Photography Film: Choosing The Right One
Description of various types of photography film and appropriate uses for different ISO speed films. What film to use for particular photography conditions.
One type of film will not suit all kinds of photography. It is important to select a film based on the lighting and subject you wish to capture on film. Modern photographers have a variety of black and white as well as color films to choose from including print and slide film.
Black and white film is a more interpretive style that gives a more simplified graphic result. This film is generally cheaper than color for large prints and is often preferred by most newspapers and publications. It is often best to shoot your photos on color film so you can make prints and slides in color or black and white based on your needs.
The American Standards Association (ASA) developed a system of denoting the speed, which the manufacturer rates their film in terms of its sensitivity to light and it is now more commonly referred to as the ISO rating. A good basic everyday film to use is ISO 200 as it is very versatile and can be used inside or outside and with or without a flash. It has a medium to fine grain and enlarges fairly well with accurate color reproduction. ISO 100 film is best for bright and sunny shots outside such as scenery or still shots. For fast action or low light situations it is advisable to use ISO 400 or above. This film is best for contrasting lighting as well so you may record detail in the bright and dim spots of your photograph. Extremely fast films will freeze the action but will also lose some of the sharpness and detail. Here are some examples of how to best use some of the most popular color films.
ISO 100 - sunny outdoor settings, landmarks, scenic views, still subjects, floral shots, architecture, vibrant color, and when you want to see sharp details of your subject
ISO 200 - inside photos with a flash, overcast outdoor shots, moderate action, great for everyday snapshots of friends and family in a variety of settings and conditions
ISO 400 - fast action photography, low lighting situations like campfire settings or candlelit scenes, pictures taken inside using a flash, and sporting events
ISO 800 - most lighting conditions, action, sporting events, low light conditions, and when you have various conditions being photographed on the same roll of film
ISO 1000 - fast action photography such as sporting events, low light situations, artistic effect for portraits or nude photographs, and when higher shutter speeds are needed to freeze the action
Cost may also be a factor to consider when you take pictures. Slide film is usually less expensive to develop because your negatives are made into slides instead of prints. Faster films also will average around 50 cents per roll more than lower speed films. Black and white film costs about the same as color film but color film is more easily available to purchase and have processed.
Select your subject matter and check out several types of film to see which one best suits the desired results you would like to achieve. Don't be afraid to experiment with different types of film because you might find a new type that gives your photographs a fresh look at a familiar subject.