary to the more common negative film emulsions.

Slide films have substantially less dynamic range and latitude than negative film and so they are perceived as difficult to use.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - The film is known for its superb skin tones and fine grain. The colors don't appear oversaturated. Ektachrome has been color balanced for daylight.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is a sharp color balanced for daylight reversal film with lots of saturation and contrast, giving shots a beautiful look. It has the top resolving power of any available reversal film emulsion.

It is also available in an ISO 100 emulsion.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Delivers natural and vibrant colors with moderate contrast and color saturation. It is an ultra-fine grain film with a daylight color balance.

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white transparency film, described by Fomapan as having elevated levels of contrast, fine grain, and very good resolving power. It's also mentioned as a substitute for the long-discontinued Agfa Scala film emulsion.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Pro film stock have a greater dynamic range, are easier to push, and bigger latitude, that is why they will cost you more.

There's a disparity in availability. Consumer film emulsions can generally be found in big-box stores and pharmacies in anemic amounts. Professional level film should really be ordered from a camera store or online retailer.

Film ISO

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

The less light there is available to get an image, the bigger the ISO of the film will have to be. Furthermore, be prepared for increased film grain.

It might be hard to handhold the ME F with ISO 100 or slower speed films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc). This is due to the fact that without full sun, the shutter speeds will likely take more time than what you are able to handhold without creating motion blur.

A tripod, a fast lens, and/or a flash can assist you with longer shutter speeds. The additional equipment may not be needed if you choose a higher speed ISO 800 or ISO 400 film.

The ISO is set by the Pentax ME F electronically. This is a change from previous cameras that use an ISO knob.

Latitude

Film latitude is the amount of stops a film can be overexposed while producing usable images. Professional film stocks have a larger latitude paired with a somewhat increased cost.

Negative film has a larger amount of latitude compared to transparency film. That is one of the reasons why it is considered difficult to work with.

Dynamic Range

The difference between the darkest and brightest parts of a photograph is described as dynamic range. Sections of a picture that don't fit within this range will be seen as black underexposed shadows or white overexposed highlights.

When shooting in a wide variety of quickly changing lighting situations, films with a bigger dynamic range are a much better choice.

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

Reversal film is considered to be hard to shoot on account of the limited dynamic range. An extremely good time to try it would be during the golden hour.

Film Type

35mm film that is sold in metal canisters is used by the Pentax ME F. It can also be referred to as 135 film, and it is the most frequently used type of film.

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

Swapping the film stock you are using will transform the look of your shots. This is an example of the marvelous things about film.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Nearly all commercially available 35mm film for sale at this point has DX encoding on the canister. This allows electronically controlled cameras to auto-detect and set the ISO of the film canister loaded.

The ISO on the Pentax ME F will be set automatically. That is because the camera can read the DX-coding on film canisters.

Pentax ME F Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

There are just a few choices for where to have film processed. For a more comprehensive discussion of the choices check my article on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Film does not get processed on location at big box stores and pharmacies. They mail the film off-site to be developed by a third party. As a consequence, you won't get 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

Shipping film to a mail-order photo lab to be processed and scanned is the easiest solution if you're just starting to use film. If you consistently use film, this could be a disadvantage because it can get really expensive.

Assuming that you're going through a moderate to high-volume of film, there are a few activities that can be done to help reduce your expenses.

Bulk Loading Film

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

A 100' bulk roll will fill up about 18 canisters of film containing 36 exposures each. Count on discounts of 20-30% based on your pick.

Keep in mind that you are limited to 100-foot rolls of black and white film. This is in part because black and white film is easier and more affordable to develop at home.

Home Developing and Scanning

Any film can be processed at home. It's a good way to save money so that you can use more film with your Pentax ME F.

Black & white film is significantly less difficult to process at home. Temperature and development times are not as imperative to do correctly with black & white films as time and temperatures are for transparency or color negative.

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