New to Film? 3 Great 35mm Film Emulsions for the Beginner

35mm film is wonderful! At its best, it delivers a look that can’t be had digitally without a lot of work while letting you be in the moment. So we recommend always combining it with the best film camera that you can get your hands on. But 35mm film can also bolster your digital photography if you just find an identity when working with it. Lucky for you, we’ve reviewed tons of film emulsions over the years. And we’re diving into some of our favorites for beginners here.

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Pro Tips on Using 35mm Film for the Beginner

Here are some pro tips for using 35mm film:

  • If you shoot a roll of film, you typically have to keep it all on the same ISO. The only film we’ve seen that can basically have various ISOs is Ilford XP2, but even that’s a bit of a stretch to say that.
  • Why shoot film? There’s the whole experience of 35mm film for sure. But then there are all the ways that it forces you to shoot differently.
  • 35mm film is very fun, and with enough time, you’ll find ways to shoot and not worry about post-production digitally at all.
  • These days, 35mm film is best had in variants that can’t be mimicked digitally easily. 
  • I’ve had my most fun shooting 35mm film with cameras that do all the work for me so I can focus on just being in the moment. Not everything needs to be a manual setting affair!

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 400

Your First Frames: This film is something to get into as far as color film will go. It’s something everyone will say. But at the same time, it’s also fairly standard. You’ll look at it and probably think you can get this look digitally. Use this film as a test roll; but always know you can make great photos with it.

In our review we state:

“Of all the films out there, I believe that Superia honestly could serve as a great everyday film for so many photographers. It’s affordable price point combined with good quality makes it very attractive.”

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Kodak Tri-X 400

Your First Frames: This has been the standard for so many years. Kodak Tri-X is super forgiving. You can underexpose or overexpose the entire roll and it will still look great. Think about images in black and white that have a lot of clarity.

In our review we state:

“It makes sense that Kodak Tri-X 400 would receive our Editor’s Choice award for the best black and white film on the market; and despite my working with many other various emulsions over the years past it took this review and going through my archive to really, truly realize this. Kodak Tri-X does something that is very tough for other films to do. Kodak Tri-x gets great grain, fantastic sharpness, and offers a high contrast photo while still giving details in the highlights and shadows. It’s almost like black and white HDR imagery without the HDR toning process.”

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Lomochrome Purple

Your First Frames: This is the film you might really be wondering about. I’m including it because it’s such a slap in the face to traditional film. While all the big companies are doing nothing to make analog a unique experience, folk like Lomography are doing just that. Why shoot Kodak Portra if you can get the same look digitally and no one is trained to tell the difference?

In our review we state:

“I really, really like the new Lomography LomoChrome Purple film emulsion. It’s easier to work with and it can render some truthfully beautiful moments. Plus with the way that it works with colors, it can simply just be fine to work with.”

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.