What is the best grainy color film (35mm and C-41)?

I want a little grain (especially for portraits shot in the daylight or afternoon (so a good amount of light))

Also, on another note, what type of color negative film (35mm and C-41) do you guys recommend for indoor (low-light situations) or night photography without a flash. Do you think I can get any type of film and then push it to a higher ISO when developing or? Sorry, new at this.

7 Answers

  • 7 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Hey Sophia, great questions!

    Consumer grade C41 film is always going to be grainier than professional grade C41 film. So Kodak Gold 100 is grainier than Kodak Portra 160, Gold 400 is grainier than Portra 400. I feel that Gold films are pretty grainy. The German Agfa Vista line USED to be very grainy but it is now made in Italy and that version is not as grainy. So if you can find some original German Agfa Vista, I would recommend that.

    Here are some examples of Vista:


    The grain won't be as apparent in these small internet images but would be very noticeable in enlarged prints compared to Digital 400 noise and finer grained 400 films.

    For low light, your options are similar but just higher ISO's. The same rule of consumer vs. pro film applies. The major consumer grade 800's on the market are Kodak Gold 800 and Fuji Superia 800. Gold 800 in particular is REALLY grainy and tends to be flat which I think the Lomo crowd really likes. I personally don't so I don't have any examples of this but that is what I'd reach for first if you like this look and it could really be used outdoors too if you have a camera with a fast enough shutter or an ND filter.

    My favourite colour C41 high speed film is Fuji Superia 1600 which was discontinued a couple years ago but can still be found expired and working fine. It was replaced with Fuji Natura 1600 but that film is primarily only sold in Japan so if you can find it in the US (users on Etsy and eBay sell it regularly) it's costly. Nobody else has ever, to my knowledge, made a colour 1600 film. Here are some examples of Superia 1600:


    What most available light shooters do to get high speed colour is exactly what you said though, push process or over-rate the film. For this, professional film is better in terms of the colours and sharpness not falling apart but you might want to see how the consumer grade films fair since you want the grain. I routinely over-rate Portra 400 as high as 1600. Portra can be rated to 1600 and processed normal and come out looking great. It can also be pushed to 1600 (or higher) but this costs more and requires a pro lab to do it. I personally don't think it's necessary but it all depends on the lighting conditions and the look you want. Here are two examples:


    Notice that the skintones are waaay off. You have to understand that shooting colour in available light is challenging because of white balance. Only when shooting professionally lit subjects like concerts or subjects lit by day-light balanced light will you get correct skintones. If accurate colour in artificial light is important to you, you may want to explore E6 slide film that is tungsten balanced. Slide film selection is getting sparse though and processing requires a really good pro lab. Not even all pro labs process E6. The other problem is that most slide films are below 400 ISO so heavy pushing may be necessary. I used to really enjoy Fuji T64 for tungsten but you won't find graininess with slide film.

    Most colour film shooters use flash in low light to get accurate colour rendition or they do quite a bit of color balancing in editing to correct.

    So high speed colour is challenging!

    Also be aware, any film can be used in such a way to increase the appearance of grain, below are the methods listed:

    --Underexposure causes increased grain. So deliberately underexpose by 1 or 2 stops and you'll get grain to show in the midtones and blacks. The more you underexpose, the more grain and the flatter the image (contrast).

    --Enlargement increases the appearance of grain. Frame your image wide then enlarge a smaller section of it and you'll see more grain.

    --The smaller the format of the film the more grain you'll see. 35mm is pretty small as film goes but you can get even smaller with a half frame 35mm camera like the original Olympus Pen, Canon Demi or Agfa Parat (which takes 35mm but shoots two photos where a normal 35mm camera only shoots one). Here are some photos with my Agfa half frame:


    And if you have a lab nearby or a mail order one that does 110, 110 film is VERY small and grainy.

    --Expired film is grainy. The older C41 film gets and the more poorly it is stored, the grainier it gets. Some people help the expiration process along by leaving professional C41 film (which should always be refrigerated) sitting on their car dashboard or window sill in the sun for weeks or months. You can also buy expired film from eBay and Lomography.com

    I hope you find what you're looking for and that I've helped provide a good starting point for you.


    Source(s): www.JohnnyMartyr.com
  • 3 years ago


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  • John P
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    The higher the ISO of the film the more grainy it will be, which is not much help on a bright day, unless you use a neutral density filter. Indoors use a nice high ISO, maybe 800 or 1600.

    You can push process colour negative film for extra speed. That will also tend to raise the graininess. You can ask some pro and semi-pro labs to push process film, but high-street labs would not know what you mean if you ask for 'push-process' and would not be able to do it.

    If you are intending to process at home and print at home by the 'old-fashioned' silver process (i.e. not by scanning the neg and printing by a computer) be aware that you will have to make a large financial investment in equipment and spend a lot of time and material learning the process. If you can find someone local who is still doing 'wet process and print' then get them to show you what is involved before committing yourself.

    Good luck - you will need it! Be preparecto run several tests.

  • 3 years ago

    Best Color Negative Film

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  • 7 years ago

    J. Martyr seems well versed in photography! Do check out the 35mm print films in Ebay.com ( Cameras & photo category). You may spot some non expired color films by the bulk---they may be cheaper than the ones sold at shops!

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  • 3 years ago


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