Best Film for the Nikon FE2

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

The best film to use in your Nikon FE2 is going to be based on the lens, available light, and if you want to use color or black & white.

Buying an ISO 400 35mm or faster will allow you to skip needing to haul around a flash and/or tripod.

If you would like to take photos in low light, such as indoors, ensure that you are using a fast lens. Read my list on the 5 Best Lenses for the Nikon FE2 for ideas.

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - The film handles a plethora of lighting conditions well and is a terrific selection for a color 35mm film. Using Kodak UltraMax 400 you should be able to handhold the FE2 in just about all situations.

Expect images to look slightly warm with beautiful colors.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Based on your location, this film could be more widely available. It's a top-quality alternative to Kodak emulsions.

Fuji photographs appear to have cooler colors with notable greens and blues when compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - You're limited to just a few offerings if you want an ISO 800 speed color 35mm film. For 35mm film stocks focused on consumers, Lomography 800 is the only available option.

Furthermore, if you own a medium format camera, Lomography 800 is also sold in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film that was launched in the mid-1980s. Gold 200 has the look and feel of family snapshots from the 80s and 1990s. Use a flash to get the "classic" look.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to bring out the most popular look the film can achieve. This will produce the outstanding colors people love Kodak Gold for.

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

Kodak Portra 400 - Among the film shooting enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is by far and away the most widely used color film. Overexpose Portra 400 by 1 or 2-stops to get the look and feel the film is known for.

There's also ISO 800 and 160 versions of Portra. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 film are also available to purchase.

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm emulsion that is closest to Kodak Portra 400, but with a different color appearance. Expect to see more vibrant greens and blues.

It is sold in rolls of 120, but not in 8x10 or 4x5 sheets.

Black and White Film

Consumer

With reasonable prices and good favorable for use in the Nikon FE2.

The major draw for photography students and budget-minded photographers is the very affordable price. Even if you wouldn't put yourself in that group, it is nice to have inexpensive rolls of 35 film available for trying out recently purchased used gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - It's made by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is excellent due to the fact that allows this to be the most widely available film out of the three.

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

An excellent film to use for your initial few attempts at film photography or home developing. Additionally, a good option if you're testing out a camera to be sure that it's fully operational.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - The cheapest place to buy this film is straight from Ultrafine.

They manufacture chemical developer kits for color 35mm film, so if you process film at home you might have already done business with them.

Professional

Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 are the 2 most commonly used black & white films. While they both possess different appearances, they do have numerous characteristics in common that help makes them popular.

Both emulsions can be pushed 1 or 2 stops and while still producing good quality photographs. A 35mm roll of film can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them very flexible.

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

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The fundamental differences are that HP5 Plus has lower levels of contrast and is more affordable when compared to Tri-X. Minimal amounts of contrast can be good due to the fact contrast can be changed when making a print in the darkroom or through digital processing.

The film emulsion has subdued grain and still appears good when pushed 2-stops.

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film stock has a stronger look to it. To create the old-school grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it will need to be processed in Kodak D-76.

You are going to clearly see far more contrast with Kodak Tri-X. That is fantastic if it is the overall look you need because it involves substantially less work when editing digitally or making a darkroom print.

Reversal Film

Reversal film, also known as transparency film or slide film, generates a positive picture. That means a light box or projector can be used to view the photos.

Colors don't need to be inverted to be viewed, unlike the more readily available negative film emulsions.

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

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - The film is known for fine grain and great skin tones. The colors don't appear oversaturated. It is daylight color balanced.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Delivers beautiful looking images that have substantially elevated amounts of saturation and contrast. It is a razor-sharp daylight color balanced film emulsion. When compared to all the transparency films you can buy, it has the best resolving power.

It is also available in an ISO 100 emulsion.

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

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white slide film, claimed by Fomapan as having higher contrast, very good resolving power, and fine grain. It's also billed as a substitute for the long-discontinued Agfa Scala slide film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

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

There is a difference in where rolls of film can be purchased. Consumer film emulsions can generally still be purchased from pharmacies and big-box stores in limited amounts. Professional film should really be purchased from an online retailer or specialized camera store.

Film ISO

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

The bigger the ISO of the film, the less light will be necessary to get an image. Furthermore, be prepared for noticeably increased film grain.

ISO 100 and slower films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc) is often troublesome to shoot handheld with the FE2. This is due to the fact that if you don't have full sun, the shutter speeds will be longer than what you could handhold without resulting in motion blur.

To avoid motion blur you will need to use a fast lens, tripod, and/or flash. The extra accessories may not be needed if you go with a higher speed ISO 400 or ISO 800 film.

The ISO selection knob is marked as ASA/ISO on the Nikon FE2. The switch to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) came after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Latitude

Film latitude is the range of stops a film can be overexposed while keeping usable photographs. Pro film stocks have a larger latitude paired with a somewhat increased cost.

Negative film has more latitude than transparency film. That is one of the reasons it is deemed to be more difficult to use.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range is the range between the darkest and brightest details of a photograph that can be captured. Parts of an image that fall out of this range will be seen as totally white overexposed highlights or totally black underexposed shadows.

A bigger dynamic range is ideal given that a bigger range makes working in a variety of lighting conditions easier.

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

Slide film is considered to be hard to use because of the constrained dynamic range. The golden hour is the best time to use reversal film.

Film Type

35mm film that comes in canisters is used by the Nikon FE2. In addition, it’s the best-selling type of film and occasionally described as 135 film.

The only other film format you are going to encounter to notice is 120 or 220 film that is used with medium format cameras.

One of the marvelous things about film is that you can swap the film you use and get a different look to your pictures.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Almost all available 35mm film sold these days has DX encoding on the canister. This lets electronically controlled cameras to automatically detect and set the ISO when the film canister is loaded into the camera.

The ASA/ISO on the Nikon FE2 is required to be dialed in manually. This means that DX-coding doesn't serve a purpose for the camera.

Nikon FE2 Resources

Where to Get Film Developed?

You will find only a few possible choices for where to have 35mm film processed. For a more detailed explanation of the possible choices read my guide on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Film is no longer processed locally at pharmacies and big box stores. They ship film off-site to be processed by a separate company. Because of this, you won't receive 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 film to a mail-order lab to be processed and scanned is the most straightforward option if you are just getting started shooting film. If you consistently use film, this can be a disadvantage because it can get really expensive.

Assuming that you're using a medium to high volume of film, there are two actions that can be done to reduce your expenses.

Bulk Loading Film

Purchasing a bulk roll of 100 feet of film and manually loading it into canisters by hand is considered one of the most widely used methods to lower expenses.

A 100' bulk roll will fill typically around 18 canisters of film containing 36 exposures each. Look forward to discounts of 20-30% based on your choice.

Be aware that you are limited to 100-foot rolls of black and white film. This is due to the fact black and white film is quite a bit easier and more affordable to develop yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

Any film can be processed at home. It is a smart option to spend less so that you can use more film with your Nikon FE2.

Black and white film is significantly less complicated to process. Temperature and time are not as critical to do correctly with black & white films as temperatures and time are for transparency or color negative.

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