Best Film for the Nikon ELW

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: May 25, 2020
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35mm Film To Use

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

Buying an ISO 400 film or higher speed will let you skip needing to lug around a flash and/or tripod.

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

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - The film handles a multitude of lighting conditions well and is a terrific pick for a color film. The film is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the ELW in just about all scenarios.

Expect pictures to look a little bit warm with outstanding skin tones.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - A different option than Kodak that may have better availability based on what country you are in.

Fuji pictures tend to have cooler colors with notable blues and greens, compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - If you want a color 35mm film with an ISO of 800, there are not very many offerings. This is literally the only 35mm film stock geared towards consumers.

The film is for sale in the 120 film format, to be used in a medium format camera.

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film stock that debuted in the mid-1980s. Kodak Gold 200 has the look and feel of family snapshots from the 80s and 1990s. For the genuine photography experience have a flash.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to reveal the most popular look the film can achieve. This will help you achieve the stunning colors people love Gold 200 for.

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

Kodak Portra 400 - Among the film shooting enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is hands down the most popular color film. Overexpose Portra 400 by 1 or 2-stops to get the overall look the film is known for.

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

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm equal to Portra 400, but with "Fuji colors." Expect to see more vibrant greens and blues.

8x10 or 4x5 sheets of film are not produced, but 120 film is available.

Black and White Film

Consumer

With reasonable costs and excellent very popular for use in the Nikon ELW.

The biggest appeal for photography students and budget-minded photographers is the reasonable cost. Even if you do not put yourself in that group, it is good to have affordable rolls of 35 film on hand for evaluating recently delivered used gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - It's manufactured by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is notable considering that allows this to be the most broadly sold B&W film out of the 3.

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

A suitable film to work with for your initial few attempts at developing film at home or analog photography. Additionally, a good choice if you happen to be trying out a camera to be sure that it's completely operational.

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

They manufacture developer kits for color 35mm film, so if you process film at home you may have already interacted with them.

Professional

Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5+ 400 are the two best black and white 35mm film stocks. They possess many capabilities that are equivalent that help makes them so well-liked while preserving individual appearances.

Both films can be pushed 2 stops and still result in excellent photographs. A 35mm roll can be used at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them quite useful.

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

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The fundamental differences are that HP5 Plus has lower levels of contrast and is cheaper when compared to Tri-X. Minimal amounts of contrast can be an advantage because of the fact contrast can be changed when making a print or during digital processing.

The film stock still appears great when pushed 2-stops. It is also recognized as having subtle grain.

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film stock features a more distinctive aesthetic to it. To bring out the old-school grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it should be processed in Kodak D-76.

Kodak Tri-X 400 clearly has considerably more contrast. That's notable if that is the overall look you want to have because it requires much less work when making a darkroom print or through digital processing.

Transparency Film

Film emulsions that make a positive image are typically referred to as reversal, transparency, or slide film. That means a projector or light box can be used to exhibit the pictures.

Colors don't need to be inverted to be seen, as opposed to the more often used negative film stocks.

Slide films are perceived as hard to use because slide film has a lot less latitude and dynamic range when compared with negative film.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a fine grain film known for beautiful skin tones. The colors don't seem oversaturated. Ektachrome has been balanced for daylight.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is an amazingly sharp color balanced for daylight reversal film with high levels of contrast and saturation, giving photos a signature look. It has the greatest resolving power of any available reversal film stock.

There's another emulsion that is ISO 100.

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

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white slide film, reported by Fomapan as having excellent resolving power, increased levels of contrast, and fine grain. It is also mentioned as a replacement for the long-discontinued Agfa Scala slide film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Pro film stock are easier to push, have improved dynamic range, and latitude, that is why pro-film costs more.

There may be a disparity in businesses that sell it. Consumer films can more often than not be seen in big-box stores and pharmacies in anemic amounts. Pro film stocks need to be ordered from an online or camera store.

Film ISO

The film speed is displayed by ISO, which may also be thought of as the film's light sensitivity.

The less light there's available to get an image, the bigger the film's ISO will be necessary. This comes at the tradeoff of noticeably increased film grain.

It might be quite challenging to handhold the ELW with ISO 100 or slower films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc). This is due to the fact that if you do not have full sun, the shutter speeds are going to take longer than what you’re able to handhold without causing motion blur.

To avoid motion blur you will need to use a fast lens, flash, and/or tripod. Using a fast ISO 400 or ISO 800 film often makes the additional gear unnecessary.

As a quick note, the dial to select film speed is listed as ASA/ISO on the Nikon ELW. The shift to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) came after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Film Latitude

Film latitude is the range of stops film can be overexposed while holding onto adequate photographs. Professional film stocks have a larger latitude paired with a somewhat higher cost.

Reversal film has a smaller amount of latitude compared to negative film. That is a reason it is thought of as more difficult to use.

Dynamic Range

The range between the highlights and shadows details of a photo is described as dynamic range. Sections of a picture that don't fit in this range will be seen as totally white overexposed highlights or black underexposed shadows.

When shooting in a variety of quickly shifting lighting situations, films with a bigger dynamic range are a much better choice.

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

The small dynamic range of transparency film is a second factor it is thought to be tough to shoot. Golden hour is the prime time to shoot reversal film.

Film Type

35mm film that comes in metal canisters is used by the Nikon ELW. It’s also the most widely used film format and is on occasion referred to as 135 film.

120 or 220 film, used by medium format cameras, is the only other film format you are probably going to see.

Changing the film you are working with will alter the look of your photographs. This is an example of the wonderful things about shooting film.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

All commercially available 35mm film for sale at this point has a DX code. This will allow cameras to automatically detect and set the ISO when the film canister is loaded.

DX-coding doesn't make a difference for the Nikon ELW because ISO must be manually dialed in with the ASA/ISO knob.

Nikon ELW Resources

Where to Get Film Developed?

You will find limited possible choices for where to get 35mm film developed. For a more complete discussion of the possible choices see my guide on Where to Develop Film.

WARNING: Big box stores and pharmacies have ceased processing film on site. They mail the film off-site to be processed by a separate company. Because of that, you won't be given 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

Shipping film to a mail-order photo lab to be processed and scanned is the least difficult solution if you're just starting to shoot film. A downside to this is that it gets very expensive if you are consistently using film.

There are a couple of actions that you can do to cut back on the expenses required to use film if you're going through a moderate to high volume of film.

Bulk Loading Film

Ordering a roll of 100 feet of film and manually loading it into canisters yourself is one of the ideal options to reduce costs.

A 100-foot bulk roll of film can load about 18 canisters of film with 36 frames. Look forward to savings of 20-30% depending on the film you pick.

Be aware that you are limited to bulk rolls of black and white film. This is due to black & white film is a lot easier and cheaper to develop yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

All film can be processed by hand. In fact, it is a good method to cut costs so that you can shoot more film with your Nikon ELW.

Black & white film is by far the least complicated to develop at home. Developer temperature and development times are both not as imperative to get correct with black & white film as time and temperatures are for color negative or transparency film.

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