This film, FOQUS A125, is made by an enthusiast in Russia, and is hard to obtain without Russian connections (Russians buy it from the man himself on a forum full of untranslatable idioms). Some people say it’s great at EI 400, some people say it’s great at EI 100. These shots are at EI 125, and I used a yellow filter.
I did not know what to expect, and I was amazed. Everything, from portraits to landscapes, turned out just marvelous. It’s not even easy to come up with a single word that would explain why, it’s not just an overdose of contrast or grain or silver like Efke or Adox Silvermax, it is just right for whatever you take a picture of. I wish I asked my friends who sent me that roll for more rolls for more experiments. Especially now, in winter; film can be quite responsive to sunlight.
The film is obviously not DX-coded, nothing tells you how to process it (unless you know how to Google in Russian), so not something that you could use if you have a point-and-shoot camera without manual ISO setting. But man oh man is it rewarding! It’s not Tasma or Svema, it’s not a rewrap of Agfa. I shot some weird films (Type D, Tasma 42L, soviet bloc-made expired stuff), but this one takes the prize.
The film is thin and hard to scan (think Silberra or Street Candy), so probably comes from some sort of military aerophotography film. It is quite contrasty and quite forgiving. The grain when developed in Kodak D76 (1+1, 15 min) is almost non-existent. It was hard to pick 5 frames, but here they are.
Should you try it? If you are in St Petersburg, yes, do it today, buy one for your friend at home. If you are not, practice developing thin film and hope that someone you know stops by the St Petersburg shop. For about $4 a roll, totally worth it.
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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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