Best Film Speed For Low Light

By | 27/10/2022

There is still a large corporeality of option in the consumer moving-picture show marketplace. Cheers to increasing need in motion picture, at that place are nevertheless plenty of options out there for new film photographers. Merely of course, that as well means it can be hard to know exactly what film to utilise for your state of affairs.

In this commodity today, nosotros’re going to show you how (and when) to choose the right film ISO for your situation. Nosotros’ll go over the benefits and drawbacks of the ISO values, so that you’ll always know what yous need to create the best images possible.

Top 10 Film stocks of all time for photographers
How do you choose the right picture show for your situation?

Slow speed films (ISO viii-100)

Slow speed, also known equally low speed, flick is any moving picture that has a lower ISO number than 125. These films are prized for their well-nigh grainless appearance and the incredible amount of item they’re able to capture.

The slower the film speed, the more than tightly packed the grains will be, assuasive the film to capture incredibly high resolution (read: detailed and precipitous) images with incredible tonality and versatility. A slow-speed 35mm pic will be capable of creating a higher resolution image than most high-stop digital cameras. When exposed properly, a medium format ISO 125 film can create an image with upward to 80 megapixels of resolution.

Considering of the resolution and tonality, depression-speed films tend to be the highest quality films on the market place, and are particularly loved by landscape, still life, and portrait photographers for the high-quality images they create.

Some photographers also love ultra-low-speed films, like the Fantome series by Lomography to create ultra-long exposures (sometimes hours, if not days with pinhole photography), or even just to have long exposures during the day to give images a blurry look even with a wide-open up aperture.

The downside of these films is that they most often crave a tripod to get perfect exposure. In all only the best lighting scenarios (similar in the middle of the day), it’ll be tough to create an image with a fast enough shutter speed to freeze activity.

In the studio, the low speed tin exist compensated for using flash, which will create a tack-precipitous epitome even with a deadening shutter speed.

Kodak Aureate 200 is a medium-speed, ISO 200 film that is one of the most pop films considering of its congenital-in warm look and bonny price. Epitome was taken on the Ilford Sprite 35-II — a perfect pairing.

Medium speed film (ISO 125 – 250)

Medium-speed films are perfect for everyday photography in the daylight. They aren’t typically as versatile every bit fast films, but they are cheaper and work wonders for point and shoot styles of photography.

200-speed films like Kodak Gilded and Fuji Superia are some of the best-selling films considering they cost less than professional moving picture stocks, and typically create images with flattering peel tones. Chances are there is 1 precious photo album in your house containing precious memories shot on Kodak Gold or Fuji Superia.

Otherwise, there aren’t all that many films that are in this medium-speed category. One notable instance is Ilford SFX-200, which is a blackness and white film with extended infrared sensitivity that makes information technology a fantastic motion picture stock for landscape photography.

Street photography on Ilford HP5, pushed to ISO 1600 in DD-X
HP5, a 400-speed blackness and white film, pushed to ISO 1600 using Ilfotec DD-10 developer.

High-speed moving picture (ISO 320-3200)

In the digital historic period, most photographers wouldn’t call back of ISO 400 as a ‘fast’ picture speed. But creating skilful images at ISO 400 was a monumental shift in the film manufacture. Kodak didn’t create what nosotros would now consider a good everyday movie until it released it’s best all-fourth dimension selling moving-picture show Tri-X in 1954, which had an ISO rating of 320.

These days, 400-speed movie is past far the best seller on the marketplace because of its versatility. A 400-speed film will create good images with a fast enough shutter speed outside in almost any conditions, including heavy overcast skies, in the shade, and even at dusk and sunrise.

Portrait photographers love using fast, ISO 400 films like Portra 400 and HP5 to create flattering images of their subjects outdoors. In fact, wedding ceremony photographers can use Portra 400 throughout the entire wedding ceremony day — from the getting ready shots to capturing activity on the dance floors — because of the film’s broad exposure latitude and ability to push to ISO 1600 without losing too much detail.

Notice Portra 400 on Amazon hither, or save money with pro packs at Adorama.

And when shooting hand-held in depression-light situations similar concerts, events, or even nighttime portraits, you’ll never be let down past having a whorl of Delta 3200 or Cinestill 800T in your bag. These stunningly-fast films are the best on the market for shooting at dark because they are sensitive enough to freeze move even when the camera is handheld.

The downside with using fast films (or upside, depending on the look you want) is that images accept lower resolution, more than contrast, and tend to create images that look significantly grainier than their low-speed alternatives.

But if you’re looking to create a classic film look, then these high-grain films will absolutely be critical to achieving your vision.

An epitome taken with the tabular grain moving picture Ilford Delta 100. Meet the difference betwixt this movie, and Ilford’s classic-grained alternative FP4+ hither.

T-Grain versus Traditional grained films and ISO

The ISO of the moving picture is determined by the size and type of grains that are nowadays in the emulsion. There are ii types of grains, each with its own benefits and drawbacks: traditional grains, and tabular grains (also known as tabular grains).

Traditional grains are somewhat round crystals, which can take on nearly any shape imaginable. They are distributed somewhat randomly across the moving-picture show, with pocket-sized crystals surrounding larger crystals to create tonality. When at that place’s more than exposure, the smaller crystals will be exposed forth with the larger crystals, creating richer details. Just in the shadows, simply the larger crystals volition be exposed, creating darker sections oin the negative.

