FERRANIA P30 Alpha has had an interesting time of it since it got into the hands of eager customers in late 2017.  Many photographers (including yours truly) have questioned everything from its true speed to the nature of the emulsion itself – orthochromatic or panchromatic? Real world results differ wildly, from low contrast with bags of detail, to stark, high contrast images with not much more on show than black or white. The question begs, is this inconsistency a result of the emulsion, the photographer, or the developer?

Perhaps all three?

It’s worth remembering that P30 is that it’s not an emulsion we’re used to. By that I mean it’s not one of the Agfa, Fuji, ILFORD, or Kodak-derived stocks which dominate today’s black and white film market. In fact, of the 120 or so black and white film stocks currently in production, just a little over 10% are not derived from recipes created by one of those four companies. But let’s not stop there; P30 is a motion picture film stock, which uses a recipe that is (at best), 50 years old; and prefers to be treated as all motion picture film stocks in development.

Considering the film’s history, nature and the less than consistent results out there in the real world, it’s obvious that the film needs more than generic treatment; the question is where to start?

Thankfully that’s something that I haven’t had to think about for too long, as better minds are already on the case. Time to hand over to Scott Micciche, who has been patiently and methodically testing P30 in a number of developers and development schemes for the best part of the past nine months.

In this article, you will find full details of Scott’s considerations entering the project, his development methodology and eight individual film tests using six developers and schemes. Consider this a “part one”, he hasn’t quite finished yet.

Over to you, Scott.

~ EM

 

 

Introduction

Hi everyone, Scott here. I’ll get straight to the point: not having the original Ferrania P30 developing chemistry to hand, the article you see here is an attempt to identify and utilize existing (off-the-shelf) developers to determine processes and schemes which deliver a nice image for either scanning or printing – hopefully, both.

When I began testing, the inspiration for the look I wanted to achieve was Federico Fellini’s Otto e Mezzo (8½). The long dynamic range, highlight roll-off and shadow detail seen in this film is absolutely beautiful. Skin tones are not chalky and blacks aren’t sooty, even in scenes filmed in full sunlight.

Otto e Mezzo (8½) - Copyright: Federico Fellini / Cineriz
Otto e Mezzo (8½) – Copyright: Federico Fellini / Cineriz

The tests you see below are based on a repeatable methodology which hopes to create a baseline that readers can expand upon. There’s a lot to cover, so the best place to start is probably going to be to tell you what’s covered in this article:

When you’re ready, we’ll start by establishing the factors used to determine the tests which follow.

 

 

Developers: selection and schemes

P30 represents the return of a lineage of black and white motion picture films, not a reiteration in an existing family of emulsions.

As we are essentially starting from scratch, a considered and consistent methodology to setting our baselines is advantageous. With that in mind, I have first outlined my notes on selecting developers to test the film with; and the schemes and techniques used.

Developer-specific requirements aside, the methodology includes:

  • Precision in measuring chemistry.
  • The use of distilled water.
  • Carefully monitored times and temperature.

 

Developer selection criteria

The basic criterion for selecting developers for these P30 tests is as follows:

  • Must be absolutely reliable and infinitely repeatable: no coffee, wine, or beer developers (variation in type, quality and availability will unpredictably impact results).
  • Must be readily available (aside from Kodak D-96 or other hand-mixed formulations).
  • Must be safe. Pyro, for example, can be dangerous to handle and inhale, especially in powder form.
  • Must be forgiving. Forgetting to agitate, or getting a bit too aggressive should not punish too severely, this isn’t C-41!
  • Should provide a good tonal scale.

In addition to the selection criteria is the need for awareness about the developers being selected. For example

  • Dilution and ratio awareness (ex: HC-110 Dilution H must use at least 450 ml water to maintain the 6ml minimum required for a 36 exp 135 roll).

I’m almost certain that more than one person was bitten by a dilution/ratio awareness miscalculation. As much as film developing is forgiving, abiding by the developer recommendations as a starting point omits that miscalculation from undesirable results.

It should go without saying that the developers were also selected based on their ability to be used in at-home development systems such as Paterson tanks, Rondinax and Jobo film processors.

 

Development schemes and technique

Changes in the development scheme and technique can alter the final result considerably, so the next task is to establish the effect they will have on the final negative.

