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Best Film for the Nikon N90s

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Best Nikon N90s 35mm Film

´╗┐The best film to use in your Nikon N90s should depend on your lens, available light, and if you want to use color or black & white.

To eliminate having to lug around a flash or tripod, opt for a 35mm film that has an ISO of 400 or faster.

If you want to shoot images in low light, such as indoors, ensure you have a fast lens. For lens lens recommendations see my list on the 5 Best Lenses for the Nikon N90s.

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 a terrific choice for a 35mm color film. Using this film you should have the ability to handhold the N90s in the majority of scenarios.

The pictures will have fantastic colors and tend to be on the warm side.

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Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400

Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400 - Another option that may have better availability based on what country you are in.

In comparison to Kodak, Fujifilm tends to be a bit cooler with notable greens and blues.

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Lomography Color Negative 800 ISO

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

In addition, if you have a medium format camera, Lomography 800 is also sold in 120 film format.

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Kodak Gold 200

Kodak Gold 200 - An outstanding solution to achieve that mid-1980s through 90s rendering. For the authentic photography experience have an on-camera flash.

To bring the best out of the film, over-expose it by 1 or 2-stops. This will ensure that you get the striking colors everyone loves Gold 200 for.

Professional

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Kodak Portra 400

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 highly regarded for.

Portra is also available for purchase in ISO 800 and ISO 160 emulsions. 8x10 sheets, 4x5 sheets, and rolls of 120 are also easily found.

Black and White Film

Consumer

With low prices and more than acceptable very popular to be used in the Nikon N90s.

The main draw for photography students and budget minded photographers is the affordable cost. Even if you do not put yourself in that group, it’s nice to have low-priced rolls of 35 film readily available for evaluating newly purchased camera gear.

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Kentmere 400

Kentmere 400 - Produced by Harmon Technology, which is the parent company of Ilford. This is notable because that makes this the most broadly available 35mm film of the 3.

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Foma Fomapan 400 Action

Foma Fomapan 400 Action - It’s easier to find in Europe as the film is manufactured in the Czech Republic by Foma Bohemia.

A great film stock to choose for your initial couple of attempts at analog photography or developing film at home. Also a good choice if you are attempting to test out a camera to check that it’s completely operational.

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Ultrafine eXtreme 400

Ultrafine eXtreme 400 - You can get the cheapest price by getting it from Ultrafine.

They produce chemical developer kits for 35mm color film, so if you develop film at home you may have already interacted with them.

Professional

The two top selling black and white films are Ilford HP-5 Plus 400 and Kodak Tri-X 400. They have a number of traits in common that help make them so popular, while keeping distinctive appearances.

Both film emulsions can be pushed 2 stops and while still supplying high quality photos. A 35mm roll can be shot at ISO 400, 800, or 1600, making them remarkably versatile.

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Ilford HP5 Plus 400

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 - The major differences are that HP5 Plus is cheaper and has lower levels of contrast in comparison to Tri-X. Lower levels of contrast can be helpful because contrast can be adjusted when making a print or through digital post processing.

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

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Kodak Tri-X 400

Kodak Tri-X 400 - This film stock features a stronger rendering to it. To achieve the traditional grain structure, contrast, and look of the film, it needs to be developed in D-76.

You’re going to undeniably see far more contrast with Kodak Tri-X. That is good if it’s the look and feel you are looking for because it requires not as much work when making a darkroom print or through digital post processing.

Slide Film

Film stocks that create a positive image can be called slide, reversal, or transparency film. This allows the pictures to be shown with a light box or projector.

This is distinct from the more commonly available negative film emulsions that produce photographs that need the colors to be inverted in order to be viewed.

Slide films are viewed as very difficult to shoot due to the fact slide film has substantially less latitude and dynamic range when compared to negative film.

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Kodak Ektrachrome E100 Transparency Film

Kodak Ektachrome 100 - This is a fine grain film known for beautiful skin tones. The colors won’t be seen as oversaturated. It is daylight balanced.

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Fujichrome Velvia 50

Fujifilm Velvia 50 - This is a very sharp daylight balanced film with high levels of saturation and contrast, giving photos a unique look. When compared with all the reversal films you can get, it has the greatest resolving power.

