Finding Film part 9: Fumbling Fuji NEOPAN Acros 100

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In my last article, I discussed my adventures with the Lomography Lady Gray 400. This came at the tail end of my shoot, which was initially planned to exclusively involve Fuji Acros 100 (NEOPAN), but the Lomography turned up on the shoot day for the NEOPAN, so I took it along for the ride and shot some of that too. The contents of this article happened before the last article, making this the prequel, if you will.
At the beginning of the shoot I had 2 rolls of NEOPAN with me, and was ready to give it a proper test, ahead of 2017’s #NEOPANtastic film party. So, on a nice sunny day, and for the third straight weekend in a row (I would eventually re-visit a fourth time for the NEOPANtastic shoot week), I headed back to my favourite woods. The first week I had previously scouted sections for the shoot with my trusty smartphone, with the second weekend being my Delta Disaster.
The shoot went well, as I knew exactly what I wanted to shoot, where I wanted to head to, and what I could expect when I arrived. I would re-shoot some of the images that had failed on the Delta Disaster, and all would be fine again. Now obviously, for practical reasons, it isn’t something I can do every time I shoot – especially when visiting new or distant locations – nor do I want to waste any more film, but when my location is 10 minutes away from my home, and somewhere I pass on my commute to work, I thought why not.
So I managed to shoot a roll fine, no issues there. I finished shooting my second roll when disaster struck.
I took the roll of 120 film from the back of my camera, and then in the slowest of slow-motion, I watched helplessly as the film fumbled from my grip, dropping to the floor. The film bounced, before unrolling like a carpet being laid out for royalty. All of my freshly exposed film, instantly ruined by the bright sunny day. Many expletives followed, along with a pathetic attempt to save the film by jamming it into my pocket. By this point, the longest 3 seconds of my life had passed, along with any shred of detail left on the film.
Shoot over, I headed back to the darkroom, frustrated that I had lost one of my rolls. I developed it anyway, just in case I had managed to save it. I don’t know who I was trying to kid. What a massive waste of time that was!
I developed the film using Rodinal, 1+25 at 19c for 6.5 minutes, with 3 inversions every minute. For those still interested, I used Fotospeed SB50 as my stop bath, and Fotospeed FX30 for the fixer. The NEOPAN dried well, didn’t curl at all, and scanned very well. No issues there.
Here are some samples from the roll, as always, I have only corrected crops, straightened wonky images, or removed dust that was picked up during scanning.

There is a good level of detail retained in the images. The contrast is a little too much for my liking in some of the images, as is the exposure. Considering these are off the same roll of film I am surprised at just how much the shots vary.

Even though I metered the shots carefully, I am still unsure why one of them was much darker than the rest. Maybe the meter was having an off moment, or maybe the patch of film was a bit dodgy, I am unsure.

There were some nice tones in some of the images, and close up the film was not a disappointment.

Considering these were all shot on the same day, I am surprised at the differences between the shots. Having scanned my NEOPANtastic entries, these were also erratic, and very mixed. Having shot Lomography Lady Grey 400 at the same time, in the same woods, with the same light and on the same camera, with the same meter, I have ruled out equipment as being the issue.
Since shooting the roll of film in this article, I have now shot 3 rolls of NEOPAN (1 on this shoot, 2 for NEOPANtastic), all of which were very mixed. I bought my NEOPAN as a pro pack of five rolls, so I am guessing I have a bad batch. I have seen some fantastic work with this film stock, from people within the EMULSIVE community (shoutout to Sandeep and Barnaby for flying the NEOPAN flag). Therefore, I know something must have gone wrong for mine to have turned out as they did. But I suppose that is the lottery (and charm) of shooting film.
TLDR; I am a little disappointed with how my NEOPAN adventure turned out. Yes, I dropped a roll of film and ruined it. Yet, what I did shoot was very mixed, both in contrast, tones and exposure. Sure, the film developed nicely, didn’t curl and was a joy to scan, but unfortunately, for me, that is not enough. Some of my images turned out well, whilst others will require editing to try and save them.
I still have 1 roll of NEOPAN left, and will refuse to let this put me off shooting it. I have seen the potential in the film from others, and would refuse to rule it out again in the future. I know that people absolutely love this film, and having seen their work, I can see why. But for now, it certainly has a long way to go to be my staple film stock.
Thanks for reading and if you’re interested in catching up on my Finding Film journey check out my project hub page here on EMULSIVE!
~ Tom Rayfield

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2 thoughts on “Finding Film part 9: Fumbling Fuji NEOPAN Acros 100”

  1. Hey Tom.
    Yeah, Neopan Acros is still my favourite film, especially in 120 format and despite using a lot of it, I’ve never had such problems.
    I love the idea of visiting a location without your camera and finding that shots that you like in advance. I’m sure that I, like others, get too caught up in the process of taking pictures to see everything around us.
    Good luck with the last roll. Try it for some long exposures perhaps. There really is nothing better…

  2. Unless the film is way expired, I think the likelihood of a “bad batch” of film from Fuji is extremely small.
    Also, if was something wrong with the film, it wouldn’t show itself exactly in line with the frames your camera generated.
    I think the most likely explanation is a sticky shutter or aperture, (I think you didn’t mention what kind of camera you’re using. Sticky aperture is only possible with auto aperture camera like a Bronica or Hasselblad, not likely with manual aperture like a TLR.) Or maybe your meter’s battery is nearing the end of its road?
    Shoot a roll of any other film with the same camera and meter and see what happens.
    A shutter that was good yesterday isn’t necessarily good today.


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