Best Film for the Nikon F3AF
The best film to use in your Nikon F3AF will depend on your lens, available light, and if you want to shoot color or black & white.
To prevent having to carry around a tripod and/or flash, choose a 35mm film that has an ISO of 400 or higher.
Make sure that you have a fast lens if you want to shoot images in low light, conditions that are frequently found indoors. For lens lens suggestions have a look at my blog post on the 5 Best Lenses for the Nikon F3AF.
Kodak UltraMax 400 - This film handles a wide variety of lighting conditions well and is a great option for a color 35mm film. Kodak UltraMax 400 is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the F3AF in the vast majority of situations.
The images will have wonderful colors and tend to be on the warm side.
Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - A different option than Kodak that might have greater availability depending on where you are in the world.
Compared to Kodak, Fujifilm tends to be a little bit cooler with notable greens and blues.
Lomography 800 - If you want a color film with an ISO of 800, there aren’t many options. This is the only 35mm film targeted towards consumers.
Lomography 800 can also be found in the 120 film format, for use in medium format cameras.
Kodak Gold 200 - A surefire solution to get that mid-1980s through 90s rendering. Use an on-camera flash to get the “authentic” look the film is known for.
To bring the ideal look out of this film, over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will ensure that you get the gorgeous colors people love Kodak Gold 200 for.
Kodak Portra 400 - By far the most popular color negative film among photography enthusiasts online. Overexpose the film by 1 or 2-stops to get the appearance the film is well known for.
Portra is also sold in ISO 800 and ISO 160 emulsions. As well as in rolls of 120, 4x5 sheets, and 8x10 sheets.
Black and White Film
These film emulsions have reasonable prices and more than acceptable quality, making them favorable to try in the Nikon F3AF.
The biggest attraction for budget minded photographers and photography students is the competitive cost. Even if you do not put yourself in those groups, it’s good to have economical rolls of 35 film readily available for trying out newly obtained used cameras.
Kentmere 400 - It is manufactured by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is good because that makes this the most commonly available 35mm film of the three.
Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It is much easier to purchase in Europe as the film is manufactured by Foma Bohemia out of the Czech Republic.
A pretty good 35mm film to work with for your initial few attempts at developing film at home or analog photography. Also a good selection if you’re testing out a camera to ensure that it’s functioning correctly.
Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - The cheapest place to get this film is directly from Ultrafine.
If you develop 35mm color film at home, you may have done that with chemicals produced by them.
Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 are the 2 most commonly used black & white film emulsions. While they both have distinctive rendering, they possess a number of characteristics in common that help makes them popular.
Both film stocks can be pushed 2 stops and while still producing good quality results. This makes the film versatile as a roll can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600.
Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The largest differences are that HP5 Plus has less contrast and is cheaper compared to Tri-X. Minimal contrast can be an advantage because contrast can be adjusted when making a print in the darkroom or editing digitally.
The film emulsion still looks excellent when pushed 2-stops. It is also noted for having subdued grain.
Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film stock provides a stronger aesthetic. To produce the traditional grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it will need to be processed in Kodak D-76.
Tri-X 400 definitely has higher levels of contrast. That is awesome if it is the overall look you want because it means much less work when printmaking or through digital post processing.
Reversal film, also known as transparency film or slide film, generates a positive image. That means a lightbox or projector can be used to exhibit the pictures.
Colors do not need to be inverted to be viewed, contrary to the more widespread negative film emulsions.
Slide films are regarded as tricky to use due to the fact slide film has a smaller amount of latitude and dynamic range when compared with negative film.
Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a fine grain film known for beautiful skin tones. The colors don’t seem oversaturated. It is daylight balanced.
Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Makes distinct looking images that have high amounts of saturation and contrast. It is amazingly sharp daylight balanced film. Compared to all the slide films available, it has the highest resolving power.
There is also another speed that is ISO 100.
