Which Film or Preset Should I Use? A Guide by Mastin Labs

Which Film or Preset Should I Use? A Guide by Mastin Labs | Mastin Labs

Analog Film is a 127-year-old medium with many contributors throughout its history. Unlike digital capture, film stocks were not made to accurately reflect reality, but to offer different aesthetic choices to the photographer.

Factors such as the culture where the film company was located and who was available at the time as test subjects greatly determined the characteristics of each film stock. This is one of the reasons that Kodak films render colors differently compared to Fujicolor films (for example.)

We’ve compiled this guide to help you decide which film stock or film preset to use for various subjects and lighting conditions. This is based on our own experiences as lifelong film photographers as well as extensive research and help from our friends at The FIND Lab.

PLEASE NOTE: Any film can technically be used for any subject or lighting condition, but if you pair the right film with the right subject, you’ll get ideal results.

This pack has three distinct looks: bright and vivid, gold and lush, or rich black and white tones. Ideal for tropical landscapes, road trips off the beaten path, authentic moments with your friends, and anywhere life takes you on your everyday journey.

See examples here.

  • Kodak Ektar 100¬†explodes with bold red and golden orange tones. This preset delivers animated colors that hold their potency as they seamlessly transition from light to dark.
  • Kodak Gold 200¬†has warm tones and glowing highlights. Medium contrast and medium saturation make this the most versatile preset in this pack.
  • Kodak Tri-X 400¬†has light, beautiful grain, and pleasing tones. Kodak Tri-X 400 is the most classic of all B&W films. Versatile across any subject, this film delivers documentary-style landscape images, emotive portraits, and moody candids.

Portra films are known for their natural warmth, perfect for enhancing pale skin tones. These qualities make this series of film popular film for portraiture and editorial work.

See examples here.

  • Portra 160¬†has low saturation and a red/brown undertone, making it ideal for darker, moodier images.
  • Portra 400¬†has medium saturation, with undertones of orange and yellow, and can handle mixed light well.
  • Portra 800¬†is the most saturated Portra film, perfect for landscapes and images with bright colors.

Fuji Pro films are naturally biased toward green/cyan/blue, with beautiful mint green rendering. Fuji Pro films are popular for wedding photography and fashion, but work very well whenever a more sophisticated look is desired.
See examples here.

  • Fuji 160NS¬†is green biased film with high contrast and high saturation.
  • Fuji 400H¬†has an airy, pastel look, with low saturation and cyan undertones that pairs well with many skin types.
  • Fuji 400H¬†Blue is a variation on Fuji 400H that tames overly neon greens in very bright conditions.

Ilford makes the most advanced black-and-white films in the world. From the glowing graininess of Delta 3200, to the practical and honest look of HP5, Ilford B&W films are perfect for everything from fine art to photojournalism.

See examples here.

  • Pan F is a high contrast, low grain film with a wide tonal range. Suited for striking portraits and landscapes.
  • HP5 is a medium grain, medium contrast film. Suited to documentary work and photojournalism.
  • Delta 3200 is a medium contrast film with glowing highlight grain and dark shadows. Great in low light.

This pack has three real life color looks. From coffee shop hangouts, exploring a city landscape, to an impromptu fashion shoot with friends; this preset pack strikes the delicate balance between subtle tones and bold rich color. 

See examples here.

  • Superia 400¬†has balanced contrast, and brings deep red tones to life, keeping shadows cool and neutral. This look is perfect for cozy and intimate environments.
  • Fuji C200¬†is soft and warm with muted highlights and shadows. C200 lets you capture genuine moments without images being overly stylized.
  • Acros 100¬†is a crisp, clean, black and white preset complemented by full tonal range.