• If a film name ends in "color" (as in Kodacolor, Vericolor, Fujicolor) it is for color prints.
  • If the name ends in "chrome" (Kodachrome, Ektachrome, Fujichrome) it is for slides. The european word for slides is "diapositive," and if a customer asks for "dias" he wants slides.
  • If the name ends in "pan" it is a black & white, panchromatic film.

Color balance:

Almost all films are designed for daylight balance; that is to say, they will give best results under lighting that's the same color as daylight.

  • Blue flashbulbs and electronic flash are about the same color as daylight.
  • Daylight is the same as 5500 degrees Kelvin.
  • Tungsten light (incandescent light) is a different color -- 3400 degrees Kelvin. It is much warmer/yellower.
  • Tungsten balance films such as Ektachrome 160 and 3M 640-T slide film are designed for that type of light.
  • No readily-available 35mm color print films are designed for tungsten light.
  • There is a variation of Kodak Vericolor Professional film, called VPL ("L" for long exposure) which is available on special order in size 120, 220 and sheet film. It is also available in 100-foot rolls of 35mm size, for bulk loading.

Fluorescent light IS NOT the same as tungsten. No film is made especially for fluorescent light. You can use an FL-D filter with daylight films (see FILTERS).

Choosing color print films by speed

ISO (formerly called ASA) is a measure of a film's sensitivity to light.

  • Slow films (25, 50, 100) are extremely sharp but require more light to take pictures. They are the best choice for the biggest enlargements with SLR cameras.
  • 200 speed films are almost as sharp, but a little more sensitive to light. They have a greater flash range. A good choice for compact cameras.
  • 400 speed films are a little less sharp, but can take pictures under lower light levels. They allow a higher shutter speed to be used. They are very useful with zoom lenses, and their greater sensitivity allows the photographer to take flash pictures at a greater distance.
  • 1000, 1600, and 3200 speed films are special purpose films intended for use under very low light levels without flash. They are good for indoor and night sporting events. The pictures will be very grainy. These films are definitely not for use in compact, "point and shoot" 35mm cameras.
  • Extremely slow films (Royal 25, for instance) will produce even sharper blowups, but should only be used in 35mm SLR cameras, preferably with a tripod. .


  • FORMAT is a word which describes the size and proportion of the negative or slide produced by a particular class of camera. Every camera has a format, be it miniature, medium, large or subminiature.
  • 35mm format is one of the few format names where the numbers mean something. 35mm film is actually 35mm (about 1 2/5 inches) wide, including the perforations that run down each side of the film. 35mm film for still cameras comes in a cassette with about 3 inches of the perforated film stock sticking out so that it can be fastened to a take-up spool. Most 35mm cameras take pictures that give a negative size (format) 24mm by 36mm. The entire length of film, from beginning to end, is sensitive to light. While the film comes in rolls of 12, 24 or 36 exposures, it is common to get a few more exposures than the rated capacity. This popular film format was often called "miniature" because 35mm cameras and film were a lot smaller than cameras used until their introduction in the 1920s.

    Some cameras like the Yashica Samurai make a smaller image, 24mm by 18mm. This format variation is called "half-frame" or "single-frame" 35mm. They take twice as many pictures as the rated film size - 48 shots on a 24 exposure film, for example. Because the negative size is smaller, the lens;, and therefore the camera itself can be smaller. The disadvantage is that the smaller negative does not produce as detailed and sharp a negative. Also, most laboratories do not print half-frame negatives on a regular basis, and do not offer as many services from them. Half-frame cameras were popular in the 60's and then died, but the Yashica Samurai brought back the idea. The existence of half-frame cameras is the reason that 35mm negatives have numbers such as 1, 1A, 2, 2A . . .

