Photography Help Needed: Film Recommendations

I’m going on vacation next month to a tropical locale. Daytime, I’ll be photographing nature (rain forest, landscapes both lush and sandy, water, animals, sunset), people, and colorful arts & crafts. Some of the photography will be done midday, which I know is not the best time to take pictures, but is likely the time we’ll be out & about. Nighttime: probably won’t shoot as much, but if I do, it’ll most likely be people lit by candle or firelight.

I have a Nikon 6006 35mm camera with a 35-70mm zoom.

I want to be sure I can capture the vibrancy of the colors on film. I’ve taken my best color pictures on Kodak Ektachrome slide film, but my wife hates dealing with slides. Ideally, I’d like to get as close to that quality film in a non-slide format as possible.

Any recommendations/tips/pointers on the type of film I should use for these of situations, and tips on choosing a place to get the film developed? We just moved to a new city & want to ensure that the pictures are handled with care, not just cranked out in the fastest/cheapest way possible.

Thanks for your help!

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.

Wolf, if you are used to it, stick to ektachrome, There is not much diff in price from having a print made from slides and reprints from negs. You might wanta rig up some sort of light table so your wife can look over a bunch slides at once, instead of having to deal with a lil viewer or projector.Ektachrome is good for blues and greens, kodachrome for reds. Miday shooting,midspeed films 200 or 400 even. At night with the light you mention see if you can find some 1000. For prints use a c41 processing film. I think you will be happy with the MAX and GOLD films Kodak makes. For processing, I don’t know where you are. A city? Look in the yellow pages for a custom lab, call um up and ask their prices. But even better for traveling is to buy a bunch of prepaid processing mailers. Then as soon as you shoot a roll seal it up and mail it to Kodak. try here

“Pardon me while I have a strange interlude.”-Marx

Try for a review. It may be a few years out of date but it’s still worth reading. So are many other articles on that web page, in fact.

I haven’t seen too much difference between negative films, but I’m not a professional. I do know that any negative film works better if you over-expose it a bit, say half to one stop, which is a hard habit to acquire if you’re used to slide film.

personally; i would stay with slide film. great color and contrast. bracket your exposures to optimize your chances of getting a favorite shot. this also stops processors from pushing your film. sounds like a lot of your daytime shooting is landscapes/still lifes . . if you have a reasonably fast lens go for slow film (sharpness) kodachrome 64 or 100; slightly underexposed has wonderful color saturation. ektachrome will perceive daylight with a blueish cast;
its good in incandesant lighting. kodachrome for candlelit/bonfires . . carry and use a small (3’ by 3’)sheet of mylar or even aluminum foil to use as a reflector to bounce light into a persons face . . or use a lil fill flash. if your not trying to capture action, you might get by with a 400 speed . . tightly framed subject(limit your depth of focus). for a wider shot; use your zoom to expose for the highlights, take a shot, then bracket by decreasing shutter speed or stay at your original shutter/aperature and add fill lighting. anything you can do to stay away from a 1000 speed . . do . . because image quality suffers greatly.

The way I see it, is that you’ve first got to choose between slide and print film.

There are pro’s and cons to both neg and pos film. I switched over recently to slide film and have been happy with my results. Slides not only offer better color and contrast, but you also know straight off what you have, no buts anout it. Slide film does however suffer when it comes to prints. Good prints from slides can be sensational, but they tend to be expensive and hard to get. A good print from neg film is easy and cheap.

Anyway, to give you a quick straight forward answer, If I were in your position:
Shooting slides I would buy some Kodak E100VS or the consumer equivalent which is a better deal anyway, Elite chrome Extra color ISO\ASA 100. Safely push it for superior color and grain up to two stops (400). Warning: rendition of white or light colored skin is a “bit” harsh.
If I were “going” print film I’d shoot Kodak Royal Gold (Part of Kodak’s select series). I tried a roll out last summer and it’s the only print film I’ve tried that comes close to slides. I stick to 400, but for those candelit portraits you can go for 800 whe it comes to print film. Bright midday sun you should shoot slower film.

Happy hunting,

Thanks for all the responses. Your comments and the links are very helpful.

All of the responses mention Kodak products. Any opinions on Fuji products? If I’m reading the responses correctly, Kodak’s print film tends to highlight the reds. My experience has shown me that Fuji’s print film tends to push up the blues and greens. Given that I’ll be in a lush setting, would Fuji be a decent or better choice?

Fuji is a wonderful film, use their Superia. Do you have a flash? If so, I would simply carry 400 speed and use the flash for night shots. (Trying to handhold even 1000 asa is tough, and I’m sure your 35-70 is what, a 3.5-4.5? That’s kinda slow.)
My absolute favorite print film is Kodak Royal Gold, which has the finest grain in any film. As for slide film, Three words: Kodachrome25, Kodachrome64, Kodachrome200.
Processing? Send it to Kodak in one of their mailers. Even if it’s Fuji film, they’ll process it. (The money’s green)

There’s a UBB message board at Some of those guys are pretty serious photographers, they may be able to give you further advice.

