Best Film for the Nikon FM2

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: May 26, 2020
Best 35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in the Nikon FM2 will have to be based on the lighting, lens, and type of film you want to use.

To eliminate having to lug around a tripod and/or flash, choose a film that has an ISO of 400 or faster.

Make sure you have a fast lens if you want to capture photos in low light, conditions that are frequently found indoors.

Color Film

Consumer

Box of Kodak UltraMax 400 ISO 35mm film for cameras

Kodak UltraMax 400 - The film works well in a large range of lighting conditions and is a terrific selection for a color film. Using Kodak UltraMax 400 you should have the ability to handhold the FM2 in the vast majority of scenarios.

Expect images to appear slightly warm with gorgeous colors.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - An alternative to Kodak that could have greater availability depending on where you are in the world.

In comparison to Kodak, Fuji tends to be a bit cooler with an emphasis on blues and greens.

Lomography 800 - If you want a color 35mm film with an ISO of 800, there are only a small number of possible choices. For 35mm film stocks geared towards consumers, this is the only choice.

In addition, if you own a medium format camera, Lomography 800 is also for sale in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200 - An outstanding means to achieve that mid-80s through 90s look. For the classic shooting experience take advantage of a flash.

To really bring the ideal look out of the film, you will have to over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will provide you with the stunning colors people love Kodak Gold 200 for.

Professional

Box of Kodak Portra 400 ISO 35mm film

Kodak Portra 400 - Among film shooting enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is undoubtedly the most frequently used color 35mm film emulsion. Overexpose the film by 1 or 2-stops to get the look the film is well known for.

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

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

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

Black and White Film

Consumer

With reasonable costs and excellent favorable to be used in the Nikon FM2.

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

Kentmere 400 black & white 35mm camera film

Kentmere 400 - It's produced by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is notable considering that allows this to be the most broadly available B&W film out of the three.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It's much easier to get in Europe as the film is manufactured in the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.

A suitable film emulsion to choose for your initial few attempts at developing film at home or analog photography. Also, a good choice if you are testing out a camera to confirm that it is totally functional.

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

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

Professional

Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5+ 400 are the 2 most commonly used black & white 35mm film stocks. They have a lot of traits that are similar that help makes them a favorite while keeping individual styles.

You can enjoy professional photographs after pushing both film stocks 2-stops. A 35mm roll can be used at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them very versatile.

Ilford HP5+ ISO 400 35mm Film

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

The film still appears great when pushed 2-stops. It is also noted for having subdued grain.

Kodak Professional Tri-X 400TX Film Stock

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

You'll unquestionably notice greater contrast with this film. That is very good if it is the overall look you would like because it involves considerably less work when printmaking or during digital processing.

Transparency Film

Film stocks that make a positive image are typically referred to as transparency, reversal, or slide film. This means the slides can be showcased with a lightbox or projector.

This is different from the more prevalent negative film stocks that produce images that require inverting the colors so that they can be viewed.

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

Box of Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Transparency Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - The film is known for striking skin tones and fine grain. There's no hypersaturation of colors. It has a daylight color balance.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Provides beautiful looking images that have significantly elevated amounts of contrast and saturation. It is a razor-sharp daylight color balanced film emulsion. Velvia has the highest resolving power of any slide film.

There's another emulsion with an ISO of 100.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Offers realistic and vivid colors with medium contrast and color saturation. It's a film balanced for daylight with ultra-fine grain.

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white transparency film, reported by Fomapan as having very good resolving power, fine grain, and increased contrast. It is also mentioned as a substitute for the discontinued Agfa Scala Film Stock.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

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

There might be a big difference in the number of businesses that sell it. Consumer films can often be obtained from big-box stores and pharmacies in anemic amounts. Professional film often needs to be ordered from a specialized camera store or online.

ISO

A film's sensitivity to light is displayed by the ISO.

The less light available to properly expose an image, the bigger the film's ISO will need to be. Furthermore, be prepared for more film grain.

It might be a challenge to handhold the FM2 with ISO 100 or slower speed films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc). The can take longer will likely take longer than what you could handhold without producing motion blur unless you are working in full sun.

A fast lens, tripod, and/or flash are going to assist you with longer exposure times. The extra accessories might not be needed if you pick a higher speed ISO 800 or ISO 400 film.

As a quick note, the ISO knob is listed as ASA/ISO on the Nikon FM2. The shift to using ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Film Latitude

Film latitude is the range of stops a film can be overexposed while still retaining acceptable photographs. Pro film stocks have a greater latitude paired with a somewhat higher cost.

Reversal film has a smaller amount of latitude compared to negative film. That is one of the reasons it is believed to be harder to shoot.

Dynamic Range

The range between the darkest and brightest parts of a photograph is known as dynamic range. Sections of a photograph that don't fit within this range will be seen as totally white overexposed highlights or black underexposed shadows.

When shooting in a wide variety of quickly shifting lighting conditions, film stocks with a larger dynamic range are a better choice.

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

Transparency film is viewed as a challenge to shoot as a consequence of the constrained dynamic range. An extremely good time to try it out is during the golden hour.

Film Type

The Nikon FM2 takes 35mm film that comes in canisters. It can also be described as 135 film, and it's the best-selling film format.

The only other type of film you are probably going to see is 120 or 220 film that is used in medium format cameras.

Switching the film stock you are working with will alter the look of your shots. This is an example of the fantastic things about film.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Virtually all new 35mm film offered for sale today has DX encoding. This allows electronically controlled cameras to auto-detect and set the ISO of the film loaded.

DX-coding isn't going to make a difference for the Nikon FM2 because ISO is required to be dialed in manually.

Nikon FM2 Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

You will find several options for where to get film processed. For a more comprehensive explanation of the possible choices, you can check out my article on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Film doesn't get developed locally at big box stores and pharmacies. They send film off-site to be processed by a separate company. Consequently, 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

The most convenient option and the method I suggest using if you're just getting started using film is to ship your film to a lab to be developed and scanned. If you consistently use film, this may be a disadvantage since it can get very expensive.

There are a couple of activities that can be done to greatly reduce the costs involved in shooting film, given that you're going through a medium to high volume of film.

Bulk Loading Film

Purchasing a bulk roll of 100 feet of film and manually loading it into canisters by hand is among the ideal options to lower expenses.

All said and done, you will end up getting about 18 canisters of 36 frames each. Expect to save 20-30% based on the film you decide on.

Be aware that you're going to be limited to 100-foot rolls of black and white film. This is in part because black & white film is quite a bit easier and less expensive to process at home.

Home Developing and Scanning

It's simple to process and scan any film yourself. It is a great way to spend less so you can use more film with your Nikon FM2.

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

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