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Show HN: Filmtypes – Explore the world of analog film (filmtypes.com)
38 points by rylax on Sept 3, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 61 comments

Wow. Thanks for making this! As an analog photographer, this is what I've been looking for. I've bookmarked it for future reference.

Here are some points I noticed (no dealbreakers):

- On the landing page, it would be nice to be able to simply scroll down to see some content. Now the call-to-action button is there but why not show the main content below the "hero" image?

- On the page with the film rolls: would be nice to have the specs of the film rolls on this page if you hover over a particular roll. E.g. replace the image of the roll with the technical specs. If not the technical specs, then at least the short description that you have on their individual pages.

- The pages for a specific film roll are tagged (e.g. "street", "General purpose", etc.) but they are not clickable. It would be nice to click on the tags and see what other film rolls are available with that tag.

- For the example images: add arrow-key navigation (I noticed Esc key works, which is nice)

- Not all pictures scale to full screen (e.g. the first image here https://filmtypes.com/films/ilford-delta-100). Is the resolution too low of the original image?

- I realize you want feedback, but the chatbox in the lower left (edit: lower right) annoys me a bit. It is easy to dismiss with a large X to close, so it boils down to personal preference. Have you gotten good feedback from it? If not, maybe consider making your feedback email address more prominent.

edit to add:

- Consider making an "info" icon and place it next to "Specs" on each individual film roll page. When clicked, a small pop-up can be shown that explains what you mean by contrast, color tone etc.

Thank you so much for the feedback. Absolutely appreciate it!

You are spot on with your feature requests and assumptions. I had the clickable tag feature in mind but the others are new and really valuable!

Also a good point with the feedback chatbox. I did get some feedback but in contrast to how annoying/prominent it actually is I will adjust it. I checked some sessions on hotjar and basically everyones first action is to dismiss the chatbox. I guess it makes much more sense on dedicated locations.

What's the deal with the tags? There's really nothing that makes a given film good or bad for "street" photography, for example. I also don't really understand the "nature" tag. What are these tags meant to imply about the film?

The tags serve as an additional way of showing what the given film is used for the most. It does not indicate if it is good or bad.

This is pretty rad. I considered making something similar for lens comparisons. I always use the "customer photos" sections on Amazon or B&H. It'd be a good way to make some affiliate cash, if you had a similar setup as this, but included affiliate link. Maybe your next lateral move. :)

For example photos by lens type, see https://pixelpeeper.com/ and https://www.flickriver.com/lenses/

For examples by camera type, see https://www.flickr.com/cameras

Thanks! Yeah good idea. The basic concept is easily portable to other niches. I have actually setup affiliate links. However, as of now I really do not believe in affiliate as a way of monetization. For me, it seems users will rarely click on such links. Furthermore, amz commission is also fairly low if you ask me. I am always open for tips and tricks tho! :)

This is a really fun and great site! The resurgence of popularity with analog processes is exciting. While I've been fortunate to have grown up around film (and through the consumer switch to digital) I know the learning curve is much more difficult for those getting into it now.

Personally I view it as a fantastic alternative to both the process of taking photos and the results. I really enjoy working with mechanical cameras and really "seeing" a photo in my minds eye before I capture a scene in reality - a discipline that I find more difficult to practice with digital workflows. Something peaceful and soul feeding about having only a handful of potential photographs (say three 4x5 film holders on a day hike) which forces you to really slow down and focus on each shot.

I think this is a neat idea and has some valuable information in it, except for the images. I've been working with film for a long time. I've shot a ridiculous number of films from 35mm to 4x5, scanned them on everything from roll-film scanners to Flextight to drum scanners, and printed on many different papers. My conclusion after going really deep down this rabbit hole is that, except for a very small number of films with really unique characteristics (most of them no longer made), you just can't tell much of anything from a digital image because of the lack of standardization across:

A) Setting/Exposure

B) Film Developer

C) Scanner/calibration/profile

D) Whether the image is a film scan or a print scan

I waited for this comment for quite a while, hah. Yes, I agree with you on those assumptions to the most extent! It is really difficult to find out the exact characteristics given only the photos since the outcome can be altered by so many factors.

However, even though I was aware of this - I still tended to look at example photos on tumblr because at least from my experience the sum of all viewed images do give you a good overview imho.

The reason why I handpicked the first six photos by hand is actually because of this. When picking the images I tried to pick the ones that most match with the given characteristic. Off course it is still a very subjective matter.

I think at the end of the day, the right conclusion is that an image is exemplary of the process used to create it. If you agree with that, then I hope you'll consider including information about the process along with the image. Without that context, I don't think you can reasonably attribute a "look" to the film itself. Minimally, I think you'd need to know:

A) What's the film format/size?

B) Was it shot and processed normally? (i.e. not pushed, pulled, cross-processed, or developed with a staining developer)

C) Is this image a scan of a negative or a scan of a print?

Well, while this approach would make it much clearer it is unfortunately also very unfeasible to do. Neither a photo api would give those details nor would it be possible to aggregate all those information by hand for each film. Thanks for your input!

