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Best Film for the Sears TLS 500 MX

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Best Sears TLS 500 MX 35mm Film

´╗┐The best film to use in your Sears TLS 500 MX will be based on the lens, available light, and type of film you want to shoot.

To eliminate having to carry around a tripod or flash, choose a 35mm film that has an ISO of 400 or higher.

If you want to be able to to capture pictures in low light, such as indoors, make sure that you are using a fast lens. For lens recommendations see my guide on the 5 Best Lenses for the Sears TLS 500 MX.

Color Film

Consumer

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Kodak UltraMax 400 35mm Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - This film can be used in a variety of lighting conditions and is a fantastic pick for a color film. Kodak UltraMax 400 is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the TLS 500 MX in the vast majority of scenarios.

The photographs will have extremely good skin tones and tend to be on the warm side.

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Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Based on your location, this film may have greater availability. It is an excellent alternative to Kodak emulsions.

When compared to Kodak, Fuji tends to be a little bit cooler with an emphasis on blues and greens.

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Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO

Lomography 800 - If you want an ISO 800 color film, there aren’t very many offerings. This is the only 35mm film emulsion focused on consumers.

In addition, if you have a medium format camera, it is also available in 120 film format.

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Kodak Gold 200

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film stock that was launched in the mid-1980s. It has the look of snapshots from the 1980s and 1990s. Use an on-camera flash to get the “authentic” look.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to bring out the best the film has to offer. This will ensure that you get the spectacular colors people love Kodak Gold 200 for.

Professional

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Kodak Portra 400

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

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

Black and White Film

Consumer

These film stocks have reasonable costs and very good quality, making them favorable for use in the Sears TLS 500 MX.

The biggest appeal for photography students and budget minded photographers is the reasonable price. Even if you don’t put yourself in those groups, it’s good to have relatively cheap rolls of 35 film on hand for evaluating recently delivered used gear.

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Kentmere 400

Kentmere 400 - Produced by Harmon Technology, which is also the parent company of Ilford. This is excellent due to the fact that allows this to be the most broadly available film out of the 3.

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Foma Fomapan 400 Action

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It’s less difficult to find in Europe as the film is produced out of the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.

An excellent film stock to work with for your first few attempts at film photography or home developing. Also a good option if you are trying out a camera to be sure that it is operating correctly.

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Ultrafine eXtreme 400

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the best price on this film by getting it from Ultrafine.

If you process color film at home, you may have used chemicals produced by them.

Professional

Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5+ 400 are the 2 most frequently used black and white films. They have numerous traits that are comparable that make them so well liked, while preserving unique looks.

You can create great images after pushing both emulsions 2-stops. This makes the film versatile as a roll can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600.

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Ilford HP5 Plus 400

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - Between the two film stocks, HP5 Plus is more affordable and has lower levels of contrast. A lack of contrast can be an advantage because contrast can be added when making a print in the darkroom or during digital post processing.

The film stock has subtle grain and still looks very good when pushed 2-stops.

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Kodak Tri-X 400

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film emulsion has a more distinctive aesthetic. To bring out the old-school grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it needs to be developed in D-76.

Kodak Tri-X 400 undeniably has more contrast. That’s helpful if that is the overall look you will want because it results in a great deal less work when during digital processing or printmaking.

Transparency Film

Slide film, also known as transparency film or reversal film, results in a positive picture. This allows the pictures to be viewed with a projector or light box.

This is unique from the more readily available negative films that create images that require the colors to be inverted in order to be viewable.

Slide films are thought to be tough to shoot because slide film has a lot less dynamic range and latitude when compared with negative film.

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Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Transparency Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a fine grain film known for beautiful skin tones. The colors don’t look oversaturated. Ektachrome is daylight color balanced.

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Fujichrome Velvia 50

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is a extraordinarily sharp daylight color balanced reversal film with high levels of contrast and saturation, giving shots a distinct look. Compared to all the slide films available to buy, it has the highest resolving power.

