Best Film for the Nikon FT

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: May 29, 2020
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35mm Film To Use

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

Using an ISO 400 35mm or higher speed will enable you to skip needing to haul around a flash and/or tripod.

If you have a need to shoot images indoors or anywhere there is low light, ensure you have a fast lens.

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - The film works well in a variety of lighting conditions and is a good selection for a 35mm color film. Using Kodak UltraMax 400 you should have the ability to handhold the FT in lots of scenarios.

The images will have terrific colors and is on the warm side.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Depending on your location, this film might have greater availability. It's a very good alternative to Kodak film.

Fujifilm photos appear to have cooler colors with an emphasis on blues and greens, compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - If you want a color 35mm film with an ISO of 800, there aren't many possible choices. For 35mm film focused on consumers, this is the sole option.

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

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film stock that started production in the mid-1980s. It has the look and feel of home snapshots from the 80s and 90s. Use a flash to get the "nostalgic" film look.

To really bring the ideal look out of the film, you will have to over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will produce the beautiful colors everyone loves the film for.

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

Kodak Portra 400 - Among film enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is hands down the most popular color 35mm film. Overexpose the film by 1 or 2-stops to get the style the film is well known for.

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

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm equivalent to Kodak's Portra, but with a different color appearance. Expect to see more vibrant blues and greens.

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

Black and White Film

Consumer

These film emulsions have reasonable costs and more than acceptable quality, making them favorable to try in the Nikon FT.

The primary attraction for photography students and budget-minded photographers is the very affordable price. Even if you don't put yourself in those groups, it's nice to have affordable rolls of 35 film readily available for trying out recently delivered used gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

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

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - Can be much easier to buy in Europe as the film is manufactured in the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.

A fine film stock to use for your first few attempts at developing film at home or analog photography. Also, a good selection if you happen to be testing out a camera to guarantee that it is operating correctly.

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

If you process film yourself, you might have done that with developer sold by them.

Professional

Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 are the 2 best black and white 35mm films. While they both possess different looks, they do have quite a few traits that are equivalent that makes them a favorite.

Both film emulsions can be pushed 1 or 2 stops and produce professional images. This makes the film versatile as a roll can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600.

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 less expensive. Minimal amounts of contrast can be a benefit because of the fact that contrast can be increased when making a print in the darkroom or through digital processing.

The film emulsion still appears excellent when pushed 2-stops. It is also known for having subtle grain.

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

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

You're going to undoubtedly notice greater contrast with this film emulsion. That is ideal if that is the look and feel you want because it involves not as much work when printmaking or during digital processing.

Reversal Film

Transparency film, also known as reversal film or slide film, provides a positive image. This allows the photos to be showcased with a lightbox or projector.

Colors are not required to be inverted to be seen, as opposed to the more often used negative film stocks.

Slide films are considered very hard to work with because slide film has substantially less dynamic range and latitude compared to negative film.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

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

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is a sharp color balanced for daylight film with lots of saturation and contrast, giving images a distinctive appearance. Out of all the slide films that are available, it has the best resolving power.

There's another speed that is ISO 100.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Creates natural and vibrant colors with moderate contrast and color saturation. It's a film balanced for daylight with ultra-fine grain.

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

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Pro film stock have better dynamic range, latitude, and are easier to push, this is why pro-film costs more.

You should expect a significant difference in businesses that sell 35mm rolls of film. Consumer film stocks can often be bought from big-box stores and pharmacies in meager quantities. Professional quality film stocks often need to be ordered from an online retailer or camera store.

ISO

Film speed is shown as ISO, which can also be thought of as the film's light sensitivity.

The less light there is available to expose an image, the bigger the ISO will be necessary. This comes at the expense of more noticeable film grain.

ISO 100 and slower films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc) might be quite challenging to shoot handheld with the FT. This is due to the fact that if you do not have full sun, the shutter speeds will most likely take longer than what you could handhold without causing motion blur.

A tripod, a fast lens, and/or a flash are going to help you with longer shutter speeds. The additional gear might not be needed if you pick a faster ISO 800 or ISO 400 film.

As a quick note, the ISO knob is marked as ASA/ISO on the Nikon FT. The change to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) came after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Film Latitude

Latitude is the amount of stops film can be overexposed while keeping acceptable photographs. Pro film emulsions have a larger latitude paired with a somewhat higher price.

Slide film has a smaller amount of latitude than negative film. That is one of the reasons why it is thought of challenging to work with.

Dynamic Range

The range between the darkest and brightest details of an image is described as dynamic range. Sections of a photo that are not in this range will be rendered as totally white overexposed highlights or black underexposed shadows.

A bigger dynamic range is advantageous since it tends to make working in different lighting conditions easier.

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

The small dynamic range of reversal film is another reason why it's thought to be tricky to shoot. Golden hour is the prime time to shoot slide film.

Film Type

The Nikon FT takes 35mm film that is in metal canisters. It can also be called 135 film, and it is the most widely used film format.

120 or 220 film, used with medium format cameras, is the only other film format you are going to encounter.

One of the terrific things about film is that you can swap the film emulsion you work with and get a completely different look to your shots.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Almost all commercially available 35mm film on the market today has DX encoding. This lets cameras to detect and set the ISO when the film canister is loaded into the camera.

DX-coding won't change anything for the Nikon FT because ISO is required to be dialed in manually with the ASA/ISO knob.

Nikon FT Resources

Where to Get Film Developed?

You will find a handful of possibilities for where to have 35mm film processed. For a more detailed discussion of the possible choices see my article on Where to Develop Film.

WARNING: Big box stores and pharmacies no longer process film at the store. They ship film away to be processed by a 3rd party. As a consequence, you will not receive your 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 developed and scanned is the simplest solution if you are just starting to use film. A downside to this is that it ends up being very expensive if you are regularly using film.

Assuming that you are going through a medium to high volume of film, there are two activities that you are capable of doing to greatly reduce your costs.

Bulk Loading Film

Investing in a bulk roll of 100' of film and manually loading in into canisters yourself is among the best ways to lower expenses.

A 100-foot roll of film will fill up roughly 18 canisters of film containing 36 frames. Look forward to discounts of 20-30% based on your pick.

Be aware that you are limited to 100-foot rolls of black & white film. This is because black and white film is quite a bit easier and less expensive to process yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

Any film can be processed by hand. In fact, it's a great way to reduce costs so you can use more film with your Nikon FT.

Black and white film is by far the least complicated to process yourself. Developer temperature and development times are both not as important to do correctly with black & white films as time and temperatures are for color negative or transparency film.

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