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Finding Film part 15: Fomapan 400 ActionFinding Film part 15: Fomapan 400 Action

Finding Film part 15: Fomapan 400 Action

Hello readers, welcome back to another episode of #FindingFilm. This month’s episode is a short one, but something I felt was necessary. Back in Episode 3, I checked out Fomapan for the first time, shooting some Fomapan 200. I had mixed feelings about the film, liking the low cost and shadow detail, but felt the grain and highlights let it down. I didn’t like my results and decided I wouldn’t be shooting Fomapan again.

My Fomapan journey was unexpectedly re-visited in Episode 8, where I tried Lomography’s Lady Grey, a 400 speed film, which shares its DNA with Fomapan 400. I loved the Lady Grey, praising the shadow detail, whilst enjoying the grain, highlights, and cost. With all of this in mind, it got me thinking, had I given Fomapan too much of a hard time? After all, I did enjoy the Lady Grey, so how different could it be? I had to test it out and see.

So on to the shoot. I’m well into the GCSE Photography course at work, and my classes are progressing well with their work. We have been working on a landscapes project, and in a bid to get my students out of the classroom, we arranged a workshop, on location, based around a landscape theme. We headed to a part of the Norfolk Broads (a local, man-made, national park, with miles of waterways), that is well known for landscape photography.

Cue several questions about my film camera, and what I was doing. Whilst I don’t think I have any film converts yet, I am still working on it. We were on location for about an hour, and in that time I managed to get some teaching done, whilst shooting a couple of rolls at the same time. All in all, it was an afternoon well spent in my opinion. I’ll be bringing my negatives into my lessons to show my students what I did. Hopefully, it inspires one or two of them to take up film!

So after work, I headed to the darkroom to get developing. I used Ilford DD-X as my developer (1+9, 12 mins, 20c), using stand development (I am really starting to like this method, not because I am lazy, but feel it gives me results I am more happy with). As usual, I used my Fotospeed Stop-Bath / Fixer combination as my other articles.

Development went fine, and there were no issues to report. The film curled quite a bit during the drying process, but no more than the Lady Grey / Fomapan 200 did. Scanning also went well, with no issues there.

Having scanned the negatives, here are the results. As always, the only changes made were cropping and removing any scratches/dust during scanning.

 

The film rendered well, and produced some good results. Up close, there was a good amount of detail, and I like the amount of grain in the image. I’ve been shooting a lot of 400-speed film lately and am really starting to enjoy the grain levels in it, compared to other speeds.

The shadow detail in the images was also good, with the blacks at a good level that I don’t feel the need to edit further.

The highlights in the images are a real let down for me. It was a really bright, sunny day, with clouds filling the sky. The light was good, and yet for some reason, the highlights are really dull and lack much contrast.

Overall, the images were to my liking. I don’t see the need to majorly edit them, with good contrast, detail retention, and tonality.

TLDR; honesty time – I feel I may have been too harsh on Fomapan originally. The Fomapan 400 is definitely better than the 200. The shadow detail, low price, tonality, and detail is definitely pleasing, and I like the amount of grain the film produces. However, the highlights were very poor and would require a bit of editing to fix.

If I were to compare the Fomapan 400 with the Lomography Lady Grey, both films produce excellent shadows and similar grain detail. The Lady Grey has slightly better highlights, but the Fomapan is much cheaper. The Lady Grey is more readily available though, so I suppose you are paying for convenience there. On my scoring chart, I have the films as a tie score, holding third place with Delta 100.

Now, where did I leave those rolls of Fomapan 100? I feel another comparison coming on with a certain Lomography Earl Grey… Before you go, remember that you can keep up to date with the films I cover in this series by following the links below:

Until next time!

~ Tom

 

 

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About The Author

Tom Rayfield

Photographer with a passion for shooting (and developing) medium format film.

6 Comments

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  1. By “try the same thing”, do you mean run through a bunch of films to pick one?

    Reply
    • If I had the time, I’d do rigorous testing, use two film backs to shoot the exact same scene with the exact same settings over a range of light. Then print to compare. I’m contemplating doing that with some film in my stash, but not enthused enough to proceed.

      Reply
    • Yes and yes. I’ve done film tests before (as you know!) but making a long-term concerted effort to test so many different films at the same location and under (mostly) the same light is something I have yet to do. Perhaps I don’t need to these days but I’d love a single reference like the one Tom has created.

      Reply
    • I made some prints from HP5 after my last try-a-new-to-me film fiasco. And I thought – this grain is so lovely to focus on. This film prints so well, even when I Fup. Why oh why did I ever stray? 😉

      Reply
    • That said, my second film back is free and I’m trying to decide if my spring fever is over already…

      Reply
  2. I didn’t see you mention what camera you used or if you used a yellow filter or any filter?

    Reply

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