Best Film for the Nikon EM

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: May 10, 2020
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35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in your Nikon EM will be based on your lens, lighting, and type of film you want to shoot.

Taking advantage of an ISO 400 35mm or higher speed will allow you to avoid needing to haul around a tripod and/or flash.

Make sure that you have a fast lens if you want to shoot photographs in low light, conditions that are commonly encountered indoors. Have a look at my article on the 5 Best Lenses for the Nikon EM for ideas.

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - A good selection for a diverse range of lighting conditions. Kodak UltraMax 400 is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the EM in the majority of situations.

The photographs will have wonderful colors and is on the warm side.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Depending on your location, this film might be more widely available. It's a fantastic alternative to Kodak.

Fuji photographs appear to have cooler colors with notable greens and blues, compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - If you want an ISO 800 color 35mm film, there are only a small number of possible choices. For 35mm film emulsions focused on consumers, Lomography 800 is the only choice.

In addition, if you have a medium format camera, Lomography 800 is also for sale in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200 - An awesome way to achieve that mid-80s through 90s look. Use an on-camera flash to get the "nostalgic" film look.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to bring out the most popular look the film can achieve. This will produce the spectacular colors everyone loves Gold 200 for.

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

Kodak Portra 400 - By far the most popular color negative film among film shooting enthusiasts online. Overexpose it by 1 or 2-stops to get the rendering the film is highly regarded for.

Plus, ISO 160 and 800 versions of Kodak Portra. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 film are also manufactured.

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm equal to Portra 400, but with a distinct color appearance. Expect more vibrant greens and blues.

It's sold in 120, but not in 8x10 or 4x5 sheets.

Black and White Film

Consumer

With reasonable costs and excellent favorable to try in the Nikon EM.

The primary attraction for budget-minded photographers and photography students is the reasonable price. Even if you don't put yourself in those groups, it is nice to have relatively cheap rolls of film available for trying out recently delivered camera gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - It's manufactured by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is notable because that allows this to be the most commonly sold film out of the three.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It's less difficult to obtain in Europe as the film is manufactured by Foma Bohemia in the Czech Republic.

A suitable film to choose for your initial few attempts at film photography or developing film at home. Also, a good selection if you happen to be testing out a camera to guarantee that it's totally operational.

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

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

Professional

Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5+ 400 are the 2 most frequently used black & white film emulsions. While they both do have distinctive rendering, they possess a large number of capabilities in common that makes them so well-liked.

You can achieve quality images after pushing both emulsions 2-stops. A roll of film can be shot 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 is cheaper and has lower levels of contrast. Minimal amounts of contrast can be a benefit because of the fact contrast can be changed when making a darkroom print or through digital post-processing.

The film stock still looks outstanding when pushed 2-stops. It is also recognized as having subdued grain.

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

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

You are going to undeniably see far more contrast with Tri-X. That's notable if that is the overall look you will want because it involves not as much work when through digital post-processing or making a print in the darkroom.

Reversal Film

Film emulsions that make a positive image are typically referred to as transparency, slide, or reversal film. That means a lightbox or projector can be used to show the photographs.

Colors are not required to be inverted to be seen, contrary to the more often used negative film emulsions.

Slide films have much less dynamic range and latitude than negative films and so they are considered challenging to use.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - The film is known for fine grain and eye-catching skin tones. The colors won't show up oversaturated. Ektachrome has been color balanced for daylight.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Delivers appealing looking shots that have greatly elevated amounts of contrast and saturation. It is an extremely sharp daylight balanced film emulsion. Out of all the slide films on the market, it has the best resolving power.

It is also available in an ISO 100 version.

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

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white slide film, described by Fomapan as having fine grain, increased contrast, and high resolving power. It's also regarded as a replacement for the long-discontinued Agfa Scala slide film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Professional film stocks have a greater dynamic range, are easier to push, and expanded latitude, which is the reason they will cost more.

You should be prepared for a disparity in where 35mm rolls of film can be purchased. Consumer film emulsions can frequently still be purchased from big-box stores and pharmacies in meager amounts. Pro film emulsions will need to be bought from a photography store or online retailer.

ISO

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

The less light there is available to get an image, the bigger the ISO of the film will be necessary. In addition, be prepared for larger film grain.

It is often problematic to handhold the EM with ISO 100 or slower films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc). This is because if you do not have full sun, the shutter speeds can take longer than what you could handhold without causing motion blur.

A fast lens, flash, and/or tripod are going to help you with longer exposure times. Using a high-speed ISO 800 or ISO 400 film will likely make the additional accessories unnecessary.

The ISO knob is listed as ASA on the Nikon EM. The change to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Film Latitude

Film latitude is the range of stops film can be overexposed while still producing acceptable results. Pro film emulsions have a larger latitude along with a slightly increased cost.

Negative film has more latitude when compared to reversal film. That is a reason why it's thought of challenging to use.

Dynamic Range

The range between the shadows and highlights parts of a picture is known as dynamic range. Sections of a picture that do not fit within this range will appear as solid white overexposed highlights or completely black underexposed shadows.

When working in a wide variety or quickly shifting lighting situations, film stocks with a bigger dynamic range is preferable.

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

The constrained dynamic range of slide film is another reason it's considered challenging to shoot. Golden hour is the ideal time to shoot reversal.

Film Type

35mm film that is in metal canisters is used by the Nikon EM. The film can also be called 135 film, and it's the most popular film format.

120 or 220 film, used with medium format cameras, is the only other type of film you are going to encounter.

Switching the film stock you are using will transform the look of your images. This is one of the fantastic things about using film.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

All new 35mm film distributed at this point has a DX code. This lets cameras to automatically detect and set the ISO when the film is loaded into the camera.

DX-coding doesn't change anything for the Nikon EM because ISO needs to be selected manually with the ASA knob.

Nikon EM Resources

Where to Get Film Developed?

There are a handful of choices for where to have 35mm film processed. For a more comprehensive explanation of the possible choices go look at my article on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Pharmacies and big box stores have ended processing film locally. They ship the film off-site to be processed by a separate company. Because of this, 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 your film to a mail-order lab to be developed and scanned is the least complicated choice if you are just beginning to use film. A downside to this is that it ends up being very expensive if you are frequently using film.

So long as you are going through a medium to high volume of film, there are two activities that can be done to limit your expenses.

Bulk Loading Film

Buying a roll of 100' of film and manually loading in into canisters yourself is considered one of the most popular ways to lower your costs.

A 100-foot bulk roll should fill up typically around 18 rolls of film with 36 frames each. Expect to save 20-30% based on your choice.

Take into account that you are going to be limited to bulk rolls of black & white film. This is due to black & white film is easier and cheaper to develop yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

It's simple to process and scan any film at home. It's an excellent option to lower your costs so that you can use more film with your Nikon EM.

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

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