Best Film for the Nikon N2020
The best film to use in your Nikon N2020 should depend on the lens, lighting conditions, and type of film you want to use.
To avoid having to lug around a tripod and/or flash, choose a film that has an ISO of 400 or faster.
Ensure you have a fast lens if you want to shoot images in low light, conditions that are frequently found indoors. For lens recommendations check out my blog post on the 5 Best Lenses for the Nikon N2020.
Kodak UltraMax 400 - The film can be used in a multitude of lighting conditions and is a very good pick for a 35mm color film. Kodak UltraMax 400 is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the N2020 in just about all scenarios.
Expect photographs to appear a little bit warm with wonderful skin tones.
Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Another option that might have greater availability based on where you are in the world.
Fujifilm photographs appear to have cooler tones with notable blues and greens, when compared to Kodak.
Lomography 800 - There are a small number of choices if you want an ISO 800 speed color 35mm film. For 35mm film emulsions geared towards consumers, this is the single option.
Lomography 800 is also available in the 120 film format, for use with a medium format camera.
Kodak Gold 200 - A surefire solution to get that mid-80s through 90s rendering. Use an on-camera flash to get the “nostalgic” film look.
Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to bring out the best look the film can achieve. This will help you achieve the idyllic colors everyone loves Kodak Gold for.
Kodak Portra 400 - By far the most popular color negative film among film enthusiasts online. Overexpose Portra 400 by 1 or 2-stops to get the color the film is well known for.
Kodak Portra is also offered in ISO 800 and 160 emulsions. It is also offered in rolls of 120 film, 4x5 sheets, and 8x10 sheets.
Black and White Film
With affordable prices and more than acceptable quite popular to use in the Nikon N2020.
The main attraction for photography students and budget minded photographers is the competitive price. Even if you wouldn’t put yourself in those groups, it is nice to have affordable rolls of film around for testing newly purchased used cameras.
Kentmere 400 - Manufactured by Harmon Technology, which is also the owner of Ilford. This is great because that allows this to be the most broadly sold film out of the three.
Foma Fomapan 400 Action - Will be much easier to obtain in Europe as the film is manufactured in the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.
An excellent film emulsion to work with for your first few attempts at film photography or home developing. Also a good option if you are looking to test out a camera to be sure that it is operating properly.
Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the best price by purchasing it directly from Ultrafine.
They manufacture developer kits for color 35mm film, so if you develop film at home you could have previously done business with them.
The two top selling black and white 35mm film emulsions are Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5+ 400. They possess a number of attributes that are comparable that help make them so popular, while retaining distinctive styles.
You can obtain high quality images after pushing both emulsions 2-stops. This makes the film versatile as a roll can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600.
Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The major differences are that HP5 Plus has less contrast and is less expensive compared to Tri-X. Low amounts of contrast can be good because of the fact contrast can be adjusted when making a print in the darkroom or through digital processing.
The film still looks great when pushed 2-stops. It is also recognized for having subtle grain.
Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film stock features a more distinctive rendering. To produce the traditional grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it will need to be developed in Kodak D-76.
You are going to clearly see higher levels of contrast with Kodak Tri-X. That is notable if it happens to be the look and feel you need because it requires substantially less work when making a print in the darkroom or editing digitially.
Transparency film, also known as reversal or slide film, gives you a positive image. This means the pictures can be shown with a projector or light box.
The colors don’t need to be inverted to be seen, unlike the more widespread negative films.
Slide films have much less latitude and dynamic range than negative film and so they are perceived as more difficult to shoot.
Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a fine grain film known for beautiful skin tones. There’s virtually no hypersaturation of colors. The film has been color balanced for daylight.
Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is a sharp color balanced for daylight film with lots of contrast and saturation, giving pictures a distinctive appearance. Velvia has the highest resolving power of any elevated elevated.
You can also get it in an ISO 100 speed.
Fujichrome Provia 100F - Creates vibrant and natural colors with moderate contrast and color saturation. It has ultrafine grain with a daylight color balance.
Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white slide film, claimed by Fomapan as having high resolving power, increased contrast, and fine grain. It’s also mentioned as a substitute for the long discontinued Agfa Scala reversal film.
Consumer vs Professional Film
Professional films cost more because they have larger dynamic range, latitude, and can more easily be pushed.
There’s a disparity in business that sell film. Consumer film emulsions can usually still be bought in big-box stores and pharmacies in small quantities. Professional film should be ordered from a camera store or online retailer.
A film’s sensitivity to light is displayed by the ISO.
The less light available to get an image, the higher the ISO of the film will need to be. This comes at the tradeoff of noticeably increased film grain.
ISO 100 and slower films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc) may be difficult to use handheld with the N2020. This is because without full sun, the shutter speeds will probably be longer than what you are able to handhold without producing motion blur.
A fast lens, tripod, and/or flash will assist you with longer shutter speeds. Using a high speed ISO 800 or ISO 400 film is likely to make the additional equipment not needed.
The dial to select film speed is marked as ASA on the Nikon N2020. The transition to labeling ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) came after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).
Film latitude is the amount of stops film can be overexposed while maintaining acceptable quality. Pro film emulsions have a larger latitude along with a slightly increased price.
Slide film has a smaller amount of latitude compared to negative film. That is one of the reasons it is viewed as difficult to use.
Dynamic range represents the range between the highlights and shadows parts of a photograph that can be captured. Sections of an image that don’t fit in this range will be rendered as totally black underexposed shadows or totally white overexposed highlights.
When working in a variety or quickly changing lighting situations, film stocks with a bigger 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 another reason it is viewed as tough to shoot. A very good time to test it out would be during the golden hour.
35mm film that is in metal canisters is used by the Nikon N2020. In addition, it’s the most widely used film format and occasionally described as 135 film.
The only other type of film you are probably going to see is 120 or 220 film that is used in medium format cameras}.
One of the terrific things about film is that you can change the film emulsion you use and get a totally different look to your images.
DX Coded Film
All new 35mm film distributed today has DX encoding. This enables cameras to auto detect and set the ISO of the canister put in the camera.
ISO (ASA) on the Nikon N2020 is required to be manually dialed in. Which means that DX-coding doesn’t make a difference.
Nikon N2020 Resources
Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?
You will find a few choices for where to process 35mm film. For a more detailed explanation of the choices go to my guide on Where to Get Film Developed.
WARNING: Film is not processed locally at pharmacies and big box stores. They send the film away to be processed by a third party. That is why, you won’t be given your processed negatives back.
- Develop Film at Home
- Use a Local Photography Lab
- Use a Mail Order Photo Lab
- Pharmacy or Big Box Store
The most convenient option and the method I suggest doing if you are just getting started using film is to mail your film to a photo lab to be developed and scanned. If you regularly shoot film, this might be a disadvantage since it can get pricey.
There are two actions that can be done to greatly reduce the costs involved in using film, provided that you are going through a moderate to high volume of film.
Bulk Loading Film
Ordering a bulk roll of 100 feet of film and loading in into canisters yourself is certainly one of the ideal methods to lower expenses.
A 100 foot bulk roll of film should load roughly 18 canisters of film with 36 exposures each. Depending on the film stock you will probably save 20%-30%.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you are going to be limited to rolls of black & white film. This is in part because black and white film is much easier and more affordable to develop at home.
Home Developing and Scanning
All film can be processed at home. In fact it’s a great option to cut costs so you can shoot more film with your Nikon N2020.
Black & white film is by far the least difficult to develop. Temperature and development times are not as essential to get correct with black & white film as time and temperatures are for color negative or transparency film.