We asked some long-time film-shooting B&H experts and B&H Creators: What is your favorite film/camera combination? Below are their answers and their photos.
Don’t forget to check out the B&H Used Department, where you might be able to grab some of the cameras mentioned below!
Allan Weitz, B&H — @allanweitz
“If I were to be limited to one camera and lens for eternity—film or digital—the camera would have to be a Hasselblad Superwide SWC with Kodak Tri-X 400. The camera is built like a Swiss watch (but far tougher) and balances perfectly in the hand. It was designed by Victor Hasselblad in the early 1950s specifically as a camera for the new Zeiss 38mm f/4.5 Biogon—a lens too wide (90-degree AoV) for any existing camera at the time. The lens is incredibly sharp, and so distortion-free you can use the Superwide as a copy camera. The best part of the photos is that even though they are extremely wide-angle, they never look it. Fun fact: Almost every SWC Superwide produced in the 1970s and ’80s was hand-assembled by a Hasselblad technician named Florence.”
Ange Fitzgerald, B&H — @angelinashoots
“My current favorite camera/film combo is my iPhone and FUJIFILM INSTAX Mini Film, using the INSTAX Mini Link Smartphone Printer that prints pictures from my phone. Love that I am finally able to print out all my favorite iPhone pictures on cute INSTAX Mini Film!”
Berty and Emily Mandagie, B&H Creatives — @themandagies
“Our favorite film camera + film combo is the Leica M6 with Kodak Portra 800 film. As travel photographers, Portra 800 is a versatile film that can be flexible in a variety of light settings, which is essential for capturing life outdoors. The Leica M6 is a reliable mechanical camera (we don't have to worry about dying batteries), has a small body, and provides high-quality images for an enjoyable shooting experience!”
Bjorn Petersen, B&H
“I really can't shake how cool the Kyocera/Yashica Samurai X3.0 is. It's a half-frame 35mm camera, looks like what you imagine when someone says "camcorder," and it's just so handy with its zoom and super-comfortable handgrip. And for film... I could care less. T-Max 400 is my favorite, but shooting color film is obligatory with this camera, so I choose Portra 400 or Gold—whichever I see first in my fridge.”
Brent Eysler, B&H — @brent_eysler
“My Leica M6 with Bergger 400 Pancro is my favorite combo for walking around the streets. I love the range and deep blacks that I can get out of this film—it’s got higher silver content than most of the revamped film stocks on the market today, and has a really classic look I enjoy.
“I love shooting with my Widelux, but it’s a camera with extreme limitations. The Widelux F6B has a fixed focus distance, no light meter, and only a handful of aperture and shutter speed options; for that reason I've discovered that T-Max 3200 and a set of ND filters gives me the versatility to overcome some of those limitations and shoot all day and night.”
Chris Ayala, B&H Creative — @raptographer
“My favorite camera is the Asahi Pentax SL, and I love using Portra 160 and 800 with it for photos that capture life in its most genuine essence. It creates a feeling of tangible moments, frozen in time. Film allows me to connect with the realistic, gritty version of reality and relive those memories all over again.”
Christopher Pierantoni, B&H Creative — @sokrispy
“My favorite film camera would have to be the Mamiya RZ67, and as for the film I definitely have to go with Kodak Portra 400 120. Although it's not the easiest to walk around with as most people complain about, it is more than worth the trouble when it comes to the quality and satisfaction you get from the photos. Its ability to capture the smallest details puts it above a lot of my film cameras, along with the fact that it's a medium format and has constant configurations and lenses. I love to use it for portraits but some of my favorite shots have come from being on set and shooting from a distance, or on the move trying to capture a moment in time. I would highly suggest it to anyone looking to take that next step film-wise, and also looking to use a film camera for anything editorial.”
Chuck Capriola, B&H — @chuckxpics
“The simplicity of the Leica M6 is why I keep shooting with it, and the 28mm focal length matches my personal perspective for framing my images. The sharpness of the M lenses speaks for themselves.
“What kind of film? Today… whatever is in stock! But, generally FUJIFILM Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 400 color, which is easily processed, scans nicely, and I can make color or black-and-white images as desired. If desperate, Porta 400, although I’ve never liked the color.”
