With the dozens and dozens of types of 35mm film for picture-taking, it’s no wonder that sometimes out photos don’t come out the way we want them.
If you have a decent camera (even little $10 cameras usually work decently) and you are keeping your camera steady when picture-taking, then the only problem with the quality of your pictures would have to do with the type of film you use, the developing, or maybe even both.
To see if you are using the right film, all you really have to do is read the packages the film comes in. The two major brands on the planet feature easy-to-understand instructions about which film speed is best for which occasion, but selecting the right film goes a bit deeper than that.
There are basically five speeds of film that are easily available and can usually be found wherever you purchase your film. Those speeds are: 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1600. Film is assigned a speed based on how grainy the film is and how long the shutter door, the part of the camera that opens to expose the film which produces a photo, will be open. For example, if you’re taking a photo of a fast-moving object, you would want to use a high-speed film so that your camera shutter is only open for a fraction of a second to capture a second of movement instead of blurring together several movements.
100-speed film is best suited for very simple outdoor photography. It is the lowest-quality film out on the market, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good film to use. Your best bet for excellent photos is to use 100-speed film outdoors and in very sunny conditions. Be careful when taking photos to shoot your subjects facing the sun, not with their backs to the sun. Remember, 100-speed film is a very simple film, so lighting is very important.
Also, because of the very low speed, the shutter door of the camera will be open for a long period- a little less than a second (which is a long time in the camera world). You have to be very careful to not move the camera while you’re pressing the shutter release button (the button that takes the photo) because even the slightest movement will make your photo come out a little blurry. This film is best suited for still outdoor photography in bright sunlight – photos of plants, a landscape, etc.
200-speed film, though it is the next one up from 100-speed, is actually quite different from 100-speed film. 200-speed film is a bit more versatile, and not as basic, so you don’t have to be as careful, but you still need to pay attention to what you’re doing. 200-speed film is best suited for outdoor photography in bright or partial sunlight, and can be used indoors with a flash, but taking photos indoors with this speed doesn’t always come out right. This film is best for photos of people- not professional portraits or anything like that, but good posed photos. This is the film to bring along for that family reunion at the park or for that nice day at the beach. This is also the most widely used film speed by amateur photographers because of its versatility and excellent price bargain.
400-speed film is a lot different from the two previously mentioned. This film is for action photos and/or photos taken with flash. Though this film can be used for still photography in bright outdoor conditions, it’s really not worth it to do so when you would get better results with 200-speed film, which would save you a lot of money. 400-speed film is best suited for sports shots, or photos of similar nature where there is a lot of action going on and you want to capture an image that occurred in a fraction of a second.
The shutter door is open for a very short period of time, so if the camera is handled properly throughout the photo-taking process, your photos should come out very sharp and beautiful. This film can also be used indoors. If there is good light, then flash might not be necessary, but you might want to experiment a little to determine how much light is enough. To do this is pretty simple, for each couple of photos you shoot, take one with flash, and one without. Also, this film works well at night for close up shots when you use flash.
800-speed film is a bit more advanced than 400-speed, but the main different is the price. Expect to pay a dollar or two more for an 800 roll, compared to a 400 roll. Are the results worth it? Depends. 800-speed film is more reliable for low-light photos and nighttime photos with flash. Again, since the flash can not reach an object that is over 10 meters away, the only successful nighttime shots you will get will be close-up ones. This film also works well during the day and in partly-cloudy conditions for action photos. If you use this film for a still photos, let’s say of a plant in bright sunlight, chances are, your photos will come out slightly blurry. 800-speed film is the type of film you buy when you want to photograph an outdoor evening/nighttime party (with flash) or for very fast-action shots, like at a sporting event in the evening.
1600-speed is best suited for nighttime photography or very very (very) low light conditions. This is also a pretty expensive film, most commonly sold in individual rolls for close to $10 each. This is the type of film you use when the moon is out in full and is slightly covered by some thin clouds, providing a breath-taking image that you just have to get on film. This film would even work well for Halloween, to take photos of the kids trick-or-treating at night.
If you can’t find this film, your best bet would be to use an 800-speed film, with flash. The 1600-speed film, in most cases, can be used without flash. Sometimes, in a very dark setting, if you use your flash it will brighten the setting too much, making the nighttime look like the day in your photos. If that doesn’t bother you, then go ahead and use the flash. If you’re a picky photographer, it’s ok to not use the flash, but always be aware of your light source. If you are not using flash, you always want your light source to face your subject, not be behind your subject.
The many speeds and types of film available may make picture-taking confusing sometimes, but just remember to read the outer labels of the film before buying them, and when taking photos, always be aware of your light sources.remember