The Films of 2019

Happy New Year!!

To end the decade and begin 2020, I thought it would be great to share a few of my favourite films of 2019 (yes, a little late I know). In no particular order or ranking:

  • Cinestill 800 Tungsten (or  Cinestill 800T, or Cinestill 800)

This is a clear winner with no flaws or faults at all. Versatile with the perfect emulsion you could possibly ask for in high quality roll of film. I have been shooting Cinestill 800T for a few years on my SLR and Point and Shoot cameras, mainly of street photography at night; capturing artificial lights or neon signs. The film gives the results of a cool and cold tone after developing and eventual scanning all thanks to the tungsten.

I don’t buy Cinestill films often due to its price (I buy two rolls a year), however I make sure I put it into great use. Last summer, I began a series of shooting petrol stations around London late at night with the 800T on my Olympus Mju 1 Point and Shoot, with the negative scans coming out better than I had expected.

  • Kodak Tri-X

One of my favourite Black and White films that I use for mostly street and architecture shots, especially of Brutalist buildings around London. Although it serves well for low light and night photography with its 400 ISO, the grain is quite punchy and subtle, almost smooth and contrasty which is great on both SLR and P&S cameras. I took ten rolls of Tri-X in 35mm with me to New York City in November and shot it on my Olympus Mju 1. I had initially planned on shooting in colour, however at the last minute I decided to wanted to capture NYC and the streets on a film that could achieve a timeless feel and mood. It worked wonders once I scanned it on my Epson V550 as well as produced a few prints in the darkroom recently. Colour film may have not do it justice unlike the Tri-X.

  • Kodak Ektar

The ultimate travel film ever! The colours are saturated and smooth, especially the reds and not to mention the ISO of 100 is great for shooting in bright and sunny conditions. Yes, it can work in low light too, as long as you have a tripod, a timer or a steady hand.

I began buying more rolls of Ektar in early 2019 for my trip to Nice in the following April. In comparison to when I used to buy at least one or two rolls of them a year a few years back. In my opinion, I find it’s quite pricey but probably worth every cent for its quality. A couple months ago, I had purchased ten 35mm rolls recently expired Ektar off from eBay that I’m planning to shoot with this year.

  • Kodak Portra 400

Slightly ‘warmer’ than Ektar, and another film that is ideal for travel photography. Possibly most preferred than the Portra 160 in terms of versatility, in which I did see comparisons soon after scanning both 35mm and 120. Slightly pricey for one roll in 35mm, but a pack of five is almost fifty pounds depending where you buy it from. Also with Kodak increasing the prices of their film products from January, the Portra could get a little bit expensive and out of my budget. Nevertheless, Portra 400 does wonders in the sun or very bright light. A few examples are the scans from my trip to Foz Do Douro a beach very near to Porto in Portugal. A mid-afternoon walk down the beach that faces the Atlantic Ocean, I managed to capture the sky, sand and shadows on my Canon EOS 500n and also my Holga.

  • Fuji Acros

Possibly one of the most controversial films in the market. Initially discontinued in 2018, then re-introduced a year later as Acros II with many photographers shaking their heads. Fuji had been discontinuing many of their films for the last few years, such as Superia 200 and Natura 1600.

I was lucky enough to buy a fair amount of rolls both 35mm and 120 before it had gone for good. Some I had used before its expiry date of October 2019, and the remaining rolls I am hoping to use later on in 2020.

Perfect fine grain, contrast and low speed which is suitable for shooting on SLR and P&S, as well as medium format cameras. I would highly recommend for travel photography, especially where you can take full advantage of using in bright and light conditions.

  • Fuji Xtra 400

Fortunately Fuji hasn’t killed off this film – just yet. It is difficult to find Fuji colour films at the moment as they are slowly discontinuing, the only luck is either to buy Xtra Superia 400 or C200. Although Analogue Wonderland sells a few imported Fuji films from Japan.

I shot Xtra 400 for the first time back in September when I went to the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, London. I didn’t know what to expect of the film until I scanned the negatives, and I must say it was quite good. I think it works well with nature photography as the greens is saturated and smooth. I am sure it could potentially be great for any genre or style of photography.

Took me longer to write this up, I was meant to post it before the new year. I do have another list related post coming up tomorrow of my favourite films of the past decade. So stayed tuned and take care.

Again, Happy New Year!!

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