Best Film for the Praktica MTL-3
The best film to use in the Praktica MTL-3 will depend on the lens, available light, and type of film you want to use.
To eliminate having to lug around a flash and/or tripod, pick a 35mm film that has an ISO of 400 or faster.
If you intend to capture pictures indoors or anytime there is low light, ensure that you are using a fast lens. For lens lens ideas check out my brief article on the 5 Best Lenses for the Praktica MTL-3.
Kodak UltraMax 400 - The film works well in a large range of lighting conditions and is a great choice for a color film. Using this film you should have the ability to handhold the MTL-3 in the vast majority of circumstances.
The images will have excellent skin tones and tend to be on the warm side.
Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Based on your location, this film might have greater availability. It is a very good alternative to Kodak emulsions.
Compared to Kodak, Fuji tends to be a little bit cooler with stronger greens and blues.
Lomography 800 - There are just a small number of options if you want a color ISO 800 35mm film. This happens to be the only film stock targeted towards consumers.
Additionally, if you own a medium format camera, it is also for sale in 120 film format.
Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film that was launched in the mid-1980s. Kodak Gold 200 offers the look and feel of family snapshots from the 1980s and 90s. Use an on-camera flash to get the “authentic” look the film is known for.
Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to reveal the best the film can achieve. This will produce the appealing colors everyone loves the film for.
Kodak Portra 400 - By far the most popular color negative film among film shooting enthusiasts online. Overexpose it by 1 or 2-stops to get the appearance the film is well known for.
There’s also ISO 160 and 800 versions of Portra. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 are also available.
Black and White Film
With reasonable costs and good quite popular to use in the Praktica MTL-3.
The major attraction for photography students and budget minded photographers is the competitive price. Even if you don’t put yourself in those groups, it’s good to have relatively cheap rolls of film around for evaluating recently delivered used cameras.
Kentmere 400 - It’s manufactured by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is good because that makes this the most broadly sold 35mm film of the three.
Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It is easier to acquire in Europe as the film is produced inside of the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.
A fine film to try for your initial few attempts at analog photography or home developing. Also a good selection if you are trying out a camera to be sure that it’s completely functional.
Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the cheapest price on this film by purchasing it straight from Ultrafine.
They produce chemical developer kits for color 35mm film, so if you process film at home you might have already done business with them.
Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 are the two most widely used black and white films. They have numerous traits in common that help make them popular, while preserving individual styles.
You can obtain very good images after pushing both film stocks 2-stops. This makes the film versatile as a roll can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600.
Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The fundamental differences are that HP5 Plus is more affordable and has less contrast when compared to Tri-X. Less contrast can be an advantage because contrast can be changed when making a print or during digital post processing.
The film stock still looks outstanding when pushed 2-stops. It is also notable for having subdued grain.
Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film stock features a stronger aesthetic to it. To reveal the classic grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it needs to be developed in D-76.
You’re going to clearly notice a higher level of contrast with Tri-X. That’s awesome if it’s the look and feel you are after because it results in not as much work when making a print or editing digitially.
Slide film, also known as transparency or reversal film, produces a positive image. That means a lightbox or projector can be used to show the photographs.
This is distinct from the more widespread negative films that produce pictures that need the colors to be inverted in order to be seen.
Slide films have less latitude and dynamic range than negative film and so they are regarded as challenging to use.
Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a fine grain film known for beautiful skin tones. There is almost no hypersaturation of colors. Ektachrome has been balanced for daylight.
Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Creates beautiful looking photos that have elevated levels of contrast and saturation. It is razor-sharp with a daylight color balance. Velvia has the highest resolving power of any elevated elevated.
There is another emulsion with an ISO of 100.
Fujichrome Provia 100F - Creates natural and vivid colors with moderate contrast and color saturation. It has ultra fine grain with a daylight color balance.
Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white slide film, noted by Fomapan as having very fine grain, higher levels of contrast, and excellent resolving power. It is also billed as a replacement for the long discontinued Agfa Scala transparency film.
Consumer vs Professional Film
Professional film stocks cost more due to the fact that they have improved latitude, are easier to push, and larger dynamic range.
There is a big difference in where film can be purchased. Consumer film stocks can quite often be seen in pharmacies and big-box stores in small quantities. Pro film needs to be purchased from a online retailer or specialized photography store.
A film’s light sensitivity is listed as the ISO.
The less light there’s available to properly expose an image, the bigger the ISO will have to be. This comes at the cost of more noticeable film grain.
It can be problematic to handhold the MTL-3 with ISO 100 or slower speed films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc). This is due to the fact that if you don’t have full sun, the exposure times will most likely take more time than what you could handhold without creating motion blur.
To stop motion blur you are going to need to use a fast lens, flash, and/or tripod. The additional equipment may not be needed if you choose to use a faster ISO 800 or ISO 400 film.
The ISO selection knob is marked as ASA on the Praktica MTL-3. The change to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).
Film latitude is the amount of stops film can be overexposed while having adequate images. Pro film stocks have a greater latitude paired with a slightly higher price.
Negative film has more latitude when compared to reversal film. That is a reason why it is regarded as challenging to shoot.
The range between the brightest and darkest parts of a photo is referred to as dynamic range. Sections of a photo that fall out of this range will be seen as solid black underexposed shadows or white overexposed highlights.
When working in a wide variety or quickly shifting 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
The small dynamic range of reversal film is one more reason it’s considered tricky to shoot. A fantastic time to try it is during the golden hour.
35mm film that comes in metal canisters is used by the Praktica MTL-3. It’s also the most popular type of film and in some instances is described as 135 film.
The only other type of film you are likely to encounter is 120 or 220 film that is used in medium format cameras}.
One of the fantastic things about film is that you can swap the film emulsion you work with and get a fresh look to your shots.
DX Coded Film
Almost all new 35mm film offered at this point has DX encoding. This makes it possible for electronically controlled cameras to auto detect and set the ISO when the canister is loaded into the camera.
ASA (ISO) on the Praktica MTL-3 must be dialed in manually. Which means that DX-coding is not going to do anything.
Praktica MTL-3 Resources
Where to Get Film Developed?
You will find a variety of possibilities for where to have 35mm film processed. For a more complete explanation of the options take a look at my article on Where to Develop Film.
WARNING: Film does not get developed locally at pharmacies and big box stores. They ship film off to be processed by a 3rd party. As a consequence, you won’t get your processed negatives back.
- Develop Film at Home
- Use a Local Photography Lab
- Use a Mail Order Photo Lab
- Pharmacy or Big Box Store
The least difficult method and what I suggest using if you’re just starting to shoot film is to mail your film to a photo lab to be developed and scanned. A drawback to this is that it will get pricey if you frequently use film.
There are a few actions that can be done to help reduce the expenses required to shoot film, provided that you’re using a medium to high volume of film.
Bulk Loading Film
Considered one of the most common methods to lower your costs on film is to buy a bulk roll of 100 feet of film and manually load canisters by hand.
A 100 foot bulk roll of film should fill up around 18 rolls of film containing 36 frames each. Expect to see cost savings of 20-30% based on the film you choose.
Be aware that you are limited to rolls of black and white film. This is in part because black and white film is less difficult and cheaper to develop yourself.
Home Developing and Scanning
It’s easy to process and scan any film at home. It’s a good way to reduce costs so you can shoot more film with your Praktica MTL-3.
Black and white film is by far the least difficult to process. Temperature and development times are both not as necessary to get correct with black and white film as temperatures and time are for color negative or slide film.