Best Film for the Pentax P30

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: March 13, 2020
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35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in the Pentax P30 will be based on the lighting conditions, lens, and if you want to use color or black & white.

Working with an ISO 400 35mm or higher speed will let you skip having to lug around a tripod or flash.

If you want to capture images inside or anywhere there is low light, make sure that you have a fast lens.

Color Film


Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - The film handles a plethora of lighting conditions well and is a fantastic pick for a color film. Using Kodak UltraMax 400 you should have the ability to handhold the P30 in just about all circumstances.

Expect pictures to appear slightly warm with gorgeous colors.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - An alternative to Kodak that could have better availability based on where you are in the world.

Compared to Kodak, Fujifilm appears to be a small amount cooler with an emphasis on blues and greens.

Lomography 800 - If you want a color 35mm film with an ISO of 800, there are not many possible choices. For film targeted towards consumers, this is the single available choice.

Lomography 800 can also be found in the 120 film format, to be used in a medium format camera.

Kodak Gold 200 - An outstanding way to achieve that mid-80s through 90s look. Use an on-camera flash to get the "nostalgic" look.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to reveal the best the film can achieve. This will provide appealing colors people love Gold 200 for.


Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

Kodak Portra 400 - By far the most popular color negative film among photography enthusiasts online. Overexpose it by 1 or 2-stops to get the appearance the film is well known for.

Plus, ISO 800 and 160 emulsions of Kodak Portra. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 are also manufactured.

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm equal to Kodak Portra 400, but with "Fuji colors." Expect to see more vibrant blues and greens.

It's offered in rolls of 120, but not in 8x10 or 4x5 sheets.

Black and White Film


These film emulsions have low costs and very good quality, making them quite popular for use in the Pentax P30.

The largest attraction for photography students and budget-minded photographers is the affordable price. Even if you wouldn't put yourself in those groups, it is nice to have inexpensive rolls of film on hand for evaluating recently purchased used gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - Made by Harmon Technology, which is the parent company of Ilford. This is notable due to the fact that makes this the most commonly sold 35mm film of the three.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - This is likely to be less difficult to purchase in Europe as the film is produced by Foma Bohemia out of the Czech Republic.

A pretty good 35mm film to try for your first few attempts at analog photography or developing film at home. Additionally, a good selection if you are testing out a camera to guarantee that it's functioning properly.

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

If you process 35mm color film yourself, you could have done that with developer sold by them.


Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5+ 400 are the 2 most popular black & white 35mm film emulsions. They do have several traits that are comparable that helps make them so well-liked while preserving unique looks.

You can enjoy solid images after pushing both films 2-stops. A roll of film can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them very flexible.

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

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

The film stock still looks 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 emulsion features a more distinctive aesthetic. To bring out the traditional grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it needs to be developed in Kodak D-76.

Kodak Tri-X 400 without a doubt has higher levels of contrast. That is fantastic if that is the overall look you will want because it requires a smaller amount of work when printmaking or through digital post-processing.

Slide Film

Film stocks that create a positive image are typically referred to as transparency, reversal, or slide film. That means a lightbox or projector can be used to view the pictures.

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

Slide films are regarded as hard to work with because slide film has far less latitude and dynamic range compared to negative film.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a film known for eye-catching skin tones and fine grain. There is not any hypersaturation of colors. Ektachrome has been color balanced for daylight.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Produces distinctive-looking photos that have highly elevated amounts of contrast and saturation. It is a sharp daylight color balanced film emulsion. Matched against all the slide films available to buy, it has the highest resolving power.

It is also available in an ISO 100 emulsion.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Offers realistic and vibrant colors with moderate contrast and color saturation. It has a daylight color balance and ultra-fine grain.

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white slide film, claimed by Fomapan as having high resolving power, increased levels of contrast, and fine grain. It is also mentioned as a substitute for the long-discontinued Agfa Scala.

Film Basics

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 bigger latitude.

There might be a big difference in businesses that sell it. Consumer film emulsions can more often than not still be obtained from big-box stores and pharmacies in anemic quantities. Professional level film stocks usually need to be bought from an online retailer or photography store.

Film ISO

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

The less light available to properly expose an image, the bigger the ISO of the film will be needed. This comes at the cost of bigger film grain.

ISO 100 and slower speed films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc) are often tough to use handheld in the P30. They are going to take more time will be longer than what you are able to handhold without resulting in motion blur unless you are in full sun.

A tripod, flash, and/or fast lens are going to assist you with longer exposure times. The extra accessories might not be needed if you get a higher speed ISO 400 or ISO 800 film.

The ISO is set by the Pentax P30 electronically. This is different from older SLRs that have a physical ISO dial.

Film Latitude

Film latitude is the range of stops a film can be overexposed while still producing adequate quality. Pro films have a larger latitude paired with a slightly increased cost.

Negative film has more latitude when compared to transparency film. That is a reason why it's believed to be more difficult to work with.

Dynamic Range

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

When working in a wide variety of quickly shifting lighting conditions, films with a larger dynamic range are a superior choice.

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

Reversal film is considered to be difficult to use due to the constrained dynamic range. An extremely good time to test it out would be during the golden hour.

Film Type

The Pentax P30 takes 35mm film that is sold in canisters. The film can also be described as 135 film, and it is the most widely used film format.

120 or 220 film, used in medium format cameras, is the only other type of film you are likely to come across.

Swapping the film stock you are using will change the look of your images. This is an example of the wonderful things about shooting film.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Nearly all available 35mm film distributed these days has DX encoding. This lets electronically controlled cameras to detect and set the ISO when the film is loaded into the camera.

The ISO on the Pentax P30 will be set automatically. That is due to the fact that the camera has contacts for reading the DX-coding on film canisters.

Pentax P30 Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

You will find a handful of possible choices for where to get 35mm film developed. For a more in-depth explanation of the possibilities go to my guide on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Pharmacies and big box stores no longer process film at the store. They ship film off to be developed by a 3rd party. That is why you will not receive 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

The simplest method and the method I would suggest doing if you're just getting started using film is to ship your film to a photo lab to be processed and scanned. If you regularly use film, this might be a disadvantage due to the fact that it can get pricey.

So long as you are using a medium to high volume of film, there are a few activities that you are capable of doing to help reduce your expenses.

Bulk Loading Film

Ordering a bulk roll of 100 feet of film and loading it into canisters by hand is considered one of the most common methods to lower your expenses.

A 100-foot bulk roll will fill up typically around 18 canisters of film containing 36 exposures. Expect to save 20-30% depending on the film you choose.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you're limited to bulk rolls of black and white film. This is in part because black and 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 is an excellent method to lower your costs so that you can shoot more film with your Pentax P30.

Black and white film is significantly less complicated to process yourself. Developer temperature and development times are not as critical to do correctly with black & white film as time and temperatures are for color negative or transparency film.

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