According to FILM Ferrania’s Marco Pangni the optimal developer temperature should be 21ºC, and the optimal pH should be 9.5 (with a ±0.5 tolerance). In addition:

  • Generally, higher pH developers need less agitation and/or time and this is true for most film developing.
  • Lower pH developers can use more, or even constant, agitation (Kodak D-96 as an example).
  • Motion picture films are processed in a continuous, gentle agitation scheme.
  • Stand developing, especially semi-stand, where inversions occur at even intervals during the duration of the development time, tends to be compensating, without loss of film speed (Rodinal/R09).

From this we have the following information we can use to select a development technique/scheme for each developer used:

  • Agitation: higher pH = less agitation.
  • Low pH has been more or constant in terms of full development with more agitation. The Ph scale is logarithmic so 8.5 -> 9.5 = 10x the alkalinity – wow.
  • Temperature is important, although not as strict as C-41 requirements: consistency rewards.
  • Device should be accessible: Rondinax/Patterson/Jobo.
  • Water: distilled water with a pH of 6 is much lower than tap water in most places and is something neutral for everyone. Measuring your tap water in terms of contaminants and pH might be handy in lieu of distilled water purchasing.

 

The final developer list

Based on the above, I selected six developers and eight schemes for my initial tests. A future update will cover additional tests with Kodak D-76, Xtol and the FF Monobath, to name a few.

The six developers/outline development schemes are as follow:

 

01: ADOX Rodinal Semi-Stand – pH ~ 12 (undiluted)

  • 1:100 in 500ml (5/495) 20C, 60 minutes, 1:100 500ml tank (100/400) – this recipe is credited to Eric Smith.
  • Agitation: 1 minute initial, 1 inversion at 15, 30, 45 minutes, water stop.
  • Stop Bath: Water.
  • Fix: Photographers Formulary TF-4.
  • Rinse/Photo Flo – dry in a cabinet overnight.
  • Notes: adhered to the Zone System extremely well!  Grays are traditional Rodinal gray, they will print nicely, grain is well-controlled, which is a kudos to the film emulsion!

 

02: ILFORD ILFOSOL 3 – pH ~ 9.75 – 9.85

  • Recipe by Gianni Giovannini; Dilution: 1-9: Agitation is also key, 1 inversion/minute after 30s initial, similar to HC-110.
  • This developer exhausts quickly once open so many need to be aware that it is not like Rodinal or HC-110 in terms of shelf life.  Much like XTOL, it can die unexpectedly.
  • Stop bath: Water.
  • Fix: Photographers Formulary TF-4.
  • Rinse/Photo Flo – dry in a cabinet overnight.
  • Notes: This is an active developer much like HC-110, it develops rapidly and needs less agitation.  Blocked shadows can be expected if too much agitation or time.

 

03: Kodak D-96 – pH ~ 8.6

  • Home brewed with distilled water and chemicals from the Photographer’s Formulary (recipe available here).
  • Agitation: it loves constant gentle agitation, much like a motion picture developing machine. I used a technique as follows:
    • For 8 minutes, pick up tank with right hand and complete an inversion, set down, pick up with left hand and complete an inversion. This is how Fred Picker agitated and it was very reliable in order to keep a random flow of developer over the emulsion.
  • Stop bath: Water.
  • Fix: Photographers Formulary TF-4.
  • Rinse/Photo Flo – dry in a cabinet overnight.
  • Notes: This is a fine grain developer, reducing grain to a very fine level, but loss of acutance is to be expected; images appear soft.  Constant, yet gentle agitation is required.

 

04: Kodak HC-110 – pH unknown, 9.5+?

  • Dilution B (1:31) : Agitation is key, 1 inversion/minute after 30s initial.
  • Stop bath: Water.
  • Fix: Photographers Formulary TF-4.
  • Rinse/Photo Flo – dry in a cabinet overnight.
  • Notes:  This is a very short time for development so there isn’t a lot of leeway for mistakes.  Take into account the dump/fill times for your tank.

 

05: Kodak T-MAX Developer – pH ~ 9.75

  • 1:6 @ 24C/75F, Joe Aguirre’s recipe using T-MAX agitation
  • Agitation: 5-7 initial rapid inversions for the first minute, repeat every 30 seconds for 7 minutes total
  • Stop bath: Water
  • Fix: Photographers Formulary TF-4.
  • Rinse/Photo Flo – dry in a cabinet overnight
  • Notes: Very milky grays, nice midtones, an overall flatter image as a good starting point to print or emulate paper digitally.
  • CAUTION : 24ºC warms the emulsion; it becomes extremely delicate.  Do not squeegee, even with fingers.