After a few years in the digital photography, what I miss the most is the quality of my B&W photo done with my second-hand Nikon F5!

I'm thinking of using that again but I fear the lack of film in shops and the lack of a good labo to develop my pictures...

Most decent size cities will still have labs, and there’s always the option to develop by mail.

If you still have the F5 and want to do B&W, pick up a roll of Ilford SFX. It’s easier to find a lab that processes C-41 chemistry than anything else, and it’s easier to scan than traditional B&W.

In what way is it easier to scan? Every scanner has settings for both black and white and color neg. Plus, scanning "black and white" shot on C41 introduces a host of issues into post-processing.

C-41 is easier to scan because you can use IR cleaning with C-41. This technique is impossible with traditional B&W film.

> Every scanner has settings for both black and white and color neg.

The fact that your scanner “has a setting” just means that people want to use the scanner for this purpose. It does not inform you which alternative you should choose.

> Plus, scanning "black and white" shot on C41 introduces a host of issues into post-processing.

I can't imagine even one issue in post-processing. Once you scan it the film, you get a monochrome image. With C-41, the post-processing is easier because you don't have to do as much manual cleanup (due to IR cleaning, above).

Speaking as someone who has an entire shelf dedicated to binders of film—B&W is much worse to scan than C-41. I personally shoot mostly traditional B&W but I recognize that my use case is different from most.

Suffice it to say I disagree, but even if what you're saying is true, I don't really see it as a good enough reason to shoot black and white on C-41 film.

Ok, I guess it's okay for you to disagree but it would be nice if you articulated the reasons for your disagreement, if you’re going to bother replying.

Personally I prefer to shoot B&W over monochrome C-41, but if you are not sure how much effort you want to spend on film and are going to scan, then it makes sense to go C-41.

Looking back over this I'm actually not sure we're talking about the same film. I like SFX a lot. It's a traditional black and white film (in terms of development chemistry, there's no mention of C-41 chemistry on the technical sheet). Did you mean XP2?

Anyway, here's my take on "black and white" C-41 films: I just don't see the point. Traditional black and white film is a beautiful thing. From an aesthetic and technical standpoint it's far and away better than C-41. The only advantage C-41 has is the ability to drop it off at a corner lab, and those are becoming more rare by the day. I'd much rather just shoot a high quality true color negative film and convert it. I don't do that very often but I'd be kind of surprised if you couldn't get a better looking image from converting, say, Portra, than shooting a "black and white" color negative film. Every time I've tried films like XP2 an whatever the Kodak equivalent was, the results have been resoundingly underwhelming.

I still have it ! Thanks for the advice on the ilford SFX[1]

[1] https://filmtypes.com/films/ilford-sfx-200

Whoops: I was wrong! Ilford XP2 super is the one I meant! SFX is B&W process, XP2 super is C-41.

processing b&w film at home doesn't require a lot of space. A tank and a dark box to load it are all you need. And it's _way_ cheaper than a lab.

And if you get into stand development, you're only using 5mL of Rodinal per roll... and instead of agitation every 30 seconds for 10 minutes, you just agitate when you add the developer and let it sit for an hour, maybe agitating once halfway through.

+1 what all above said. I myself self develop b/w and sometimes even C41 which is much easier than everyone talks/write about. The only problem with self-development imho is if you want to digitalize it. I have an Epson V500 scanner which is fine for b/w but almost useless for color. Labs tend to have much better scanners and experience in removing the color layers etc.

Yeah, I have a V550 and it's a pain to use. Slow to load, slow to scan, and dust is incredibly apparent. Then you have to go through and process the negatives. I honestly prefer wet printing with the enlarger; once you've got the baths set up, it's quicker per image than scanning & processing!

I've got a V750 and these days I can get a better scan with my Nikon D850 and a good macro lens.

I don't know if I'd say hand-printing is faster, but I guess it depends on how fussy you are about prints. I mean, you've got to do your test prints, your 'straight' print, then figure out your dodging and burning, though once you've got a good print then making copies is fairly straightforward. But oh man, paper is expensive these days.

... and much more rewarding to say at least!

Rodinal is always worth keeping around because it lasts practically forever, which makes it great for occasional use.

When I first got into film photography, I had a hard time figuring out which film stocks I should shoot. The beauty of film is that each emulsion has its very own characteristics which make it stand apart from the others.

While scrolling through endless blog articles and example photos on tumblr (which took me ages) I decided to aggregate the most useful data, pick the six most fitting example photos by hand (yes by hand) and create a place for you to easily explore the beautiful variety of analog film.

The tech stack is a nuxt static generated site hosted on firebase.

Really cool, see a few missing film types (Superia 800 and 1600, Cinestill 800T/Vision3 500T) would also be really interesting if there was listings for cross-processing, especially of slide film in C-41. Each stock has its own set of casts and color crossing and it can be pretty difficult to figure out what that is for each film stock.

