My Last roll of FUJICOLOR PRO 400H

Fujifilm discontinued the Fujicolor Pro 400H film in January 2021 due to raw material shortages, ending an era for this beloved film stock.

Fujifilm announced they were discontinuing the Fujicolor Pro 400H film in January 2021, citing difficulty sourcing the raw materials required to produce the film. Fujicolor Pro 400H was a professional-grade color-negative film produced by Fujifilm. It was highly regarded for its unique colour reproduction, wide exposure latitude, and fine grain. The discontinuation marked the end of a widely appreciated film stock, particularly among professional photographers specialising in portraits and weddings.

This decision led to a surge in demand as photographers and enthusiasts sought to stock up on the remaining supply. Fortunately, I snagged two film cartridges of this film stock before eBay scalpers bought up all the stock and started charging exorbitant prices for a single roll. I exposed the first roll in October 2020. This is the last of my two rolls. I exposed it in June 2023. It sat for a month before I developed it at Boutique Film Lab, and then it sat until mid-November before I finally scanned it using VueScan and my Epson Perfection V600.

Flounder Brewing · June 25, 2023 · Nikon N2020 · AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

Pro 400H is known for its distinctive colour palette, particularly its rendition of greens and skin tones, which made it popular among portrait and wedding photographers.

This film stock handles handle varying levels of exposure well, making it forgiving for photographers in challenging lighting conditions, like inside the brewery. It performs well in natural light.

Head Brewer, Doug Duschl (in pink) · June 25, 2023 · Nikon N2020 · AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

Despite its higher ISO of 400, Pro 400H maintains a relatively fine grain structure, contributing to its ability to produce high-quality images with a smooth texture. I've used Pro 400H only twice, and I regret that this was my last roll.

Flounder Brewing
Head Brewer, Doug Duschl (in pink) · June 25, 2023 · Nikon N2020 · AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8
Flounder Brewing
Flounder Brewing · June 25, 2023 · Nikon N2020 · AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8
Flounder Brewing
June 25, 2023 · Nikon N2020 · AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8
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Flounder Brewing · June 25, 2023 · Nikon N2020 · AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 · FUJICOLOR PRO 400H
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Flounder Brewing · June 25, 2023 · Nikon N2020 · AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8
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Bhavna · June 25, 2023 · Nikon N2020 · AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8
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Home · June 25, 2023 · Nikon N2020 · AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8
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Extra Sauce · June 25, 2023 · Nikon N2020 · AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8
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Flounder Brewing · June 25, 2023 · Nikon N2020 · AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

Experience Report: Nikon N2020

The Nikon N2020 is user-friendly and offers a classic SLR design, but most importantly, it has auto-focus.

As an avid photography enthusiast, I have a soft spot for my Minolta XD-11 and Minolta X-700 cameras. However, my less-than-ideal vision, resulting from cataract surgery in the early 2000s and multiple eye surgeries in 2019, have made manual focusing challenging. While my everyday activities are manageable, photography requires more precision. Therefore, I sought to purchase a 35mm film camera to accommodate my needs.

Here's a concise list of the features I desired:

  • Autofocus and manual capability
  • Classic design reminiscent of late 1970s and 1980s film cameras
  • Programmed auto-exposure mode
  • Aperture priority and Shutter priority modes
  • Manual ISO dial
  • Exposure compensation dial
  • Solid and durable construction

After seeking advice from Jim Grey and reading reviews online, I decided the Nikon N2020 (Nikon F-501) was the perfect fit. I scoured eBay and KEH for weeks without purchasing until one fortuitous spring morning in Princeton. While walking around with my Fuji X-T3, I "stumbled" into the New York Camera of Princeton. It’s interesting how often I stumble into New York Camera of Princeton. 🙂

After a short conversation about my needs, the shop owner handed me a clean and functional Nikon N2020 from the display case and even replaced the batteries for me to test. The camera felt good in my hands, and the AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens provided with it seemed capable. After a brief overview of its essential features and several presses of the shutter, I couldn't contain my excitement, especially when they offered the body and lens for a reasonable price of $87.

