Best Film for the Nikon FG-20

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: May 28, 2020
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35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in your Nikon FG-20 will have to be based on your lens, available light, and if you want to use color or black & white.

To avoid having to haul around a flash and/or tripod, purchase a film that has an ISO of 400 or higher.

If you have a need to shoot images in low light, such as indoors, make sure that you have a fast lens. Go read my blog post on the 5 Best Lenses for the Nikon FG-20 for recommendations.

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - An excellent selection for a diverse range of conditions. Using Kodak UltraMax 400 you should have the ability to handhold the FG-20 in just about all circumstances.

Expect images to look slightly warm with amazing skin tones.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - A different option than Kodak that may have far better availability based on what country you are in.

Fuji photographs tend to have cooler tones with notable blues and greens when compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - You're limited to just a few choices if you want a color ISO 800 film. For 35mm film emulsions geared towards consumers, Lomography 800 is the single available choice.

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

Kodak Gold 200 - A great solution to get that mid-1980s through 90s style. For the authentic experience have an on-camera flash.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to reveal the best look the film can achieve. This will help you achieve the exceptional colors everyone loves Kodak Gold 200 for.

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

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

There are also ISO 160 and 800 versions of Kodak Portra. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 film are also easily found.

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm equivalent to Portra, but with a distinctive color appearance. Expect to see stronger greens and blues.

Sheets of 8x10 or 4x5 film are not produced, but 120 film is available.

Black and White Film

Consumer

With affordable prices and more than acceptable very popular to be used in the Nikon FG-20.

The main attraction for photography students and budget-minded photographers is the reasonable cost. Even if you would not put yourself in those groups, it's good to have low-cost rolls of 35 film on hand for trying out recently delivered used cameras.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - It's manufactured by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is notable because that allows this to be the most commonly sold film out of the three.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It will probably less difficult to purchase in Europe as the film is produced inside of the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.

A great 35mm film to employ for your initial few attempts at developing film at home or analog photography. Also, a good option if you are attempting to test out a camera to be sure that it's completely operational.

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

They distribute chemical developer kits for 35mm color film, so if you process film at home you could have already had interactions with them.

Professional

Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 are the 2 best black & white 35mm film emulsions. They possess a number of characteristics that are similar that make them so well received while retaining different looks.

You can still get professional results after pushing both film 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 fundamental differences are that HP5 Plus has lower levels of contrast and is less expensive when compared to Tri-X. Minimal amounts of contrast can be good because of the fact contrast can be added when making a print or editing digitally.

The film stock still appears outstanding when pushed 2-stops. It is also recognized as having subdued grain.

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film emulsion possesses a more distinctive style. To achieve the traditional grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it will need to be processed in Kodak D-76.

You'll certainly see greater contrast with Kodak Tri-X 400. That is very good if it's the look you would prefer because it involves considerably less work when printmaking or editing digitally.

Reversal Film

Film stocks that make a positive image can be called reversal, transparency, or slide film. This means the pictures can be showcased with a projector or lightbox.

Colors are not required to be inverted to be viewed, in contrast to the more readily available negative film stocks.

Slide films have much less dynamic range and latitude when compared to negative film and so they are perceived as more challenging to shoot.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - The film is known for its terrific skin tones and fine grain. There's no hypersaturation of colors. Ektachrome has been color balanced for daylight.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Makes beautiful looking photos that have noticeably increased amounts of contrast and saturation. It is sharp with a daylight color balance. Out of all the transparency films you can buy, it has the highest resolving power.

You can also get it in an ISO 100 emulsion.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Offers realistic and vivid colors with moderate contrast and color saturation. It's an ultrafine grain film balanced for daylight.

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white transparency film, noted by Fomapan as having very good resolving power, very fine grain, and increased levels of contrast. It's also mentioned as a substitute for the discontinued Agfa Scala reversal film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Professional films cost more because they have better latitude, are easier to push, and expanded dynamic range.

You should expect a disparity in business that sell 35mm rolls of film. Consumer film emulsions can generally be obtained from pharmacies and big-box stores in anemic amounts. Professional film needs to be bought from a specialized photography store or online.

Film ISO

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

The less light available to get an image, the bigger the ISO of the film will be necessary. Additionally, be prepared to see more noticeable film grain.

It can be problematic to handhold the FG-20 with ISO 100 or slower films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc). The will probably take more time will most likely take longer than what you can handhold without producing motion blur unless you're working in full sun.

A fast lens, flash, and/or tripod are going to help you with longer exposure times. Using a high-speed ISO 400 or ISO 800 film will make the additional accessories not needed.

The ISO dial is marked as ASA/ISO on the Nikon FG-20. The switch to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Film Latitude

Latitude is the number of stops a film can be overexposed while still producing adequate photographs. Pro film stocks have a larger latitude paired with a somewhat increased cost.

Transparency film has less latitude in comparison with negative film. That is a reason why it's perceived as more difficult to work with.

Dynamic Range

The range between the shadows and highlights details of a photograph is described as dynamic range. Sections of a photograph that fall out of this range will be seen as white overexposed highlights or totally black underexposed shadows.

When shooting in a wide variety or quickly shifting lighting conditions, film stocks with a bigger dynamic range is better.

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

The constrained dynamic range of slide film is a second reason why it's considered to be tricky to shoot. Golden hour is the best time to use slide film.

Film Type

35mm film that is in metal canisters is used by the Nikon FG-20. It can also be described as 135 film, and it's the best-selling film format.

120 or 220 film, used by medium format cameras, is the only other type of film you are probably going to notice.

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

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

All new 35mm film offered for sale these days has a DX code. This makes it possible for cameras to detect and set the ISO of the film canister put in the camera.

DX-coding doesn't change anything for the Nikon FG-20 because ISO has to be manually selected with the ASA/ISO knob.

Nikon FG-20 Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

You will find a handful of choices for where to get 35mm film developed. For a more extensive explanation of the possibilities check my article on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Big box stores and pharmacies do not develop film at the store. They mail film off to be processed by a third party. 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 photo lab to be processed and scanned is the most convenient option if you are just beginning to shoot film. If you consistently shoot film, this can be a drawback due to the fact that it can get expensive.

There are a few things that can be done to cut back on the expenses required to use film, assuming that you are shooting a medium to high volume of film.

Bulk Loading Film

Purchasing a roll of 100' of film and loading it into canisters yourself is certainly one of the ideal ways to lower expenses.

A 100-foot bulk roll should fill up around 18 canisters of film with 36 frames. Expect to see cost savings of 20-30% depending on the film you purchase.

Bear in mind that you are only going to be able to purchase rolls of black and white film. This is due to black & white film is much easier and more affordable to process at home.

Home Developing and Scanning

All films can be processed by hand. It's an intelligent way to save money so you can use more film with your Nikon FG-20.

Black & white film is significantly less complicated to develop yourself. Developer temperature and development times are both not as important to do correctly with black & white films as temperatures and time are for transparency or color negative.

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