Best Film for the Nikon FT3
The best film to use in the Nikon FT3 will depend on the available light, lens, and if you want to use color or black & white.
To eliminate having to carry around a tripod or flash, get a 35mm film that has an ISO of 400 or higher.
Make sure you have a fast lens if you want to capture photographs in low light, conditions that are often found indoors. For lens lens suggestions read my article on the 5 Best Lenses for the Nikon FT3.
Kodak UltraMax 400 - A terrific choice for a wide range of lighting conditions. Kodak UltraMax 400 is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the FT3 in just about all scenarios.
The photos will have fantastic skin tones and is on the warm side.
Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Depending on where you are in the world, this film can be more widely available. It’s an excellent alternative to Kodak film.
When compared to Kodak, Fujifilm appears to be a little cooler with stronger blues and greens.
Lomography 800 - If you want a color film with an ISO of 800, there are only a small number of offerings. For 35mm film focused on consumers, this is the only option.
It can also be bought in the 120 film format, for use in a medium format camera.
Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film that started production in the mid-1980s. Gold 200 gives the look of home snapshots from the 1980s and 90s. For the authentic shooting experience have an on-camera flash.
Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to reveal the best the film has to offer. This will help you achieve the striking colors people love Kodak Gold for.
Kodak Portra 400 - By far the most popular color negative film among photography enthusiasts online. Overexpose the film by 1 or 2-stops to get the style the film is well known for.
Plus, ISO 800 and ISO 160 emulsions of Portra. As well as in rolls of 120 film, 4x5 sheets, and 8x10 sheets.
Black and White Film
With reasonable prices and more than acceptable quite popular to try in the Nikon FT3.
The main appeal for budget minded photographers and photography students is the low price. Even if you wouldn’t put yourself in that group, it’s great to have low-priced rolls of 35 film readily available for evaluating recently delivered camera gear.
Kentmere 400 - Made by Harmon Technology, which is also the owner of Ilford. This is great considering that allows this to be the most commonly available 35mm film out of the 3.
Foma Fomapan 400 Action - Will be less difficult to buy in Europe as the film is made by Foma Bohemia in the Czech Republic.
A decent film to try for your first few attempts at analog photography or developing film at home. Also a good option if you happen to be testing out a camera to ensure that it’s operating properly.
Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the lowest price by getting it directly from Ultrafine.
They manufacture developer kits for film, so if you develop film at home you might have previously had interactions with them.
Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 are the two top selling black & white 35mm film emulsions. While they both do have distinctive rendering, they do have several attributes in common that help makes them so popular.
Both film stocks can be pushed 2 stops and still provide high quality images. This makes the film versatile as a roll can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600.
Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - Between the two film emulsions, HP5 Plus has lower levels of contrast and is cheaper. Less contrast can be nice because of the fact contrast can be increased when making a print in the darkroom or during digital processing.
The film emulsion still looks very good when pushed 2-stops. It is also noted for having subdued grain.
Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film stock has a more distinctive style. To bring out the legendary grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it will need to be processed in Kodak D-76.
You’re going to unquestionably notice more contrast with Tri-X. That is perfect if that is the style you would you like because it means much less work when editing digitially or making a print in the darkroom.
Film emulsions that produce a positive image are often referred to as reversal, slide, or transparency film. This means the pictures can be viewed with a light box or projector.
This is different from the more prevalent negative film emulsions that create photos that need inverting the colors for the image to be seen.
Slide films have substantially less latitude and dynamic range compared to negative films and so they are viewed as harder to work with.
Kodak Ektachrome 100 - The film is known for pretty skin tones and fine grain. The colors don’t be seen as oversaturated. It has a daylight color balance.
Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is a unbelievably sharp daylight balanced slide film with high levels of saturation and contrast, giving images a distinct look. When compared with all the transparency films available, it has the highest resolving power.
There’s another emulsion with an ISO of 100.
