Best Film for the Nikon N90s (F90X)

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: May 28, 2020
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35mm Film To Use

The best film to use in the Nikon N90s will have to depend on the lens, lighting, and type of film you want to use.

To avoid having to carry around a flash or tripod, go with a film that has an ISO of 400 or faster.

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

Color Film

Consumer

Consumer 35mm Color Negative Film

Kodak UltraMax 400 - A good selection for a wide range of conditions. Kodak UltraMax 400 is fast enough so that you should be able to handhold the N90s in lots of scenarios.

Expect pictures to appear a bit warm with gorgeous colors.

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Based on your location, this film could be more widely available. It's a great alternative to Kodak film.

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

Lomography 800 - You're limited to just a small number of offerings if you want an ISO 800 speed color 35mm film. For 35mm film stocks geared towards consumers, Lomography 800 is the sole available option.

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

Kodak Gold 200 - A staple film stock that was released in the mid-1980s. Kodak Gold 200 gives the look and feel of snapshots from the 80s and 90s. Use a flash to get the "classic" look the film is known for.

To bring the best look out of the film, over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will give you the great colors everyone loves Kodak Gold 200 for.

Professional

Kodak Portra 400 ISO Color Negative 35mm Film

Kodak Portra 400 - Among film shooting enthusiasts online, Portra 400 is hands down the most frequently used color 35mm film. Overexpose it by 1 or 2-stops to get the overall look the film is known for.

There are also 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 counterpart to Portra 400, but with a distinctive color appearance. Expect more vibrant greens and blues.

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

Black and White Film

Consumer

These film emulsions have low prices and excellent quality, making them favorable to use in the Nikon N90s.

The biggest attraction for budget-minded photographers and photography students is the very low price. Even if you don't put yourself in those groups, it is great to have affordable rolls of 35 film on hand for evaluating newly delivered camera gear.

Consumer Black & White 35mm Film

Kentmere 400 - Manufactured by Harmon Technology, which is the owner of Ilford. This is notable because that makes this the most broadly sold B&W film of the 3.

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - Can be less difficult to buy in Europe as the film is produced inside of the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.

An ideal film stock to choose for your initial few attempts at film photography or developing film at home. Also, a good option if you're looking to test out a camera to ensure that it's completely operational.

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - The cheapest store to get this film is online directly from Ultrafine.

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

Professional

Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400 are the two most frequently used black & white 35mm films. They possess several attributes that are similar that makes them so well-liked while retaining distinctive rendering.

You can create solid photographs after pushing both emulsions 2-stops. A 35mm roll can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them remarkably useful.

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

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The largest differences are that HP5 Plus has less contrast and is more affordable in comparison to Tri-X. Minimal amounts of contrast can be nice due to the fact that contrast can be increased when making a darkroom print or through digital post-processing.

The film stock has a subtle grain and still appears good when pushed 2-stops.

Kodak Tri-X 400 35mm Film

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

You're going to undeniably notice considerably more contrast with Tri-X 400. That's beneficial if it is the look you are after because it requires less work when printmaking or editing digitally.

Transparency Film

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

The colors are not required to be inverted to be viewed, in contrast to the more often used negative films.

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

Kodak Ektachrome 100 35mm Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a fine grain film known for beautiful skin tones. The colors won't show up oversaturated. Ektachrome has been balanced for daylight.

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - Produces special looking pictures that have substantially elevated levels of contrast and saturation. It is sharp and color balanced for daylight. Matched against all the reversal films you can get, it has the highest resolving power.

There's another speed that is ISO 100.

Fujifilm Provia 100F - Produces realistic and vibrant colors with medium contrast and color saturation. It has an ultra-fine grain with a daylight color balance.

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black & white slide film, marketed by Fomapan as having fine grain, elevated contrast, and very good resolving power. It is also regarded as a substitute for the discontinued Agfa Scala reversal film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Pro film stock have improved latitude, are easier to push, and larger dynamic range, which is the reason they cost more.

You should expect to see a difference in businesses that sell 35mm rolls of film. Consumer films can frequently still be bought from big-box stores and pharmacies in anemic amounts. Professional level film needs to be purchased from a photography store or online retailer.

Film ISO

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

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

ISO 100 and slower speed films (ISO 25, ISO 50, etc) are often challenging to use handheld with the N90s. They can take more time might be longer than what you’re able to handhold without causing motion blur unless you are shooting in full sun.

A tripod, flash, and/or fast lens can assist you with longer shutter speeds. The additional accessories may not be needed if you decide to use a higher speed ISO 400 or ISO 800 film.

The ISO is set by the Nikon N90s electronically. This is a change from previous SLRs that have a physical ISO dial.

Latitude

Latitude is the range of stops a film can be overexposed while maintaining adequate quality. Professional film stocks have a greater latitude along with a slightly higher cost.

Negative film has more latitude compared to slide film. That is one of the reasons why it is believed to be difficult to work with.

Dynamic Range

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

When shooting in a wide variety of quickly changing lighting conditions, films with a larger dynamic range are a much better choice.

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

The limited dynamic range of slide film is a further reason why it is thought to be difficult to shoot. The golden hour is the prime time to shoot transparency film.

Film Type

35mm film that is in metal canisters is used by the Nikon N90s. The film can also be called 135 film, and it's the most widely used film format.

The only other type of film you are likely going to come across is 120 or 220 film that is used by medium format cameras.

One of the best things about film is that you can swap the film stock you work with and get a completely different look to your pictures.

DX Coded Film

DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Virtually all commercially available 35mm film on the market these days has DX encoding. This makes it possible for cameras to detect and set the ISO of the film canister loaded into the camera.

DX-coding allows the Nikon N90s to automatically set the ISO of film. This can be overridden manually.

Nikon N90s Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

You will find limited possible choices for where to process film. For a more in-depth discussion of the choices go look at my article on Where to Develop Film.

WARNING: Film is no longer developed on location at big box stores and pharmacies. They ship film off-site to be processed by a separate company. As a result, you will not 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

Sending film to a mail-order photo lab to be processed and scanned is the least difficult option if you are just starting to use film. If you regularly use film, this can be a downside since it can get pricey.

Assuming that you are going through a medium to high volume of film, there are a few activities that can be done to cut back on your costs.

Bulk Loading Film

Getting a bulk roll of 100' of film and manually loading it into canisters by hand is considered one of the ideal options to lower your costs.

A 100' roll of film will load about 18 rolls of film containing 36 frames. Expect to see cost savings of 20-30% based on your pick.

Take into account that you're limited to 100-foot rolls of black and white film. This is in part because black and white film is much easier and less expensive to process yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

All film can be processed by hand. It's a good option to reduce costs so you can use more film with your Nikon N90s.

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

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