 

06: Tetenal Paranol S – pH ~ 14 (undiluted)

  • Tom Sebastiano’s Recipe: 20C, 14 minutes, 1:50 in 500ml tank (10/490)
  • Agitation: 30s initial, 10s top of each minute ~ 4 inversions
  • Stop Bath: Water.
  • Fix: Photographers Formulary TF-4.
  • Rinse/Photo Flo – dry in a cabinet overnight.
  • Notes: Extremely long tonal scale, deep blacks, balanced negatives, visible grain, but reduced nicely.  This is the best one so far in my opinion.
  • MSDS.

 

 

Cameras, metering and scanning

Let’s keep this simple:

 

Cameras and metering used

All cameras used should be operating within the manufacturer’s specification (shutter speeds, meter working 100%, light seals intact, etc.).

  • Nikon F2 center-weighted meter performed the best (NOTE: This F2 was recently fully serviced by Sover Wong in the U.K., including the DP-12 meter).
  • Nikon F4 spot metering, Adams Zone System.
  • Nikon F6 spot metering, Adams Zone System (I use the F6 as it allows me to dump “EXIF” from the rolls).

 

Scanning Workflow

  • Scan entire roll through a Kodak Pakon F-135, using the TLX client -> 16-bit Planar Raw files.
  • Convert the 16-bit raw to a linear tiff using ImageMagick.
  • Invert the negative using Colorperfect in monochrome neg mode (default BW Start setting).
  • Load into Adobe Lightroom for cataloging, possible dust removal, minimal cropping.
  • No further adjustments (I stay away from Adobe’s laplacian filters: highlight/shadow/clarity sliders)

 

Scanner focusing

  • For some reason, I thought my Pakon focusing was off, but none of my images using Kodak D-96 are sharp, so maybe this developer results in too much softness.

 

 

Results

The Kodak D-96 tests were developed in a Rondinax 35U. The remaining tests were developed in a Patterson tank. The six sub-sections below describe the developmet scheme used (with appropriate credit where necessary), as well as two sample images each.

You may click/tap the images to view them in fullscreen, or you can follow the Flickr link under each mini-gallery to see all images from each roll.

 

01: ADOX Rodinal Semi-Stand (Eric Smith)

Dilution1:100
Time (MM:SS)60:00
Initial Agitation60 secs
Subsequent Agitation15, 30, 45 minutes
ISO80
Temp~20ºC
pH (est.)~ 12

View additional results from this roll on Flickr »

 

 

02: ILFORD ILFOSOL 3 (Gianni Giovannini: Twitter/IG)

Dilution1:9
Time (MM:SS)06:00
Initial Agitation30 secs
Subsequent Agitation1 inversion/min
ISO80
Temp20ºC
pH (est.)9.6

View additional results from this roll on Flickr »

 

 

03: Kodak D-96

i. D-96 test one

DilutionStock
Time (MM:SS)08:00
Initial AgitationContinuous
Subsequent AgitationContinuous
ISO50
Temp~20ºC
pH (est.)8.6

View additional results from this roll on Flickr »

 

ii. D-96 test two

DilutionStock
Time (MM:SS)08:00
Initial AgitationContinuous
Subsequent AgitationContinuous
ISO80
Temp20ºC
pH (est.)8.6

View additional results from this roll on Flickr »

 

iii. D-96 test three

DilutionStock
Time (MM:SS)08:30
Initial AgitationContinuous
Subsequent AgitationContinuous
ISO80
Temp20ºC
pH (est.)8.6

View additional results from this roll on Flickr »

 

 

04: Kodak HC-110

Dilution1:31 (B)
Time05:00
Initial Agitation30 secs
Subsequent Agitation1 inversion/min
ISO80
Temp20ºC
pH (est.)?

View additional results from this roll on Flickr »

 

 

 

05: Kodak T-MAX Developer (Joe Aguirre)

Dilution1:6
Time (MM:SS)07:00
Initial Agitation5-7 initial
Subsequent Agitation10 secs each 30 secs* TMAX style, rapid twisting ~ 5-7 inversions in 10s
ISO80
Temp24ºC
pH (est.)9.6

View additional results from this roll on Flickr »

 

 

06: Tetenal Paranol S (Tom Sebastiano)

Dilution1:50
Time (MM:SS)14:00
Initial Agitation30 secs
Subsequent Agitation10 secs/min ~ 4 inversions
ISO80
Temp~20ºC
pH (est.)~ 14

View additional results from this roll on Flickr »

 

 

Conclusions…for now

Obviously, these are not the only developers and techniques possible; I continue testing with more developers and also rely upon the community to further experiment in order to achieve those balanced negatives I spoke about. I have attempted to further validate those recipes which have shown nice, balanced images and I will continue to do so in the coming months; and of course, publish them here.

