Best Film for the Nikon EL2
The best film to use in your Nikon EL2 should depend on your lens, lighting conditions, and type of film you want to shoot.
To avoid having to lug around a flash and/or tripod, choose a 35mm film that has an ISO of 400 or higher.
If you have a need to capture photographs in low light, such as inside, make sure you are using a fast lens. Read my short article on the 5 Best Lenses for the Nikon EL2 for recommendations.
Kodak UltraMax 400 - This film handles a multitude of lighting conditions well and is a good selection for a color 35mm film. The film is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the EL2 in just about all scenarios.
The photos will have extremely good skin tones and leans towards the warm side.
Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - A different option than Kodak that may have better availability depending on where you are in the world.
In comparison to to Kodak, Fujifilm appears to be a little cooler with an emphasis on blues and greens.
Lomography 800 - There are a few possibilities if you want an ISO 800 speed color film. This happens to be the only film geared towards consumers.
The emulsion is also for sale in the 120 film format, to be used with a medium format camera.
Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film emulsion that was launched in the mid-1980s. The film gives the look of family snapshots from the 1980s and 1990s. For the authentic experience have an on-camera flash.
Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to produce the most popular look the film has to offer. This will ensure that you get the outstanding colors everyone loves Kodak Gold 200 for.
Kodak Portra 400 - Among film enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is the top color film emulsion. Overexpose it by 1 or 2-stops to get the appearance the film is known for.
There’s also ISO 800 and 160 versions of Kodak Portra. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 film are also available.
Black and White Film
With affordable prices and excellent very popular to use in the Nikon EL2.
The biggest attraction for photography students and budget minded photographers is the competitive price. Even if you don’t put yourself in those groups, it is great to have low cost rolls of 35 film available for testing recently purchased used cameras.
Kentmere 400 - Produced by Harmon Technology, which is also the parent company of Ilford. This is good considering that allows this to be the most commonly available film out of the 3.
Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It will probably less difficult to get in Europe as the film is made in the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.
A suitable 35mm film to try for your first couple of attempts at home developing or analog photography. Also a good choice if you are testing out a camera to make sure that it is operating properly.
Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the lowest price by getting it directly from Ultrafine.
They make chemical developer kits for color film, so if you process film at home you may have previously done business with them.
The two most popular black and white film emulsions are Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400. While they both do have unique looks, they possess numerous qualities in common that help makes them popular.
You can create professional photos after pushing both emulsions 2-stops. A roll of film can be used at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them quite useful.
Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - Between the two films, HP5 Plus is less expensive and has less contrast. Lower levels of contrast can be an advantage because of the fact contrast can be changed when making a darkroom print or editing digitally.
The film stock has subdued grain and still looks excellent when pushed 2-stops.
Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film stock has got a stronger style. To reveal the traditional grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it should be developed in D-76.
Tri-X 400 certainly has considerably more contrast. That’s great if it happens to be the look you are after because it results in a great deal less work when through digital processing or making a print in the darkroom.
Transparency film, also known as reversal film or slide film, generates a positive picture. This means the pictures can be viewed with a light box or projector.
This is distinct from the more common negative film stocks that create pictures that need inverting the colors in order to be viewed.
Slide films have a lot less latitude and dynamic range than negative films and so they are perceived as challenging to shoot.
Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a fine grain film known for beautiful skin tones. There’s no hypersaturation of colors. It is daylight balanced.
Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Creates signature looking pictures that have increased amounts of contrast and saturation. It is razor-sharp with a daylight color balance. When compared to all the slide films available to buy, it has the highest resolving power.
An ISO 100 speed is also out there.
Fujichrome Provia 100F - Produces vivid and realistic colors with medium color saturation and contrast. It has a daylight color balance and ultrafine grain.
Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white reversal film, noted by Fomapan as having high resolving power, very fine grain, and increased levels of contrast. It’s also regarded as a substitute for the discontinued Agfa Scala Film Stock.
Consumer vs Professional Film
Professional film stock can more easily be pushed, have greater latitude, and dynamic range, which is the reason they will cost more.
There’s a disparity in where film can be purchased. Consumer film stocks can often be seen in pharmacies and big-box stores in limited quantities. Pro film needs to be bought from a online or photography store.
The ISO represents the film speed, which may also be regarded as the film’s light sensitivity.
The higher the film’s ISO, the less light will be needed to properly expose a picture. This comes at the tradeoff of increased film grain.
It can be problematic to handhold the EL2 with ISO 100 or slower films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc). This is due to the fact that without full sun, the exposure times are going to take longer than what you can handhold without creating motion blur.
To get around motion blur you will need to use a fast lens, flash, and/or tripod. The extra equipment might not be needed if you decide to use a faster ISO 400 or ISO 800 film.
As a quick note, the ISO selection knob is listed as ASA on the Nikon EL2. The move to using ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) came after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).
Latitude is the range of stops a film can be overexposed while producing satisfactory photographs. Professional film emulsions have a greater latitude to go along with a slightly increased cost.
Negative film has a greater amount of latitude compared to slide film. That is a reason it’s perceived as difficult to use.
The range between the brightest and darkest details of a photograph is referred to as dynamic range. Parts of a picture that are not in this range will appear as totally white overexposed highlights or solid black underexposed shadows.
When working in a variety or quickly changing lighting situations, films with a bigger dynamic range are a better choice.
- Digital cameras 14+ stops
- Negative film up to 13 stops
- Slide film 6-8 stops
Slide film is considered to be hard to shoot because of the limited dynamic range. A great time to try it would be during the golden hour.
35mm film that is sold in canisters is used by the Nikon EL2. In addition, it is the most popular film format and is on occasion described as 135 film.
120 or 220 film, used with medium format cameras, is the only other film format you are probably going to come across}.
Swapping the film stock you are working with will transform the look of your images. This is an example of the terrific things about film.
DX Coded Film
Nearly all commercially available 35mm film offered at this time has DX encoding. This lets cameras to automatically detect and set the ISO of the film canister put in the camera.
ISO (ASA) on the Nikon EL2 is required to be manually selected. Which means that DX-coding doesn’t do anything.
Nikon EL2 Resources
Where to Get Film Developed?
There are just a few possibilities for where to process 35mm film. For a more comprehensive explanation of the choices see my guide on Where to Develop Film.
WARNING: Pharmacies and big box stores have stopped developing film on site. They mail film away to be processed by a 3rd party. Consequently, you will not get your processed negatives back.
- Develop Film at Home
- Use a Local Photography Lab
- Use a Mail Order Photo Lab
- Pharmacy or Big Box Store
The most straightforward solution and the method I would suggest using if you are just getting started using film is to mail your film to a lab to be developed and scanned. If you regularly shoot film, this may be a drawback since it can get very expensive.
There are two activities that can be done to limit the expenses involved in using film, if you are going through a medium to high volume of film.
Bulk Loading Film
Ordering a roll of 100 feet of film and manually loading in into canisters yourself is considered one of the ideal options to save money.
After you are done, you’ll find yourself with typically around 18 canisters of 36 exposures. Depending on the film you are likely to save 20%-30%.
Keep in mind that you’re only going to be able to buy bulk rolls of black and white film. This is due to black & white film is a lot easier and more cost-effective to process at home.
Home Developing and Scanning
It is possible to develop and digitize film at home. It’s a smart option to cut costs so you can shoot more film with your Nikon EL2.
Black & white film is by far the least difficult to process. Temperature and development times are both not as essential to get correct with black and white films as they are for slide or color negative.