Joyce's Quick Tip: Film Stock Choices

One of the most asked questions when people first started shooting film is "what are some of your favorite film stocks?".  I am guilty of asking this same question years ago when I first started out on my film journey.  Don't get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking what everyone's favorite film stock choices are.  What gets confusing though, especially for a newbie film shooter, is that you will pretty much get a list of every single stock that is available on the market today.  To add to the confusion, you will hear a variety of opinions like "I like xyz stock, rate at # stops, develop abc". Joyce Kang Photography00009837-3Joyce Kang PhotographyAdam Kriscoff, Adam KristoffRoll1_portra800_120

So what should you do if you are brand new in film photography and want a suggestion on which stock to try?  My recommendation is pick a film stock that has a great latitude, such as Kodak Portra 400 in color film, or Kodak TriX 400 or Tmax 400 for black and white film.

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But that's not all!  I highly suggest that you purchase at least 15-20 rolls of the same stock you choose and shoot nothing but that stock for the next 3-6 months.


I know you want to try every stock that's available under the rainbow so you can find out which one you like the best, the one that fits your style, the one that has your name written all over...blah, blah, blah.

Yeah, I know.  I get it.  15-20 rolls of the same stock is ... a little excessive, no?

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Not at all!

Think this way:  How many frames of digital image did you take to get you where you are today?   Now, why wouldn't you take at least the same number of frames on film to practice this new medium?


The cold hard reality is this:  the only way you can truly know how to use and know if you love/hate a film stock is to shoot it and shoot it often.  Over and over again.  Put in the work necessary to really understand a particular stock is 90% of the work in shooting film.  Try to rate it at box speed.  How about shooting it different light?  Not enough shutter speed, what about rating at 800 or 1600 and push in development?  Experiment with them.  Find out the exact combination that makes your heart sing.

I hope this little tip helps you get started on your journey to film!