You’ll notice that I have made no commentary on each text provided here; this is intentional.

I mentioned at the beginning of this article that Federico Fellini’s Otto e Mezzo (8½) was the inspiration for the look I wanted to achieve from this film. I believe I have achieved that initial goal but the project has become much more than that. In hindsight, proving to myself that P30 was capable of delivering excellent tonal range was also a factor in completing these tests. I know what the original emulsion was capable of and admit being a little disheartened when comparing those results to what I was seeing from the new emulsion on social media, Flickr et al. A big part of me needed to do this and I’m very glad I did.

Consider the results you see above and compare them to what you have seen from P30 to date. We now understand that P30 demands consideration in development. This understanding helps put Film Ferrania’s early insistence that the film should ideally be developed by certain “pre-vetted” labs into context but what does it mean to everyday film photographers who develop their film at home?

Not much more than this: spend a little more time, give the film a little more respect and the rewards will speak for themselves.

Film photography is a process from pre-visualization to hanging that final print. If you happen to be invested in the development part of that process, following one or more of the simple, repeatable recipes/schemes I have outlined here will help you to produce tonally superior negatives from this picky but very special film stock.

Social media has helped immensely with respect to collaboration and visual findings regarding P30 Alpha; I hope this continues and that Film Ferrania grows to resurrect more film stocks, giving many more opportunities to enjoy the unique look and keep film alive!

Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback at the foot of the page.

~ Scott

 

 

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16 COMMENTS

  1. I completed the work over the course of several months and it was rather enjoyable. I brought rolls to Italy with me for vacation photos, which were processed in the Ilfosol 3 and D-96 developer combinations. I think the poor results we see from XTOL are due to 1. using it diluted and 2. using it at high temps (photo labs, same as DD-X). 68-70F range should suffice. I also am a firm believe in using fresh XTOL as it can fail without a harsh color warning. Have fun and please share the results!

  2. Oh my you must be exhausted after doing all those rolls and developers, not to mention a bunch of scanning.. Wonderful stuff here, and I think you have written the book on P30. Well it is probable that Xtol will work fine, which is why I stopped by. I like them all excepting that special warm Tmax recipe. And looking at Emulsive’s review, it appears yellow and green filters work pretty good with the film. So will try to shoot some now that I can see that results are possible.

  3. The look in Otto’s movie will be difficult to imitate with any of the above processes. The movie was probably developed and printed onto print film for projection, which gave it that look.

    • I personally don’t squeegee or wipe my negatives but some people do. With 24C required for TMAX, I wouldn’t.

  4. Very interesting results. All seem to be relatively fine with a good range of tones; the two exceptions with lots of high contrast and blocked up blacks seemed to be Ilfosol 3 and the first D-96. I had two rolls so far, very blocked up. The first was done in XTOL by a lab who (at their own admission) didn’t know how to deal with it. The second was done by AG-Photolab in Fuji Negastar. AG was supposed to be one of the labs they worked with, and was used by Phil Harrison (?) in the first review. That second roll I shot in parallel with a roll of FP4+, same exposures in each (allowing for different ISO), see the results here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/11987451@N04/albums/72157684859120754. I was amazed at the different result from the P30.

    I have 3 rolls left, and saved it for the stronger light as I thought it should perhaps be shot at 50 or even 40. I was planning to dev it in Ilfosol 3 (my only developer) in a Rondinax tank. Is there anything specific I should be looking for?

    • My first roll of D-96, many of the blocked images were shot at 50 ISO. That roll was processed in a Rondinax 35U. Ilfosol 3, like HC-110, seem to be very active developers, so they need special care to avoid blocking. If you really want to see a flat image, try the TMAX Developer @ 24C.

  5. Thank you Scott, for this thorough review, I will be trying the Adox Rodinal 1:100 semi-stand as the Flickr Gallery for this development has nicely balanced grays.

    I have previously developed 1 roll at 1:50 in Adox Rodinal at 14min with a 1 minute agitation scheme and 10s every minute but the results were too contrasty for my liking. It was either too black or too white with light dynamic range within the grays.

    So thank you once again as you have given me faith in this emulsion.

    • I was pleasantly surprised with the rodinal semi-stand technique and I shot in full sunlight to disprove it. 🙂 Meter carefully and you will be rewarded, Mark!

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