Fujichrome Provia 100F - Produces natural and vivid colors with moderate contrast and color saturation. It has a daylight color balance and ultrafine grain.
Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white reversal film, described by Fomapan as having very good resolving power, fine grain, and higher contrast. It is also regarded as a substitute for the long discontinued Agfa Scala slide film.
Consumer vs Professional Film
Pro film stock have a greater dynamic range, are easier to push, and expanded latitude, this is why they will be more expensive.
There’s a big difference in business that sell it. Consumer film stocks can commonly be found in big-box stores and pharmacies in meager quantities. Pro film needs to be purchased from a specialized photography store or online retailer.
The ISO shows the film speed, which may also be regarded as the film’s sensitivity to light.
The less light available to get an image, the higher the film’s ISO will have to be. This comes at the expense of increased film grain.
It can be tricky to handhold the F3AF with ISO 100 or slower films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc). The might take longer will most likely be longer than what you could handhold without leading to motion blur unless you’re working in full sun.
A flash, tripod, and/or fast lens will assist you with longer shutter speeds. Using a high speed ISO 400 or ISO 800 film probably will make the extra gear not needed.
The ISO knob is listed as ASA on the Nikon F3AF. The switch to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) came after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).
Film latitude is the range of stops film can be overexposed while retaining satisfactory photographs. Professional film stocks have a greater latitude along with a slightly higher price.
Reversal film has a smaller amount of latitude in comparison with negative film. That is one of the reasons it’s believed to be more challenging to shoot.
Dynamic range represents the range between the darkest and brightest parts of a photo that can be captured. Areas of a photo that are not in this range will be rendered as completely black underexposed shadows or completely white overexposed highlights.
A bigger dynamic range is better because it makes working in variable lighting conditions easier.
- Digital cameras 14+ stops
- Negative film up to 13 stops
- Slide film 6-8 stops
Reversal film is considered to be a challenge to use due to the small dynamic range. Golden hour is the prime time to use reversal.
35mm film that is in metal canisters is used by the Nikon F3AF. The film can also be referred to as 135 film, and it’s the most popular type of film.
The only other film format you are likely to notice is 120 or 220 film that is used with medium format cameras}.
Swapping the film emulsion you are working with will change the look of your pictures. This is an example of the terrific things about shooting film.
DX Coded Film
All commercially available 35mm film for sale these days has DX encoding. This lets cameras to auto detect and set the ISO when the film canister is put in the camera.
The ISO (ASA) on the Nikon F3AF is required to be selected manually. Which means that DX-coding does not be of any use.
Nikon F3AF Resources
Where to Get Film Developed?
You will find a variety of possible choices for where to have film developed. For a more in depth discussion of the options read my guide on Where to Get Film Developed.
WARNING: Film doesn’t get processed on site at big box stores and pharmacies. They ship the film off-site to be developed by a 3rd party. As a result, you will not receive your developed negatives back.
- Develop Film at Home
- Use a Local Photography Lab
- Use a Mail Order Photo Lab
- Pharmacy or Big Box Store
The least complicated choice and the method I suggest using if you’re just getting started using film is to mail off your film to a photo lab to be processed and scanned. A disadvantage to this is that it becomes really expensive if you are frequently using film.
So long as you’re going through a moderate to high volume of film, there are a couple of things that can be done to cut back on your costs.
Bulk Loading Film
Getting a roll of 100 feet of film and manually loading in into canisters by hand is among the common methods to save money.
A 100’ roll of film can load about 18 rolls of film containing 36 frames. Depending on the film stock you will probably save 20%-30%.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you are going to be limited to 100’ rolls of black & white film. This is because black and white film is easier and less expensive to develop yourself.
Home Developing and Scanning
You can easily develop and digitize film yourself. It is a good way to save money so you can shoot more film with your Nikon F3AF.
Black and white film is by far the least complicated to process yourself. Chemical temperature and time are not as essential to do correctly with black and white film as time and temperatures are for color negative or slide film.