Skip to main content

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 organised these films into color transparency films, colour negative and black and white films.

Best 35mm films   
Best 120 roll films for medium-format cameras   
Best sheet films for large-format cameras
Best film cameras in 2019
The best film scanners in 2019

Medium format transparency film

Fujichrome Velvia 50 120 (5 pack)

1. Fujichrome Velvia 50 120 (5 pack)

Expensive, super-saturated and opinion-dividing classic

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

Super-saturated colors
Fine grain and resolution
Not exactly natural-looking
Slow speed can be a handicap

Velvia might have made its reputation as a 35mm slide film, but it's also available in 120 medium format, generally in packs of five, and while the cost of the 35mm version is pretty off-putting, the medium format version doesn't seem bad value. At ISO 50, though, you'll be better off using a tripod.

Fujichrome Provia 100F 120 (5 pack)

2. Fujichrome Provia 100F 120 (5 pack)

Not as saturated as Velvia but more accurate and sensible

Type: Color transparency | Format: 120 | Exposures: 12 | Speed: ISO 100 | Chemistry: E-6

Strong,  natural colors
Versatile rendition
Faster than Velvia 50
Lacks Velvia's character

Provia is like a grown-up Velvia. It doesn't have the same super-saturated colour rendition, but it's a more restrained, versatile film that can be used for anything from portraits to landscapes to commercial work. It does have very fine grain, smooth gradations and it's developed with the widely available E-6 process.

Lomography X-Pro Slide 200 120 (3 Pack)

3. Lomography X-Pro Slide 200 120 (3 Pack)

Great for artistic experimenters, not if you want to know what's going to happen

Type: Color transparency | Format: 120 | Exposures: 12 | Speed: ISO 200 | Chemistry: Not known

Cross-processed look
Versatile rendition
Not much tech info
We haven't tried it

Lomography doesn't offer much technical information on this medium format transparency film, beyond saying it's ideal for cross processing and offers "whacked out colors, huge contrast and insane saturation" We'd guess this film is best kept for its equally wacky lo-fi plastic cameras and not your high-end medium format kit.

Medium format color negative film

Kodak Ektar 100 120 (5 pack)

4. Kodak Ektar 100 120 (5 pack)

Sharp, saturated, fine-grained alternative to transparency film

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

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

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)

5. Kodak Portra 160 Professional 120 (5 pack)

Still a serious proposition for commercial portrait photographers

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

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

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)

6. Lomography Redscale XR 50200 120 (3 pack)

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

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

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

7. Ilford FP4 Plus 120

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

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

Fine grain
Legendary tonality
Sharp and contrasty
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.

Fujifilm Neopan 400CN 120

8. Fujifilm Neopan 400CN 120

Fast fine-grained black and white film for Kodak and Ilford refugees

Type: Black and white | Format: 120 | Exposures: 12 | Speed: ISO 400 | Chemistry: Black and white

Fine grain
Good sharpness
Versatile
Grainier than ISO 100 film

Fujifilm markets this as a high-speed professional black and white film with fine grain, good exposure latitude and extreme sharpness. Grain shouldn't be too much of a problem for the medium format version, thanks to the larger negative size, but Neopan 400CN is also available in 35mm size.

Ilford SFX200 120

9. Ilford SFX200 120

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

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

Infra-red effect
Reasonable speed
Regular processing
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.

Lomography B&W 100/120 Potsdam Kino (pack of 5)

10. Lomography B&W 100/120 Potsdam Kino (pack of 5)

Lomography taps into the sixties cinema zeitgeist, and yes, we do know what that means

Type: Black and white | Format: 120 | Exposures: 12 | Speed: ISO 100 | Chemistry: Black and white

Classic mono 'look'
Fine grain and contrast
Versatile processing
Online Potsdam Kino Cookbook!

Continuing its theme of reintroducing classic film styles, Lomography has come up with this slow/medium speed black and white evocation of "flickering projection rooms and smoky cinemas". It's slower than the 35mm Berlin Kino film with less grain and higher contrast, though as ever with black and white you can adjust the processing for different 'looks'.

More film photography buyers' guides:
The best 35mm film
The best sheet film
Best film cameras in 2019
The best film scanners in 2019