Fujichrome Provia 100F - Offers vivid and natural colors with medium color saturation and contrast. It’s a ultrafine grain film balanced for daylight.
Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white slide film, marketed by Fomapan as having fine grain, increased contrast, and very good resolving power. It’s also regarded as a replacement for the long discontinued Agfa Scala film emulsion.
Consumer vs Professional Film
Pro film stocks cost more since they have larger dynamic range, latitude, and are easier to push.
There’s a disparity in supply. Consumer film emulsions can frequently be purchased from pharmacies and big-box stores in meager quantities. Professional level film emulsions will need to be bought from a photography store or online.
A film’s light sensitivity is represented by the ISO.
The less light there is available to capture an image, the bigger the ISO of the film will have to be. Furthermore, be prepared for increased film grain.
It is often frustrating to handhold the FT3 with ISO 100 or slower films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc). The might be longer might take more time than what you are able to handhold without causing motion blur unless you’re in full sun.
A flash, fast lens, and/or tripod are going to help you with longer shutter speeds. The extra equipment may not be needed if you decide to use a faster ISO 800 or ISO 400 film.
As a quick note, the dial to select film speed is labeled as ASA on the Nikon FT3. The transition to using ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) came after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).
Latitude is the amount of stops film can be overexposed while still holding onto acceptable quality. Professional film emulsions have a greater latitude along with a slightly increased price.
Slide film has less latitude compared to negative film. That is one of the reasons it is viewed as challenging to work with.
Dynamic range represents the range between the highlights and shadows details of a picture that can be captured. Sections of an image that fall out of this range will be rendered as totally black underexposed shadows or solid white overexposed highlights.
When working in a variety or quickly changing lighting conditions, films with a bigger dynamic range is better.
- Digital cameras 14+ stops
- Negative film up to 13 stops
- Slide film 6-8 stops
The limited dynamic range of slide film is another reason it is thought to be challenging to shoot. Golden hour is the prime time to shoot slide.
35mm film that is sold in canisters is used by the Nikon FT3. It can also be called 135 film, and it is the most often used type of film.
The only other type of film you are going to encounter is 120 or 220 film that is used by medium format cameras}.
Switching the film you are working with will alter the look of your photos. This is one of the excellent things about shooting film.
DX Coded Film
Nearly all available 35mm film offered for sale today has DX encoding on the canister. This makes it possible for electronically controlled cameras to detect and set the ISO of the film canister put in the camera.
The ASA (ISO) on the Nikon FT3 is required to be selected manually. So DX-coding does not do anything.
Nikon FT3 Resources
Where to Get Film Developed?
There are a range of choices for where to get 35mm film developed. For a more extensive discussion of the possible choices go look at my guide on Where to Get Film Developed.
WARNING: Big box stores and pharmacies do not process film at the store. They ship the film off-site to be developed by a 3rd party. Because of this, you will not receive your negatives back.
- Develop Film at Home
- Use a Local Photography Lab
- Use a Mail Order Photo Lab
- Pharmacy or Big Box Store
Shipping film to a mail-order lab to be developed and scanned is the easiest option if you are new to using film. A downside to this is that it gets really expensive if you are consistently using film.
There are two things that can be done to limit the costs involved in shooting film, given that you are shooting a moderate to high volume of film.
Bulk Loading Film
Investing in a bulk roll of 100 feet of film and manually loading in into canisters yourself is one of the most popular ways to get a better price.
All said and done, you’ll have about 18 canisters of 36 exposures. Depending on the film stock you will probably save 20%-30%.
Bear in mind that you’re limited to 100’ rolls of black & white film. This is in part because black and white film is easier and more cost-effective to develop yourself.
Home Developing and Scanning
It is simple to develop and digitize any film at home. It is a good method to cut costs so you can shoot more film with your Nikon FT3.
Black and white film is by far the least complicated to develop yourself. Developer temperature and development times are both not as vital to do correctly with black & white films as temperatures and time are for color negative or transparency film.