Best Film for the Nikon F4

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

The best film to use in your Nikon F4 will have to depend on the available light, lens, and if you want to use color or black & white.

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

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

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - A great option for an array of conditions. Using Kodak UltraMax 400 you should have the ability to handhold the F4 in the majority of scenarios.

The pictures will have great colors and is on the warm side.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - An alternative to Kodak that may have better availability depending on what country you are in.

In comparison to Kodak, Fuji appears to be a bit cooler with stronger greens and blues.

Lomography 800 - There are just a small number of offerings if you want a color ISO 800 35mm film. For 35mm film stocks focused on consumers, Lomography 800 is the sole available choice.

It is for sale in the 120 film format, to be used in medium format cameras.

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film that started production in the mid-1980s. Kodak Gold 200 has the look and feel of family snapshots from the 80s and 90s. Use a flash to get the "classic" film look.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to create the most popular look the film can achieve. This will help you achieve the great colors everyone loves Kodak Gold for.

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

Kodak Portra 400 - Among the film enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is by far and away the most popular color negative film. Overexpose it by 1 or 2-stops to get the color the film is well known for.

Plus, ISO 800 and ISO 160 emulsions of Portra. It is also offered in rolls of 120, 4x5 sheets, and 8x10 sheets.

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm film that is most similar to Kodak Portra 400, but with a different color profile. Expect to see stronger greens and blues.

8x10 or 4x5 sheets of film aren't available, but 120 film is.

Black and White Film

Consumer

With reasonable costs and good favorable to try in the Nikon F4.

The biggest attraction for photography students and budget-minded photographers is the affordable cost. Even if you wouldn't put yourself in those groups, it's good to have low-priced rolls of 35 film on hand for evaluating recently acquired used 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 broadly sold film out of the 3.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It will be easier to purchase in Europe as the film is manufactured by Foma Bohemia out of the Czech Republic.

A great 35mm film to choose for your initial few attempts at home developing or analog photography. Additionally, a good choice if you happen to be trying out a camera to make sure that it is completely functional.

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

They manufacture developer kits for color film, so if you process film at home you might have previously done business with them.

Professional

Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 are the 2 best black & white 35mm film stocks. While they both do have different styles, they have several capabilities that are comparable that makes them so popular.

You can create good quality results after pushing both film stocks 2-stops. A 35mm roll can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them very versatile.

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

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The major differences are that HP5 Plus has lower levels of contrast and is more affordable compared to Tri-X. Low amounts of contrast can be advantageous due to the fact contrast can be increased when making a 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 rendering to it. To create the old-school grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it will need to be developed in Kodak D-76.

Kodak Tri-X 400 clearly has far more contrast. That's helpful if it's the overall look you are looking for because it involves not as much work when printmaking or through digital post-processing.

Slide Film

Film emulsions that produce a positive image are often referred to as reversal, slide, or transparency film. This means the pictures can be showcased with a light box or projector.

Colors do not need to be inverted to be seen, as opposed to the more common negative film stocks.

Slide films are perceived as very hard to work with due to the fact slide film has much less dynamic range and latitude when compared to negative film.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - The film is known for fine grain and attractive skin tones. The colors won't be seen as oversaturated. The film is daylight color balanced.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is an unbelievably sharp daylight color balanced reversal film with lots of contrast and saturation, giving shots a distinctive rendering. Matched against all the reversal films available, it has the top resolving power.

An ISO 100 speed is also available to buy.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Produces vibrant and realistic colors with moderate contrast and color saturation. It's an ultra-fine grain film balanced for daylight.

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white slide film, claimed by Fomapan as having high resolving power, elevated levels of contrast, and fine grain. It's also regarded as a substitute for the discontinued Agfa Scala reversal film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Professional films cost more due to the fact they have better latitude, dynamic range, and can more easily be pushed.

There is a disparity in supply. Consumer film stocks can oftentimes be obtained from big-box stores and pharmacies in meager quantities. Pro film has to be bought from an online retailer or photography store.

Film ISO

A film's light sensitivity is listed as the ISO.

The less light available to capture an image, the bigger the ISO of the film will be needed. Furthermore, be prepared to see more noticeable film grain.

ISO 100 and slower films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc) are often troublesome to use handheld with the F4. They will most likely take more time will probably take more time than what you are able to handhold without leading to motion blur unless you are working in full sun.

A tripod, a fast lens, and/or a flash are going to assist you with longer shutter speeds. Using a fast ISO 800 or ISO 400 film probably will make the additional gear not needed.

As a quick note, the ISO knob is marked as ISO on the Nikon F4. Lots of older SLR cameras can be labeled with ASA instead of ISO. The move to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) came after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Film Latitude

Film latitude is the number of stops a film can be overexposed while retaining acceptable images. Pro films have a greater latitude paired with a slightly higher cost.

Reversal film has a smaller amount of latitude than negative film. That is a reason it's thought of difficult to work with.

Dynamic Range

The range between the brightest and darkest parts of a photograph is known as dynamic range. Sections of an image that do not fit within this range will be seen as totally black underexposed shadows or completely white overexposed highlights.

When working in a variety of quickly shifting lighting situations, film stocks with a bigger dynamic range is better.

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

Reversal film is thought to be hard to use because of the constrained dynamic range. Golden hour is the prime time to shoot reversal film.

Film Type

35mm film that is sold in metal canisters is used by the Nikon F4. The film can also be called 135 film, and it's the most often used film format.

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

Swapping the film stock you are working with will transform the look of your pictures. This is an example of the best things about film.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

All new 35mm film on the market at this point has a DX code. This lets cameras to detect and set the ISO of the canister put in the camera.

DX-coding is not going to change anything for the Nikon F4 because ISO has to be manually dialed in with the ISO knob.

Nikon F4 Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

You will find limited choices for where to process 35mm film. For a more complete explanation of the possible choices go to my guide on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Pharmacies and big box stores do not develop film locally. They mail the film off-site to be processed by a 3rd party. As a result, you won't get 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 photo lab to be processed and scanned is the most convenient solution if you're just getting started using film. If you regularly use film, this could be a disadvantage because it can get expensive.

Assuming that you're going through a moderate to high volume of film, there are a few activities that can be done to minimize your costs.

Bulk Loading Film

One of the ideal methods to reduce costs on film is to buy a bulk roll of 100 feet of film and load canisters by hand.

A 100-foot roll should fill roughly 18 canisters of film with 36 frames. Look forward to discounts of 20-30% based on the film you choose.

Keep in mind that you are going to be limited to bulk rolls of black and white film. This is due to black and white film is quite a bit easier and more cost-effective to develop at home.

Home Developing and Scanning

It is simple to process and digitize film yourself. It's an intelligent method to cut costs so you can use more film with your Nikon F4.

Black and white film is by far the least complicated to process. Chemical temperature and development times are not as vital to do correctly with black and white films as time and temperatures are for transparency or color negative.

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