There’s also another speed that is ISO 100.

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Fujichrome Provia 100F

Fujichrome Provia 100F - Delivers vivid and natural colors with medium contrast and color saturation. It has a daylight color balance and ultra fine grain.

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Foma Fomapan R100

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white transparency film, noted by Fomapan as having high resolving power, fine grain, and elevated contrast. It is also billed as a substitute for the discontinued Agfa Scala transparency film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Professional film stock can more easily be pushed, have increased latitude, and dynamic range, this is why pro-film costs more.

There is a big difference in availability. Consumer films can more often than not still be purchased from pharmacies and big-box stores in anemic quantities. Pro film stocks needs to be purchased from a specialized camera store or online.

ISO

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

The higher the film’s ISO, the less light is necessary to get a photograph. This comes at the cost of larger film grain.

It is often hard to handhold the TLS 500 MX with ISO 100 or slower films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc). This is due to the fact that in the absence of full sun, the shutter speeds will most likely be longer than what you are able to handhold without creating motion blur.

To stop motion blur you will need to use a flash, tripod, and/or fast lens. Using a high speed ISO 400 or ISO 800 film will likely make the additional gear unnecessary.

As a quick note, the ISO selection knob is labeled as ASA on the Sears TLS 500 MX. The shift to using ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Film Latitude

Film latitude is the amount of stops a film can be overexposed while still producing adequate photographs. Professional films have a larger latitude to go along with a somewhat higher cost.

Negative film has a greater amount of latitude when compared to reversal film. That is one of the reasons it’s deemed to be more challenging to work with.

Dynamic Range

The difference between the darkest and brightest details of an image is referred to as dynamic range. Parts of an image that do not fit within this range will appear as black underexposed shadows or white overexposed highlights.

When working in a wide variety or quickly changing lighting conditions, films with a bigger dynamic range are a superior choice.

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

The constrained dynamic range of slide film is a second reason it is thought to be hard to shoot. Golden hour is the best time to shoot transparency.

Film Type

35mm film that comes in canisters is used by the Sears TLS 500 MX. In addition, it is the most frequently used type of film and in some instances is referred to as 135 film.

120 or 220 film, used in medium format cameras, is the only other type of film you are going to encounter}.

One of the fantastic things about film is that you can switch the film emulsion you use and get a fresh look to your pictures.

DX Coded Film

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DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

All commercially available 35mm film sold currently has DX encoding on the canister. This makes it possible for electronically controlled cameras to detect and set the ISO of the film loaded into the camera.

DX-coding is not going to matter for the Sears TLS 500 MX because ISO is required to be manually dialed in.

Sears TLS 500 MX Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

You will find just a few choices for where to have film developed. For a more comprehensive discussion of the possible choices go to my article on Where to Develop Film.

WARNING: Film does not get processed on site at pharmacies and big box stores. They ship the film away to be developed by a third party. As a consequence, you will not be given your processed 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 your film to a mail-order photo lab to be developed and scanned is the most straightforward choice if you are just beginning to use film. If you consistently use film, this can be a disadvantage because it can get really expensive.

So long as you are shooting a moderate to high volume of film, there are a couple of things that can be done to minimize your expenses.

Bulk Loading Film

Among the common ways to cut costs on film is to buy a roll of 100 feet of film and load canisters yourself.

All said and done, you’ll end up having around 18 rolls of 36 frames. Expect discounts of 20-30% based on the film.

Bear in mind that you are going to be limited to rolls of black and white film. This is due to black & white film is easier and less expensive to develop yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

It is possible to process and digitize any film yourself. It’s an excellent option to reduce costs so that you can shoot more film with your Sears TLS 500 MX.

Black and white film is by far the least complicated to process. Chemical temperature and development times are not as important to do correctly with black and white films as time and temperatures are for slide or color negative.