T-grains are the modernistic film grain, which is designed to capture more light on a smaller size past making the surface flatter and more geometric than is possible with traditional grains. This allows the grains to capture more light with a smaller expanse, finer increasing the picture show’due south ISO simply by altering the shape of the grain.

T-grains tin create a larger low-cal-sensitive surface area using 30% less silver than traditional grains (according to the moving picture developing cookbook by Troop and Anchell), merely they don’t capture every bit much of a range of low-cal as traditional grains. That means that t-grains create images that are much sharper, and appear less grainy, but they also have higher contrast. Traditional grains, on the other hand, aren’t equally sharp, but they capture more dynamic range between the shadows and the highlights.

In this 24-hour interval and age, there aren’t really any films that don’t accept a mix of t-grain and archetype grains. Though the ‘pro’ motion picture stocks, like Ilford’s Delta, and Kodak’s TMax line of films have more than t-grains than picture show stocks similar HP5 and Tri-X. The aforementioned can be said for colour movie, where Kodak Portra uses more T-grains, creating a pleasing and virtually grainless advent, where Kodak Gold or Ultramax films apply traditional grains.

A studio portrait shot on Ilford Delta 3200 following the instructions in the Technical Data Sheet
This epitome was taken Ilford Delta 3200 (and toned with sepia) to accentuate the archetype expect of film grain.

How to choose the right film speed for studio photography?

In the studio, so have full control over the lite, so the ISO of the film is used to create the desired look of the epitome rather than to accommodate to the conditions the photos are taken in. Flash studio lighting will also freeze action, meaning shutter speed is less important than factors like ISO and aperture, which controls the amount of the epitome that is in focus.

The biggest change that ISO makes is in the grain profile of the picture show. If you want to create the highest resolution images possible, then about photographers volition choose the slowest film available to them. When yous want to create images that look like they were shot in the 1950s and ‘60s, you’ll want to use an ultra-highspeed film similar Delta 3200 or P3200 in 35mm film format.

Some other factor to choose in the motion-picture show is the type of colour profile that y’all want to reach with your shoot. Films similar Kodak Ultramax or Lomo 400 will have a warm glow, whereas Fuji moving-picture show stocks are typically more neutral or cold in appearance.

Portra 400 is the well-nigh versatile color pic stock currently bachelor, and can typically attain whatsoever color look desired in post-production bold the images were well exposed. That characteristic alone makes Portra 400 the professional person studio photographer’s pic of choice.

Another one of my favorite photos taken on Ilford HP5+ at sunset.

What is the best pic ISO for portraits outdoors?

The best film speed for creating portraits outdoors is ISO 400. 400-speed film is useful in a wide multifariousness of light scenarios. It’southward perfect for walking around and taking photos during the 24-hour interval, capturing flattering portraits in the shadows, and even when capturing that at sunrise and sunset glow.

Fifty-fifty in less than perfect lighting conditions, an ISO 400 movie will allow y’all to freeze motility to capture a sharp prototype. My dominion for freezing action is to have a shutter speed that is at to the lowest degree every bit fast as the focal length of the lens I’grand using. That ways in nearly cases, I demand a shutter speed that is at least i/50th of a second with a 50mm lens.

ISO 400 motion-picture show is fast enough in nigh scenarios to have a shutter speed that is comfortably higher up the 1/50th shutter speed so I can guarantee that I’ll capture sharp images.

The but fourth dimension when 400-speed film struggles is in the early afternoon on a cloudless day. At that time of twenty-four hour period, the sun can be so bright that it’s impossible to take an image without overexposing moving picture considering of the low maximum shutter speed on many pic cameras.

But this time of twenty-four hours and conditions isn’t the best time for portraits because the harsh lite can cast bad shadows under the eyes and neck, highlighting features that almost people don’t desire highlighted.

And then whenever I’m making portraits exterior, I will e’er keep a couple of rolls of 400-speed motion-picture show to ensure that I’k able to create images with a fast enough shutter speed to stop motion when manus holding the camera.

Most landscape images are taken on boring speed films to create images with the maximum corporeality of detail.

What ISO film should I apply for mural photography?

About landscape photographers use a tripod to capture detailed images with a big depth of field, so landscape photography is some other type of photography that loves using tiresome speed, or depression ISO film stocks.

The general rule for landscape photography is to utilise an aperture value between f/8 and f/xvi and the lowest ISO possible. That often means that you’re going to be using a slower shutter speed to recoup for those other settings that create the highest-quality images possible.

That said, if you’re shutter speed is longer than 2 seconds, y’all volition have to compensate for reciprocity failure. See this commodity on shooting pic at night to learn the easy way to overcome reciprocity failure.

Mural photography on flick too benefits from using filters, similar neutral density, polarizing, and color filters to change the advent of an prototype. For case, using a red filter or a polarizing filter on blackness and white film can brand the sky darker, while making the clouds announced brilliant white, adding a nice contrast to the images.

Neutral density filters can be used to create long exposures to blur h2o or clouds to create dream-like images filled with negative space. I wrote down and made a video about my acme tips for creating stunning blackness and white images here.

By Daren

Daren is a journalist and nuptials lensman based in Vancouver, B.C. He’south been taking personal and professional photos on film since 2017 and began developing and printing his ain photos after wanting more command than what local labs could offering.