what film brands are still available
As of March of 2016, if you want to purchase new film, there are three companies' products which are the most common and easiest to find. Here is a quick-and-dirty guide to get you started, so that you have a basic understanding of what the different options mean.Shot on Kodak Ektar
Kodak is the big American name in film production. For color film, you will find the vivid colors in Ektar, and more nuanced colors in Portra. Kodak also makes a cheap, consumer line of film, with brand names like "Gold" and "Ultramax". These will have bright colors and will be easy to use, but will have more grain in the images.
For black and white films, you'll find Tri-X and T-Max. Film nerds will expound at length about the differences between these films, but if you're just starting, you won't notice a difference. You will also find BW400CN, which can be developed in chemistry made for color films. If you're sending to a professional lab, this won't matter to you, but if you're developing at home it will.Shot on Fujifilm Velvia 50
Fujifilm is the big name in Japanese film. Their color options include Fuji Pro, which is a versatile and traditional negative film, and Provia and Velvia, the last two hold-outs from the era of slide films. A "slide film" works the same in the camera, but the film develops into a positive image (not a negative). This uses different chemistry, so it will be more expensive to purchase and develop, but the resulting images can be amazing enough to warrant the cost. Provia is neutral in color intensity whereas Velvia has high color intensity.
Fujifilm's cheap competitor with Kodak Gold is called names like Superia, Super HQ, and X-TRA. Same as with Gold, it is a cheap and easy film to shoot with, but expect more grain in your photos. And finally, Fujifilm's sole black-and-white film is Neopan or ACROS, two different names for what is now the same film.Shot on Ilford PanF+
Ilford is making a name for themselves in the hobbyist film arena. They're a British firm and produce only black-and-white films, and as such, there's some neat variety in their lineup. Delta is the standard lineup, HP5+ is easy, and FP4+ is easy. There are differences between the three, but they're subtle and won't make a difference to newcomers. They also make Pan F+, which is my favorite because of it's slow speed, and XP2 Super, which is comparable to Kodak's BW400CN.