David Brommer, B&H — @suspectphotography
“I've been shooting for more than 30 years, and many films have come and gone. My all-time favorite combo was Kodak Tech Pan 25 ASA and the Contax 60mm 2.8 Macro Planar. The combo of Carl Zeiss glass and ultra-fine grain film (developed in Rodinol) may very well be the pinnacle in 35mm sharpness, as in the Sparks and Daniel photo.
“But alas, Tech Pan film is no longer made (I have two rolls in my fridge), so I've discovered a new pinnacle of photographic precision to shoot with, a Deardorff 8x10 with a Golden Dagor 8 1/4" lens, shooting Bergger BPF Pancro, as in the Normandy landscape photos.
“And, one last combo, vintage Canon FD glass has a certain milky look to it and mixed with Bergger Panchro, it really looks lovely. I recently shot this portrait of Captain Gass Wild on the streets of New York City,” as in the Gass Wild shots, scanned with Pacific Image Prime Film XAs super edition Film Scanner.
Eddie Bonnie, B&H — @thunderholga
“My favorite camera is my Shen Hao 4 x 5 film camera, and I used to love shooting it with FUJIFILM NPH 400 for the rich blues and greens that it would give. The combo would make for an excellent landscape configuration, although not the lightest.”
Gabriel Biderman, B&H — @ruinism
“I love shooting with unique film cameras. So many of them have features that inspire you to see the world in a new way. This week’s camera of choice is the Century Graflex 23, or more affectionately known as the Baby Graflex. It is a compact view camera that the ‘newsies’ used in the 1920s-’50s; however, instead of using 4 x 5, it uses the much more manageable 120 film backs. My Baby Graflex is from 1949, and I have a custom Rodenstock 90mm f2.8 lens on it, which is 1-2 stops faster than the kit lenses that typically came with it. Add tilt and shift movements to a fast lens and that opens a door to selective slices of focus and creativity. I match this with my favorite film, FUJIFILM Acros 100, which is incredibly smooth and fine-grained. It also has the best reciprocity failure for a black-and-white film—so I'm ready to shoot day and night!”
Jessica Foley, B&H Creative — @fauxly
“It's hard to pick my favorite film camera, but it would probably be my Mamiya RZ67. My film of choice is situational—CineStill 800T is fun, particularly at night, but Kodak Portra 400 is the most versatile and my go-to stock.”
Jill Waterman, B&H — @nightpix
“I'm a dedicated film shooter for my New Year's Eve Project, since my archive of negatives for this series dates back to 1984. My earliest photos were made with a Nikon FM, but I since upgraded to a Nikon F3 HP. I generally shoot black-and-white Ilford film, either Delta 400 or HP5, and develop using Ilford ID 11 at a dilution of 1:3. Since most of my images from this series are shot at night, I also use an antiquated flash setup, and recently started pairing that with a Magmod MagSphere diffuser, which I find to be very effective.”
John Harris, B&H — @jrockfoto
“AGFA Scala 200 film with my Canon T50 SLR. The T50 was my first SLR, I used it for 15 years, and it still works today. In 1998, when I started a project that I knew would likely damage the camera I was using, I dusted it off and shot with it using Scala black-and-white slide film, which to me was not only fine-grained and sharp but seemed forgiving when I overexposed... I think it had a touch of magic.”
Maxwell Swift, B&H Creative — @maxwellswift
“My favorite film camera is my Mamiya RZ67 Pro II with the Sekor 110mm F2.8 lens. The 110mm focal length on the 6 x 7 format is perfect for portraiture and the 2.8 aperture allows me to get that unreal depth of field when I want it. I find myself shooting mostly Portra 400 and Portra 800 (depending on lighting conditions). In my opinion, I really love the softness and overall color rendition of 400, but lately I've been shooting 800 indoors due to the winter conditions, and the more saturated colors are starting to grow on me.”
Maya Vincic, B&H Creative — @jive
“My favorite camera+film combo is currently the Hasselblad Xpan and FUJIFILM Superia. The Xpan shoots extended 24 x 65mm panoramic frames, but it can also shoot conventional 24 x 36mm on the same roll of film. These wide panoramic shots are fun to integrate into street photography, and it really forces you to be more cognizant of what is around your subject. The camera demands that you rethink all of your framing. It's a fun, reliable camera, and the lens on it is SHARP. The parallax focus frame lines are incredibly bright, which is also very helpful while trying to get that quick focus for a shot. FUJIFILM Superia is often skipped over for the more-expensive Kodak Portra, but I will continue to show Superia the love it deserves. It is a versatile, daylight balanced film that won't hurt your pockets. It's very forgiving if you mis-meter the light. It gives consistent results, vivid colors, saturated skin tones, and a blueish-green tone in the shadows.”
