Film photography's magic lies in capturing not just faces, but stories. Selecting the right 35mm film for your portraits takes you one step closer to unlocking that magic. But with so many options, where do you begin? This guide breaks down the best 35mm choices for film portraiture, broken down by colour and black & white choices.
Best 35mm Film For Colour Portraits:
The undisputed queen of portrait film, Portra delivers natural, warm skin tones, smooth grain, and excellent dynamic range. Available in 160, 400, and 800 ISO, it adapts to any lighting, making it a true all-rounder.
Fuji Pro 400H
Craving vibrant colours and stunning detail? Pro 400H is your answer. Its slightly cooler skin tones offer a modern edge, while its sharpness captures every nuance. Perfect for sun-drenched outdoor portraits.
Budget-friendly but beautiful, C200 shines with warm tones and good sharpness. Ideal for bright conditions, it delivers consistent results without breaking the bank.
Best 35mm Film For Black & White Portraits
Ilford HP5 Plus
Renowned for its versatility, HP5 Plus renders natural skin tones and handles mixed lighting with ease. Fine grain and good tonal range make it a photographer's favourite, from beginner to pro.
Kodak Tri-X 400
This classic black & white film evokes emotions with its rich tonality and subtle grain. For dramatic lighting and moody portraits, Tri-X adds an edgy touch.
A budget-friendly alternative to Tri-X, Kentmere offers similar characteristics with slightly less contrast. Ideal for high-volume shooting or experimentation.
Things to remember when you’re choosing 35mm film for portraits
Match the film speed to the light
Faster films for dim settings, slower ones for bright days.
Warm films evoke nostalgia, cool tones add modernity.
Embrace the journey
Experiment and discover your perfect portrait film!
Remember, there is no right and wrong. The best thing about shooting 35mm film is the uniqueness of every shot! Looking for more 35mm film recommendations? Check out our guide to the top overall 35mm film.