Best Film for the Nikon N90 (F90)

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: May 25, 2020
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35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in the Nikon N90 will have to be based on the lens, available light, and type of film you want to shoot.

Choosing an ISO 400 film or faster will let you skip having to haul around a tripod and/or flash.

Make sure that you have a fast lens if you want to shoot photos in low light, conditions that are commonly encountered indoors.

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - The film handles a wide variety of lighting conditions well and is a great choice for a 35mm color film. Using Kodak UltraMax 400 you should be able to handhold the N90 in most circumstances.

Expect pictures to look slightly warm with pleasant skin tones.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Depending on where you are in the world, this film might have greater availability. It's a fantastic alternative to Kodak emulsions.

Fujifilm photographs tend to have cooler colors with an emphasis on greens and blues when compared to Kodak.

Lomography 800 - If you want a color 35mm film with an ISO of 800, there aren't many offerings. For 35mm film emulsions focused on consumers, Lomography 800 is the single available option.

In addition, if you own a medium format camera, it's also available in 120 film format.

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film emulsion that started production in the mid-1980s. Kodak Gold 200 has the look and feel of home snapshots from the 80s and 90s. Use an on-camera flash to get the "nostalgic" film look.

Over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops to bring out the most popular look the film can achieve. This will produce the striking colors everyone loves Kodak Gold for.

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

Kodak Portra 400 - By far the most popular color negative film among film shooting enthusiasts online. Overexpose it by 1 or 2-stops to get the color the film is well known for.

Plus, ISO 800 and 160 emulsions of Kodak Portra. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 film are also available to purchase.

Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 400H - The Fujifilm emulsion that is most similar to Kodak Portra 400, but with a distinctive color profile. Expect stronger greens and blues.

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

Black and White Film

Consumer

With reasonable costs and more than acceptable favorable to use in the Nikon N90.

The major attraction for photography students and budget-minded photographers is the low price. Even if you do not put yourself in those groups, it's good to have comparatively cheap rolls of film on hand for trying out newly delivered used gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - It's produced by the parent company of Ilford, Harmon Technology. This is excellent considering that allows this to be the most broadly sold film out of the three.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - This is likely to be less difficult to find in Europe as the film is manufactured out of the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.

An excellent 35mm film to choose for your initial few attempts at developing film at home or film photography. Also, a good selection if you happen to be trying out a camera to ensure that it's totally operational.

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

They distribute chemical developer kits for 35mm film, so if you process film at home you might have already interacted with them.

Professional

Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 are the 2 most popular black and white 35mm film emulsions. They possess numerous traits that are equivalent that helps make them a favorite while preserving unique styles.

Both emulsions can be pushed 2 stops and result in very good photographs. A 35mm roll of film can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them very useful.

Box of Ilford HP5 Plus ISO 400 35mm Black & White Film

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The primary differences are that HP5 Plus is cheaper and has lower levels of contrast compared to Tri-X. A lack of contrast can be nice due to the fact that contrast can be changed when making a darkroom print or during digital post-processing.

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

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film emulsion has a more distinctive rendering to it. To produce the old-school grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it should be processed in Kodak D-76.

Kodak Tri-X 400 unquestionably has a higher level of contrast. That's perfect if it is the overall look you would like because it means less work when editing digitally or making a print in the darkroom.

Transparency Film

Film emulsions that produce a positive image are typically referred to as reversal, transparency, or slide film. That means a lightbox or projector can be used to showcase the photos.

Colors are not required to be inverted to be viewed, contrary to the more prevalent negative film emulsions.

Slide films have substantially less latitude and dynamic range when compared with negative film and so they are perceived as difficult to work with.

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

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

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Produces signature looking pictures that have increased amounts of saturation and contrast. It is a remarkably sharp daylight color balanced film emulsion. Velvia has the greatest resolving power of any available transparency film stock.

There is also another emulsion that is ISO 100.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Offers vivid and natural colors with moderate color saturation and contrast. It is a film balanced for daylight with an ultrafine grain.

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white slide film, described by Fomapan as having very fine grain, elevated levels of contrast, and high resolving power. It is also mentioned as a substitute for the long-discontinued Agfa Scala film emulsion.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Pro film stocks cost more due to the fact they are easier to push, have better latitude, and dynamic range.

You should be prepared for a significant difference in supply. Consumer films can frequently be purchased from big-box stores and pharmacies in small quantities. Pro film usually needs to be ordered from an online retailer or specialized photography store.

Film ISO

Film speed is shown as ISO, which can also be regarded as the film's light sensitivity.

The bigger the ISO of the film, the less light will be necessary to get a picture. Additionally, be prepared to see noticeably increased film grain.

ISO 100 and slower speed films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc) are often challenging to shoot handheld in the N90. They might be longer will most likely be longer than what you could handhold without producing motion blur unless you are shooting in full sun.

A fast lens, flash, and/or tripod can help you with longer exposure times. The extra accessories might not be needed if you use a faster ISO 800 or ISO 400 film.

The ISO is set by the Nikon N90 electronically. This is a change from previous SLRs that have a physical ISO knob.

Film Latitude

Film latitude is the number of stops a film can be overexposed while keeping usable images. Pro film emulsions have a larger latitude to go along with a somewhat higher price.

Negative film has more latitude when compared to transparency film. That is a reason why it's deemed to be more difficult to work with.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range represents the range between the brightest and darkest details of a picture that can be recorded. Parts of a picture that don't fit in this range will be rendered as completely black underexposed shadows or white overexposed highlights.

When shooting in a variety of quickly shifting lighting conditions, film stocks with a bigger dynamic range are a much better choice.

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

Slide film is thought to be tough to use as a consequence of the small dynamic range. An ideal time to test it out would be during the golden hour.

Film Type

35mm film that is in canisters is used by the Nikon N90. It is also the most frequently used film format and in some instances is referred to as 135 film.

120 or 220 film, used with medium format cameras, is the only other type of film you are going to encounter.

One of the terrific things about film is that you can switch the film emulsion you use and get a fresh look to your images.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Almost all new 35mm film distributed at this time has a DX code. This allows cameras to detect and set the ISO of the film canister loaded.

The Nikon N90 will set the film ISO automatically. That is due to the fact that the camera has electronics to read the DX-coding on film canisters.

Nikon N90 Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

There are limited choices for where to develop film. For a more comprehensive discussion of the choices see my guide on Where to Get Film Developed.

WARNING: Film doesn't get processed locally at pharmacies and big box stores. They send the film off-site to be developed by a third party. This means that you won't be given your 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 film to a mail-order lab to be developed and scanned is the least difficult solution if you are just getting started using film. If you consistently use film, this could be a disadvantage since it can get expensive.

Assuming that you are going through a medium to high volume of film, there are a few things that can be done to limit your expenses.

Bulk Loading Film

Purchasing a bulk roll of 100 feet of film and manually loading it into canisters by hand is among the common methods to reduce costs.

A 100' bulk roll can fill up typically around 18 canisters of film containing 36 frames each. Expect to see savings of 20-30% based on your choice.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you're limited to 100-foot rolls of black & white film. This is because black and white film is easier and less expensive to process yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

All film can be processed by hand. It is an excellent option to lower your costs so you can use more film with your Nikon N90.

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

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