Also completely unknown how you'd do it, but giving any kind of data for pushing the B/W films would be really interesting too

Thanks! I will take a look at it!

This is very cool.

I have a question for the community. A few years back I stumbled on a website that had really cheap prices for film, near but not expired. $2 (or $1?) for a roll of 24 run of the mill Kodak-200. I bought a dozen various rolls and I've now run out. I think it might have been one of the three big photo shops (Adorama, ect)

Where do you buy film cheaply?

I live in Portland, and eBay and Craigslist are the best ways I’ve found to get cheap film, either because someone’s done shooting film, or because it’s old and expired. Blue Moon Camera, in St. John’s, also sells expired film in a mixed basket. I would trust their stock.

You have to be very careful with old Polaroid film. It’s common to get ripped off. Unless you can test expired Polaroid film, it is risky to buy. I’m talking about old stuff, like before 2000/2010. I bought two packs of 4x5 Polaroid film. One dried up, the other still seems usable.

In my experience, shooting old 35mm film is perfectly fine, but different stocks will have different degradation. And depending on the color shifts or type of work you shoot, some expired film will look better.

Experiment with some different films at different expiration dates.

I’ve found that older film requires more light. Otherwise, everything is lost in shadow and grain.

Buy bulk on eBay and load your own canisters if you want super cheap.

I get my film from Freestyle Photo, but that's non-expired stuff and it starts at about $4.50/roll for their house-brand (rebranded Foma) B&W, in either 35mm or 120.

Great project! There are lots of resources online for analog photography but few are clean, simple, well designed, etc. – nice work. Also, it's a great demonstration of static site / "JAM stack" technology (Nuxt + Flicker API + Firebase). A simple setup leaves more time to spend crafting a polished experience.

I could not put it into better words :) Thanks!

Are you trying to keep it to just currently available films? I think Fuji Neopan films are discontinued, but rumors of its return have been floated. Likewise Ilford doesn't list Pan 100 and Pan 400 on its website. And of course, Agfa APX 100 has been out of production for years, but old stock still floats around.

As of now, I am trying to list all the film stocks that are currently still available/still floating around. I will take a closer look at the actuality of the films.

This is definitely a good start and I look forward to seeing it grow. The example photos section is nice, it tells you more than the spec sheet can about how it will look.

Why use positive but not chrome for the film type? It really takes me a few seconds and several scrolls to make sure what the positive means.

Thanks for the hint! You are right. Positive made sense to me but actually slide or chrome film is much more common and easily understandable.

But not all positives are chromes. Some copy films produce interpositives, for example. Or like Scala-- is/was it a chrome? I'm not sure, tbh.

It be great if you added 120 film as well, and if the amazon links showed if the film was actually in stock, which is often an issue...

You could always check B&H or Freestyle, they have pretty much everything.

Oh and filtering by ISO 1000 return ISO 100 as well

Thanks for the bug hint! I currently undecided on how I want to implement different film sizes. As of now each film shows in the details section the other available formats and I might make them filterable. Most of 120 films are also available as 35mm but I am aware of some exceptions. What do you think?

Adding it as a filter would be fine: some of the other info in the sidebar could be useful as filters as well, like the use cases. Also, comment from a friend who is more pro than me would be to add reciprocity compensation information.

Love it. Those are actually also on my feature roadmap! :)

I only have vague memories of shooting with film, with permissions from elder members of the family. Browsing through the photographs, I couldn't help but get somewhat nostalgic.

Just a small suggestion, you could remove the "Explore Now" button on the homepage, and take visitors straight to the films.

Happy to hear that I could revive some memories!

This is so cool! Man I really miss developing B&W film in a darkroom in high school. Probably super toxic but man was it fun.

It was toxic a hundred years ago. There have been vast improvements in safety over the years.

True that. Unless you try to drink from the trays you should be pretty fine.

I love this site - would you share the details about the technology behind it? What's it written in, database, etc?

Thanks! Sure. Actually @katabasis summed it up perfectly: "... Also, it's a great demonstration of static site / "JAM stack" technology (Nuxt + Flicker API + Firebase). A simple setup leaves more time to spend crafting a polished experience."

Additionally, I am also using youtube's api for the videos and an airtable sheet where I store all the information about the films. When I update the airtable sheet it automatically updates firebase and generates the static site from nuxt. I could probably also use the airtable api but I have not looked into it yet.

Thanks for sharing, I really love it.

nice clean presentation. Where are you sourcing your images from? Also, based on the samples I looked at, it would be nice to have larger images.

thanks, I will take a look at it! I am sourcing CC BY 2.0 images from the flickr api.

I'm assuming that you are querying tags to find the images? I did notice a image that shows up under "Kodak Gold 200", but when you visit the flickr page it is clearly "Kodak Colorplus 200" (yes apparently they are different film stocks.) Unfortunately there is limited consistency in tagging film stocks.

Yes, that's right. The querying based on tags has its limitations considering the consistency. Some people even post b/w pictures and take color films. I have currently not found a better way to query it but I will def think about it.

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