The camera shop that I frequent in Toronto — Downtown Camera — recently relocated into a fresh, new space down the block from where it had long established itself as a staple of Toronto’s photography community. To celebrate this move, DC sold some “Grand Opening Mystery Boxes” in limited quantities. I purchased a 35mm box and among the goodies were two rolls of film that I’d never shot before, nor had I ever thought of trying out — they were Cinestill 800T, and Fomapan Profi Line Creative 200; the five frames in this article were shot with the latter on my Olympus XA 35mm rangefinder.
As a quick aside, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, the Olympus XA is a discrete little powerhouse that fits right in the palm of your hand and, more importantly, into almost any nook, cranny or pocket that you need it to — it travels well.
It has a fixed focal length 35mm Zuiko lens, aperture priority from f/2.8 to f/22 and ISO settings ranging from 25 to 800. The shutter release button is also feather-sensitive, and the shutter virtually silent. The pocketable Olympus XA is really an excellent choice for street photography and is with me all of the time.
But back to the film.
I really had no idea what to expect with this roll of Fomapan 200 Creative, l as I had never heard about it before. A quick Google search taught me that it’s a European film (based in the Czech Republic) from a company that, apparently, has been making film for close to 100 years.
I dropped the roll into my XA and went out into the streets of Toronto. And I can’t say that I was at all disappointed with the results.
I was impressed with the film’s tonality, which captured incredibly well the ranges from white to black with broad gradations of grey — not overly contrasty the way JCH Streetpan 400 can be, but nicely balanced, in my opinion. The film is grainy, which works well for my style of photography and gives the images a bit of a gritty, documentarian feel to them.
This film definitely has an old-school vibe to it, and I like it for that reason. I would not hesitate to shoot with this film again and in fact, I bought another roll of it just for the sake of getting the gear shot that EM asked for (thanks, EM).
The photos were all shot in November 2019, at box speed in natural light, in Downtown Toronto.
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This series is being 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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