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

Best sheet film

You might have thought that large format film would now be pretty scarce, but far from it! Again, there are more films out there than we have space to list, so we've picked a few highlights to give you a flavour of what's out there. Processing sheet film is obviously trickier than with smaller formats, but we figure if you've got the dedication and skill to handle a large format camera you're not going to be daunted by the processing. 

We've picked the 'universal' 5 x 4 inch format for our buying links, but note than may of these films are available in larger sizes too, up to 10 x 8 inch and beyond! Be aware that while large format film is easy enough to get in the US, you might have to resort to some international shopping in other territories.

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

Transparency sheet film

Fujichrome Velvia 100 Professional RVP 100 (4" x 5", 20 Sheets)

1. Fujichrome Velvia 100 Professional RVP 100 (4" x 5", 20 Sheets)

It's not cheap (REALLY not cheap), but it's a classic transparency film

Type: Color transparency | Format: 5" x 4", 10" x 8" | ISO: 100 | Exposures: 20 | Chemistry: E-6

Intense colours and saturation
High sharpness
Fine grain
Velvia colours won't suit everyone

You can't get the legendary Velvia 50 in large format sheets, but you can get Velvia 100, which is surely the next best thing. It's possibly a bit more restrained than Velvia 50, but it retains that super-saturated look that Velvia fans love, and you can get it processed using regular E-6 chemistry.

Fujichrome Provia 100F Professional RDP-III (4 x 5", 20 Sheets)

2. Fujichrome Provia 100F Professional RDP-III (4 x 5", 20 Sheets)

It's like Velvia 100, but sensible, with colours like the ones in the real world

Type: Color transparency | Format: 5" x 4", 10" x 8" | ISO: 100 | Exposures: 20 | Chemistry: E-6

Generally neutral rendition
Versatile, from portraits to landscapes
Fine grain and resolution
Lacks Velvia's intensity

If you're shooting large-format transparencies, you don't have a lot of choice these days – it's either Fujichrome... or Fujichrome. Choose Velvia if you want in-your-face impact, or Provia if you want a more neutral rendition for a bit more post-processing leeway later on. Both can be developed using E-6 chemicals.

Color negative sheet film

Kodak Ektar 100 5 x 4" (10 sheets)

3. Kodak Ektar 100 5 x 4" (10 sheets)

You could say it's like the Velvia of the colour neg world

Type: Color negative | Format: 5" x 4", 10" x 8" | ISO: 100 | Exposures: 10 | Chemistry: C-41

Ultra fine grain
High saturation
Regular C-41 processing
Versatile

Kodak's fine grain colour negative film with high saturation and sharpness is available in large format sheet film sizes too. With the advent of digital imaging and tools for colour negative film masking, large format photographers are not necessarily restricted to just transparency or black and white film.

Kodak Portra 160 4" x 5" (10 Sheets)

4. Kodak Portra 160 4" x 5" (10 Sheets)

Kodak's portrait colour neg films span 35mm right up to large format

Type: Color negative | Format: 5" x 4" | Exposures: 10 | Speed: ISO 160 | Chemistry: C-41

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

Large-format portrait photographers have a ready-made film in Portra 160. There are ISO 400 and 800 versions too, but if you're working with a large format camera you're hardly likely to be running around taking handheld shots via available light, so the ISO 160 version looks the best best for quality.

Black and white sheet film

Adox CMS 20 II Professional 4" x 5" (50 Sheets)

5. Adox CMS 20 II Professional 4" x 5" (50 Sheets)

Super-specialised, super-sharp – one for fans of extreme resolution

Type: Black and white | Format: 5" x 4" | ISO: 16 | Exposures: 50 | Chemistry: Adotech developer

Extreme resolution
High contrast
Very slow
Needs dedicated developer

If you're shooting on a large format camera the chances are you're in pursuit of the best possible image quality, and Adox CMS 20 II certainly delivers resolution. The slow speed might actually be an advantage for certain types of landscape photography, but the contrast could prove a handful and you will need the custom Adotech developer.

Ilford Delta 100 Professional 4" x 5" (25 Sheets)

6. Ilford Delta 100 Professional 4" x 5" (25 Sheets)

A fine emulsion for fine art photographers working with large-format cameras

Type: Black and white | Format: 5" x 4", 7" x 5", 20" x 12" | ISO: 100 | Exposures: 25 | Chemistry: Black and white

Medium speed
Very fine grain
Sharp and contrasty
Variable ISO rating

Ilford Delta 100 comes in sizes from 35mm through medium format and right up to sheet film size. The Delta range is like a more modern, finer-grained replacement for Ilford's classic black and white films like FP4, though many photographers still prefer the look of the older product and you can still buy both.

Ilford FP4 Plus 4" x 5" (25 Sheets)

7. Ilford FP4 Plus 4" x 5" (25 Sheets)

Ilford's classic medium speed film is still around and still looks good

Type: Black and white | Format: 5" x 4", 7" x 5", 10"x 8", 14" x 11", 20" x 14" | ISO: 125 | Exposures: 25 | Chemistry: Black and white

Fine grain
Legendary tonality
Sharp and contrasty
Not Ilford's latest film tech

This is the same FP4 Plus offered in medium format and 35mm sizes, though when used in large format cameras its fine grain pattern will be far less visible and you can concentrate instead on its tonal qualities. You have a choice of developers, including Ilford ID11, Kodak D-76) the same thing or various liquid concentrates.

Kodak Professional T-Max 100 4" x 5" (10 Sheets)

8. Kodak Professional T-Max 100 4" x 5" (10 Sheets)

Kodak's T-Grain technology brings grain you can't see but quality you can

Type: Black and white | Format: 5" x 4" | ISO: 100 | Exposures: 10 | Chemistry: Black and white

Fine grain
Adjustable development
Sharp and contrasty
High resolving power

Kodak Professional T-Max 100 is like the Kodak equivalent of Ilford's Delta 100 film, boasting very fine grain, thanks to Kodak's T-Grain technology. In fact, Kodak says it's the finest-grain film of its speed in the world. Yes, another one. Don't worry, this was what they argued about in the days before autofocus speed comparisons.

Kodak Professional Tri-X 320 4" x 5" (10 Sheets)

9. Kodak Professional Tri-X 320 4" x 5" (10 Sheets)

Fast black and white film in a large format camera? The tonality is the key

Type: Black and white | Format: 5" x 4", 7" x 5", 10" x 8" | ISO: 320 | Exposures: 50 | Chemistry: Black and white

Versatile
Good for portraits and interiors
Easily adjustable processing
Grainier than ISO 100 films

Interestingly, the large format Tri-X is rated at a slightly lower speed than the 35mm version. It's recommended for portraits, indoor photography and situations with high brightness ranges – this is a classic virtue of faster black and white films that can often offset their increased grain for pictorial photography.

Rollei Infrared 400 4" x 5" (25 Sheets)

10. Rollei Infrared 400 4" x 5" (25 Sheets)

Infra-red is addictive, and this Rollei IR film is availabe in practically any size

Type: Black and white | Format: 5" x 4" | ISO: 400 | Exposures: 25 | Chemistry: Black and white

Panchromatic sensitivity
Extended infra-red sensitivity
Sharpness and fine grain
Available for smaller formats

Available in sizes from 35mm through medium format right up to large format sheet film size, this Rollei infra-red film is a panchromatic film with extended infra-red sensitivity, and is claimed to offer fine grain, high resolving power and typical infra-red halation effects with the right treatment – perfect for ethereal landscape and portrait shots.

More film photography buyers' guides:
The best 35mm film
The best 120 roll film
Best film cameras in 2019
The best film scanners in 2019