Best Film for the Nikon F5

The best film to use in your Nikon F5 is going to depend on your lens, lighting conditions, and if you want to use color or black & white.

Taking advantage of an ISO 400 35mm or faster will allow you to avoid having to haul around a flash or tripod.

If you want to take photos indoors or anytime there is low light, make sure that you have a fast lens. Check out my short article on the 5 Best Lenses for the Nikon F5 for ideas.

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

Kodak UltraMax 400 - This film can be used in a plethora of lighting conditions and is a terrific choice for a color 35mm film. Using this film you should be able to handhold the F5 in the majority of situations.

The images will have very good skin tones and tend to be on the warm side.

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

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

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

Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO
Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO

Lomography 800 - You’re limited to only a few possibilities if you want a color ISO 800 film. This is literally the only 35mm film targeted towards consumers.

Lomography 800 can also be bought in the 120 film format, to be used with medium format cameras.

Kodak Gold 200
Kodak Gold 200

Kodak Gold 200 - An outstanding means to get that mid-80s through 90s look. Use an on-camera flash to get the “authentic” look the film is known for.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to bring out the best look the film can achieve. This will give you the great colors people love Kodak Gold 200 for.

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

Kodak Portra 400 - By far the most popular color negative film among photography enthusiasts online. Overexpose Portra 400 by 1 or 2-stops to get the style the film is well known for.

Portra is also for sale in ISO 160 and 800 emulsions. As well as in rolls of 120 film, 4x5 sheets, and 8x10 sheets.

With reasonable costs and excellent favorable for use in the Nikon F5.

The major draw for photography students and budget minded photographers is the low cost. Even if you don’t put yourself in those groups, it’s good to have low-priced rolls of film around for evaluating newly obtained used gear.

Kentmere ISO 400 Film
Kentmere 400

Kentmere 400 - It is produced by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is good considering that allows this to be the most commonly sold B&W film out of the three.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action
Foma Fomapan 400 Action

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - Can be much easier to get in Europe as the film is produced out of the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.

A good quality film stock to choose for your first few attempts at analog photography or home developing. Also a good selection if you happen to be trying out a camera to guarantee that it is fully operational.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400
Ultrafine eXtreme 400

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - The cheapest place to purchase this film is directly from Ultrafine.

They produce chemical developer kits for color film, so if you develop film at home you may have previously interacted with them.

The 2 top selling black and white 35mm films are Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5 Plus 400. They do have several traits in common that make them so well received, while keeping different rendering.

You can achieve very good images after pushing both films 2-stops. This makes the film versatile as a roll can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600.

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. Low amounts of contrast can be helpful due to the fact contrast can be increased when making a darkroom print or editing digitally.

The film emulsion has subtle grain and still looks great when pushed 2-stops.

Kodak Tri-X 400
Kodak Tri-X 400

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film stock provides a more distinctive rendering. To produce the traditional grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it needs to be developed in D-76.

You are going to undeniably notice a higher level of contrast with Kodak Tri-X 400. That is fantastic if it’s the look and feel you would you like because it involves substantially less work when making a print in the darkroom or during digital post processing.

Slide film, also known as reversal or transparency film, gives you a positive picture. This means the pictures can be showcased with a light box or projector.

This is different from the more widespread negative films that create images that need the colors to be inverted for the image to be seen.

Slide films are considered tricky to work with because slide film has substantially less latitude and dynamic range than negative film.

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 don’t seem oversaturated. The film has been color balanced for daylight.

Fujichrome Velvia 50
Fujichrome Velvia 50

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Makes beautiful looking shots that have increased levels of saturation and contrast. It is exceptionally sharp with a daylight color balance. When compared with all the reversal films available, it has the greatest resolving power.

It is also available in an ISO 100 emulsion.

Fujichrome Provia 100F
Fujichrome Provia 100F

Fujichrome Provia 100F - Offers realistic and vibrant colors with medium color saturation and contrast. It has ultrafine grain with a daylight color balance.

Foma Fomapan R100
Foma Fomapan R100

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white transparency film, described by Fomapan as having higher contrast, very good resolving power, and very fine grain. It’s also mentioned as a replacement for the long discontinued Agfa Scala Film Stock.

Professional film stocks cost more because they are easier to push, have greater latitude, and dynamic range.

You should expect a disparity in supply. Consumer films can usually still be purchased from big-box stores and pharmacies in meager quantities. Pro film will need to be bought from a online retailer or specialized photography store.

The speed of the film is shown as 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 film’s ISO will be necessary. This comes at the expense of more film grain.

ISO 100 and slower speed films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc) is often difficult to shoot handheld in the F5. The might take more time will probably take longer than what you’re able to handhold without causing motion blur unless you are out in full sun.

To avoid motion blur you’ll need to use a tripod, flash, and/or fast lens. Using a high speed ISO 800 or ISO 400 film will likely make the extra equipment not needed.

As a quick note, the dial to select film speed is labeled as ASA on the Nikon F5. The shift to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) came after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Film latitude is the amount of stops film can be overexposed while holding onto acceptable quality. Pro film emulsions have a greater latitude paired with a somewhat higher cost.

Negative film has a larger amount of latitude than slide film. That is one of the reasons it is considered difficult to shoot.

Dynamic range represents the difference between the darkest and brightest details of a photo that can be captured. Parts of a photograph that don’t fit in this range will appear as solid black underexposed shadows or totally white overexposed highlights.

When working in a wide variety or quickly changing lighting situations, film stocks with a larger dynamic range is better.

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

Slide film is considered challenging to use on account of the limited dynamic range. An extremely good time to test it out would be during the golden hour.

The Nikon F5 uses 35mm film that is in metal canisters. 35mm film can also be described as 135 film, and it is the most frequently used film format.

The only other film format you are probably going to see is 120 or 220 film that is used by medium format cameras}.

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

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

All new 35mm film offered at this point has DX encoding on the canister. This lets cameras to automatically detect and set the ISO of the film loaded.

DX-coding won’t change anything for the Nikon F5 because ISO is required to be dialed in manually.

There are a range of possibilities for where to have film processed. For a more extensive explanation of the choices read my article on Where to Develop Film.

WARNING: Pharmacies and big box stores do not process film on location. They send the film off-site to be processed by a separate company. Because of this, you will not 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

Sending film to a mail-order lab to be developed and scanned is the easiest choice if you are just starting to use film. If you regularly use film, this can be a drawback since it can get pricey.

There are two actions that you can do to reduce the expenses involved in using film, if you’re using a medium to high volume of film.

Certainly one of the most well known ways to cut costs on film is to buy a bulk roll of 100 feet of film and manually load it into canisters by hand.

A 100’ roll of film will load typically around 18 rolls of film containing 36 exposures. Based on the film stock you will probably save 20%-30%.

Keep in mind that you’re limited to rolls of black and white film. This is in part because black and white film is easier and more affordable to develop yourself.

Any film can be processed by hand. It is a good method to save money so you can use more film with your Nikon F5.

Black & white film is by far the simplest to process. Chemical temperature and time are both not as imperative to do correctly with black and white film as they are for color negative or slide film.