One of the most exciting things, when you're new to film photography, is being able to try and experiment with different kinds of film. It's easy to get carried away with the choices and quickly load up a roll on your camera, and then be disappointed when the results turn out to be different from what you expected. Trial and error is part of the process, but if you keep getting unfavorable results, don't give up just yet! Slow down and reassess if you need to get reacquainted with the Sunny 16 rule, or check if you're using the right film for your camera in the lighting conditions that they require.
Film is fun and we have a nice selection to choose from. But before loading up a roll on your point-and-shoot, here's a little guide to help you get started. Here's the first of a two-part series, starting with the Black & White film family.
Lomography Earl Grey B&W ISO 100
A classic pick from our lineup, the Lomography Earl Grey is a black & white film rated at ISO 100. It delivers the timeless monochrome look of rich blacks, bright whites, and soft shades of grey. Simple and straightforward, just load it up on your camera and you're ready to shoot. It performs best outdoors and in well-lit situations.
Lomography Lady Grey B&W ISO 400
If Earl Grey is not fast enough, try the Lomography Lady Grey. Its 400 ISO rating lets you shoot indoors or outdoors, and delivers smooth grain even in low lighting. Best to keep one in your camera bag for photoshoots in unpredictable weather conditions, this film is a good all-rounder!
Potsdam Kino B&W ISO 100
Cut from rolls of German cine film, the Potsdam Kino B&W ISO 100 renders cinematic results with its beautiful tones. It's a classic panchromatic film which means that it captures all frequencies of light visible to the naked eye. What this means: this film delivers a classic monochrome look, each color in your image represented by a different shade of grey. However, there are factors to consider when using this film: your subject, lighting conditions, and the time of the day. It might be wiser to limit the colors of your image with the use of photographic filters, which can shift the tonal range and alter the overall look of your image dramatically. Need more details? Our Potsdam Kino Cookbook explains it all.
Berlin Kino B&W ISO 400
Similar to the Potsdam Kino, the Berlin Kino is a panchromatic cine film. Its wide latitude allows you to push the ISO up to 800, 1600, or 3200 while still retaining excellent tonal range and detail. To ‘push’ film is to increase its sensitivity, and you would normally do this if you’re shooting in low-light conditions (and ISO 400 is not enough), or simply for creative reasons. Generally, though, ISO 400 is good enough for varied lighting conditions.
Fantôme Kino B&W ISO 8
Among the black & white emulsions in Lomography's lineup, the Fantôme Kino has the slowest ISO of 8. This means that you need plenty of light and to keep a tripod handy, so that your shots will be shake-free. We recommend going fully manual with this film—a camera and lens with manual controls will enable you to adjust the shutter speed of your camera and the aperture of your lens. A light meter is also ideal so that you can master your exposures. It may be a little intimidating for a beginner but we still encourage you to try it! To be safe, take it out on a bright, sunny day. The Fantôme Kino will reward you with a dramatic look of deep, inky blacks, high contrasts, and smooth grain.
Babylon Kino B&W ISO 13
Lastly, the Babylon Kino, a slow cine film. Rated at ISO 13, it renders beautiful light effects, low grain, and subtle gradient transitions, which make it a nice choice for portraits and close-ups. We recommend using a manual camera and lens for such a low-ISO film so that you can adjust the shutter speed and aperture. For best results, keep a light meter handy, and use flash even when you're outdoors, to fill in the shadows. Along with the B&W Kino family, this film gives you creative flexibility. Refer to our Babylon Kino Guide for more tips!
Black & white may seem all the same at first glance, but each film has its own charm. There are a lot of first impressions and reviews from testers and community members that you can find here in the magazine – just do a search! Coming up next is the Lomography Color film family, so stay tuned.