Best Film for the Nikon FTn

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: May 30, 2020
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Best 35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in the Nikon FTn should depend on your lens, available light, and type of film you want to use.

Getting an ISO 400 35mm or higher speed will let you avoid being burdened with a flash and/or tripod.

Make sure you have a fast lens if you want to shoot photographs in low light, conditions that are commonly encountered 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 an excellent option for a color film. Using Kodak UltraMax 400 you should have the ability to handhold the FTn in the majority of scenarios.

The photographs will have very good skin tones and lean towards the warm side.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Another option that may have greater availability depending on what country you are in.

Fujifilm photos appear to have cooler colors with notable blues and greens when compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - You're limited to just a small number of options if you want a color ISO 800 35mm film. For film targeted towards consumers, this is the single choice available.

The film is available in the 120 film format, to be used with medium format cameras.

Kodak Gold 200 - An awesome means to obtain that mid-80s through 90s feeling. For the classic photography experience try a flash.

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

Professional

Box of Kodak Portra 400 ISO 35mm film

Kodak Portra 400 - Among photography enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is undoubtedly the most frequently used color film emulsion. Overexpose Portra 400 by 1 or 2-stops to get the color the film is highly regarded for.

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

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm equal to Portra 400, but with "Fuji colors." Expect more vibrant blues and greens.

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

Black and White Film

Consumer

These film emulsions have affordable costs and good quality, making them favorable for use in the Nikon FTn.

The biggest draw for photography students and budget-minded photographers is the affordable cost. Even if you would not put yourself in those groups, it's great to have economical rolls of film readily available for evaluating newly purchased used cameras.

Kentmere 400 black & white 35mm camera film

Kentmere 400 - Produced by Harmon Technology, which is also the parent company of Ilford. This is notable considering that allows this to be the most commonly sold 35mm film out of the three.

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

A great film stock to try for your initial few attempts at home developing or analog photography. Also, a good option if you happen to be testing out a camera to be sure that it is working correctly.

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

If you process 35mm color film yourself, you may have used chemicals produced by them.

Professional

Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 are the two most frequently used black and white films. While they both do have individual rendering, they possess a number of characteristics that are comparable that help makes them a favorite.

Both emulsions can be pushed 2 stops and still create excellent photographs. This makes the film versatile as a roll can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600.

Ilford HP5+ ISO 400 35mm Film

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The major differences are that HP5 Plus has lower levels of contrast and is cheaper compared to Tri-X. Minimal amounts of contrast can be nice because contrast can be increased when making a darkroom print or editing digitally.

The film stock still appears very good when pushed 2-stops. It is also notable for having subtle grain.

Kodak Professional Tri-X 400TX Film Stock

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film stock has a more distinctive look to it. To produce the classic grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it will need to be developed in Kodak D-76.

You'll clearly notice considerably more contrast with Kodak Tri-X 400. That's perfect if that is the look and feel you are after because it involves a great deal less work when through digital post-processing or printmaking.

Slide Film

Film emulsions that create a positive image are referred to as transparency, reversal, or slide film. That means a lightbox or projector can be used to exhibit the photographs.

The colors are not required to be inverted to be viewed, unlike the more commonplace negative films.

Slide films have a smaller amount of dynamic range and latitude when compared to negative film and so they are believed to be more difficult to work with.

Box of Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Transparency Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a fine grain film known for beautiful skin tones. There's almost no hypersaturation of colors. Ektachrome is daylight color balanced.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is an unbelievably sharp color balanced for daylight reversal film with high levels of saturation and contrast, giving pictures a distinct rendering. When compared with all the reversal films on the market, it has the top resolving power.

There's another speed that is ISO 100.

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

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 billed as a replacement for the long-discontinued Agfa Scala reversal film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Professional film stock are easier to push, have increased dynamic range, and latitude, which is the reason pro-film costs more.

There is a difference in businesses that sell it. Consumer film stocks can generally be obtained from big-box stores and pharmacies in anemic amounts. Professional level film emulsions should be ordered from an online or camera store.

ISO

The film speed is displayed by ISO, which may also be thought of as the film's sensitivity to light.

The less light there's available to get an image, the bigger the ISO of the film will have to be. This comes at the cost of bigger film grain.

It might be a challenge to handhold the FTn with ISO 100 or slower speed films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc). This is due to the fact that if you do not have full sun, the shutter speeds can take longer than what you could handhold without resulting in motion blur.

To get around motion blur you will need to use a tripod, a fast lens, and/or a flash. The additional accessories might not be needed if you decide to use a higher speed ISO 400 or ISO 800 film.

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

Latitude

Latitude is the range of stops a film can be overexposed while still keeping good images. Professional film emulsions have a larger latitude to go along with a somewhat increased price.

Negative film has a greater amount of latitude when compared to reversal film. That is a reason why it's thought of difficult to use.

Dynamic Range

The difference between the shadows and highlights details of a photograph is described as dynamic range. Sections of an image that don't fit in this range will appear as completely white overexposed highlights or solid black underexposed shadows.

A larger dynamic range is ideal due to the fact that a larger range tends to make shooting in various 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 an additional reason why it is regarded as hard to shoot. Golden hour is the ideal time to use slide film.

Film Type

35mm film that is sold in metal canisters is used by the Nikon FTn. 35mm film can also be called 135 film, and it's the best-selling film format.

120 or 220 film, used by medium format cameras, is the only other film format you are probably going to notice.

One of the fantastic properties of film is that you can swap the film stock you use and get a fresh look to your shots.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Just about all commercially available 35mm film distributed at this point has DX encoding on the canister. This will allow cameras to automatically detect and set the ISO when the film canister is loaded into the camera.

DX-coding isn't going to make a difference for the Nikon FTn because ISO is required to be dialed in manually with the ASA/ISO knob.

Nikon FTn Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

You will find limited options for where to develop 35mm film. For a more in-depth discussion of the options read my guide on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Film doesn't get processed locally at pharmacies and big box stores. They ship 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 your film to a mail-order lab to be developed and scanned is the least complicated option if you're just beginning to use film. If you frequently use film, this may be a drawback because it can get very expensive.

As long as you're going through a moderate to high volume of film, there are a couple of actions that you are capable of doing to help reduce your costs.

Bulk Loading Film

Investing in a roll of 100' of film and loading it into canisters yourself is one of the most widely used ways to get a better price.

A 100' bulk roll will fill around 18 canisters of film containing 36 frames. Look forward to cost savings of 20-30% depending on your selection.

Take into account that you're only going to be able to purchase rolls of black & white film. This is in part because black and white film is less difficult and less expensive to process yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

You can easily develop and digitize any film at home. It's an excellent option to reduce costs so you can use more film with your Nikon FTn.

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

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