Best Film for the Nikon EL2

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: May 29, 2020
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35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in the Nikon EL2 should be based on the available light, your lens, and the type of film you want to use.

Using an ISO 400 film or higher speed will let you skip being weighed down with a tripod or flash.

Make sure that you have a fast lens if you want to shoot images in low light, conditions that are frequently encountered indoors.

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - The film works well in a large range of lighting conditions and is a good choice for a color 35mm film. Kodak UltraMax 400 is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the EL2 in the majority of scenarios.

Expect pictures to appear slightly warm with pleasant colors.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Depending on your location, this film might have greater availability. It's a great alternative to Kodak film.

Fuji images tend to have cooler tones with notable greens and blues when compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - If you want an ISO 800 color 35mm film, there aren't many options. For film stocks targeted towards consumers, Lomography 800 is the only choice.

Furthermore, if you own a medium format camera, Lomography 800 is also for sale in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film emulsion that started production in the mid-1980s. Kodak Gold 200 has the look and feel of home snapshots from the 80s and 1990s. Use an on-camera flash to get the "classic" look.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to reveal the best look the film has to offer. This will produce the gorgeous colors people love Kodak Gold 200 for.

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

Kodak Portra 400 - Among the film shooting enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is by far the most popular color negative 35mm film. Overexpose Portra 400 by 1 or 2-stops to get the rendering the film is well known for.

Kodak Portra is also for sale in ISO 160 and 800 emulsions. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 film are also available.

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm equivalent to Kodak Portra 400, but with a distinctive color profile. Expect more vibrant blues and greens.

8x10 or 4x5 sheets of film aren't available, but 120 is available.

Black and White Film

Consumer

With low prices and more than acceptable quite popular to be used in the Nikon EL2.

The biggest attraction for photography students and budget-minded photographers is the very low cost. Even if you wouldn't put yourself in those groups, it is great to have inexpensive rolls of 35 film available for evaluating recently obtained used gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - Produced by Harmon Technology, which is also the owner of Ilford. This is excellent considering that makes this the most broadly sold B&W film of the three.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It will probably much easier to purchase in Europe as the film is manufactured by Foma Bohemia in the Czech Republic.

A suitable film stock to choose for your initial few attempts at analog photography or home developing. Also, a good selection if you're trying out a camera to make sure that it is working correctly.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the cheapest price on this film by buying it directly from Ultrafine.

If you process film yourself, you could have used developer sold by them to process your film.

Professional

Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 are the 2 most popular black & white 35mm films. They do have a lot of traits in common that help make them so popular while preserving individual looks.

Both films can be pushed 2 stops and still deliver professional results. A 35mm roll of film can be used at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them remarkably useful.

Box of Ilford HP5 Plus ISO 400 35mm Black & White Film

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - Between the two film emulsions, HP5 Plus has less contrast and is more affordable. Low amounts of contrast can be advantageous because of the fact contrast can be increased when making a darkroom print or during digital processing.

The film emulsion still appears outstanding when pushed 2-stops. It is also notable for having subdued grain.

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film stock has got a more distinctive aesthetic to it. To reveal the traditional grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it needs to be processed in Kodak D-76.

You're going to certainly see higher levels of contrast with Kodak Tri-X 400. That is perfect if it happens to be the look and feel you would like because it involves substantially less work when through digital processing or printmaking.

Slide Film

Film emulsions that make a positive image are commonly referred to as reversal, slide, or transparency film. This allows the pictures to be exhibited with a lightbox or projector.

The colors don't need to be inverted to be viewed, contrary to the more commonly available negative film emulsions.

Slide films have a lot less dynamic range and latitude when compared with negative film and so they are perceived as tougher to work with.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a film known for fine grain and terrific skin tones. The colors won't look oversaturated. The film is daylight color balanced.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Produces signature looking shots that have highly increased amounts of saturation and contrast. It is a razor-sharp daylight color balanced film. Velvia has the greatest resolving power of any slide film.

