So the first question is why do I keep my film in the fridge? Well, film has a best before date printed on the side and keeping it in the fridge means you can go years beyond that date and the film should still be fine.
There are three film formats:
Large Format – The big white box of Ilford FP4 film is 5″x4″ large format film. Large format cameras look like cameras did in the early 1900’s, with a cloth to go over your head. They are very slow to use but are still used by some professionals (and crazy amateurs) as the negative they use is 5″x4″ in size and so can be enlarged to poster size without any visible loss of quality. You can even buy film that is 10″x8″ in size if you are very keen / crazy.
Medium Format – this is 120 roll film and goes in cameras like Hasselblads and my Yaschica Mat 124. I get 12 shots per roll and the negatives are about 6 cm x 6 cm in size. These are faster to use than large format cameras but still give excellent image quality.
35 mm – this is the most common film format and the smallest here. It is a very versatile format and goes into film cameras like Canons and Nikons. There are loads of different makes of 35 mm film to choose from.
Then there are three major types of film:
Black and White – otherwise known as monochrome this leads, unsurprisingly, to black and white negatives from which you get black and white prints. You normally need to buy chemicals and develop these at home although some specialist labs will do them for a price. However there are some chromogenic films which can be developed in a colour lab but still give black and white prints, sometimes with a sepia tint.
Colour Slide – otherwise known as transparencies these are positive films. That means that when you hold them up to the light all the colours are correct, whereas with a negative they are all inverted. These have to be developed in specialist labs.
Colour Print – the most common type of film, used mostly for snapshots and family photos. Get them developed in a normal lab where you get a load of colour negatives and corresponding colour prints.
So why use transparencies when colour print film is so easy to get hold, is easy to develop and you get prints? It all comes down to quality. Normal labs can change exposure and colour levels when they do colour prints which can lead to inconsistent results and washed out colours. You cannot so this with transparencies so they are more consistent. This counts for a lot if you are a professional, so most pros will use colour transparency film rather than colour print film. Transparency film is also much more stable over time, so in twenty years time they should still be as god as new. so if you’ve never tried a roll of slide film I suggest you do.
That’s enough for today, I’ll go over each individual film tomorrow to explain why I have so many to choose from and hopefully give you some idea as to which ones to try yourself.