It took me a while to get to shooting black and white comfortably. I started my film journey with color negative film. I never really felt like I was good enough to shoot black and white, since only serious film shooters worked with black and white. I felt like I couldn’t see a scene in black and white to properly frame a picture the right way.
Luckily, I got over it. I love shooting black and white now. I actually prefer it to shooting color negative films. Black and white has a feel to it that works well with the grain and what I think black and white photos should look like. Color, I get a little hung up if the picture is grainy. To much time shooting digital I think.
So my black and white film of choice is Ilford HP5+ 400(affiliate link). This film is one, cheap, so shooting a lot of it wont break the bank as you are learning how film and black and white shooting works. It also has a wide exposure latitude. So the film is really forgiving if you are off in your metering or if you meter the scene for the wrong levels. It also is best when “pushed” Pushing film is when you meter and shoot it at a setting that is higher than box speed. In most cases I shoot this film pushed to ISO 1600. Which overexposes the film by 2 stops (a stop is double whatever setting you have) Which makes the film great for shooting in lower light situations. Will it pull detail out of a dark scene like a digital camera might, no. But it does allow you some faster shutter speeds than you would be able to use at the lower 400 speed. Something to keep in mind, if you decided to push the film to 800, 1600, or even 3200 you will have to commit to that for the entire roll, or else things wont turn out correctly when the film is finally developed.
So go out and get you a couple of rolls of this versatile film and experiment. I am sure you will be as pleased with the results as I am.
All images were shot metered at 1600 in my Canon EOS Elan 7e with a 50mm f1.8