There’s also another speed with an ISO of 100.

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Fujichrome Provia 100F

Fujichrome Provia 100F - Offers vivid and natural colors with medium color saturation and contrast. It is a ultrafine grain film with a daylight color balance.

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Foma Fomapan R100

Foma Fomapan R100 - This is a black and white transparency film, marketed by Fomapan as having higher contrast, very fine grain, and very good resolving power. It’s also billed as a alternative for the long discontinued Agfa Scala reversal film.

Film Basics

Consumer vs Professional Film

Professional film stock have greater latitude, are easier to push, and bigger dynamic range, which is the reason pro-film costs more.

There’s a big difference in business that sell it. Consumer film emulsions can frequently still be bought from big-box stores and pharmacies in limited quantities. Professional quality film emulsions should be bought from a specialized photography store or online retailer.

ISO

A film’s light sensitivity is listed as the ISO.

The higher the film’s ISO, the less light is needed to expose a frame. In addition, expect to see increased film grain.

ISO 100 and slower films (ISO 50, ISO 25, etc) may be troublesome to shoot handheld with the N90s. The will take longer will likely be longer than what you can handhold without producing motion blur unless you’re out in full sun.

To prevent motion blur you will need to use a tripod, a fast lens, and/or a flash. Using a fast ISO 800 or ISO 400 film will make the additional equipment unnecessary.

The ISO dial is listed as ASA on the Nikon N90s. The switch to using ISO from ASA (American Standards Association) happened after the creation of the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Latitude

Film latitude is the number of stops a film can be overexposed while still keeping adequate quality. Pro film emulsions have a larger latitude paired with a somewhat increased cost.

Negative film has a greater amount of latitude than reversal film. That is one of the reasons it’s perceived as harder to use.

Dynamic Range

The difference between the shadows and highlights parts of an image is known as dynamic range. Areas of an image that do not fit in this range will be rendered as totally black underexposed shadows or totally white overexposed highlights.

When shooting in a wide variety or quickly changing lighting situations, film stocks with a bigger dynamic range is better.

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

The small dynamic range of slide film is a further reason why it’s considered hard to shoot. Golden hour is the best time to use slide.

Film Type

The Nikon N90s takes 35mm film that is in canisters. It is also the most often used film format and in some instances is referred to as 135 film.

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

One of the wonderful things about film is that you can switch the film emulsion you work with and get a different look to your photographs.

DX Coded Film

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DX Encoding on a 35mm Film Canister

Most available 35mm film offered for sale at this point has DX encoding on the canister. This enables electronically controlled cameras to detect and set the ISO of the canister loaded into the camera.

The ISO (ASA) on the Nikon N90s has to be manually set. As a result DX-coding will not do anything.

Nikon N90s Resources

Where to Get 35mm Film Developed?

You will find limited possible choices for where to process 35mm film. For a more in depth explanation of the possibilities go to my guide on Where to Develop Film.

WARNING: Big box stores and pharmacies don’t process film at the store. They send film off to be processed by a separate company. As a result, you will not receive 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

The easiest method and the method I would suggest doing if you’re just getting started using film is to ship your film to a lab to be processed and scanned. If you consistently shoot film, this might be a downside since it can get really expensive.

As long as you’re using a medium to high volume of film, there are a few actions that you are capable of doing to help reduce your costs.

Bulk Loading Film

Among the most popular methods to save some money on film is to buy a bulk roll of 100’ of film and load it into canisters yourself.

A 100 foot roll should load approximately 18 rolls of film containing 36 exposures. Depending on the film stock you are likely to save 20%-30%.

Be aware that you’re only going to be able to buy 100 foot rolls of black & white film. This is in part because black & white film is a lot easier and cheaper to develop yourself.

Home Developing and Scanning

You can easily process and scan film yourself. In fact it’s an excellent way to spend less so you can shoot more film with your Nikon N90s.

Black & white film is by far the least complicated to develop at home. Temperature and development times are not as critical to do correctly with black and white film as time and temperatures are for transparency or color negative.