Specification Details
Camera Type Film SLR
Film Format 35mm
Lens Mount Nikon F Mount
Shutter Type Electronically controlled focal plane shutter
Shutter Speed Range 30 seconds to 1/2000th of a second
Exposure Modes Program, Aperture Priority, Manual
ISO Range 25 - 5000
Built-in Light Meter Yes
Viewfinder Type Pentaprism Viewfinder
Autofocus Yes
Multiple Exposure Yes
Self-Timer Yes
Battery Two 3V CR1/3N or DL1/3N lithium batteries
Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 146 x 91.5 x 59 mm
Weight Approx. 470 grams (body only)
Fujichrome PROVIA 400F - Expired · Wednesday 19 April 2023 · Nikon N2020 · AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

The Nikon N2020, released in 1986, was a groundbreaking camera that revolutionised photography with its autofocus technology. It made focusing quicker and more accurate, a significant advantage for capturing moving subjects and action shots. Despite the technology's limitations compared to modern cameras, the N2020's autofocus is considered quick for its time, and it helped make photography more accessible to a wider audience.

Auto Focus: Auto Focus is the main reason I wanted this camera. The N2020 utilises Nikon's first-generation autofocus module, with 96 CCDs focused on a subject in the centre of the frame. Later modules, like the AM200 used in the F4, had 200 CCDs. The autofocus uses a "screw drive" mechanism, where the camera body's motor drives the lens. Nikon labelled the initial screw drive lenses as "AF" or "AF-D." Nowadays, most autofocus lenses have motors within the lens but are powered by the camera body, resulting in less noise and vibration.

Despite being slower than modern cameras, the N2020's autofocus is still capable, particularly in well-lit conditions. It performs better in daylight than in low-light situations. The camera can achieve "focus lock" by half-depressing the shutter, allowing you to reframe while maintaining focus. However, the screw drive autofocus generates some noise during operation.

The N2020 offers "single" and "continuous" autofocus modes. In "single" mode, the shutter will not release until the subject is focused, allowing for focus lock and reframing. The "continuous" mode attempts autofocus tracking but is not very effective.

Fujichrome PROVIA 400F - Expired · Wednesday 19 April 2023 · Nikon N2020 · AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

Viewfinder: My copy of the Nikon N2020 has a reasonably clear and uncluttered viewfinder, although it may be less bright than other models. The viewfinder displays LEDs for the shutter speed on the right side and focusing indicators at the bottom, providing essential information for composing shots.

By default, the camera has a "Type B" focusing screen. However, you have the option to replace it with either a proprietary "Type J" screen (matte/fresnel with a centred microprism) or a "Type E" screen (grid).

Focus Assist: The Nikon N2020 allows most manual focus Nikon lenses to utilise its autofocus sensor for "assistance." By half-pressing the shutter button, you activate the sensor, and arrows and a circle will appear at the bottom of the viewfinder. Once the centre circle turns "green," it indicates that the lens is in focus. This focus assist feature is valuable and has been incorporated into subsequent higher-end Nikon film SLRs.

Exposure Modes: The Nikon N2020 offers three program modes: aperture priority and manual operation. In program modes, only the shutter speed is shown in the viewfinder. "Program" is a fully automatic mode setting both aperture and shutter speed. "Program Hi" sets a higher shutter speed and wider aperture. "Program Dual" switches to "Program Hi" for lenses 135mm or longer; otherwise, it uses regular "Program." Aperture priority mode lets users choose the aperture, while manual allows setting both shutter speed and aperture. The camera indicates meter mismatches by blinking the shutter speed.

Fujichrome PROVIA 400F - Expired · Wednesday 19 April 2023 · Nikon N2020 · AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

Auto Film Loading: With auto film loading, the Nikon N2020 streamlines the process of loading film, making it quick and efficient for photographers to start capturing their images without requiring extensive manual film threading. Push the shutter button after loading the film canister to activate this feature. There is no automatic film rewind.

Under Exposure Warning Alarm: The Nikon N2020 features an underexposure warning alarm with a switch on the top. If the selected shutter speed and aperture combination is insufficient for the lighting conditions, it produces a loud beep. However, you have the option to disable this feature if desired.

Motor Drive: The Nikon N2020 has an integrated motor drive for continuous shooting. However, the motor drive on this camera is relatively loud and lacks sound-dampening, which means it can be noticeable during operation.

