Best Film for the Nikon FG

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: May 30, 2020
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Best 35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in your Nikon FG should depend on the lens, lighting conditions, and if you want to use color or black & white.

Choosing an ISO 400 film or faster will allow you to eliminate needing to haul around a flash and/or tripod.

If you have a need to shoot photos inside or anytime there is low light, ensure that you have a fast lens. For lens ideas take a look at my brief article on the 5 Best Lenses for the Nikon FG.

Color Film

Consumer

Box of Kodak UltraMax 400 ISO 35mm film for cameras

Kodak UltraMax 400 - A terrific selection for a variety of conditions. Using this film you should have the ability to handhold the FG in almost all situations.

The photographs will have great colors and is on the warm side.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Depending on your location, this film might be more widely available. It is a top-quality alternative to Kodak film.

When compared to Kodak, Fujifilm tends to be a bit cooler with notable greens and blues.

Lomography 800 - If you want a color film with an ISO of 800, there are only a few possible choices. For film geared towards consumers, this is the single choice available.

Additionally, if you own a medium format camera, it's also for sale in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film emulsion that was launched in the mid-1980s. Kodak Gold 200 provides the look of snapshots from the 1980s and 90s. Use a flash to get the "authentic" look.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to produce the best the film has to offer. This will produce the fantastic colors people love Kodak Gold for.

Professional

Box of Kodak Portra 400 ISO 35mm film

Kodak Portra 400 - By far the most popular color negative film among film shooting enthusiasts online. Overexpose the film by 1 or 2-stops to get the overall look the film is highly regarded for.

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

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm counterpart to Kodak Portra 400, but with a distinctive color profile. Expect to see more vibrant greens and blues.

Sheets of 8x10 or 4x5 film aren't produced, but 120 film is available.

Black and White Film

Consumer

With affordable costs and more than acceptable favorable to use in the Nikon FG.

The major attraction for photography students and budget-minded photographers is the very affordable price. Even if you do not put yourself in those groups, it is great to have comparatively cheap rolls of film on hand for evaluating recently delivered used cameras.

Kentmere 400 black & white 35mm camera film

Kentmere 400 - Manufactured by Harmon Technology, which is the parent company of Ilford. This is notable considering that allows this to be the most commonly available 35mm film out of the 3.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - Might be much easier to purchase in Europe as the film is made out of the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.

An ideal film stock to choose for your first few attempts at analog photography or developing film at home. Also, a good option if you are trying out a camera to make sure that it is fully operational.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the cheapest price by purchasing it directly from Ultrafine.

They produce developer kits for color film, so if you process film at home you might have already interacted with them.

Professional

The 2 top-selling black & white film stocks are Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5 Plus 400. They do have many characteristics that are equivalent that help makes them a favorite while keeping distinctive looks.

You can obtain excellent photographs 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+ ISO 400 35mm Film

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The most significant differences are that HP5 Plus has lower levels of contrast and is less expensive when compared to Tri-X. Low amounts of contrast can be a benefit due to the fact contrast can be increased when making a print in the darkroom or through digital post-processing.

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

Kodak Professional Tri-X 400TX Film Stock

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film has got a more distinctive rendering to it. To showcase the old-school grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it needs to be developed in D-76.

Tri-X certainly has far more contrast. That is very good if that is the look you are after because it means significantly less work when printmaking or editing digitally.

Reversal Film

Slide film, also known as reversal or transparency film, gives you a positive picture. That means a projector or lightbox can be used to view the photos.

Colors are not required to be inverted to be seen, in contrast to the more often used negative film emulsions.

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

Box of Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Transparency Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - The film is known for fine grain and beautiful skin tones. The colors will not look oversaturated. It has been balanced for daylight.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is an exceptionally sharp color balanced for daylight slide film with high levels of contrast and saturation, giving photographs a distinctive appearance. Matched against all the reversal films that are available, it has the best resolving power.

It is also available in an ISO 100 version.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Offers realistic and vibrant colors with moderate contrast and color saturation. It has ultra-fine grain with a daylight color balance.

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white transparency film, marketed by Fomapan as having increased contrast, excellent resolving power, and very fine grain. It's also regarded as an alternative for the discontinued Agfa Scala.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Professional film stock have a greater dynamic range, are easier to push, and larger latitude, this is why pro-film costs more.

There is a big difference in where film can be purchased. Consumer films can oftentimes be seen in big-box stores and pharmacies in limited amounts. Pro film stocks often need to be ordered from an online retailer or specialized camera store.

Film ISO

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

The less light available to get an image, the bigger the film's ISO will have to be. This comes at the cost of larger film grain.

ISO 100 and slower films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc) is often quite challenging to shoot handheld with the FG. They are going to take longer will probably take longer than what you’re able to handhold without producing motion blur unless you're working in full sun.

A flash, tripod, and/or fast lens can help you with longer exposure times. Using a high-speed ISO 800 or ISO 400 film will make the extra equipment not needed.

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

Film Latitude

Latitude is the number of stops a film can be overexposed while producing tolerable photographs. Pro films have a larger latitude along with a slightly increased cost.

Negative film has a greater amount of latitude compared to transparency film. That is one of the reasons why it's deemed to be more difficult to work with.

Dynamic Range

The range between the brightest and darkest details of a picture is referred to as dynamic range. Parts of a photo that don't fit within this range will be rendered as solid white overexposed highlights or totally black underexposed shadows.

When shooting in a variety or quickly changing lighting situations, film stocks with a bigger dynamic range are a better choice.

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

The small dynamic range of reversal film is a further reason why it's thought to be challenging to shoot. A very good time to give it a try is during the golden hour.

Film Type

35mm film that is in canisters is used by the Nikon FG. The film can also be described as 135 film, and it is the most widely used film format.

120 or 220 film, used with medium format cameras, is the only other type of film you are likely to come across.

One of the fantastic properties of film is that you can swap the film emulsion you use and get a completely different look to your images.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

All new 35mm film manufactured at this point has a DX code. This makes it possible for electronically controlled cameras to detect and set the ISO of the canister loaded.

DX-coding isn't going to matter for the Nikon FG because ISO needs to be manually selected with the ASA/ISO knob.

Nikon FG Resources

Where to Get Film Developed?

There are a few options for where to have 35mm film developed. For a more extensive discussion of the options have a look at my article on Where to Develop Film.

WARNING: Film is no longer processed on location at pharmacies and big box stores. They send the film off-site to be developed by a 3rd party. Because of this, you won't be given 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

Sending film to a mail-order photo lab to be processed and scanned is the least complicated option if you are just starting to use film. If you regularly use film, this might be a disadvantage because it can get pricey.

There are two activities that can be done to minimize the expenses required to use film, if you are going through a medium to high volume of film.

Bulk Loading Film

Considered one of the most common options to cut costs on film is to buy a bulk roll of 100 feet of film and manually load it into canisters yourself.

A 100-foot bulk roll of film should load roughly 18 rolls of film containing 36 frames. Based on the film you are likely to save 20%-30%.

Be aware that you are limited to bulk rolls of black & white film. This is in part because black & white film is a lot easier and more cost-effective to process yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

Any film can be processed by hand. In fact, it is an excellent method to lower your costs so that you can use more film with your Nikon FG.

Black & white film is significantly less difficult to develop at home. Developer temperature and development times are not as necessary to do correctly with black & white film as they are for transparency or color negative.

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