Best Film for the Nikon N2020 (F-501)

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

The best film to use in the Nikon N2020 is going to depend on your lens, lighting conditions, and type of film you want to shoot.

Choosing an ISO 400 film or higher speed will let you eliminate having to haul around a tripod and/or flash.

If you have a need to capture photos indoors or anytime there is low light, ensure you have a fast lens.

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - A good selection for a wide range of lighting conditions. Using this film you should be able to handhold the N2020 in lots of scenarios.

Expect pictures to look slightly warm with amazing colors.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Based on where you are in the world, this film may have greater availability. It is an excellent alternative to Kodak film.

Fuji photos tend to have cooler tones with stronger greens and blues when compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - If you want a color 35mm film with an ISO of 800, there are not many offerings. For 35mm film stocks geared towards consumers, Lomography 800 is the single available option.

Additionally, if you own a medium format camera, it's also sold in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film that debuted in the mid-1980s. Kodak Gold 200 produces the look and feel of home snapshots from the 80s and 90s. Use an on-camera flash to get the "classic" film look.

To bring the best look out of this film, you will have to over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will provide you with the idyllic colors everyone loves Kodak Gold for.

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

Kodak Portra 400 - Among the photography enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is the most widely used color 35mm film. Overexpose Portra 400 by 1 or 2-stops to get the look and feel the film is well known for.

Additionally, ISO 800 and 160 versions of Kodak Portra. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 are also available to buy.

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm film that is most similar to Kodak Portra 400, but with "Fuji colors." Expect to see stronger blues and greens.

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

Black and White Film

Consumer

These film emulsions have low prices and good quality, making them favorable to try in the Nikon N2020.

The biggest attraction for photography students and budget-minded photographers is the very affordable cost. Even if you wouldn't put yourself in those groups, it's great to have comparatively cheap rolls of 35 film around for trying out newly delivered used cameras.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - It is manufactured by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is notable since that makes this the most widely sold B&W film of the 3.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It is much easier to purchase in Europe as the film is made inside of the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.

A good film emulsion to employ for your initial couple of attempts at film photography or developing film at home. Additionally, a good choice if you are attempting to check out a camera to be sure that it's functioning properly.

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

They distribute chemical developer kits for color 35mm film, so if you process film at home you may have already done business with them.

Professional

Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5+ 400 are the two best black and white films. While they both possess distinctive appearances, they possess a large amount of characteristics that are equivalent that makes them a favorite.

Both films can be pushed 2 stops and result in quality results. 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 - The fundamental differences are that HP5 Plus has lower levels of contrast and is less expensive when compared to Tri-X. Lower levels of contrast can be an advantage because contrast can be changed when making a darkroom print or during digital post-processing.

The film has subtle grain and still appears outstanding when pushed 2-stops.

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film emulsion has a stronger rendering. To bring out the traditional grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it needs to be processed in Kodak D-76.

You're going to undoubtedly see higher levels of contrast with this film emulsion. That is notable if that is the overall look you are after because it involves considerably less work when editing digitally or printmaking.

Reversal Film

Film emulsions that make a positive image are generally referred to as reversal, transparency, or slide film. That means a projector or light box can be used to exhibit the photos.

This is different from the more often used negative film emulsions that result in pictures that need inverting the colors for the image to be seen.

Slide films have much less dynamic range and latitude when compared to negative film and so they are believed to be challenging to work with.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - The film is known for fine grain and wonderful skin tones. The colors don't be seen as oversaturated. The film has a daylight color balance.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Offers appealing looking photos that have noticeably increased amounts of contrast and saturation. It is a razor-sharp daylight color balanced film emulsion. When compared to all the reversal films available to buy, it has the best resolving power.

An ISO 100 emulsion is also out there.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Offers natural and vibrant 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 slide film, noted by Fomapan as having high resolving power, very fine grain, and increased levels of contrast. It's also billed as a replacement for the long-discontinued Agfa Scala Film Stock.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Professional film stocks cost more since they have better dynamic range, latitude, and are easier to push.

You should expect a difference in businesses that sell rolls of film. Consumer film stocks can more often than not still be bought in pharmacies and big-box stores in small quantities. Pro film stocks will need to be bought from an online retailer or camera store.

Film ISO

A film's light sensitivity is shown as the ISO.

The less light available to get an image, the bigger the ISO of the film will need to be. In addition, be prepared for larger sized film grain.

It is often troublesome to handhold the N2020 with ISO 100 or slower speed films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc). They will most likely take more time can be longer than what you could handhold without resulting in motion blur unless you're out in full sun.

To prevent motion blur you'll need to use a fast lens, tripod, and/or flash. Using a fast ISO 800 or ISO 400 film is likely to make the extra equipment not needed.

The dial to select film speed is labeled as ISO on the Nikon N2020. Lots of older SLRs can be marked ASA instead of ISO. The move to using ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Latitude

Film latitude is the amount of stops film can be overexposed while keeping adequate photographs. Pro film emulsions have a larger latitude paired with a somewhat higher cost.

Transparency film has a smaller amount of latitude when compared to negative film. That is a reason it's perceived as more challenging to work with.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range is the range between the shadows and highlights details of an image that can be recorded. Sections of an image that are not in this range will appear as black underexposed shadows or white overexposed highlights.

When working in a wide variety of quickly shifting lighting conditions, film stocks with a larger dynamic range is better.

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

The small dynamic range of reversal film is one more factor it's considered tough to shoot. The golden hour is the best time to use reversal film.

Film Type

The Nikon N2020 takes 35mm film that is sold in metal canisters. The film can also be described as 135 film, and it is the most widely used film format.

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

Swapping the film stock you are working with will alter the look of your photos. This is an example of the wonderful things about shooting film.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Most new 35mm film offered currently has DX encoding on the canister. This allows cameras to automatically detect and set the ISO when the canister is loaded into the camera.

DX-coding is not going to make a difference for the Nikon N2020 because ISO needs to be manually dialed in with the ISO knob.

Nikon N2020 Resources

Where to Get Film Developed?

You will find several choices for where to get 35mm film developed. For a more detailed explanation of the possibilities, you can check out my guide on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Film is no longer processed locally at big box stores and pharmacies. They mail film off-site to be developed by a separate company. As a result, you won't be given your processed 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 processed and scanned is the least difficult solution if you are just starting to use film. If you regularly shoot film, this could be a disadvantage due to the fact that it can get really expensive.

So long as you're going through a moderate to high volume of film, there are two things that can be done to lower your expenses.

Bulk Loading Film

Considered one of the ideal ways to save some money on film is to buy a bulk roll of 100 feet of film and manually load canisters yourself.

A 100-foot roll should fill up approximately 18 rolls of film with 36 frames. Look forward to discounts of 20-30% based on your pick.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you're only going to be able to buy 100' rolls of black & white film. This is in part because black & white film is quite a bit easier and cheaper to develop yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

All film can be developed by hand. It's a smart way to cut costs so you can use more film with your Nikon N2020.

Black & white film is significantly simpler to develop. Developer temperature and development times are not as imperative to get correct with black & white film as they are for slide or color negative.

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