The N2020 can achieve up to 2.5 frames per second in the fastest continuous shooting mode. This rate is comparable to other non-professional cameras of its time. Under normal ideal shooting conditions, the camera can sustain a continuous shooting speed of about 1.5 to 2 frames per second.

Fujichrome PROVIA 400F - Expired · Wednesday 19 April 2023 · Nikon N2020 · AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

While the continuous shooting capability is useful for capturing fast-paced action or sequences of shots, the noise produced by the motor drive might be a consideration for photographers who prefer a quieter shooting experience, especially in quiet or discreet shooting environments. However, for situations where capturing multiple frames in quick succession is essential, the Nikon N2020's motor drive provides a functional and effective tool for those needs.

Film Speed: The Nikon N2020 offers versatile film speed options for various shooting scenarios. The ISO dial has a DX setting, automatically recognising and reading the film's coded information from DX-coded film cassettes. This simplifies the shooting process, as the camera sets the appropriate ISO speed of the film automatically, ensuring accurate metering and exposure settings.

For non-DX coded film cassettes or if the photographer wants to override the DX setting, the N2020 allows manual film speed selection. Users can manually choose any film speed between 25 to 3200 ISO. This wide range of manual film speed selection ensures compatibility with various types of 35mm films, including those with non-standard or specialised ISO ratings.

DX and manual film speed options allow photographers to use a wide array of film stocks, adjust sensitivity to lighting conditions, and accommodate creative preferences. Whether shooting with standard DX-coded films or experimenting with unique film emulsions, the Nikon N2020 provides the necessary versatility to achieve optimal exposure.

Fujichrome PROVIA 400F - Expired · Wednesday 19 April 2023 · Nikon N2020 · AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

Exposure Compensation: You can override the camera's automatic metering and fine-tune the exposure for specific shooting conditions or creative effects. Located on the ASA dial, there is a dedicated wheel that enables exposure compensation adjustments ranging from -2 to +2 stops. To dial in the desired negative or positive exposure compensation value, simultaneously press an adjacent button and rotate the exposure compensation wheel.

Flounder Brewing · June 25, 2023 · Nikon N2020 · AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 · FUJICOLOR PRO 400H

The Nikon N2020's sturdy build quality and ergonomic design make it comfortable to handle during shooting sessions. Its versatile shutter speed range of 30 seconds to 1/2000th of a second, with a bulb mode, allows for creative photography, including long-exposure shots.

The camera's ISO range from 25 to 5000 offers flexibility in adapting to various lighting conditions, and it supports both DX-coded film and manual ISO adjustments.

Flounder Brewing · June 25, 2023 · Nikon N2020 · AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 · FUJICOLOR PRO 400H

The N2020’s compatibility with Nikon's F-mount lenses, renowned for their backward compatibility and extensive range, is a significant advantage. While the 43mm "perfect normal" focal length more closely matches the human eye’s perspective, the 50mm focal length was popularised by Leica, and it quickly became "standard." The "standard" AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens sold with the camera is a versatile, high-quality prime lens suitable for portraits, street photography, and low-light conditions.

Specification Value
Name AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8
Manufacturer Nikon
Maximum Aperture f/1.8
Minimum Aperture f/16
Mount Type Nikon F
Lens Type Fixed Focal Length
Focal Length 50mm
Angle of View 46°
Minimum Focus Distance 0.45m
Lens Construction 6 elements in 5 groups
Diaphragm Blades 7
Autofocus Yes
Filter Size 52mm
Weight 185g
Dimensions (DxL) 64.5 x 39mm
Recommended Yes

So, what’s my conclusion? The Nikon N2020 provides a user-friendly experience, featuring intuitive controls, a bright viewfinder, and a classic 1980s SLR design. Its autofocus technology, versatile features, and lens compatibility make it an excellent choice for amateur 35mm film photography enthusiasts.

Flounder Brewing
Flounder Brewing · June 25, 2023 · Nikon N2020 · AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 · FUJICOLOR PRO 400H

I exposed three 35mm film cartridges: an expired 36-exposure roll of Fujichrome Provia 400F, a roll of ORWO Wolfen Color NC500, and a fresh 36-exposure cartridge of Fujicolor Pro 400H.