An ISO 100 emulsion is also offered.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Creates vibrant and realistic colors with moderate contrast and color saturation. It has a daylight color balance and ultra-fine grain.

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white reversal film, reported by Fomapan as having elevated contrast, fine grain, and excellent resolving power. It is also regarded as a substitute for the discontinued Agfa Scala reversal film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Pro film stock are easier to push, have improved dynamic range, and latitude, that is why they are more expensive.

There may be a disparity in supply. Consumer films can often still be found in big-box stores and pharmacies in anemic quantities. Pro film stocks will need to be ordered from a camera store or online retailer.

ISO

A film's light sensitivity is shown as the ISO.

The less light there's available to properly expose an image, the bigger the ISO of the film will need to be.. This comes at the expense of more noticeable film grain.

It is often quite challenging to handhold the EL2 with ISO 100 or slower speed films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc). The will probably be longer will likely take longer than what you can handhold without leading to motion blur unless you're out in full sun.

A fast lens, tripod, and/or flash are going to assist you with longer shutter speeds. The additional equipment might not be needed if you go with a higher speed ISO 800 or ISO 400 film.

The ISO selection knob is labeled as ASA/ISO on the Nikon EL2. The move to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) came after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Latitude

Film latitude is the range of stops a film can be overexposed while holding onto adequate images. Pro film emulsions have a larger latitude to go along with a slightly higher cost.

Negative film has a greater amount of latitude when compared to reversal film. That is one of the reasons it is deemed to be challenging to shoot.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range is the range between the shadows and highlights parts of an image that can be recorded. Sections of an image that don't fit within this range will be seen as totally white overexposed highlights or solid black underexposed shadows.

A larger dynamic range is preferable because a bigger range helps make working in different lighting conditions easier.

  • Digital cameras 14+ stops
  • Negative film up to 13 stops
  • Slide film 6-8 stops

Reversal film is considered a challenge to shoot due to the small dynamic range. A very good time to try it out is during the golden hour.

Film Type

35mm film that is sold in metal canisters is used by the Nikon EL2. The film can also be described as 135 film, and it's the most often used film format.

The only other type of film you are probably going to notice is 120 or 220 film that is used in medium format cameras.

Swapping the film you are working with will change the look of your shots. This is one of the marvelous things about using film.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

All commercially available 35mm film distributed at this point has a DX code. This allows cameras to automatically detect and set the ISO of the film canister put in the camera.

DX-coding is not going to change anything for the Nikon EL2 because ISO must be dialed in manually with the ASA/ISO knob.

Nikon EL2 Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

There are a few choices for where to have film processed. For a more complete explanation of the possible choices check my article on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Film doesn't get developed locally at pharmacies and big box stores. They mail film off-site to be processed by a 3rd party. As a consequence, you won't receive your processed negatives back.

  1. Develop Film at Home
  2. Use a Local Photography Lab
  3. Use a Mail Order Photo Lab
  4. Pharmacy or Big Box Store

Sending your film to a mail-order photo lab to be processed and scanned is the least difficult solution if you are just getting started using film. A disadvantage to this is that it will become pricey if you're consistently shooting film.

So long as you're using a medium to high volume of film, there are two activities that you are capable of doing to decrease your expenses.

Bulk Loading Film

Considered one of the most well-known methods to spend less money on film is to buy a roll of 100' of film and manually load it into canisters by hand.

A 100' bulk roll can fill up typically around 18 rolls of film containing 36 frames each. Look forward to savings of 20-30% based on your choice.

Be aware that you're going to be limited to bulk rolls of black & white film. This is due to the fact black & white film is easier and more affordable to process yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

It's possible to process and scan any film yourself. It is an intelligence option to reduce costs so that you can shoot more film with your Nikon EL2.

Black and white film is by far the least difficult to develop. Temperature and development times are not as imperative to get correct with black and white film as they are for slide or color negative.

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