Film–the beauty of it has inspired apps like Instagram and loads of profiles that digital photographers think can be easily adapted to mimic the look of the celluloid and chemical reaction’s results. You can probably say this about color photography, but there is no way it can be said about black and white. For what it’s worth, black and white film looks beautiful and is much more organic than most results that you’d get from a digital camera.
Here are a bunch of black and white films that we think you’ll fall in love with.
Ilford Delta 400
One of our favorite films is Ilford Delta 400. With less contrast than the much more famous Kodak Tri-X 400, you’ll find a new look for street photography and portraiture. With slightly less grain than Tri-X, its look is best suited for portraits and street photography.
Overall, it’s one of our favorites and we recommend it for beginners and pros alike. It’s a very forgiving film, too, and we have to warn you that it will make you want to go back out and shoot more.
More so than any other film on this list, Ilford Delta 400 will inspire you with its gorgeous looks.
Kodak Tri-X 400
The world’s most famous black and white film is one that has been used by many documentary and street photographers. Its high contrast look and gritty, grainy rendering is often best when underexposed just a bit. Despite the grain, you’ll get lots of details too from your photos providing you’ve got a great lens and a great scanner.
Available in 35mm and 120, you’ll probably want to lean more towards the 35mm stuff for street photography and 120 for portraits.
Everyone shoots with Tri-X: beginners, pros, enthusiasts, etc. It’s by far the most famous black and white film out there. You’ll like it to start, but once you experiment with others you’ll probably have your heart stolen by those.
Ilford HP5 is closer to Kodak Tri-X in that it has high contrast but not much grain. If you want something closer to what you’ll get with a digital monochrome look, then HP5 is what you’ll want. With its own unique beauty, it’s best for still life, studio work or products though you can surely use it for almost anything you’d like. For this reason, we recommend it for pros and those of us who are very knowledgeable with light.
Impossible Black and White 600 Film 2.0
The Impossible Project recently came up with a new formula for their black and white film. In our tests, we found it to turn sepia very quickly and stays nowhere as duo-toned as the now gone Fujifilm 3000-B film. According to conversations that we’ve had on Reddit, it stays black and white in less humid environments.
On top of this, we recommend that you keep it out of the sun for at least a day. The film needs a lot of light, so be sure to use a flash or overexpose it.
Most of the Impossible Project’s users are enthusiasts. You’ll have some versatility with the Polaroid 600 type cameras, but if you’re a fan of the old Fujifilm emulsion, you’ll need to know that and realize that this isn’t it.
Lomography Lady Grey
With low contrast and lots of grain, Lomography’s Lady Grey 400 it has a fair amount of contrast, low grain and a look very similar to Fujifilm’s now gone instant black and white film. Most folks seem to use it for street photography and candid shooting.
The company release this film with Earl Grey–which is an ISO 100 film for photographers. But if you’re looking for something that’s a cross between many of these films, Lady Grey is your best bet despite the fact that it’s very overlooked partially due to how young it is.