I’ve shot street photography for seven years and I’ve tried all the best film stocks so I can help you decide which one will suit your style!
Kodak Portra 400 is the best colour film for street photography due to its superfine grain, its film speed, beautiful hues, colours and its forgiving nature. Kodak Portra 400 is one of the most popular film stocks because it is such a great all-rounder and so reliable.
If you want to find more films stocks that are great for street photography then keep on reading!
What Makes A Good Street Photography Film Stock?
Finding the right film stock for street photography is more complicated than it is for most other styles of photography, this is because street photography is more about identity and it can be more ambiguous and strange. These film stocks are a guideline but really it is about finding the right stock for you in terms of affordability, your comfort with the film, the results and how it makes you feel in terms of the way you express yourself.
Generally though finding a film stock with a high ISO can typically be better due to the fact that the environment of the street, the weather and light conditions are always changing, therefore, a low ISO film isn’t typically versatile enough for the streets. Film as low as 200 ISO can be fine in sunny conditions but generally, 400 to 800 can be a lot better so that you’re ready for all kinds of weather and lighting conditions.
Forgiving film with a good latitude is good due to the fact that you cannot always control your light conditions therefore spending a bit more money on good film that’s forgiving can certainly be very worth it.
What’s The Best Colour Film For Street Photography?
Kodak Portra 800
Kodak Portra 800 is one of the best film stocks for street photography due to its high ISO of 800, it’s a very versatile film stock which allows you to take pictures in all conditions and in low and high light situations. With quite a bit more grain and most film stocks, Portra 800 will give you an identifiable look and feel that the image is older than it may be.
Portra 800 is great because it allows you to shoot at higher film speeds than usual which means you’re more likely to capture moving people or objects easily without getting motion blur.
Portra 800 also produces great hues and tones and it’s a forgiving film stock so you can get away with under or over exposing slightly.
Many professionals use Portra 800 and quite a lot of people believe it to be one of the best film stocks available. The only drawback of this brilliant film stock is that it’s very expensive.
Kodak Gold 200
I thought I would include Kodak gold 200 as it is an affordable film stock that many people still use today. I wouldn’t say that it’s necessarily a professional film stock but in street photography, it doesn’t matter quite so much. This is the type of film that I used for quite a long time when first shooting street photography and in all honesty, it didn’t really matter what kind of film stuff I was using.
Kodak gold 200 as a gold hue in the highlights, It’s 200 ISO so it has fine grain it’s a moderately good film stock so it will be fairly forgiving and it’s affordable which is always a perk.
Kodak gold 200 gives your images a slightly dreamlike and vintage feel due to its hues. It’s worth giving this film stock a tryout.
Cinestill 800T is a brilliant film stock that many street photographers love to use mainly in the nighttime due to its greenie-blue hues and red halation on the highlights. Cinestills 800 ISO makes it I really versatile film stock which is excellent for night photography.
This film stock has a very noticeable look and may give your photography some sense of identity. This could also be a lot of fun to try out in the daytime, portraits and other sorts of things.
I also think that 800 T is a great option for people that are shooting in bad weather or in locations that don’t get much light. These kinds of environments can often be challenging to shoot and produce interesting shots, so Cinestill 800T may provide that extra element to make things interesting.
One of the only downsides to Cinestill 800T is that it’s quite expensive so you wouldn’t really want to shoot regularly with this film stock unless you’re made of money.
Kodak Portra 400
Kodak Portra 400 is arguably the best film stock for street photography in colour. Portra 400 is a brilliant all-rounder with its 400 ISO, meaning that you can usually shoot in all kinds of light situations and environments. It also delivers consistent and brilliant shots with even exposure and superfine grain.
A lot of famous photographers of all styles used Kodak Portra 400 because it’s so reliable and such good quality.
The only drawback to this film stock is that it’s now a lot more expensive so using something like Kodak Portra 160 (If you’re in good light) could be a great alternative because it’s cheaper.
What Are The Best Black And White Film Stocks For Street Photography
Ilford HP5 is a great 400 ISO standard black and white film stock, this film stock is affordable, has a great film speed that will allow you to capture movement more easily and doesn’t have too much grain.
Ilford HP5 will capture nice tones and allow you to shoot more freely as the cost isn’t as high.
Kodak 400 Tri-X
Kodak 400 Tri-X is one of the best black and white film stocks available and most street photographers that shoot black and white will shoot with this film stock. This has a great 400 ISO film speed meaning you’ll be able to catch movement more easily, fine grain so your images won’t be ruined by grainn and brilliant tones.
This stock is widely acknowledged as one of the best black and white stocks available and that is reflected in the price as it is one of the most expensive black and white film stocks, but it’s still much cheaper than most colour film stocks.