Best Film for the Nikon F3

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: May 27, 2020
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35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in the Nikon F3 will be based on your lens, lighting conditions, and if you want to use color or black & white.

Choosing an ISO 400 35mm or higher speed will enable you to avoid being weighed down with a flash and/or tripod.

If you want to capture images inside or anywhere there is low light, make sure that you are using a fast lens.

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - The film handles a plethora of lighting conditions well and is a terrific choice for a 35mm color film. Using this film you should have the ability to handhold the F3 in almost all circumstances.

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

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

Fuji photos appear to have cooler tones with stronger blues and greens when compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - If you want a color 35mm film with an ISO of 800, there are not very many possible choices. For film stocks targeted towards consumers, Lomography 800 is the single available choice.

In addition, if you own a medium format camera, Lomography 800 is also available in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film stock that was launched in the mid-1980s. It has the look and feel of snapshots from the 1980s and 90s. Use a flash to get the "nostalgic" look the film is known for.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to bring out the most popular look the film can achieve. This will give you the fantastic colors everyone loves 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 easily the most widely used color 35mm film. Overexpose it by 1 or 2-stops to get the style the film is well known for.

There's also ISO 800 and 160 emulsions of Portra. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 are also available to purchase.

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm equivalent to Kodak Portra 400, but with "Fuji colors." Expect to see stronger greens and blues.

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

Black and White Film

Consumer

With affordable costs and more than acceptable very popular to be used in the Nikon F3.

The largest appeal for budget-minded photographers and photography students is the low price. Even if you would not put yourself in those groups, it's good to have low-priced rolls of 35 film readily available for evaluating newly delivered used cameras.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - It is made by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is good considering that allows this to be the most widely sold 35mm film out of the three.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - Can be less difficult to purchase in Europe as the film is manufactured in the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.

A fine film emulsion to use for your first couple of attempts at developing film at home or analog photography. Additionally, a good selection if you are attempting to check out a camera to check that it is working properly.

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

They distribute developer kits for color film, so if you develop film at home you may have previously had interactions with them.

Professional

Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5+ 400 are the 2 most widely used black & white films. They do have a number of attributes in common that help make them so well received while keeping distinctive rendering.

You can still get excellent photographs after pushing both film stocks 2-stops. A roll can be used at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them very flexible.

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

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

The film still appears excellent when pushed 2-stops. It is also notable for having subtle grain.

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film emulsion features a more distinctive aesthetic to it. To produce the old-school grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it will need to be processed in Kodak D-76.

You are going to clearly notice a higher level of contrast with Tri-X 400. That is awesome if it's the look and feel you are looking for because it results in less work when through digital post-processing or making a print.

Slide Film

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

Colors don't need to be inverted to be viewable, unlike the more often used negative film emulsions.

Slide films have much less dynamic range and latitude than negative films and so they are perceived as difficult to work with.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a film known for fine grain and beautiful skin tones. There is not any hypersaturation of colors. Ektachrome has a daylight color balance.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Offers distinct looking shots that have elevated amounts of contrast and saturation. It is very sharp with a daylight color balance. It has the greatest resolving power of any available reversal film emulsion.

An ISO 100 version is also offered.

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

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

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Pro films cost more due to the fact that they can more easily be pushed, have greater dynamic range, and latitude.

There is a difference in supply. Consumer film stocks can oftentimes be purchased from big-box stores and pharmacies in anemic quantities. Professional quality film needs to be purchased from an online or camera store.

Film ISO

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

The bigger the ISO, the less light will be required to properly expose a film frame. Additionally, be prepared for noticeably increased film grain.

ISO 100 and slower films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc) are often problematic to use handheld with the F3. This is due to the fact that if you do not have full sun, the exposure times will most likely be longer than what you can handhold without resulting in motion blur.

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

The dial to select film speed is labeled as ISO on the Nikon F3. Lots of older cameras will be marked ASA instead of ISO. The switch to using ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Latitude

Latitude is the number of stops a film can be overexposed while maintaining satisfactory images. Pro film emulsions have a larger latitude along with a somewhat increased cost.

Negative film has more latitude than transparency film. That is one of the reasons why it's considered challenging to use.

Dynamic Range

The range between the darkest and brightest details of a photo is described as dynamic range. Sections of a picture that are not in this range will be seen as solid black underexposed shadows or completely white overexposed highlights.

When shooting in a wide variety of quickly shifting lighting conditions, film stocks with a bigger dynamic range is better.

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

The constrained dynamic range of transparency film is a second reason why it's thought to be hard to shoot. The golden hour is the best time to shoot reversal film.

Film Type

The Nikon F3 uses 35mm film that is sold in canisters. In addition, it’s the best-selling film format and occasionally described as 135 film.

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

One of the marvelous things about film is that you can change the film you use and get a completely different look to your photos.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

All commercially available 35mm film sold today has a DX code. This lets electronically controlled cameras to auto-detect and set the ISO of the film canister put in the camera.

The ISO on the Nikon F3 needs to be manually selected. Which means DX-coding isn't going to matter.

Nikon F3 Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

You will find several possible choices for where to develop 35mm film. For a more in-depth explanation of the possibilities check my article on Where to Develop Film.

WARNING: Film does not get developed locally at big box stores and pharmacies. They send the film off-site to be processed by a 3rd party. Because of this, you will not be given your 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

The most straightforward method and what I suggest using if you are just beginning to shoot film is to ship your film to a photo lab to be developed and scanned. A disadvantage to this is that it gets very expensive if you're consistently shooting film.

There are a few actions that you can do to help reduce the costs required to use film, given that you're going through a medium to high volume of film.

Bulk Loading Film

Investing in a roll of 100 feet of film and manually loading it into canisters by hand is among the leading options to cut costs.

A 100' bulk roll of film should fill up approximately 18 canisters of film with 36 exposures. Expect to save 20-30% based on your choice.

Bear in mind that you're limited to 100-foot rolls of black and white film. This is due to black & white film is easier and more cost-effective to process at home.

Home Developing and Scanning

It is easy to process and digitize film yourself. In fact, it's a great option to save money so that you can use more film with your Nikon F3.

Black and white film is significantly easier to develop. Chemical temperature and time are not as vital to do correctly with black and white films as temperatures and time are for transparency or color negative.

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