Skip to main content

Introduction to Film Photography

Lesson 14 of 20

Consumer Grade Film Stocks

Sandra Coan

Introduction to Film Photography

Sandra Coan

Starting under


Get access to this class +2000 more taught by the world's top experts

  • 24/7 access via desktop, mobile, or TV
  • New classes added every month
  • Download lessons for offline viewing
  • Exclusive content for subscribers

Lesson Info

14. Consumer Grade Film Stocks


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:11:53
2 Why Film Duration:10:59
4 Importance of Metering Duration:04:08
6 Metering for Color Film Duration:14:31
9 Metering for Indoor Shooting Duration:18:39
10 The Differences in Film Sizes Duration:11:05
11 Purchasing Film & Care Duration:05:04
12 Professional Color Film Duration:16:39
14 Consumer Grade Film Stocks Duration:06:31
15 Pushing Film Duration:18:44
16 Know Your Lab Duration:03:41
17 What To Look For In A Lab Duration:25:35
18 How To Find The Right Lab Duration:13:10
19 How To Safely Ship Film Duration:16:46
20 Get Started Using Film Duration:06:47

Lesson Info

Consumer Grade Film Stocks

I study film, like I'm obsessed with it. I would spend my life just doing exposure tests if I could, because I think it's so fascinating. But I'd never done it before on just a consumer-grade drugstore film. And getting ready for this class, I thought, "You know what? I'm just gonna to do this." So, marched myself up to the drugstore and bought some cheapo film and did some exposure tests. (laughing) So this is Kodak Gold. Now, the problem with consumer-grade film stocks is that they only come in 35 millimeter. You can't get this in 120. So that's just good to know. But Kodak Gold 200, this is a cheap film stock, you guys. Seriously, you can just buy it at whatever Kroger, store is in your neighborhood. And look at this, it's kind of amazing. I was actually really surprised at what this film stock could do. So, at box speed, if you look up close, you start getting wonky color shifts and things with the Kodak Gold up here at like +3 and +4. But honestly, I even kind of like it underexpo...

sed one stop. Like that exposure doesn't bother me. So, I mean that's kind of amazing. I was just really surprised when I got these back. So with this film, what I would recommend doing, is metering it at box speed, and just being really intentional about where you want your detail to be. Try not to, because it does okay underexposed, I would even meter this one more in the mid tones than a true, real, deep shadow reading, because you do start to get color shifts and stuff up here if you over expose it too much. But, here we go. So, this one was metered for the mid tones. I just took a general reading. Ambient reading. Even though he was in kind of mixed light. But, doesn't that look good? I was so surprised. This is my chicken, Esther. (laughing) You're gonna see a lot of personal photos here. But, again, metered for the mid tones, and it looks great. Even these areas that are a little bright, I think, look really good. This is our other chicken. We have a lot. And this one, yeah, I metered down here for the shadows. And so, this is a little bright, but I think it looks great. I'm kind of amazed with this film. And then, this is the Fuji Supera. So, again, a drugstore brand, cheapo film, and this one really blew me away, because it's even holding up up here at overexposed by four stops, which is amazing. And then, it kind of starts to fall apart here, but they all do. I think that it has a great range, and so for this one I would rate it at box speed, and then also meter for the shadows, and then here I metered for the highlights. I was in bright light. (laughing) So, this one I was metering right off here, 'cause I was in that really, really bright light, but look at how nice those greens are. Isn't that pretty? Oh. There's my chicken again. Metered for the highlights 'cause we're in bright, bright light. And, this one, I now this is a silly picture, but this little toy down here was in this really deep, deep dark shadow, and so I just wanted to see, I'm like, "Okay, but what happens if I go in there and get really, really dark? What is it gonna do the highlights?" And I think everything looks really good. So, I'm kind of pleasantly surprised by both of these film stocks. And then, here's the comparison. So, side by side, there's slightly different tones to 'em, that you can see, but nice grain detail, not overly grainy, not, I don't know, I kind of like 'em. I thought it was really fun. So, actually, I went out and I actually just bought a whole bunch of this, 'cause I was like (laughing) why not, I can give it to my kids to shoot, and it's awesome. It's a pretty, has a lot of things it can do, so I'm kind of pleasantly surprised. So, film stocks. Any questions? Yeah? Is there a difference with, would there be a difference in terms of your results in terms of the latitude and such, if you're using the 35 millimeter version of Tri-X versus the 120? Yeah. That's a great question. So, yes, and the biggest difference is gonna be in grain detail, because, again, of that negative size. So, as a rule, 35 millimeter is always grainier, 'cause it has a smaller neg. So, that's gonna be the big difference. In theory, the formulas are the same, but you are gonna see a difference in your grain detail. Right. Yeah. Good question. And, did you have any, Bob was asking if you shoot any Kodak color film, and I can't recall now if... The Portrait 400 is Kodak is Kodak, okay. And the Portrait 800 is Kodak Right. as well. So you actually shoot two of those, of the Kodak films. Great. And then one more, which films are best for different skin tone types? So, does that, do you take that into consideration? Well, that is a personal preference. So each film stock is going to photograph different skin tones differently, and then different skin tones, obviously, have different tones in them, right? So, what you need to, first of all you have to decide what you like. Do you like things that tend to be a little warmer, do you like things that tend to be a little cooler? And then, take that into consideration. So, I know that there's a lot of discussion about this, where people will talk about how they prefer using Portrait 400 for darker skin tones, 'cause it brings out that goldy undertones, but, like I said, I've shot, I shoot everybody with Fuji 400, and I have all sorts of clients, all sorts of skin tones, and I think, for me, I like those skin tones. So, I think it's really just about, when it comes to choosing your film stock, there is no rule, like Portrait 400 is only for this, and Fuji 400 is always for this. It's really just about what you like, and so it's about learning about 'em and experimenting. Right. Yeah. Thank you.