I do professional photo work, and prefer Fuji film. For transparencies, I use Fuji Velvia, which is a bit slow (ASA 50), but has incredible color saturation. I’ve used it for magazine cover work, and the state of the art printing press said that they couldn’t even match that particular film in quality!

For color prints, I use Reala, a 100 speed film. It has great color & grain, with the added benefit of handling different types of light well.

These are slower films, but I think that Fuji generally excels with greens, yellows and fleshtones. Kodak’s films, excepting Kodachrome, are too bluish for my tastes.

When travelling, it’s a good idea to take a variety of film to cover different situations. Extra batteries are a good idea too.

The mailer idea for processing is a good one, depending on the mail service of the locale you’re visiting. I wouldn’t mail film from Italy, for example, based on my experience that postcards have a hard time surviving that system!

Another hint based on sad experience: keep your exposed film seperate from your camera/camera bag! That way, if it gets stolen, you’ve still got the film you’ve already shot.

Have a good holiday!

Some excellent advice here!

I am a mere “hobbiest” photographer, I took a few classes in college, but am by no means an expert. However, I have taken rolls and rolls nad rolls of film on my travels, (particularly Yosemite and the Redwoods!)

My favorites: Kodachrome 64 for slide film - or the slower 25 ASA (or is it 24?) slide film from Kodak. Sure, it’s slow, but the color saturation is fabulous, and when you are taking pictures in the sun, you don’t need super-fast film. I also have had good results from Fuji’s Velvia slide film. It is really gorgeous, great colors. Actually, Velvia is better, but more expensive. And I’m cheap. But get it as much as your budget allows.

My favorite print film is good ol’ Kodak Gold ASA 100. Fuji is also good.

I would like to stress here, get the slowest film you can without having to use too slow of a shutter speed, etc. I find that on a bright day, I can get a rather high shutter speed and not use too open of an aperture (sp?) even with ASA 100 or lower. The color saturation and grain on faster films (like ASA 400) are not very good, not as good as ASA 100 or lower. Only use ASA 400+ film for low-light situations. For one thing, ASA 400+ film is more expensive, why waste it on well-lit settings where you don’t even need it? Save it for shooting in the evening, etc. If you are unsure what lighting setting you will be experiencing at all times, throw in a few rolls of ASA 200 film. Not too fast, not too slow.

Also, as bda suggests, “bracket” your exposures. I do this trick all the time, learned it from my dad (who was a"purist" who always used a hand-held light meter, but I digress…) Anyway, I usually take three exposures for each picture, which burns up the film, but I always get one exposure that pleases me. Bracketing is when you change the setting - on up, one down, whatever, from what the light meter tells you. For instance, if the light meter wants you to have a shutter speed of 250, also do one at 500, and maybe one at 125. (Or, you might want to change the aperture settings instead. Whichever - I’ll bet bda could be more specific with details.) I always find that my pictures are overexposed when I use my camera’s default light meter settings, so I bracket by underexposing one, and then two, stops. I always get at least one picture that pleases me using this technique. (This “overexposed” problem seems more noticable when I am shooting in bright sun, I thought I’d mention that.) I use an old Olympus OM 10, but I also noticed this overexposure problem with my dad’s old Vivitar SLR 35 mm camera also.

Well, probably giving you more info than you asked for, so I’ll end this now.

Another solution to the slide/print preference problem, if you can afford it: Use your current camera for landscapes & travel/ people photos, using slide film. Buy a good small point & shoot camera for “snapshot” photos, using color negative film. The small cameras available now take great regular photos, are easy to use, and really handy to carry along when you don’t want to mess with your larger gear.

like yosemitebabe sez . . bracket . . your best friend when using slide film . . it may cost more bucks in the long run . . but your more likely to get the exposure you want. and isnt that what matters? velvia and gold are excellent filmstock, but if you want optimun control; stay with slide, its processed “as is”, expose for the highlights and bracket up/down. use your zoom to take a close reading, then pull back and take your shot, youll see your subject is underexposed in the print if your in/camera meter is “averaging” the light. thats where “auto cameras” fail in taking candids . . many people dont realize how cameras “see” light in comparison to how the eye “sees” light. theres a huge difference. uh oh . . . im blathering . . sorry!

pretty cool homepage yosemitebabe has. check it out!

Joon says: “Good prints from slides can be sensational, but they tend to be expensive and hard to get.”

This has been my experience as well and it is a very important consideration when trying to decide what film to take on vacation.

Any suggestions for getting decent prints from those spectacular Velvia transparencies?