Best Film for the Nikon EL
The best film to use in your Nikon EL will depend on the available light, lens, and if you want to shoot color or black & white.
To prevent having to lug around a flash or tripod, get a film that has an ISO of 400 or faster.
If you want to take pictures in low light, such as inside, ensure you are using a fast lens. For lens suggestions have a look at my guide on the 5 Best Lenses for the Nikon EL.
Kodak UltraMax 400 - This film can be used in a plethora of lighting conditions and is a fantastic pick for a 35mm color film. Using this film you should have the ability to handhold the EL in the vast majority of scenarios.
The images will have very good colors and tend to be on the warm side.
Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Depending on your location, this film might have greater availability. It is a top quality alternative to Kodak.
Compared to Kodak, Fujifilm appears to be a small amount cooler with notable blues and greens.
Lomography 800 - You’re limited to a few offerings if you want a color ISO 800 film. This happens to be the only 35mm film emulsion targeted towards consumers.
Lomography 800 can also be found in the 120 film format, for use in medium format cameras.
Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film emulsion that debuted in the mid-1980s. Kodak Gold 200 provides the look and feel of home snapshots from the 80s and 1990s. For the authentic shooting experience have a flash.
To really bring the best look out of this film, you’ll have to over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will ensure that you get the striking colors everyone loves Kodak Gold for.
Kodak Portra 400 - By far the most popular color negative film among film shooting enthusiasts online. Overexpose Portra 400 by 1 or 2-stops to get the style the film is highly regarded for.
Portra is also sold in ISO 800 and 160 versions. As well as in rolls of 120, 4x5 sheets, and 8x10 sheets.
With low costs and very good very popular to use in the Nikon EL.
The main appeal for budget minded photographers and photography students is the low cost. Even if you wouldn’t put yourself in that group, it’s good to have inexpensive rolls of 35 film on hand for trying out recently purchased camera gear.
Kentmere 400 - It’s made by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is notable considering that allows this to be the most widely sold B&W film out of the three.
Foma Fomapan 400 Action - Will be less difficult to purchase in Europe as the film is manufactured by Foma Bohemia inside of the Czech Republic.
A decent film to choose for your initial few attempts at analog photography or home developing. Also a good choice if you are looking to try out a camera to ensure that it’s functioning correctly.
Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - The best place to get this film is straight from Ultrafine.
They manufacture chemical developer kits for color film, so if you develop film at home you could have already interacted with them.
Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 are the two top selling black and white 35mm films. While they both possess unique styles, they do have a large amount of qualities that are equivalent that makes them so well liked.
Both film stocks can be pushed 2 stops and deliver excellent results. A 35mm roll of film can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them very versatile.
Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The primary differences are that HP5 Plus is cheaper and has lower levels of contrast in comparison to Tri-X. Lower levels of contrast can be helpful due to the fact contrast can be adjusted when making a print or editing digitally.
The film stock has subtle grain and still looks good when pushed 2-stops.
Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film emulsion has a more distinctive style to it. To reveal the legendary grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it should be processed in D-76.
Kodak Tri-X 400 unquestionably has far more contrast. That is helpful if that is the look and feel you want because it involves substantially less work when printmaking or through digital post processing.
Transparency film, also known as reversal or slide film, provides a positive image. That means a projector or lightbox can be used to display the pictures.
This is unique from the more readily available negative film stocks that produce pictures that require the colors to be inverted in order to be viewed.
Slide films are viewed as difficult to work with because slide film has much less latitude and dynamic range than negative film.
Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a fine grain film known for beautiful skin tones. There is not any hypersaturation of colors. The film has a daylight color balance.
Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Offers special looking images that have increased amounts of contrast and saturation. It is razor-sharp and color balanced for daylight. It has the highest resolving power of any available slide film emulsion.
There’s another speed with an ISO of 100.
Fujichrome Provia 100F - Creates vibrant and natural colors with medium color saturation and contrast. It has a daylight color balance and ultra fine grain.
Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white reversal film, noted by Fomapan as having high resolving power, increased contrast, and very fine grain. It is also regarded as a replacement for the discontinued Agfa Scala film emulsion.
Pro films cost more because they have a greater dynamic range, are easier to push, and larger latitude.
There’s a big difference in business that sell rolls of film. Consumer film stocks can more often than not be obtained from pharmacies and big-box stores in small quantities. Professional film will need to be purchased from a online or specialized photography store.
A film’s sensitivity to light is represented by the ISO.
The bigger the film’s ISO, the less light is needed to get a frame. This comes at the cost of more film grain.
ISO 100 and slower films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc) might be tough to shoot handheld in the EL. The will probably take longer will take more time than what you can handhold without producing motion blur unless you’re shooting in full sun.
A tripod, a fast lens, and/or a flash will assist you with longer shutter speeds. Using a high speed ISO 400 or ISO 800 film probably will make the additional accessories not needed.
The ISO dial is labeled as ASA on the Nikon EL. The move to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) came after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).
Film latitude is the range of stops a film can be overexposed while maintaining adequate photographs. Pro film stocks have a larger latitude paired with a somewhat increased cost.
Negative film has a greater amount of latitude compared to slide film. That is a reason it’s deemed to be harder to work with.
The difference between the brightest and darkest parts of a photograph is referred to as dynamic range. Sections of a photo that do not fit within this range will appear as completely black underexposed shadows or completely white overexposed highlights.
A larger dynamic range is preferable given that a bigger range helps make shooting in varied lighting conditions easier.
- Digital cameras 14+ stops
- Negative film up to 13 stops
- Slide film 6-8 stops
Reversal film is considered challenging to shoot because of the limited dynamic range. A fantastic time to try it out would be during the golden hour.
The Nikon EL takes 35mm film that comes in metal canisters. It is also the most commonly used film format and sometimes called 135 film.
120 or 220 film, used in medium format cameras, is the only other film format you are probably going to see}.
Swapping the film stock you are using will alter the look of your shots. This is an example of the marvelous things about shooting film.
All available 35mm film made these days has DX encoding. This lets electronically controlled cameras to automatically detect and set the ISO of the canister loaded into the camera.
ASA (ISO) on the Nikon EL is required to be manually set. For that reason DX-coding does not make a difference.
There are limited possibilities for where to get 35mm film developed. For a more in depth explanation of the choices take a look at my guide on Where to Develop Film.
WARNING: Film does not get processed locally at big box stores and pharmacies. They ship film off to be developed by a separate company. As a result, you will not receive your developed negatives back.
- Develop Film at Home
- Use a Local Photography Lab
- Use a Mail Order Photo Lab
- Pharmacy or Big Box Store
Shipping film to a mail-order lab to be processed and scanned is the easiest option if you’re just starting to shoot film. A downside to this is that it can become very expensive if you consistently use film.
There are a few things that you are able to do to minimize the expenses involved in using film, if you’re shooting a moderate to high volume of film.
Ordering a bulk roll of 100 feet of film and manually loading in into canisters yourself is among the ideal ways to lower your expenses.
A 100’ bulk roll of film can fill typically around 18 rolls of film with 36 exposures. Depending on the film stock you will probably save 20%-30%.
Bear in mind that you are only going to be able to buy 100’ rolls of black and white film. This is in part because black & white film is less difficult and more affordable to process yourself.
You can develop and digitize film yourself. It is a very good method to reduce costs so you can shoot more film with your Nikon EL.
Black & white film is by far the least complicated to process yourself. Developer temperature and time are both not as vital to get correct with black & white film as time and temperatures are for color negative or slide film.