  • 120 film consists of a piece of film 6cm (2 1/4 inches) wide by about 30 inches long. The film itself is taped to a piece of backing paper which is much longer, and wrapped around a metal or plastic spool. In use, the paper roll is opened and one end is fastened to an empty spool in the camera (called the take-up spool). As the camera is wound, the film moves from the supply spool to the take-up spool. When completed, the take-up spool is removed from the camera. The now-empty supply spool becomes the new take-up spool. Depending on the shape of negative made by the camera - 2 1/4 inches wide by either 1 5/8 inches (4.5 cm), 2 1/4 inches (6 cm), 2 3/4 inches (7 cm), or 3 1/4 inches (9 cm), a roll of film will take 16, 12, 10 or 8 negatives. Today this group of image sizes are generally called "medium format" and are named according to their dimensions: 6x4.5, 6x6, 6x7, 6x9 cm. Some alternate names, and some of the most popular cameras in each format:
    • 645 Mamiya 645, Bronica ETR
    • 6x6 (2 1/4 x 2 1/4) Rolleiflex, Hasselblad
    • 6x7 "ideal format" Mamiya RB-67 6x9 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 "baby Graphic"
  • 220 film is a double-length 120 roll. It's popular with wedding photographers, because they don't have to reload as often. Not every 120 camera will accept 220 film - the film counter and pressure plate have to be specially designed.
  • 620 was exactly the same size and length of film and paper as 120, but wound on a smaller-diameter film spool so that the cameras could be smaller. Once popular, now no cameras are made and no film. Typical cameras: Kodak Tourist folding camera.
  • 127 film: a smaller version of 620 roll film, 4 cm. wide instead of 6 cm. No cameras currently made, no film is made. Typical cameras: "baby" Rollei 4x4, Yashicamat 44, Kodak Brownie Holiday, Starmite.
  • 116, 122, 124, 118, 616 - Larger roll film sizes, no cameras made for over fifty years, no film made for more than 25 years. see NOTE  below
  • Instamatic cameras: Because loading a camera was often too difficult, Kodak invented the Instamatic (tm) concept in 1963. The original 126 Instamatic consisted of a length of paper-backed film of 35mm width loaded into a plastic, disposable cartridge. One end of the backing paper was fastened to a take-up spool. Loading was simple - open the camera and drop in the film. The Instamatic became the most popular camera ever, and Kodak made at least 30 models over the years, ranging in price from under $10 to over $240. The film produced 12, 20 or 24 negatives with an image size of 28mm square. The standard print size from 126 is 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches. Customers may often use the trade-marked term "Instamatic" when they actually mean "instant camera" or Polaroid. As a photo-specialty dealer, you must be more precise.
  • Pocket Instamatic: In 1972 Kodak introduced a smaller camera using film size 110. This utilized film 16mm wide, instead of 35mm wide, and made a negative 12x17mm. The small film size allowed the camera to be flatter, fitting the pocket. It was introduced by an unknown young actress named Cybill Shepard. Kodak quickly pulled that ad campaign when Cybill bared all in "The Last Picture Show," and the more conservative Dick Van Dyke became the pitchman. 110 film was once available in slides, black and white, and color print film, but the first two are no longer available. The standard print size from 110 film is 3 1/2 by 5 inches.
  • Disk Film, introduced by Kodak about 1982. The smallest and easiest-to-use film ever. Disk film has always come in only one size and flavor - 15 exposure color prints. Kodak made over 25 million cameras before stopping the full- scale production of Disks. Disk film went out of production at the end of 1998.
  • Advanced Photo System (APS) is a 24mm format jointly introduced by Kodak, Fuji, Canon, Minolta and Nikon in 1996.

LARGE-FORMAT cameras use individual sheets of film in sizes 4x5 inches and up.

SUBMINIATURE or ULTRAMINIATURE cameras use film sizes smaller than 35mm. 110 film and Disc films are technically Ultraminiatures, but because they were so widely distributed they are not regarded as such. Minox and Yashica Atoron use 9.5mm film in a cartridge similar to, but much smaller than, 110. This film is still available, but is rather a limited market - more popular in Europe than here. Rollei 16, Minolta 16, Mamiya 16 were three of the dozen or so variations that used 16mm width film. In fact, the Minolta 16 was probably the inspiration for the 110 film format. All of these films are just about impossible to find. NOTE


We get a lot of questions about Eastman color negative film 5247 which was heavily promoted through the mail by companies such as Seattle Film Works or Signature and touted as the universal film that give both slides and negatives. Some of the suppliers suggest you can use the film indoors and out, without a filter, at any film speed from 50 to 1600.

Eastman color films are intended for use in professional motion picture cameras only.

These films cannot be processed along with regular film -- if it goes thru the standard C-41 process, both that film and the other customers' film in the processor will be ruined.

Kodak states that

"these films do not have the scratch resistance needed for use in 35mm cameras. . . . these films should be stored at less than 55 degrees until used and processed immediately after exposure. Kodak will not be responsible for problems or difficulties resulting from other- than-recommended uses of this film product. The supplier, not Kodak, should be consulted if the film is obtained in other than the original Kodak package."

Professional motion picture films have a "rem-jet" coating, a black anti-halation coating on the base that must be removed in a special bath that's part of a cinema roll processor - but is not in the C-41 process.

Never put a roll of Eastmancolor film into a minilab processor under any circumstances!

The rem-jet coating will come off and ruin your chemistry, foul your rollers, and possibly damage other film running at the same time. Most recently these mail order vendors have been using C-41 films instead of motion picture film.

ILFORD XP-1, XP-2, and Kodak T-Max CN films :
This is a special type of black & white film which is processed in either the manufacturer's own chemistry or in C-41 chemistry, such as is used for color negative film. Newspapers love it because it lets them get black & white for reproduction in an hour.

ORWO films were made in East Germany and are not at all compatible with Western chemistry.

Old Films:

Color films for process C-22 or G-25 or "Triple-Print" films are all at least 20 years out of date at this point. No chemistry has been made in many years. Old film is like old fish -- it stinks!

No film at all is available from major manufacturers for the following sizes:
8mm movie film in metal magazines
8mm movie film in rolls NOTE
16mm movie film in metal magazines
828, 122, 124, 116, or 616 roll film sizes NOTE
Polaroid type 20 (for Swinger)
Polaroid type 32, type 37, type 48
Minolta, Mamiya, and Rollei 16mm "spy camera" film NOTE
126 black & white
126 slide film
126, 127, 620 roll film (620 film is identical to 120 film except for the spool itself. There are collectors who will actually rewind 120 film onto a 620 spool so they can use their older cameras.)

NOTE -  David Foy of  reports that both 126
Instamatic and 127 roll film are still being made. 126 is made about once a year
by Ferrania, in Italy, and 127 is still being made in Germany by Maco. These are
not re-spools, but are factory loads. Both are available on his web site,

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