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Best film: our picks of the best 35mm film, roll film, and sheet film for your camera

Best 120 roll film

The medium format film market is surprisingly healthy, and the 120 roll film format is relatively inexpensive. It's versatile too, as some cameras use it for 6cm x 6cm square images, narrower 6cm x 4.5cm negatives or wider 6cm x 7cm or even 6cm x 9cm shots. Again, we've organized these films into color negative, black and white and color transparency films.

Best 35mm films   
Best 120 roll films for medium-format cameras   
Best sheet films for large-format cameras
Best film cameras in 2020
The best film scanners in 2020

Medium format color negative film

Kodak Ektar 100 120 (5 pack)

1. Kodak Ektar 100 120 (5 pack)

Sharp, saturated, fine-grained alternative to transparency film

Specifications

Type: Color negative
Format: 120
Exposures: 12
Speed: ISO 100
Chemistry: C-41

Reasons to buy

+
Ultra fine grain
+
High saturation
+
Regular C-41 processing
+
Not too expensive

Reasons to avoid

-
Empty List

This is the same Extar 100 film available in 35mm format, but this time on 120 roll film. Its combination of fine grain (T-Grain), high saturation and sharpness should make it good for all kinds of commercial work, and an alternative to transparency film for landscapes, scenic shoots and travel.

Kodak Portra 160 Professional 120 (5 pack)

2. Kodak Portra 160 Professional 120 (5 pack)

Still a serious proposition for commercial portrait photographers

Specifications

Type: Color negative
Format: 120
Exposures: 12
Speed: **ISO:** 160
Chemistry: C-41

Reasons to buy

+
Optimised for portraits
+
Designed with scanning in mind
+
Regular C-41 processing
+
Available in lots of sizes

Reasons to avoid

-
Empty List

Kodak Portra 160 is a good choice for medium format portrait photographers, being optimised for smooth and natural-looking skintones. If ISO 160 is too slow, there are ISO 400 and ISO 800 versions too, though as ever with faster films, grain becomes an issue much sooner than it does with digital sensors.

Lomography Redscale XR 50200 120 (3 pack)

3. Lomography Redscale XR 50200 120 (3 pack)

Shoot this and you'll see red, plus a bit of orange and yellow, we're told

Specifications

Type: Color negative
Format: 120
Exposures: 12
Speed: ISO 50-200
Chemistry: C-41

Reasons to buy

+
Instant lo-fi/retro look
+
Variable ISO rating
+
Regular C-41 processing

Reasons to avoid

-
Specialised!

You can get Lomography's distinctive yellow/orange/red colour shifts in a medium format version of its Redscale XR 50200 film. This could be ideal if you're going for a strong retro vibe and you're experimenting with an old medium format TLR, for example, or one of Lomography's own cameras.

Medium format black and white film

Ilford FP4 Plus 120

4. Ilford FP4 Plus 120

Ilford's classic medium-speed emulsion for fine-art photographers

Specifications

Type: Black and white
Format: 120
Exposures: 12
Speed: ISO 125
Chemistry: Black and white

Reasons to buy

+
Fine grain
+
Legendary tonality
+
Sharp and contrasty

Reasons to avoid

-
Not Ilford's latest film tech

Ilford FP4 Plus is an evolution of a film that's been a favourite among scenic photographers for decades. It's an all-rounder, offering reasonable speed, good contrast and definition and pretty fine grain – though its characteristics will depend on which of many available developers you use with it.

Best film: Ilford SFX200 120

5. Ilford SFX200 120

Infra-red without all the hassle of dealing with real infra-red film foibles

Specifications

Type: Black and white
Format: 120
Exposures: 12
Speed: ISO 200
Chemistry: Black and white

Reasons to buy

+
Infra-red effect
+
Reasonable speed
+
Regular processing

Reasons to avoid

-
Best with a deep red filter

The effect isn't quite the same as Kodak's long-gone HIE infra-red film, but Ilford SFX200 does have extended red sensitivity and, when used with a deep red filter, can produce attractive infra-red images. It's easier to load and handle than Kodak's film, too, needing no special handling precautions. It's worth noting that although this film is still available at some retailers, it has now been discontinued by Ilford so it won't be around forever.

Medium format transparency film

Fujichrome Velvia 50 120 (5 pack)

6. Fujichrome Velvia 50 120 (5 pack)

The marmite of film, some love the super-saturated colors and others hate it

Specifications

Type: Color transparency
Format: 120
Exposures: 12
Speed: ISO 50
Chemistry: E-6

Reasons to buy

+
Super-saturated colors
+
Fine grain and resolution

Reasons to avoid

-
Not exactly natural-looking
-
Slow speed can be a handicap

At 50 ISO you're going to want to use a tripod to shoot with Velvia 50. Although more commonly known as 35mm slide film, it's also available in 120mm medium format film as packs of five. The 35mm version is rather expensive but the medium format version doesn't seem like bad value at all.

More film photography buyers' guides:
The best 35mm film
The best sheet film
Best film cameras
The best film scanners

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Rod is the Group Reviews editor for Digital Camera World and across Future's entire photography portfolio, with decades of experience with cameras of all kinds. Previously he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more.