Best Film for the Nikon FS

Best Nikon FS 35mm Film

The best film to use in the Nikon FS should be based on the available light, lens, and if you want to shoot color or black & white.

Taking advantage of an ISO 400 35mm or higher speed will enable you to eliminate being weighed down with a flash and/or tripod.

Make sure that you have a fast lens if you want to capture pictures in low light, conditions that are often found indoors. Take a look at my brief article on the 5 Best Lenses for the Nikon FS for lens recommendations.

Color Film


Kodak UltraMax 400 35mm Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - The film handles a wide variety of lighting conditions well and is a good choice for a color 35mm film. Kodak UltraMax 400 is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the FS in lots of situations.

Expect images to appear slightly warm with amazing skin tones.

Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Based on where you are in the world, this film can be more widely available. It’s an excellent alternative to Kodak film.

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

Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO

Lomography 800 - There are just a few choices if you want an ISO 800 speed color film. This is the only film stock focused on consumers.

Furthermore, if you own a medium format camera, Lomography 800 is also available in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film that started production in the mid-1980s. The film provides the look and feel of family snapshots from the 1980s and 1990s. For the authentic photography experience use an on-camera flash.

To really bring the best look out of this film, you’ll need to over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will provide the eye-catching colors people love Gold 200 for.


Kodak Portra 400

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

Portra is also available for purchase in ISO 800 and ISO 160 versions. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 film are also easily found.

Black and White Film


With low costs and very good very popular to try in the Nikon FS.

The largest attraction for photography students and budget minded photographers is the competitive price. Even if you do not put yourself in those groups, it’s great to have relatively cheap rolls of 35 film on hand for evaluating recently obtained used gear.

Kentmere 400

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

Foma Fomapan 400 Action

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

A very good film emulsion to work with for your first few attempts at film photography or home developing. Also a good choice if you are testing out a camera to check that it is totally operational.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400

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

If you develop 35mm color film at home, you could have done that with chemicals sold by them.


Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 are the 2 best black and white film stocks. They have several characteristics that are equivalent that help make them a favourite, while maintaining different appearances.

Both film stocks can be pushed 1 or 2 stops and while still producing good quality results. 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 - The most important differences are that HP5 Plus has less contrast and is cheaper compared to Tri-X. Minimal amounts of contrast can be good due to the fact contrast can be increased when making a print or through digital post processing.

The film stock has subdued grain and still appears very good when pushed 2-stops.

Kodak Tri-X 400

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

Tri-X 400 certainly has higher levels of contrast. That is notable if that is the look and feel you need because it requires much less work when making a print or through digital processing.

Reversal Film

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

This is distinct from the more prevalent negative film emulsions that create images that require the colors to be inverted so that they can be viewed.

Slide films have much less dynamic range and latitude compared to negative films and so they are believed to be more difficult to use.

Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Transparency Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a fine grain film known for beautiful skin tones. There is not any hypersaturation of colors. Ektachrome is daylight color balanced.

Fujichrome Velvia 50

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Provides distinct looking photos that have high levels of contrast and saturation. It is remarkably sharp with a daylight color balance. When compared with all the transparency films you can get, it has the greatest resolving power.

There’s also another emulsion with an ISO of 100.

Fujichrome Provia 100F

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

Foma Fomapan R100

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white reversal film, claimed by Fomapan as having higher contrast, fine grain, and high resolving power. It is also regarded as a substitute for the discontinued Agfa Scala transparency film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Pro film stocks cost more since they can more easily be pushed, have greater latitude, and dynamic range.

There will be a disparity in supply. Consumer film emulsions can commonly still be bought in pharmacies and big-box stores in limited amounts. Pro film will need to be bought from a camera store or online retailer.


The speed of the film is shown as ISO, that can also be regarded as the film’s sensitivity to light.

The bigger the ISO of the film, the less light is required to expose a picture. Additionally, be prepared to see larger sized film grain.

ISO 100 and slower speed films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc) can be problematic to use handheld in the FS. The are going to be longer are going to be longer than what you are able to handhold without producing motion blur unless you’re shooting in full sun.

A flash, tripod, and/or fast lens will help you with longer exposure times. The additional equipment might not be needed if you choose to use a faster ISO 800 or ISO 400 film.

As a quick note, the dial to select film speed is listed as ASA on the Nikon FS. The change to using ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).


Film latitude is the amount of stops film can be overexposed while keeping acceptable quality. Pro film stocks have a greater latitude paired with a slightly higher cost.

Negative film has a greater amount of latitude than reversal film. That is a reason why it is believed to be difficult to work with.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range represents the range between the shadows and highlights parts of a picture that can be recorded. Areas of a photo that do not fit within this range will appear as black underexposed shadows or totally white overexposed highlights.

A bigger dynamic range is advantageous given that a bigger range makes shooting in a wide variety of lighting situations easier.

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

Slide film is viewed as tough to shoot as a consequence of the constrained dynamic range. A fantastic time to try it would be during the golden hour.

Film Type

35mm film that is in metal canisters is used by the Nikon FS. In addition, it’s the most popular film format and in some instances is described as 135 film.

The only other film format you are going to encounter is 120 or 220 film that is used by medium format cameras}.

Switching the film you are using will change the look of your pictures. This is one of the best things about shooting film.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Nearly all new 35mm film made today has DX encoding on the canister. This allows cameras to detect and set the ISO of the film loaded.

DX-coding doesn’t make a difference for the Nikon FS because ISO has to be set manually with the ASA knob.

Nikon FS Resources

Where to Get Film Developed?

There are limited choices for where to have 35mm film processed. For a more extensive discussion of the choices check my guide on Where to Develop Film.

WARNING: Film does not get developed on site at big box stores and pharmacies. They mail the film away to be processed by a separate company. As a consequence, 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 least difficult option and the method I suggest using if you’re just beginning to use film is to mail your film to a photo lab to be developed and scanned. If you frequently shoot film, this can be a disadvantage due to the fact that it can get expensive.

There are a few actions that can be done to limit the costs involved in using film, given that you are going through a moderate to high volume of film.

Bulk Loading Film

Certainly one of the leading options to cut costs on film is to buy a bulk roll of 100 feet of film and manually load canisters by hand.

After you are done, you will end up having about 18 rolls of 36 frames each. Expect to save 20-30% depending on the film.

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

Home Developing and Scanning

You have the ability to develop and digitize any film at home. In fact it is a good method to spend less so that you can use more film with your Nikon FS.

Black and white film is by far the least difficult to process. Temperature and time are both not as important to do correctly with black & white film as they are for color negative or transparency film.