Best Film for the Nikon FA
The best film to use in the Nikon FA should be based on the lighting, your lens, and type of film you want to shoot.
To prevent having to lug around a flash and/or tripod, pick a 35mm film that has an ISO of 400 or faster.
If you intend to capture photographs inside or anywhere there is low light, make sure you are using a fast lens. Have a look at my short article on the 5 Best Lenses for the Nikon FA for lens suggestions.
Kodak UltraMax 400 - An excellent choice for a wide range of lighting conditions. The film is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the FA in the vast majority of circumstances.
Expect images to appear slightly warm with pleasant skin tones.
Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Depending on your location, this film may be more widely available. It’s a very good alternative to Kodak.
Fuji photos appear to have cooler tones with an emphasis on greens and blues, when compared to Kodak.
Lomography 800 - You’re limited to just a small number of options if you want an ISO 800 speed color film. For 35mm film stocks targeted towards consumers, Lomography 800 is the sole option.
The film can also be bought in the 120 film format, to be used with medium format cameras.
Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film stock that was launched in the mid-1980s. Kodak Gold 200 provides the look of snapshots from the 1980s and 1990s. Use an on-camera flash to get the “authentic” film look.
To bring the best out of the film, you will want to over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will provide you with the attractive colors everyone loves Kodak Gold for.
Kodak Portra 400 - Among the photography enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is undoubtedly the most widely used color negative film. Overexpose the film by 1 or 2-stops to get the appearance the film is highly regarded for.
Kodak Portra is also available in ISO 160 and ISO 800 versions. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 are also manufactured.
Black and White Film
With reasonable costs and very good very popular to try in the Nikon FA.
The main draw for photography students and budget minded photographers is the reasonable price. Even if you don’t put yourself in that group, it’s good to have economical rolls of film around for trying out recently obtained used gear.
Kentmere 400 - Produced by Harmon Technology, which is also the parent company of Ilford. This is notable since that makes this the most commonly sold film of the three.
Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It will probably much easier to obtain in Europe as the film is produced out of the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.
A suitable film emulsion to use for your initial couple of attempts at analog photography or home developing. Also a good option if you happen to be attempting to try out a camera to ensure that it’s totally operational.
Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the best price on this film by ordering it directly from Ultrafine.
They distribute chemical developer kits for color film, so if you develop film at home you could have previously done business with them.
Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 are the two most widely used black and white films. They have a lot of characteristics that are comparable that help make them so well received, while retaining different appearances.
You can create great results 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 - Between the two films, HP5 Plus is cheaper and has less contrast. Minimal amounts of contrast can be an advantage because of the fact contrast can be added when making a darkroom print or through digital processing.
The film still appears good when pushed 2-stops. It is also noted for having subdued grain.
Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film features a more distinctive rendering to it. To achieve the traditional grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it needs to be processed in D-76.
Tri-X undeniably has a higher level of contrast. That’s excellent if it happens to be the style you would like because it means considerably less work when during digital post processing or making a print in the darkroom.
Reversal film, also known as slide or transparency film, generates a positive image. This means the slides can be shown with a light box or projector.
Colors don’t need to be inverted to be seen, in contrast to the more often used negative films.
Slide films are considered hard to work with due to the fact slide film has a lot less latitude and dynamic range compared to negative film.
Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a fine grain film known for beautiful skin tones. The colors won’t appear oversaturated. Ektachrome has been balanced for daylight.
Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Offers beautiful looking images that have increased levels of saturation and contrast. It is amazingly sharp and balanced for daylight. It has the highest resolving power of any available slide film.
An ISO 100 version is also out there.
Fujichrome Provia 100F - Offers vibrant and realistic colors with moderate contrast and color saturation. It has a daylight color balance and ultrafine grain.
Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white transparency film, claimed by Fomapan as having very fine grain, high resolving power, and higher contrast. It is also billed as a replacement for the long discontinued Agfa Scala Film Stock.
Consumer vs Professional Film
Pro films cost more due to the fact they are easier to push, have increased dynamic range, and latitude.
There will be a significant difference in where film can be purchased. Consumer film stocks can frequently still be bought from pharmacies and big-box stores in meager quantities. Pro film stocks should be ordered from a online or camera store.
The ISO represents the speed of the film, which can also be thought of as the film’s light sensitivity.
The less light available to properly expose an image, the bigger the film’s ISO will have to be. This comes at the expense of bigger film grain.
ISO 100 and slower films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc) may be problematic to shoot handheld with the FA. The will probably be longer might take longer 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 high speed ISO 800 or ISO 400 film can make the extra equipment not needed.
The ISO selection knob is marked as ASA on the Nikon FA. The change to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).
Latitude is the number of stops film can be overexposed while still producing tolerable quality. Pro films have a greater latitude to go along with a slightly higher price.
Negative film has a greater amount of latitude compared to slide film. That is one of the reasons why it is considered more challenging to work with.
The range between the brightest and darkest details of an image is referred to as dynamic range. Sections of a photo that are not in this range will appear as completely white overexposed highlights or completely black underexposed shadows.
When shooting in a wide variety or quickly changing lighting situations, film stocks with a larger dynamic range are a much better choice.
- Digital cameras 14+ stops
- Negative film up to 13 stops
- Slide film 6-8 stops
Reversal film is regarded as challenging to use resulting from the small dynamic range. An extremely good time to test it out is during the golden hour.
The Nikon FA uses 35mm film that is in canisters. 35mm film can also be described as 135 film, and it is the most frequently used film format.
The only other type of film you are likely to encounter is 120 or 220 film that is used by medium format cameras}.
Swapping the film stock you are working with will transform the look of your pictures. This is one of the wonderful things about using film.
DX Coded Film
Most available 35mm film offered for sale at this point has DX encoding on the canister. This allows cameras to automatically detect and set the ISO of the film canister loaded.
DX-coding does not matter for the Nikon FA because ISO needs to be selected manually.
Nikon FA Resources
Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?
You will find limited choices for where to have film developed. For a more thorough explanation of the options take a look at my article on Where to Develop Film.
WARNING: Film is no longer processed locally at pharmacies and big box stores. They ship the film off-site to be developed by a third party. Because of that, you will not get your developed negatives back.
- Develop Film at Home
- Use a Local Photography Lab
- Use a Mail Order Photo Lab
- Pharmacy or Big Box Store
Sending your film to a mail-order photo lab to be processed and scanned is the most convenient solution if you’re new to using film. If you frequently shoot film, this may be a drawback since it can get pricey.
There are a few things that can be done to minimize the expenses involved in using film, given that you are going through a medium to high volume of film.
Bulk Loading Film
Investing in a bulk roll of 100’ of film and loading in into canisters by hand is among the common options to get a better price.
A 100’ bulk roll of film should load typically around 18 rolls of film containing 36 frames each. Expect to see cost savings of 20-30% depending on your pick.
Be aware that you are limited to bulk rolls of black & white film. This is due to the fact black and white film is a lot easier and more cost-effective to process yourself.
Home Developing and Scanning
It’s easy to process and scan any film at home. It is a great method to reduce costs so you can shoot more film with your Nikon FA.
Black & white film is significantly easier to process. Chemical temperature and time are not as critical to do correctly with black and white film as they are for slide or color negative.