I have been wanting to try this film for a while now, ever since it was announced. I loved the look, the tones, the grain, just everything about the film. Well, I finally bought a roll, loaded it up in my Mamiya 645 AFD with my 150mm f/3.5 AF (because I need to use this lens more often) and here are my thoughts on it.
I shot this film at box speed and developed in R09 (Rodinal) 1+25 for seven minutes according to the Massive Dev Chart app.
As silly as it sounds, I loved the packaging. It shows a photo that was taken with the film, it’s well-designed and it’s sturdy. I can’t tell you how annoying it is having film in my bag and the boxes are all beat up because they’re so flimsy. Other film manufacturers should take note.
Another silly thing I liked. The film has a great base. Not thin and won’t crease easily if accidentally bent. Very easy to load onto the reel. A+.
Potsdam has lovely tones. The mid-tones are where this film really shines. It definitely has a “poetic” look to it, as it’s been described. It was exactly what I was looking for regarding the look. I most loved the frames I intentionally underexposed by a stop or two.
Every film has its strength and weaknesses. This film’s weakness is the highlights. There were a couple of frames that I intentionally shot for this article, that didn’t work out. I trust the light meter built into my camera. It has always been spot on with metering on my film and my digital back.
The scenes weren’t enormously contrasty either. This film just doesn’t retain highlights well. Which contradicts the “wide dynamic latitude” that an unnamed, photographer mentions, unless you expose for the highlights.
The CURL. With FP4 PLUS and XP2 Super, I normally leave a stack of books on my sleeved negatives for a day or two to flatten them on for scanning and printing. I left a stack of books on Potsdam for a week, I was busy, and it did not flatten.
Several frames also had scratches on the emulsion done most likley during manufacturing. These are straight-line scratches that go the length of the short edge of the frame (645) and are near the middle. I have never experienced this on any film from ILFORD, Kodak or Rollei that I’ve shot, but I have had this happen with Bergger Pancro. I’m always very careful when handling my film, and when I do experience a scratch in the emulsion that I caused, it is the tiniest little black spot.
All-in-all, I really enjoyed the film. It’s not something I’m going to be using for my projects, and it’s probably not something I’ll shoot often unless it’s for something specific. There is cheaper and better film out there for what I’m wanting. But this film does have a nice look to it.
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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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