Is expensive film stock always worth the money? Well, that is up to the photographer’s sentiment.
Recently, I took a trip to my local film store (Garland Camera) to try out and compare three different brands of black and white film stock to see which one would give me the best photos on a recent photoshoot I did.
All images were of impressive quality images. However, there were some I liked more than others, and I’ll explain why!
Fuji Acros was the most expensive at around $13/roll, Kodak T-Max was the next most expensive at around $10/roll, and Ilford Delta was the least expensive at around $8/roll.
I bought them all at the same ISO of 100, all were 35mm to give a fair comparison in terms of image quality, and all three claim to be “fine grain.”
All of the images were shot on my Pentax ME Super 35mm camera with an aperture between 4-2, in studio using natural light, at 1/100 speed, and developed and scanned by a local lab. After reviewing my images (all had amazing quality), here were my findings:
Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100 II
The Neopan Acros gave excellent contrast, and provided so much detail for a film camera. The images looked like they could have been taken on a digital camera.
The black it provided was a very pure and deep black giving more of vintage yet sharp look to the images. I also loved the way this camera flattered my models’ skin. Therefore, I would say this film is dark-skin friendly. It did not wash her out nor blend her into the dark tones.
Next, the Kodak T-max 100 was probably the film stock I was least impressed with.
My biggest issue was that it looked VERY grainy (possibly due to lower ISO & needing more light). You could definitely tell it was shot on a film camera, and if that is something you are going for, then you might favor this one.
Another reason this stock wasn’t my favorite was because of the lack of contrast it gave. Instead of blacks and whites, I felt like it provided more of a gray overcast on all of the colors, and high contrast is something I like to see in black and white stock.
The image quality was still great, it just simply did not provide the outcome I was looking for.
The Ilford Delta 100 was the one I was most impressed with, and probably a close second out of the three next to the Neopan.
This stock produced some amazing images for sure, but the grain was still slightly visible. Nonetheless, the results could keep the untrained eye guessing if it was shot on digital or film, much like the FujiFilm Neopan.
The Ilford also gave a beautiful contrast but produced more of a warmer feel than the others. This did not take away from the overall quality of the images, but still something to keep in mind when considering how you want your images to look.
Overall, my first choice would be the FujiFilm Neopan Acros 100 II. It gave the sharpest images with stunning quality with beautiful deep contrast. This film stock is one that I feel would suit all skin tones.
The Neopan stock was the most expensive but well worth the money. I could see myself purchasing this for wedding photoshoots or client work in the future.
A close second and probably the best budget option was the Ilford Delta 100. This one was the least expensive, so I was shocked when it provided almost as stunning quality as the Neopan stock did.
If I am wanting to save a little bit of money I would purchase this one hands-down.
As for Kodak, it wouldn’t be my top purchase. Again, it was not terrible quality, it just did not hold up to the other two options, especially given it was the second most expensive. I do feel like there are more affordable options with better quality.
In my YouTube video, I share all of my findings and image results on each film stock. I recommend checking it out because it depends on what look you’re looking for in film stock.
I know not everyone will appreciate the sharp digital aesthetic that I wanted, and may in fact be more impressed by the grainy vintage look.
Therefore, having a visual to compare results with your own opinion will suit you and your artistic vision best!