The Fujichrome Provia 400F was underexposed. I had forgotten to override the automatic DX settings that the camera read from the cartridge. The Fujichrome Provia 400F was exposed at box speed.

All the films were developed at Boutique Film Lab and scanned on my Epson Perfection V600. The Fujicolor Pro 400H and ORWO Wolfen Color NC500 negatives were converted using Negative Lab Pro.

If you like Minolta SLRs, you might also enjoy my reviews of the XD-11, the X-700, and the XG-1. Or check out all of my camera reviews here.

Goodbye Fujicolor Pro 400H

This year may be the last time I use Fujicolor Pro 400H film. I'm ok with that.

Sometime last week, citing challenges sourcing materials, Fujifilm announced the discontinuation of production and sale of Fujicolor Pro 400H, a popular daylight-balanced colour negative film . The psychological reactions from photographers on the interweb are as varied as one would expect. While some photographers are dealing with feelings of loss, some other photographers are dealing with feelings of denial, and some are accepting of the reality of what professional photographers have known for decades. The film industry is in a long and slow death spiral. Will some film photography be around in thirty years? Perhaps, but it most likely will resemble the horse and buggy industry1.

Sourlands Ecosystem Preserve
Sourlands Ecosystem Preserve | Fujicolor Pro 400H Film Simulation | June 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

The resolution of 35mm film cannot compete with modern digital sensors. 120 film beats the highest modern digital medium format cameras. The grain of 35mm film is unmistakable, and in many circumstances, is considered obtrusive. The fact of the matter is every professional photographer believes in the benefits of modern technology currently available in newer digital cameras. After developing about 4000 35mm film frames, you would spend enough to buy a brand-new full-frame digital camera when comparing costs. The economics of the film industry is not sustainable. Film production uses chemicals and processes that are not eco-sustainable. Perhaps we could do more to focus our efforts on cleaning up the film industry while developing digital workflows to re-create whatever it is about the film that we enjoy. The only advantage is film photography is the availability and affordability of medium and large format cameras.

Kodak Portra 160 35mm Colour Negative Film
Avalon Beach | Kodak Portra 160 35mm Colour Negative Film | August 2020 | Minolta X-700 | 50mm f/1.7 MD Rokkor-X

Whether the remaining stock of Fujicolor Pro 400H is bought up by obstinate photographers stuck in unchanging "no growth" mindsets or casual photographers, or Internet opportunist is irrelevant. Like my father and father-in-law, Fujicolor Pro 400H is gone. Acknowledge your grief and cry. Then go find creativity to ways to work around the problem. I think digital photographers are inventive, creative and brilliant. Don't let the worship of long-dead film photographers put chains around that.

Last year, while I was locked down at home bored, I rekindled, after a nearly 30 years hiatus, my joy of 35mm film photography. My father and father-in-law were avoided casual photographers, and after their passing, I developed a nostalgia for old things (including record players) from my lived experience. I was also experimenting with digital film simulation. During the Spring and Summer of last year, I experimented with various digital film simulation recipes via Ritchie Roesch's film simulation challenge. Ritchie has a good eye for colour, experience with film photography, and has created several dozen film simulations. His work shows ingenuity and a willingness to experiment and build community, a tendency I don't see as much with film photographers.

Kodak Portra 160 Film Simulation
Avalon Beach | Kodak Portra 160 Film Simulation | August 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8

I shot a roll of Fujicolor Pro 400H Film Simulation and loved how it rendered the greens. My wife and I spent a lot of time hiking in the local woods and forests during the spring and summer last year, and I was excited to run a roll into a film camera. I read up on Fujicolor Pro 400H but had problems purchasing it, and my Pentax ES II was out for repair. Eventually, I had some in hand and started and completed a roll of Fujicolor Pro 400H in Autumn. Fujicolour Pro 400H tends toward green and magenta which I think are just perfect for landscape photography and "non-white" skin portraits.

When I read the announcement, I went online to find some 35mm rolls to shoot in my Minolta XD-11 this summer. Film Photography Project, Amazon and B&H Photo were sold out, but I found that I had already put one roll in Adorama shopping cart some months ago. I bought five rolls of 135. It may be the last five rolls of Fujicolor Pro 400H 35mm film I ever shoot. I'm ok with that.

  1. I think that some photographers care more about saving the film industry than the North Atlantic right whale