When I started out with analog photography back in the eighties, film was around aplenty. And the options you had was pretty much between the giants in the industry such as Kodak, Fuji and Ilford. Sure there where a few others as well but more to the point, the kinds of film you had to choose from were pretty much B&W, color negative and color positive and the producers tried to get the right color correction in the films for daylight and indoors. Fuji films tended to go more toward green and Kodak leaned a bit more toward warmer yellow tones.
Fast forward to today. The market for film has changed drastically and so has the inventory on the shelves of the more serious analog photography stores. A lot of new film manufacturers have emerged with a whole new thinking when it comes to film and their customers wants. Just by looking at what kind of film is available today we can safely say that the analog photographer of today likes to experiment and try out different creative expressions.
In this article I aim to show off the variety in experimental film today. I will not bring up any films that aim to be exactly color corrected for different light conditions, so no neutral films. The focus will instead be on special effects. One important thing to remember when it comes to these experimental films is that the results can differ from one film roll to another and sometimes from image to image. But hey, that is what makes it interesting!
Dubblefilm was born in 2017 “from the desire to see the world in different tones”. They carry a range of different films including a couple of regular ones. Dubblefilm uses base layers from Kodak and the results can be very volatile so highly experimental.
Bubblegum: Using Kodak Ultramax as base layer with added tone producing colours. Available in 120 and 135 film. ISO 200/400.
Treat: Based on Kodak Vision 250D with the protective remjet layer removed. Available as ISO 400 135 film.
Apollo: Using Kodak Ultramax as base layer with added tone generating deep shadows and highlights that pop. Available as 120 and 135 film ISO 200/400.
Jelly: Using Kodak Ultramax as base layer tinted with multicoloured gradient producing red, orange and blue tones. Results may differ from image to image. Available as 135 film ISO 200/400.
Pacific: This is a pre-exposed film with mellow tones. Available as 120 and 135 film in ISO 200.
Solar: Solar is a film using Kodak Ultramax as base layer. Pre-exposed with sun-kissed effects. Available as 135 film in ISO 400.
Stereo: Using Kodak Ultramax as base layer. Red/blue tones. Available as ISO 400 135 film.
Cinema: This is a high speed ISO 800 film. Made from film from movie cameras with the remjet layer removed. 135 film. Strong colours with high saturation during night and halo effects in bright light.
Now, if you are ready to get really far out experimental, Hanalogital is a good choice. Hanalogital is run by Hanna, you can find her shop on Etsy, but some shops also sell her limited runs of handmade film. This is something special. Hanna marinades film in a “film soup” that essentially destroys the emulsion to a degree depending on recipe. Then she dries the film before shooting it. She even sell a book of film soup recepies on etsy. Instagram: @hanalogital. Be aware that you have to let the lab know it is a film soup and that not all labs develop this kind of film.
Bokeh: 35mm film ISO 200. Pre-exposed film. Check out samples on her instagram or etsy page.
Opal: 35mm film ISO 200. Experimental film manipulated by hand in a film soup.
Agate: 35mm film ISO 200. Experimental hand manipulated film.
Other films by Hanalogital are: Fluorite, Charoite, Fox, Prism, Veins, and Spirals.
Revolog was founded in 2009 by photographers Hanna Pribitzer and Michael Krebs. They currently have 13 different handmade effects films in production. The films are: 600nm, 460nm, Rasp, Paper, Volvox, Texture, Lazer, Streak, Plexus, Tesla 1, Kosmos, Nebula and Kolor.
Kolor: This is a 35 mm ISO 200/400 film. It adds a rainbow of colours to the images.
Paper: This is a 35mm black and white film with a paperlike texture quality to it. ISO 400. The effect is stronger at underexposure and less intense at overexposure.
Volvox: With this 35mm ISO 200/400 film you get bright green dots in the images.
With all Revolog films you get different effects ranging from extreme colour tones to more special effects such as the Volvox and Tesla 1 films. Check them out.
There are several other brands with experimental films out there such as Lomography, Kono!, Nocolorstudio, Washi and Yodica Yodica for example. I hope to cover them in future articles. Let’s get experimental!