Best Film for the Nikon FS

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

The best film to use in your Nikon FS is going to be based on your lens, lighting conditions, and type of film you want to use.

Working with an ISO 400 film or higher speed will let you eliminate needing to lug around a tripod and/or flash.

If you have a need to capture photos in low light, such as indoors, make sure that you have a fast lens.

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - This film works well in a large range of lighting conditions and is an excellent pick for a 35mm color film. The film is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the FS in the majority of scenarios.

Expect photographs to look a little warm with pleasant skin tones.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Based on where you are in the world, this film may be more widely available. It's a great alternative to Kodak emulsions.

Fuji photographs appear to have cooler tones with notable blues and greens, compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - If you want a color film with an ISO of 800, there are only a few offerings. This is literally the only 35mm film targeted towards consumers.

The emulsion is sold in the 120 film format, to be used with a medium format camera.

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film stock that was launched in the mid-1980s. The film has the look and feel of family snapshots from the 80s and 90s. Use an on-camera flash to get the "nostalgic" film look.

To bring the best out of this film, you'll have to over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will ensure that you get the eye-catching colors people love Kodak Gold 200 for.

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

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

Plus, ISO 160 and ISO 800 emulsions of Kodak Portra. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 film are also available to purchase.

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

It's offered in 120, but not in sheets of 4x5 or 8x10.

Black and White Film

Consumer

With affordable prices and very good very popular for use in the Nikon FS.

The primary 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 inexpensive rolls of 35 film around for evaluating recently delivered used cameras.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - Manufactured by Harmon Technology, which is the owner of Ilford. This is notable due to the fact that allows this to be the most broadly sold 35mm film out of the three.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It will be less difficult to buy in Europe as the film is produced out of the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.

A suitable film stock to try for your initial few attempts at analog photography or developing film at home. Additionally, a good selection if you happen to be trying out a camera to guarantee that it's totally operational.

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

If you develop 35mm color film yourself, you could have done that with chemicals produced by them.

Professional

The 2 most popular black & white film stocks are Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5+ 400. They have many capabilities that are equivalent that make them so popular while maintaining unique rendering.

You can achieve quality images after pushing both film emulsions 2-stops. A 35mm roll of film can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them remarkably useful.

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

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - Between the two film emulsions, HP5 Plus has lower levels of contrast and is cheaper. A lack of contrast can be advantageous because of the fact contrast can be increased when making a darkroom print or through digital processing.

The film stock has a subtle grain and still looks great when pushed 2-stops.

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film has a more distinctive rendering. To achieve the legendary grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it should be developed in Kodak D-76.

You will unquestionably notice more contrast with Kodak Tri-X. That is very good if that is the overall look you want to have because it involves much less work when printmaking or during digital post-processing.

Transparency Film

Films that make a positive image can be called reversal, transparency, or slide film. That means a lightbox or projector can be used to view the photographs.

Colors are not required to be inverted to be viewed, contrary to the more often used negative film stocks.

Slide films are perceived as very hard to shoot due to the fact slide film has a smaller amount of latitude and dynamic range when compared with negative film.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a fine grain film known for beautiful skin tones. The colors won't be seen as oversaturated. Ektachrome has been balanced for daylight.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is an amazingly sharp daylight-balanced transparency film with high levels of saturation and contrast, giving pictures a unique rendering. It has the highest resolving power of any available transparency film emulsion.

An ISO 100 emulsion is also available.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Produces vibrant and realistic colors with moderate contrast and color saturation. It's a film balanced for daylight with ultrafine grain.

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white slide film, claimed by Fomapan as having very good resolving power, elevated levels of contrast, and fine grain. It's also regarded as an alternative for the long-discontinued Agfa Scala Film Stock.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Pro film stock have better dynamic range, latitude, and can more easily be pushed, that is why pro-film costs more.

There's a big difference in businesses that sell 35mm rolls of film. Consumer film stocks can commonly be obtained from pharmacies and big-box stores in meager amounts. Professional level film emulsions should really be ordered from an online or specialized photography store.

Film ISO

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

The less light available to properly expose an image, the bigger the ISO of the film will be necessary. This comes at the expense of noticeably increased film grain.

ISO 100 and slower films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc) are often quite challenging to shoot handheld with the FS. They might take longer will probably take more time than what you are able to handhold without resulting in motion blur unless you are working in full sun.

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

As a quick note, the ISO dial is marked as ASA/ISO on the Nikon FS. The transition to using ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Film Latitude

Latitude is the range of stops a film can be overexposed while still retaining acceptable images. Pro film stocks have a greater latitude to go along with a slightly increased cost.

Transparency film has a smaller amount of latitude in comparison with negative film. That is one of the reasons why it's deemed to be challenging to use.

Dynamic Range

The range between the brightest and darkest details of a photograph is described as dynamic range. Areas of a picture that are not in this range will appear as totally white overexposed highlights or totally black underexposed shadows.

A larger dynamic range is advantageous due to the fact that it makes shooting in variable lighting conditions easier.

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

Reversal film is considered tough to use due to the limited dynamic range. The golden hour is the best time to use transparency film.

Film Type

The Nikon FS takes 35mm film that is sold in canisters. It can also be called 135 film, and it's the most widely used type of film.

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

Changing the film you are using will alter the look of your pictures. This is an example of the terrific things about shooting film.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Almost all new 35mm film on the market these days has DX encoding. This will allow cameras to auto-detect and set the ISO of the film canister loaded.

DX-coding doesn't change anything for the Nikon FS because ISO is required to be dialed in manually.

Nikon FS Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

You will find a handful of options for where to develop 35mm film. For a more in-depth discussion of the possible choices have a look at my article on Where to Develop Film.

WARNING: Big box stores and pharmacies have ended processing film on location. They mail the film away to be developed by a 3rd party. As a consequence, you won't 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

Shipping film to a mail-order photo lab to be processed and scanned is the simplest solution if you're just getting started shooting film. A disadvantage to this is that it becomes really expensive if you're frequently using film.

As long as you're going through a medium to high volume of film, there are a few activities that you are capable of doing to cut back on your expenses.

Bulk Loading Film

Purchasing a roll of 100' of film and manually loading it into canisters by hand is considered one of the most common options to save money.

A 100-foot bulk roll of film will load typically around 18 canisters of film with 36 frames each. Look forward to savings of 20-30% based on your selection.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you're only going to be able to buy bulk rolls of black & white film. This is in part because black and white film is a lot easier and more cost-effective to process at home.

Home Developing and Scanning

All film can be processed by hand. In fact, it's an intelligence method to cut costs so that you can use more film with your Nikon FS.

Black and white film is by far the least complicated to process yourself. Developer temperature and time are both not as essential to get correct with black & white films as time and temperatures are for transparency or color negative.

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