When I can't talk about photos I talk about gear. It's easier, and I need a bit of that right now.

This is most of the film that I had stockpiled before The All This started. I do also have some that's still in boxes, but this variety pack is my ready supply. My stock used to be in the freezer, before that appliance ran out of room, so now they're stashed in an old lunch cooler that's easier to fit in the fridge. I use a white paint pen to mark the lid, which helps here and is easier to identify the film type in the camera bag, too.

It's not important, but the lunch box has drawings of dancing robots on it. I got a lot of compliments on that at work.

I've been shooting film with enthusiasm for almost a year, but some of this stockpile is five times older than that. Here's the rundown of my full current inventory:

Eleven HP5 Plus, ten Fujifilm Acros II, seven Delta 3200.

Six Ortho 80 Plus, most marked with an "O" but one marked "80". I'm still not sure which is the clearer indication.

Three Cinestill BW, marked as XX as it's 135-spooled Kodak Double-X 5222 motion picture film.

Two each of XP2, FP4+, Delta 400, Portra 800, and Ektar 100 – one's expired.

One each of Portra 400, Delta 100, SFX 200, Pan F 50, and an expired Fuji 400H.

So that's 53 rolls on hand, not counting a few that are already loaded.


If I could only have one film it would be HP5, and if I could have a second type it would be Acros. When I only have a few rolls of these on hand then I'll buy another bulk pack, just like I do with household rolled paper products. That instinct has served me well so far.

Seven rolls is way too much Delta 3200 – for general use I'll just push HP5 to 800 or 1600; the only time I shoot D32 it's at EI1000 for photos of the kid. A few of those many rolls were for a cancelled trip to see her a couple of weekends ago, and the rest were to have on hand for the cancelled trip next weekend. So that sucks.

Ortho 80 is another film that I bought a brick of; I like it and in theory I'd like to use it for everything, but it's never my first choice when it's time to actually load the camera. It'll see more use when the weather improves, and I'm allowed to go outside again, I hope.

The three Cinestill rolls got me to the 'free shipping' threshold for a large NYC retailer, and the seventy-year-old formulation is intriguing. One will go in the rangefinder with the classic Nokton SC, and another will go in the F6 with the bitingly modern Sigma Art lens. After that the third roll will be the tiebreaker. Unless I'm blown away by it I won't order more, but I like the idea of shooting three times more Double-X than I ever have of Kodak Triple-X.

Of the rest the XP2 is the only film I have a specific plan for: it's going into the Harman Reloadable. That camera really needs the C41 forgiveness and the results don't merit hand-processing. The SFX and PanF 50 need specific – and opposite – weather, restricting them both. The others will be for times when I'm just looking for something different from the HP5 and Acros that I hope to spend most of my time with.


And in thinking about how I like to use the different film I completely forgot about the colour rolls. That's a fair assessment of my priorities.

So if I could only have three types of film the third would probably be Portra 800, which I'll confess that I haven't yet used. The few recent times when I've wanted colour film it has been the pastels of Portra 160 to match the winter light, not the punchier 800. But there's no denying the versatility of the faster film that can still be shot at 200 when needed, so I'll use it for the summer and fall if the lockdown is lifted by then.

I don't like Fuji 400H – nothing personal, it's just not for me – but I do like Ektar. Once these two rolls are gone I probably won't buy more, though. Instead I'll give E100 a try, and shoot an actual chrome film again. There's nothing quite like getting a strip of positive transparencies back from the lab, and the colour balance of Ektachrome would be fantastic for long exposures over water.