Four Super Sharp Black and White Film Emulsions Worthy of a Good Lens

Film photography is highly valued for the certain sense of softness it can deliver vs digital. But under the right circumstances, black and white film can be used to create and capture photos that are incredibly sharp. In fact, they can easily rival what digital is capable of. Believe it or not, lots of the methods that one uses for digital photography to make a sharp photo can easily be applied to film. So if you’re looking to get some of the sharpest photos you’ve ever shot, check out these four fantastic film emulsions.

Ilford Delta 100

Nikon F80 Zeiss Milvus 18mm f2.8 Ilford Delta 100

Ilford Delta 100 isn’t the company’s sharpest film, but it’s on this list because it’s a pretty versatile film overall. When we were testing the wide angle Zeiss Milvus lenses, we used Ilford Delta 100 a lot and simply fell in love with the tonal rendering on top of just how incredibly sharp the film is.

Kodak T-Max 400

Fujifilm GW690 III 90mm f3.8

Kodak TMax 400 is rated to be the sharpest 400 ISO film in the world. Part of this has to do with the grain structure, which is called T-Grain. This is much different than Kodak Tri-X 400’s grain; but Tri-X can deceivingly look sharper due to how it handles midtones.

On our premium publication, La Noir Image, we spent an entire month dedicated the Kodak T-Max 400. I recommend that you subscribe. It includes interview with folks over at Kodak who explain how the film works.

Fujifilm Acros 100

Fujifilm GW690 III 90mm f8.8

Fujifilm Acros 100 in the medium format emulsion can be incredibly sharp with the right lenses. In our studio tests, it can easily fool lots of folks who think medium format film is going to be softer than digital. To get the most out of this film and others, I strongly recommend using a studio light or a flash to get specular highlights.

And if you’re interested in more, you can check out our review of the film right here.

Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400

Hexar AF

Our last film on this list is a relative newcomer. Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400 is an interesting film. It’s originally a surveillance film that is near infrared. It needs a lot of light to make the most of it and despite its 400 ISO rating, I’d probably even give it a bit more light at ISO 200. With the right lenses, you’re going to get some fabulously sharp images. If you use it with a camera set down on a tripod, and a studio flash, you’ll be in for a treat.