Best Film for the Nikon FG-20

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

To prevent having to carry around a tripod or flash, get a 35mm film that has an ISO of 400 or higher.

If you would like to take pictures in low light, such as inside, ensure that you have a fast lens. For lens suggestions read my list on the 5 Best Lenses for the Nikon FG-20.

Kodak UltraMax 400 35mm Film
Kodak UltraMax 400 35mm Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - The film handles a plethora of lighting conditions well and is an excellent selection for a 35mm color film. Using this film you should be able to handhold the FG-20 in the majority of situations.

Expect photographs to appear slightly warm with pleasant skin tones.

Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400
Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Depending on where you are in the world, this film could have greater availability. It’s a fantastic alternative to Kodak.

When compared to Kodak, Fuji appears to be a little bit cooler with stronger greens and blues.

Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO
Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO

Lomography 800 - There are only a small number of choices if you want an ISO 800 speed color film. For film targeted towards consumers, this is the only choice.

Furthermore, if you have a medium format camera, it’s also sold in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200
Kodak Gold 200

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film that started production in the mid-1980s. Kodak Gold 200 gives the look of home snapshots from the 1980s and 90s. Use a flash to get the “authentic” film look.

To really bring the best look out of the film, you’ll have to over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will produce the eye-catching colors people love the film for.

Box of Kodak Portra 400 ISO 35mm film
Kodak Portra 400

Kodak Portra 400 - Among the photography enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is hands down the most frequently used color film emulsion. Overexpose the film by 1 or 2-stops to get the color the film is known for.

There’s also ISO 800 and 160 emulsions of Kodak Portra. As well as in rolls of 120 film, 4x5 sheets, and 8x10 sheets.

These film stocks have affordable costs and very good quality, making them favorable to be used in the Nikon FG-20.

The largest appeal for budget minded photographers and photography students is the very low cost. Even if you would not put yourself in that group, it is great to have relatively cheap rolls of 35 film on hand for evaluating recently delivered used cameras.

Kentmere ISO 400 Film
Kentmere 400

Kentmere 400 - Manufactured by Harmon Technology, which is also the owner of Ilford. This is good since that allows this to be the most widely sold 35mm film out of the three.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action
Foma Fomapan 400 Action

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

A good film emulsion to employ for your initial few attempts at film photography or home developing. Also a good option if you happen to be trying out a camera to check that it is operating correctly.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400
Ultrafine eXtreme 400

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - The best place to buy this film is online directly from Ultrafine.

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

The 2 best black & white film stocks are Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400. They have quite a few qualities in common that make them so well liked, while keeping individual rendering.

You can enjoy good 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.

Ilford HP5 Plus 400
Ilford HP5 Plus 400

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - Between the two film emulsions, HP5 Plus has less contrast and is less expensive. A lack of contrast can be nice because of the fact contrast can be adjusted when making a print in the darkroom or editing digitally.

The film stock has subtle grain and still appears outstanding when pushed 2-stops.

Kodak Tri-X 400
Kodak Tri-X 400

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film emulsion possesses a stronger aesthetic to it. To produce the legendary grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it will need to be developed in Kodak D-76.

You are going to unquestionably see more contrast with Tri-X 400. That is good if it’s the look and feel you would prefer because it involves less work when editing digitially or printmaking.

Reversal film, also known as slide film or transparency film, produces a positive picture. This means the photographs can be showcased with a light box or projector.

This is unique from the more readily available negative film emulsions that make photographs that require the colors to be inverted for the image to be seen.

Slide films have far less dynamic range and latitude compared to negative films and so they are regarded as more difficult to shoot.

Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Slide Film
Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Transparency Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a film known for striking skin tones and fine grain. There’s virtually no hypersaturation of colors. Ektachrome has been balanced for daylight.

Fujichrome Velvia 50
Fujichrome Velvia 50

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is a amazingly sharp color balanced for daylight film with high levels of saturation and contrast, giving photographs a distinct rendering. When compared to all the slide films you can buy, it has the highest resolving power.

There’s another version that is ISO 100.

Fujichrome Provia 100F
Fujichrome Provia 100F

Fujichrome Provia 100F - Creates natural and vivid colors with moderate color saturation and contrast. It is a daylight color balanced film with ultrafine grain.

Foma Fomapan R100
Foma Fomapan R100

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

Pro film stock have improved dynamic range, latitude, and are easier to push, which is the reason pro-film costs more.

There is a difference in supply. Consumer films can usually be seen in pharmacies and big-box stores in limited amounts. Professional quality film emulsions usually need to be ordered from a photography store or online retailer.

Film speed is listed as ISO, which can also be thought of as the film’s sensitivity to light.

The less light available to get an image, the bigger the ISO will need to be. This comes at the cost of more noticeable film grain.

It might be problematic to handhold the FG-20 with ISO 100 or slower speed films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc). This is due to the fact that if you don’t have full sun, the exposure times are going to be longer than what you are able to handhold without causing motion blur.

To stop this you are going to need to use a fast lens, flash, and/or tripod. Using a high speed ISO 400 or ISO 800 film can make the additional accessories unnecessary.

As a quick note, the ISO dial is listed as ASA 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).

Latitude is the amount of stops a film can be overexposed while still retaining adequate images. Professional film emulsions have a larger latitude to go along with a slightly higher price.

Negative film has a greater amount of latitude when compared to reversal film. That is a reason it’s deemed to be difficult to use.

Dynamic range represents the difference between the highlights and shadows details of a photo that can be recorded. Sections of a photo that do not fit in this range will be rendered as completely white overexposed highlights or solid black underexposed shadows.

When shooting in a wide variety or quickly changing lighting conditions, films with a larger dynamic range is better.

  • 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 why it’s considered challenging to shoot. Golden hour is the prime time to use transparency.

The Nikon FG-20 takes 35mm film that is sold in canisters. In addition, it’s the most widely used type of film and sometimes referred to as 135 film.

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

Switching the film you are working with will transform the look of your photos. This is one of the terrific things about using film.

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister
DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Most available 35mm film on the market currently has DX encoding on the canister. This makes it possible for cameras to automatically detect and set the ISO when the canister is put in the camera.

ASA (ISO) on the Nikon FG-20 is required to be manually selected. As a result DX-coding will not be of any use.

You will find only a few possibilities for where to process film. For a more complete explanation of the options have a look at my guide on Where to Develop Film.

WARNING: Pharmacies and big box stores have ceased processing film at the store. They send film off to be processed by a 3rd party. Because of this, you will not get 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

The easiest method and the method I suggest doing if you are just getting started shooting film is to ship your film to a lab to be developed and scanned. If you frequently shoot film, this may be a downside due to the fact that it can get very expensive.

As long as you are shooting a moderate to high volume of film, there are a couple of activities that can be done to lower your expenses.

Certainly one of the ideal options to spend less money on film is to buy a bulk roll of 100’ of film and manually load it into canisters yourself.

A 100’ roll will fill roughly 18 rolls of film with 36 exposures. You should expect to save 20-30% based on the film.

Bear in mind that you’re going to be limited to 100 foot rolls of black and white film. This is in part because black and white film is less difficult and more cost-effective to process at home.

All film can be processed by hand. It’s an intelligence method to cut costs so that you can use more film with your Nikon FG-20.

Black & white film is significantly less difficult to process at home. Developer temperature and time are both not as important to do correctly with black & white film as time and temperatures are for transparency or color negative.