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Best Film for the Nikon FTn

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Best Nikon FTn 35mm Film

´╗┐The best film to use in the Nikon FTn will be based on the lens, available light, and if you want to shoot color or black & white.

To eliminate having to haul around a tripod or flash, purchase a 35mm film that has an ISO of 400 or higher.

If you need to capture images in low light, such as inside, make sure that you have a fast lens. Check out my article on the 5 Best Lenses for the Nikon FTn for ideas.

Color Film

Consumer

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Kodak UltraMax 400 35mm Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - This film handles a plethora of lighting conditions well and is an excellent choice for a color film. The film is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the FTn in the majority of circumstances.

Expect photographs to appear a little bit warm with outstanding skin tones.

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Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - An alternative to Kodak that might have better availability depending on where you are in the world.

When compared to Kodak, Fujifilm tends to be a little cooler with an emphasis on blues and greens.

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Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO

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

It is sold in the 120 film format, for use in medium format cameras.

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Kodak Gold 200

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film emulsion that was launched in the mid-1980s. Gold 200 gives the look of snapshots from the 80s and 90s. For the classic shooting experience have an on-camera flash.

To really bring the best look out of the film, you will need to over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will give you the idyllic colors people love Kodak Gold for.

Professional

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Kodak Portra 400

Kodak Portra 400 - Among the film shooting enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is without a doubt the top color 35mm film. Overexpose the film by 1 or 2-stops to get the overall look the film is well known for.

Additionally, ISO 800 and ISO 160 emulsions of Portra. As well as in rolls of 120, 4x5 sheets, and 8x10 sheets.

Black and White Film

Consumer

These film stocks have affordable prices and excellent quality, making them quite popular to try in the Nikon FTn.

The primary attraction for budget minded photographers and photography students is the affordable cost. Even if you wouldn’t put yourself in that group, it’s nice to have low-priced rolls of 35 film available for trying out recently acquired used gear.

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Kentmere 400

Kentmere 400 - It’s manufactured by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is notable because that makes this the most commonly available film of the 3.

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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.

An ideal film to work with for your first few attempts at film photography or developing film at home. Also a good choice if you’re trying out a camera to be sure that it is working properly.

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Ultrafine eXtreme 400

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - The best store to get this film is straight from Ultrafine.

They sell chemical developer kits for color 35mm film, so if you develop film at home you may have previously done business with them.

Professional

The two most commonly used black and white 35mm films are Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5 Plus 400. While they both have distinctive rendering, they possess a large amount of traits that are comparable that help makes them a favorite.

You can achieve good images after pushing both films 2-stops. This makes the film versatile as a roll can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600.

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Ilford HP5 Plus 400

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The most important differences are that HP5 Plus has less contrast and is more affordable in comparison to Tri-X. Less contrast can be beneficial because of the fact contrast can be increased when making a darkroom print or during digital processing.

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

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Kodak Tri-X 400

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

Kodak Tri-X 400 certainly has greater contrast. That is great if it happens to be the style you want because it means considerably less work when making a print in the darkroom or during digital post processing.

Reversal Film

Reversal film, also known as transparency or slide film, provides a positive image. That means a projector or lightbox can be used to view the pictures.

The colors do not need to be inverted to be viewable, in contrast to the more commonplace negative film stocks.

Slide films are believed to be hard to work with due to the fact slide film has much less latitude and dynamic range when compared with negative film.

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Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Transparency Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - The film is known for great skin tones and fine grain. The colors will not be seen as oversaturated. Ektachrome has been balanced for daylight.

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Fujichrome Velvia 50

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is a unbelievably sharp daylight balanced film with high levels of contrast and saturation, giving photos a signature rendering. Matched against all the slide films you can get, it has the highest resolving power.

An ISO 100 emulsion is also available to buy.

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Fujichrome Provia 100F

Fujichrome Provia 100F - Produces vibrant and realistic colors with moderate color saturation and contrast. It is a ultra fine grain film balanced for daylight.

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Foma Fomapan R100

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white reversal film, noted by Fomapan as having increased levels of contrast, very fine grain, and high resolving power. It is also mentioned as a replacement for the discontinued Agfa Scala film emulsion.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Professional films cost more because they have better dynamic range, latitude, and can more easily be pushed.

There’s a significant difference in supply. Consumer film stocks can frequently be bought from pharmacies and big-box stores in small quantities. Professional film should be purchased from a specialized camera store or online retailer.

ISO

A film’s sensitivity to light is displayed by the ISO.

The higher the film’s ISO, the less light is required to properly expose a picture. Additionally, be prepared for larger sized film grain.

ISO 100 and slower speed films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc) can be a challenge to use handheld in the FTn. This is due to the fact that without full sun, the shutter speeds will likely take more time than what you can handhold without causing motion blur.

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

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

Latitude

Film latitude is the amount of stops film can be overexposed while still holding onto satisfactory results. Pro film emulsions have a larger latitude along with a somewhat increased cost.

Slide film has less latitude when compared to negative film. That is one of the reasons why it is deemed to be harder to use.

Dynamic Range

The difference between the highlights and shadows details of a photo is known as dynamic range. Areas of a photo that are not in this range will be seen as totally white overexposed highlights or solid black underexposed shadows.

When shooting in a variety or quickly shifting lighting situations, film stocks with a larger dynamic range are a superior choice.

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

The constrained dynamic range of slide film is one more factor it is considered challenging to shoot. The best time to try it out would be during the golden hour.

Film Type

The Nikon FTn uses 35mm film that is in metal canisters. The film can also be called 135 film, and it’s the most frequently used film format.

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

Switching the film emulsion you are using will change the look of your photos. This is one of the fantastic things about shooting film.

DX Coded Film

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DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Just about all available 35mm film for sale today has a DX code. This makes it possible for electronically controlled cameras to automatically detect and set the ISO when the film canister is put in the camera.

DX-coding isn’t going to make a difference for the Nikon FTn because ISO must be manually selected.

Nikon FTn Resources

Where to Get Film Developed?

There are a variety of choices for where to have 35mm film processed. For a more extensive discussion of the possibilities you can check out my guide on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Film doesn’t get processed on site at pharmacies and big box stores. They mail the film off to be processed by a separate company. That is why, you will not receive 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

Sending film to a mail-order photo lab to be developed and scanned is the simplest option if you’re just beginning to use film. If you regularly use film, this might be a disadvantage because it can get very expensive.

There are a couple of actions that you are able to do to reduce the costs involved in using film, given that you’re using a medium to high volume of film.

Bulk Loading Film

Among the common options to lower your costs on film is to buy a roll of 100’ of film and load canisters yourself.

A 100’ roll of film can fill around 18 canisters of film with 36 exposures. You should expect to save 20-30% based on your pick.

Take into account that you’re going to be limited to rolls of black & white film. This is in part because black & white film is less difficult and cheaper to develop yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

All film can be processed at home. It’s a very good method to spend less so that you can shoot more film with your Nikon FTn.

Black and white film is by far the least complicated to process. Developer temperature and development times are both not as critical to get correct with black & white films as they are for color negative or slide film.