Best Film for the Nikon ELW

The best film to use in your Nikon ELW will have to depend on the lighting conditions, lens, and type of film you want to shoot.

Choosing an ISO 400 35mm or faster will let you avoid having to lug around a flash and/or tripod.

Ensure you have a fast lens if you want to capture photographs in low light, conditions that are commonly found indoors. For lens ideas go to my brief article on the 5 Best Lenses for the Nikon ELW.

Kodak UltraMax 400 35mm Film
Kodak UltraMax 400 35mm Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - A good option for a diverse range of lighting conditions. Using Kodak UltraMax 400 you should be able to handhold the ELW in most situations.

Expect pictures to look slightly warm with amazing skin tones.

Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400
Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Depending on where you are in the world, this film can be more widely available. It is a great alternative to Kodak.

Fuji pictures tend to have cooler tones with stronger blues and greens, when compared to Kodak.

Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO
Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO

Lomography 800 - If you want a color film with an ISO of 800, there aren’t many possible choices. This happens to be the only 35mm film emulsion targeted towards consumers.

In addition, if you own a medium format camera, it’s also for sale in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200
Kodak Gold 200

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film that started production in the mid-1980s. Kodak Gold 200 offers the look of home snapshots from the 80s and 1990s. Use a flash to get the “authentic” look.

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

Box of Kodak Portra 400 ISO 35mm film
Kodak Portra 400

Kodak Portra 400 - Among the photography enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is easily the most widely used color film emulsion. Overexpose it by 1 or 2-stops to get the look and feel the film is highly regarded for.

There’s also ISO 160 and 800 emulsions of Kodak Portra. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 are also manufactured.

With low prices and more than acceptable favorable to try in the Nikon ELW.

The biggest draw for photography students and budget minded photographers is the competitive price. Even if you don’t put yourself in that group, it is nice to have inexpensive rolls of 35 film around for trying out recently acquired used cameras.

Kentmere ISO 400 Film
Kentmere 400

Kentmere 400 - Made by Harmon Technology, which is also the parent company of Ilford. This is excellent because that makes this the most commonly sold film of the 3.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action
Foma Fomapan 400 Action

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - Can be much easier to buy in Europe as the film is manufactured by Foma Bohemia in the Czech Republic.

A pretty good 35mm film to use for your first few attempts at analog photography or home developing. Also a good choice if you’re trying out a camera to confirm that it’s working properly.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400
Ultrafine eXtreme 400

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the best price by getting it directly from Ultrafine.

If you develop 35mm color film yourself, you may have used developer sold by them to develop your film.

Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 are the 2 best black & white 35mm film emulsions. While they both have distinctive styles, they have many traits in common that help makes them so well received.

Both emulsions can be pushed 1 or 2 stops and while still producing professional images. A 35mm roll of film can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them remarkably useful.

Ilford HP5 Plus 400
Ilford HP5 Plus 400

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - Between the two film emulsions, HP5 Plus has less contrast and is cheaper. Lower levels of contrast can be an advantage because contrast can be adjusted when making a print in the darkroom or editing digitally.

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

Kodak Tri-X 400
Kodak Tri-X 400

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film emulsion features a more distinctive style to it. To bring out the legendary grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it will need to be developed in Kodak D-76.

Tri-X 400 clearly has greater contrast. That’s excellent if it’s the look you would like because it means considerably less work when making a darkroom print or during digital processing.

Film emulsions that produce a positive image are known as slide, transparency, or reversal film. This means the slides can be viewed with a projector or light box.

The colors don’t need to be inverted to be viewed, as opposed to the more widespread negative film stocks.

Slide films have less latitude and dynamic range when compared with negative film and so they are thought to be more difficult to use.

Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Slide Film
Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Transparency Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a fine grain film known for beautiful skin tones. The colors won’t show up oversaturated. Ektachrome has been balanced for daylight.

