Film Tips

This info is many years old, but perhaps still useful for some! It's a long time since I used any of these..

Finding good astrophotography films is tedious, especially when you have only a limited number of nights and don't want to risk them trying new films. Below are some of my thoughts on films I have used.

However, film manufacturers are constantly changing their emulsions sometimes without warning or any sign of change in the packaging, and the same films can be branded differently depending on your country. Other times they substantially change the packaging and marketing without the film changing at all. The year in brackets is approximately the last time I used each film. In general, these comments are regarding deep sky photography.

Fuji Provia 400F (2003)

This is a great transparency film for aurora and deep sky astrophotography and is my current favourite. Provia 100F is probably a great finer grained choice, but for aurora I have opted for the faster version to try and freeze their motion.

Kodak Ektachrome 200 (2003)

E200, sold in consumer stores as Elite Chrome II 200, although I think this is currently being rebranded in the UK. This is an excellent transparency film for astrophotography and certainly one of my recent favourites. Neutral colour cast in long exposures and excellent red sensitivity. Hydrogen alpha emmissions do tend to appear a bright, almost fluorescent red which can be a little unnatural. The ISO 100 film in this range is also good although I have not used it as much.

Fuji Superia 800 (2003)

This film is well known as an excellent high speed film for astrophotography. It also records beautiful reds and greens from aurora. Sold in professional stores as Super G+ 800.

Fuji Superia 400 (2000)

This is a decent print film for astrophotography, replacing Kodak Gold as a good starter film for astrophotography. It has neutral colour cast, although tends to a slightly washed out grey looking background in many photos i have taken with this film. This film and Fuji Superia 800 are renowned as sharp films for their high ISO rating, although I have not really critically examined this aspect myself. Previously sold in professional stores as Super G+ 400.

Kodak Multispeed PJM 640 (1999)

This is a great film I used quite a lot from around 1997 - 2000. It had excellent red sensitivity with very natural reds although it tended to a have red/magenta colour cast. I have not seen this film available recently and do not know if there is a new film which is similar.

Kodak Gold 400 (~2000)

This is Kodak's standard consumer film and possibly the highest selling film in Australia and the UK. However, this film has undergone changes over the years which have seen it go from an excellent low end film for astrophotography to a complete dud. Around 2000, this film changed from generation 5 to 6 (you might be able to find a little white box on the roll of film indicating the generation number). The generation 5 version of Kodak Gold was a good basic film to use when getting started in astrophotography. It had good red sensitivity although it tended to a brownish colour cast which made things appear a bit murky in longer exposures. All this changed when Kodak released generation six of this film. My first roll showed that a huge change had occured for astrophotographers, even though most consumers would probably have noticed no difference in their happy snaps. Astrophotos were a strong green cast, stars and nebulae appeared green. Even the Orion Nebula did not show even a hint of red. I have hardly used this film since.

Fuji Velvia 50 (1999)

This is one of the most common transparency films used by professional photographers. However, it's performance for astrophotography is similar to that of Kodak Gold 400. Stars, Nebulae and the background all appear strongly green. I will not be using this film for astrophotography either.

Fuji Sensia 400 (1999)

This film is similar to Fuji Velvia 50 in it's performance for astrophotography, althought the colour cast in this case has a stronger hint of cyan.