Best Film for the Nikon F5

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

The best film to use in the Nikon F5 will be based on your lens, available light, and if you want to use color or black & white.

To prevent having to lug around a tripod or flash, get a 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 encountered indoors.

Color Film


Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - The film handles a variety of lighting conditions well and is an excellent pick for a color film. Using this film you should have the ability to handhold the F5 in lots of scenarios.

Expect pictures to look slightly warm with beautiful colors.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Depending on where you are in the world, this film can be more widely available. It's a great alternative to Kodak film.

When compared to Kodak, Fujifilm appears to be a little bit cooler with an emphasis on blues and greens.

Lomography 800 - If you want a color 35mm film with an ISO of 800, there aren't very many offerings. For film focused on consumers, Lomography 800 is the only available choice.

In addition, if you own a medium format camera, it's also sold in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film that was launched in the mid-1980s. The film provides the look of family snapshots from the 1980s and 1990s. Use a flash to get the "nostalgic" film look.

To really bring the best look out of this film, make sure to over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will provide you with the stunning colors everyone loves Kodak Gold 200 for.


Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

Kodak Portra 400 - Among the film shooting enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is undoubtedly the most popular color 35mm film. Overexpose Portra 400 by 1 or 2-stops to get the appearance the film is known for.

Plus, ISO 800 and ISO 160 emulsions of Kodak Portra. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 are also available.

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm emulsion that is most similar to Portra, but with "Fuji colors." Expect more vibrant greens and blues.

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

Black and White Film


With reasonable prices and more than acceptable quite popular to try in the Nikon F5.

The primary appeal for budget-minded photographers and photography students is the reasonable cost. Even if you wouldn't put yourself in that group, it is nice to have low-cost rolls of film on hand for evaluating newly obtained used gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - It is made by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is excellent due to the fact that makes this the most broadly sold B&W film of the three.

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

A great film stock to choose for your first few attempts at developing film at home or analog photography. Also, a good choice if you are looking to check out a camera to make sure that it is completely operational.

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

They make developer kits for film, so if you process film at home you could have already interacted with them.


Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 are the 2 top-selling black and white 35mm films. They have a number of capabilities that are equivalent that makes them a favorite while keeping distinctive styles.

You can get solid photographs after pushing both emulsions 2-stops. This makes the film versatile as a roll can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600.

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

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

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

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film emulsion provides a stronger rendering to it. To reveal the old-school grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it should be processed in Kodak D-76.

You will without a doubt notice considerably more contrast with Tri-X. That's ideal if it happens to be the overall look you would like because it involves significantly less work when during digital processing or making a darkroom print.

Transparency Film

Film emulsions that create a positive image are often referred to as slide, reversal, or transparency film. This means the photos can be exhibited with a lightbox or projector.

The colors don't need to be inverted to be viewed, contrary to the more commonly available negative film stocks.

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

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - The film is known for fine grain and excellent skin tones. There's not any hypersaturation of colors. It is daylight color balanced.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is a sharp daylight color balanced reversal film with high levels of contrast and saturation, giving photos a beautiful rendering. It has the best resolving power of any available slide film stock.

An ISO 100 version is also out there.

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

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white transparency film, reported by Fomapan as having very good resolving power, higher contrast, and fine grain. It is also regarded as an alternative for the discontinued Agfa Scala reversal film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Pro films cost more since they have greater dynamic range, latitude, and can more easily be pushed.

There is a disparity in where 35mm rolls of film can be purchased. Consumer film emulsions can often be purchased from pharmacies and big-box stores in small quantities. Pro film stocks should be ordered from a specialized photography store or online.

Film ISO

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

The less light there is available to expose an image, the higher the ISO will be needed. Furthermore, be prepared to see bigger film grain.

It is often tough to handhold the F5 with ISO 100 or slower speed films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc). This is because if you do not have full sun, the shutter speeds will take more time than what you are able to handhold without causing motion blur.

To avoid this you'll need to use a fast lens, flash, and/or tripod. The additional equipment might not be needed if you go with a faster ISO 800 or ISO 400 film.

The ISO is electronically set by the Nikon F5. This is a change from previous SLRs that have a physical ISO knob.

Film Latitude

Latitude is the range of stops a film can be overexposed while retaining adequate photographs. Pro films have a greater latitude paired with a slightly higher cost.

Negative film has more latitude when compared to transparency film. That is a reason why it's perceived as more difficult to work with.

Dynamic Range

The difference between the brightest and darkest parts of an image is referred to as dynamic range. Sections of a photo that don't fit within this range will be seen as solid white overexposed highlights or totally black underexposed shadows.

When shooting in a wide variety of quickly shifting lighting situations, films with a bigger dynamic range are a much better choice.

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

Slide film is regarded as tough to use due to the limited dynamic range. A great time to test it out would be during the golden hour.

Film Type

35mm film that is sold in canisters is used by the Nikon F5. It’s also the most frequently used type of film and occasionally referred to as 135 film.

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

One of the terrific properties of film is that you can swap the film stock you work with and get a fresh look to your photographs.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Nearly all available 35mm film for sale at this point has DX encoding on the canister. This will allow cameras to auto-detect and set the ISO when the film canister is loaded.

The Nikon F5 will automatically set the film ISO. That is due to the fact that the camera will electronically read the DX-coding on film canisters.

Nikon F5 Resources

Where to Get Film Developed?

You will find a variety of possible choices for where to develop 35mm film. For a more extensive explanation of the possibilities check out my article on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Film doesn't get developed on location at big box stores and pharmacies. They mail film off-site to be processed by a 3rd party. This means that you won't receive your developed 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 film to a mail-order photo lab to be processed and scanned is the least complicated choice if you're just starting to shoot film. A drawback to this is that it can become really expensive if you frequently shoot film.

So long as you are shooting a medium to high volume of film, there are a few things that can be done to greatly reduce your costs.

Bulk Loading Film

Buying a roll of 100 feet of film and loading it into canisters yourself is one of the ideal options to cut costs.

A 100-foot bulk roll can load around 18 canisters of film with 36 frames each. Expect to see discounts of 20-30% based on your pick.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you're limited to 100-foot rolls of black & white film. This is due to black and white film is less difficult and more cost-effective to process yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

You can easily process and digitize any film yourself. It's a very good option to save money so you can use more film with your Nikon F5.

Black & white film is significantly easier to process. Developer temperature and time are not as imperative to do correctly with black & white films as temperatures and time are for transparency or color negative.

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