Best Film for the Nikon FE

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: May 10, 2020
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35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in the Nikon FE will have to be based on the lens, available light, and type of film you want to use.

Getting an ISO 400 film or faster will let you skip being weighed down with a flash and/or tripod.

If you want to be able to shoot photographs in low light, such as indoors, make sure that you have a fast lens. Read my guide on the 5 Best Lenses for the Nikon FE for suggestions.

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - The film works well in a wide variety of lighting conditions and is a terrific option for a 35mm color film. Using this film you should have the ability to handhold the FE in the majority of circumstances.

Expect photographs to look a little warm with outstanding colors.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Another option that might have greater availability depending on where you are in the world.

Fujifilm photographs appear to have cooler tones with stronger blues and greens, compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - You're limited to only a few options if you want a color ISO 800 35mm film. For film stocks focused on consumers, this is the only available choice.

Additionally, if you have a medium format camera, it is also sold in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film that was released in the mid-1980s. Gold 200 gives the look and feel of family snapshots from the 80s and 90s. For the authentic photography experience have a flash.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to produce the best look the film can achieve. This will ensure that you get the appealing colors everyone loves Kodak Gold for.

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

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

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

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm film that is closest to Kodak Portra 400, but with "Fuji colors." Expect to see more vibrant greens and blues.

It's available in rolls of 120, but not in sheets of 8x10 or 4x5.

Black and White Film

Consumer

These film emulsions have low costs and very good quality, making them favorable to try in the Nikon FE.

The primary draw for budget-minded photographers and photography students is the low cost. Even if you do not put yourself in those groups, it's good to have low-cost rolls of 35 film readily available for evaluating recently purchased used gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - Produced by Harmon Technology, which is the owner of Ilford. This is notable considering that allows this to be the most commonly sold film out of the three.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It is less difficult to find in Europe as the film is manufactured by Foma Bohemia out of the Czech Republic.

A suitable 35mm film to try for your initial few attempts at developing film at home or analog photography. Also, a good selection if you happen to be testing out a camera to confirm that it is working properly.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the best price on this film by getting it from Ultrafine.

They sell chemical developer kits for color 35mm film, so if you process film at home you may have already interacted with them.

Professional

Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 are the 2 most frequently used black & white 35mm films. While they both possess individual looks, they possess a large number of traits that are comparable that makes them so popular.

You can enjoy professional images after pushing both films 2-stops. A roll of film can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them remarkably flexible.

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

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - Between the two film emulsions, HP5 Plus has less contrast and is cheaper. Low amounts of contrast can be an advantage because of the fact contrast can be adjusted when making a print in the darkroom or through digital processing.

The film still looks outstanding when pushed 2-stops. It is also recognized as having subtle grain.

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film stock has a more distinctive rendering to it. To produce the classic grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it should be processed in D-76.

You're going to undeniably notice considerably more contrast with Kodak Tri-X 400. That is notable if that is the style you would like because it involves significantly less work when editing digitally or making a darkroom print.

Slide Film

Films that create a positive image are generally referred to as slide, reversal, or transparency film. That means a projector or lightbox can be used to display the photos.

This is unique from the more readily available negative film stocks that result in images that need the colors to be inverted in order to be seen.

Slide films have substantially less dynamic range and latitude when compared with negative film and so they are perceived as challenging to work with.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a film known for gorgeous skin tones and fine grain. The colors won't look oversaturated. It has been balanced for daylight.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is a very sharp daylight balanced film with lots of contrast and saturation, giving photos a distinct rendering. Compared to all the transparency films you can buy, it has the top resolving power.

You can also get it in an ISO 100 speed.

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

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white reversal film, marketed by Fomapan as having high resolving power, fine grain, and increased contrast. It's also regarded as a substitute for the long-discontinued Agfa Scala transparency film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

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

You should be prepared for a significant difference in where it can be purchased. Consumer film stocks can often be obtained from big-box stores and pharmacies in anemic amounts. Professional film stocks should be purchased online or from a photography store.

ISO

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

The less light available to capture an image, the higher the ISO of the film will have to be. Additionally, be prepared for noticeably increased film grain.

ISO 100 and slower films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc) is often a challenge to shoot handheld with the FE. They are going to be longer might take more time than what you can handhold without causing motion blur unless you are shooting in full sun.

To stop this you'll need to use a flash, tripod, and/or fast lens. Using a high-speed ISO 800 or ISO 400 film will likely make the extra equipment unnecessary.

The dial to select film speed is marked as ASA on the Nikon FE. The change to using ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) came after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Latitude

Film latitude is the number of stops a film can be overexposed while holding onto acceptable results. Pro film stocks have a larger latitude to go along with a slightly increased cost.

Transparency film has less latitude when compared to negative film. That is a reason it's believed to be harder to use.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range represents the range between the shadows and highlights parts of an image that can be captured. Parts of a photograph that don't fit within this range will be rendered as completely white overexposed highlights or totally black underexposed shadows.

A bigger dynamic range is ideal given that a bigger range can make shooting in variable lighting conditions easier.

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

The small dynamic range of reversal film is a second reason it's viewed as tricky to shoot. Golden hour is the prime time to shoot reversal.

Film Type

35mm film that is sold in canisters is used by the Nikon FE. In addition, it’s the best-selling film format and in some instances is called 135 film.

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

Swapping the film emulsion you are working with will change the look of your shots. This is an example of the marvelous things about film.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

All commercially available 35mm film offered at this point has a DX code. This makes it possible for cameras to detect and set the ISO when the film canister is loaded into the camera.

DX-coding won't change anything for the Nikon FE because ISO must be selected manually with the ASA knob.

Nikon FE Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

You will find just a few choices for where to develop 35mm film. For a more detailed explanation of the possibilities, you can check out my guide on Where to Develop Film.

WARNING: Pharmacies and big box stores have ended developing film on location. They ship film away to be processed by a 3rd party. Because of this, you won't be given 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 straightforward solution if you are just beginning to use film. A downside to this is that it will become expensive if you frequently shoot film.

So long as you're using a moderate to high volume of film, there are a couple of activities that you are capable of doing to greatly reduce your costs.

Bulk Loading Film

Buying a roll of 100' of film and manually loading in into canisters yourself is one of the best options to lower your expenses.

A 100-foot bulk roll can fill around 18 canisters of film containing 36 frames each. Based on the film you are likely to save 20%-30%.

Keep in mind that you're limited to rolls of black and white film. This is because black & white film is much easier and more cost-effective to develop yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

It is simple to develop and digitize film yourself. It's an excellent option to save money so you can shoot more film with your Nikon FE.

Black and white film is significantly less difficult to develop yourself. Temperature and development times are not as vital to get correct with black & white films as time and temperatures are for slide or color negative.

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