Fujichrome Velvia 50
Fujichrome Velvia 50

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is a unbelievably sharp daylight balanced reversal film with lots of contrast and saturation, giving photos a signature appearance. When compared to all the slide films you can buy, it has the top resolving power.

There’s another speed with an ISO of 100.

Fujichrome Provia 100F
Fujichrome Provia 100F

Fujichrome Provia 100F - Produces natural and vibrant colors with moderate contrast and color saturation. It has ultra fine grain with a daylight color balance.

Foma Fomapan R100
Foma Fomapan R100

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white transparency film, noted by Fomapan as having elevated levels of contrast, very fine grain, and high resolving power. It is also mentioned as a replacement for the discontinued Agfa Scala reversal film.

Professional film stock have better latitude, dynamic range, and can more easily be pushed, which is why they will cost more.

There may be a difference in where film can be purchased. Consumer film emulsions can oftentimes be obtained from pharmacies and big-box stores in limited quantities. Professional film will need to be bought from a specialized photography store or online.

A film’s sensitivity to light is displayed by the ISO.

The less light available to expose an image, the higher the ISO of the film will need to be. This comes at the cost of bigger film grain.

ISO 100 and slower films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc) may be frustrating to use handheld in the ELW. This is because in the absence of full sun, the shutter speeds will likely be longer than what you’re able to handhold without creating motion blur.

To get around motion blur you’ll need to use a flash, tripod, and/or fast lens. Using a high speed ISO 800 or ISO 400 film often makes the extra gear not needed.

As a quick note, the ISO knob is marked as ASA on the Nikon ELW. The transition to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) came after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Latitude is the number of stops a film can be overexposed while still maintaining acceptable results. Professional film stocks have a larger latitude along with a somewhat increased cost.

Negative film has a greater amount of latitude than reversal film. That is one of the reasons why it is believed to be difficult to work with.

Dynamic range represents the range between the shadows and highlights parts of a photo that can be recorded. Parts of a picture that are not in this range will be seen as totally white overexposed highlights or black underexposed shadows.

A larger dynamic range is ideal given that it makes working in a wide variety of lighting conditions easier.

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

The constrained dynamic range of reversal film is another factor it is considered difficult to shoot. A great time to try it would be during the golden hour.

The Nikon ELW uses 35mm film that comes in metal canisters. In addition, it is the best-selling type of film and is on occasion called 135 film.

The only other type of film you are likely to encounter is 120 or 220 film that is used with medium format cameras}.

Swapping the film you are working with will alter the look of your photographs. This is an example of the best things about using film.

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister
DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

All new 35mm film distributed today has a DX code. This lets electronically controlled cameras to auto detect and set the ISO when the canister is loaded.

DX-coding is not going to change anything for the Nikon ELW because ISO has to be dialed in manually.

There are a variety of possible choices for where to process film. For a more detailed explanation of the choices take a look at my guide on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Big box stores and pharmacies have stopped processing film on location. They mail the film away to be developed by a 3rd party. Consequently, you won’t be given your developed 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 your film to a mail-order photo lab to be processed and scanned is the least difficult option if you’re just starting to shoot film. If you consistently shoot film, this could be a downside because it can get really expensive.

So long as you are going through a moderate to high volume of film, there are a few actions that can be done to greatly reduce your expenses.

Investing in a roll of 100’ of film and loading in into canisters yourself is certainly one of the leading options to save money.

A 100’ roll will fill about 18 canisters of film containing 36 frames each. Depending on the film you will probably save 20%-30%.

Keep in mind that you are going to be limited to 100 foot rolls of black & white film. This is in part because black and white film is a lot easier and more cost-effective to process yourself.

Any film can be processed by hand. In fact it is a smart method to spend less so that you can shoot more film with your Nikon ELW.

Black & white film is much less difficult to process yourself. Temperature and time are both not as critical to do correctly with black & white films as temperatures and time are for slide or color negative.