Oveck Reyes, B&H Creative — @oveck
“My favorite film camera is the Leica M7 combined with any M-mount lenses from Leica and Voigtländer, 35mm to 90mm. The Leica M7 is such a beautifully crafted camera; small enough to make myself incognito when shooting street photography and not intimidating when shooting portraits. The wide or telephoto plus the fast aperture that M-mount lenses offer give a fantastic look and feel to my images, especially when using vintage glass.”
“I have two of my absolute favorite combos: Hasselblad 500cm + FUJIFILM PRO 400H, which is my pro setup; and Olympus stylus + CineStill 800T, my “fun and wild” setup.
“Hasselblad and FUJIFILM Pro400H is my favorite combo for shooting portraits on the street. The sharpness from the Hasselblad 80mm/f2.8 lens combined with the PRO 400H’s candy-like colors creates a unique look to the photographs. The reason I chose FUJIFILM over Kodak in this setup is because I found FUJIFILM is more versatile on different skin tones. In a city like New York, having a diverse group of subjects is my goal, and FUJIFILM PRO 400H does it splendidly! (The red tone is more pronounced in darker skin tones, which makes them look healthier and more true-to-life. Very sad that this stock is discontinued.) However, I could use this film stock with any camera—but why the Hasselblad? The reason for it is simple: it’s a conversation starter. Even though I take photos on the street, my portrait style isn’t the typical ‘street photography.’ I like to have a conversation with the person I’m photographing. Having a camera that stands out helps me to connect with them. In addition, the Hasselblad is known to be a studio camera, the challenge of shooting it on-the-go adds more value and story to my work, and it inspires me to shoot more every day.”
“I made a YouTube video about the Olympus + CineStill pictures, just talking about this combo and why it works. The Hassie and FUJIFILM is my everyday standard, most of my elderly portraits were made on that combo.
“One of my close friends, who is also a film photographer, encouraged me to load some good film/specialty film in a point-and-shoot camera, so I did. I loaded a roll of CineStill 800T into my Olympus Stylus and went out to shoot a whole roll during the last snowstorm in New York City. The results are eye-opening! The simplicity of a point-and-shoot allows me to catch brief moments and only focus on the composition. The camera itself meters the best setting for the box speed of the film, so you are going to get the most accurate ‘look’ from the stock you are using. For CineStill, I was looking for tungsten light or white light to create the halation effect that this film is known for. I used a lot of flash while shooting in the snow, which is another thing I love about point-and-shoot. The flash creates this rough and cheap look to the photographs that you simply can’t achieve on a medium format camera.
“Having two very different setups like these is super fun for me! It refreshes my workflow and challenges me to always be on the lookout for something new. It’s almost like having an expensive steakhouse meal vs. a Shake Shack ’burger! They are essentially the same, but also completely different. I can’t have only one forever, I’d eventually be tired of it. I needed to switch over often to cleanse my palate. Excuse my poor analogy!”
Thomas Simms — B&H
“I was just thinking about it the other day, looking at some old photos. The super-wide Voigtländer Bessa L with 15mm lens using super-fast Ilford Delta 3200 film captures locations at night with great contrast and sharpness for a true black-and-white image that’s hard to match with digital.”
Vilson Lleshaj, B&H — @vilsonlleshajphoto
“I’ve been using the Rollei 6008 with a 180mm f2.8 lens a lot lately for portraits, and a Hasselblad 503CW with 50mm or 100mm lenses for landscapes and/or cityscapes; both with FUJIFILM ACROS 100 film.”
Todd Vorenkamp, B&H (the Author) — @trvphoto
Although I love shooting my “vintage” Nikon FM3a, I have a special relationship with my Nikon N6006 and the hundreds of rolls of Kodak Gold 200 that went through it. I never really thought about trying different films until I worked at B&H and have enjoyed Kodak Portra 400 since being introduced to it, but the N6006 never really saw anything but Gold 200 until I ran a roll of Portra through it… ending with a broken film door.
What are your favorite camera and film combinations? Share your experiences in the Comments section, below.