Have you ever been struggling what film type to use for shooting? Negative or Reversal? Color or Black&White? I am going to share with you some of my personal thinking on this.

Candid/Casual/Event Shot

If I am going to tour which photography is not the main purpose, or if I am on a business trip which I may have a few hours off to visit some local attractions, of if I just want to put a roll of film into my everyday carry camera, I will probably choose color negative film.

Stuttgart 2017, Fujicolor 200
Frankfurt 2017, Fujicolor 200

The reason for choosing color negative is that the film provides a larger exposure latitude which is good especially when accurate metering is not possible. It helps to provide rooms for adjustment in printing or post production in computer so the final images will be usable even if there is some over- or under-exposure.

Photo Tour

If I am going for a photo tour especially for scenic, I will definitely use color reversal film. Reversal film provides me an accurate color and tonal representation of the original scene and it can easily be scanned into digital format. I can always viewing the original images on the reversal film and fine tune the color and contrast of the digital image to match the original film images.

Shiragawago 2017, Fujichrome RDPIII
Lake Baikal 2018, Fujichrome RDPIII
Lake Baikal 2018, Fujichrome RDPIII
He Mu 2018, Fujichrome RDPIII
Huangshan 2019, Fujichrome RDPIII

When using color reversal film, accurate metering is critical. Color reversal tends to have much narrower exposure latitude than color negative film and so a minor exposure fault may result in the final image unusable. Of course on a tour that is purposely for photo taking, there should be enough time to measure the scene by a handheld spotmeter.

Texture/Historic Scenic Shot

If I want to emphasis the texture of an object, or if I want to create a historical visual impact of a scene, I will pick Black & White negative film. The magic to bring the real colorful world into black & white images is a merit of black & white film. The wide choices of different black & white film from ASA 50 to ASA 3200, T grain vs spherical film grain, various black & white developer, give the photographer a large combination of tools to create black & white images with different grain size, contrast, tonal range to best suit his artistic purpose.

Guangzhou 2016, Kodak TMax 100
Wetzler 2017, Kodak TMax 100
Cape D’Aguilar, Ilford Delta 100
Yuen Long 2020, Ilford Delta 100

Of course, choosing a film is just a matter of personal taste. It is a combination of technical and artistic considerations. The more you shot, the more you understand about the film characteristics and make it easier to decide what film to use.

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