I don’t know how common a problem this is in the film community, but I’m the type of photographer who loads multiple cameras with film (for different occasions of course) and then takes forever finishing them all. When I started taking a darkroom class at my local art college, I knew I would have to use one camera, one lens and one film stock to have a consistent body of work to critique throughout the semester.
My go-to source for film, Freestylephoto.biz had just announced a new offering from Brian Poulton Studios. Brian Poulton is a photographer who not only aimed to help 35mm shooters achieve the cinema look by re-spooling the film down to 35mm cartridges from the huge 400-foot cinema rolls much like the CineStill company does, but also to help photographers who normally would not experiment with a film stock before committing to buying a huge roll and a bulk loader.
I took a roll of BPS packaged Eastman Double-X 5222, loaded it in my Nikon FE2 and decided to challenge myself to finish exposing it in about a week, since my next class was a contact sheet printing session. This allowed me to really run it through its paces in all lighting conditions from mid-afternoon diffused sunlight of a well-shaded historic district to a tungsten-lit gallery space to a dark music venue.
I was impressed with the amount of contrast I could get out of the film in almost every lighting condition and because it has such a remarkable exposure range it forgave some of my exposure mistakes. The film is rated for an EI of 250 but can be pushed. The deepness of the blacks and the subtle, gradual rendering of midtones came right out of the box without any filters.
Having shot this first on a much more functionally limited but still beloved camera (my trusty ’70s Yashica Electro 35) I was blown away by its performance in available light especially dark environments with difficult or changing light. Developed in Kodak D-76, I was able to get a very pleasing medium amount of grain that was soft and definitely “cinematic” with just the right amount of crunchiness.
The range of gray tones in this film is unrivaled in my opinion, with incredible detail in the shadows and soft highlights even in the strongest sunlight. The negatives hold such great contrast and information, they practically print themselves. I found myself printing fewer test strips and nailing the exposure times effortlessly but that’s maybe a story for another 5 Frames…!
I scanned these images with an Epson Perfection V600 Pro and they were not edited.
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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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