Class Description

Stop with the excuses, grab your film camera and get out there and make amazing images! If you’re comfortable with your DSLR and post processing, then learning to use your film camera is easier than you think! In this beginner course, Sandra Coan walks through how to shoot with film so that you feel comfortable, confident, and excited to take the best pictures! She’ll talk about choosing your film and how to find and work with a lab to process your images.

This course will cover:

  • The differences and similarities between film and digital
  • How a camera meter works and how to meter for film
  • The different film options and how they affect your photo
  • How to find the right lab to process your images

Don’t be intimidated by the idea of using film. Sandra will show you how to slow down during your photo shoot, focus on what you’re trying to capture, and ultimately get a great image straight out of camera.


a Creativelive Student

Sandra is a gifted teacher!!! I've been following her work for years and know what an incredible photographer she is - but to be able to teach the way she does is truly a rare gift! I've been shooting film on and off for years and was amazed at how much I could still learn from Sandra's class. She presented the information in a way that was so easy to follow that you couldn't wait to get started. It's wonderful to learn from someone who is clearly passionate about their craft - but who is also excited for others to succeed at what they're teaching.


Amy could not have said it better in her review of this class! I am also a film shooter (have been shooting film personally for 8 years and professionally for 4) and even as someone who understands a lot of what Sandra was talking about, I STILL found this class to be incredibly helpful and learned a lot. Sandra is such a great teacher and an inspiration to so many film photographers. Great class! Thanks Sandra and Creative Live for putting this together for us.


Sandra is not only an insanely talented photographer but she's a gifted teacher. I've been shooting film for weddings and portraits for 5 years and even studied it in photography school so I'm not new to film by any means. But I've allowed myself to be so intimated to create portraits with film using strobes for far too long. But not anymore. I'll be 100% honest when I say that the information she teaches in this course, to a seasoned COMMERCIAL photographer mind you, may be insanely simple. But that's the beauty of it!!! There is no reason to over complicate shooting film with strobes. It's the simplicity and straight forward, clear as day information that Sandra teaches that's essential to rejuvenate today's overly 'tech obsessed' world. Film is alive and well! Sandra's course is gold when it comes to getting that appreciation for our craft back! I'm jazzed and ready to slow my roll down! Thank you, Sandra and CL! The value of this class is far more than that of the strobe kit I finally invested in (HOURS after the class!). : )