Film review: a first look at FILM FERRANIA P30® Alpha – by Philip Harrison
UPDATE: Scott Micciche has published part one of his extensive FERRANIA P30 tests. Six developers in eight schemes and some outstanding results.
EMULSIVE: As film photography practitioners, you’ll hopefully be familiar with the release of FILM Ferrania’s FERRANIA P30®Alpha 35mm black and white film, announced on Feb 1st 2017. Some of you will have managed to snag a few rolls during preorder window in March, and with word of orders hitting postboxes across the globe, I’m proud to be able to bring you Philip Harrison’s first look at this brand new film stock for 2017.
Over to you, Philip.
FILM Ferrania’s P30® emulsion was initially produced to test the coating process at the newly opened FILM Ferrania factory, however they felt the results to be so good – by happy accident – that they decided to offer a limited batch of the renamed P30®Alpha film to their Kickstarter backers at a special price (and then subsequently to the public).
On opening their online shop in March – within less than an hour – the website had 20,000 visits which promptly caused it to crash. The first batch of film sold out in 7 days, such was the interest.
According to their own updates, Ferrania still expect to produce their transparency film by the summer and a print film based on Solaris later.
This article covers my first look of P30®Alpha based on two rolls from the very first publicly available batch.
P30®Alpha: film and developing
P30®Alpha is an ISO 80 panchromatic film coated on a triacetate base and features a very high silver content of 5 grams per square meter. FILM Ferrania used a number of professional film processing labs to help create the developer data for processing the P30®Alpha film, although this wasn’t finalised when I received my film.
The recommended developer for this (black and white motion picture), emulsion as it was available in the 1960s and 70s was Kodak D-96, which is largely the same as D-76*1.
I don’t process my own film any more, so used my usual lab, the UK based Ag-Lab. FILM Ferrania kindly sent me my film order before general distribution so I could meet a deadline for a magazine piece I was writing. I was also sent an extra roll for Ag-Lab to do processing tests with their Fuji Negastar developer, a developer which compliments the film.
*[EMULSIVE: Kodak D-96 was initially introduced as an improvement to D-76. The formula uses less metol hydroquinone and reduced sulphite; and increased borax and potassium. It was (and still is) recommended as the primary developer for back and white motion picture films, specifically Kodak EASTMAN Double-X 5222.]
P30®Alpha: exposures & workflow
I shot the P30®Alpha in my Leica M2 with a 50mm Summarit-M lens at the recommended ISO of 80, all hand held.
I always expose negative film for the shadows using a little Sekonic Twinmate exposure meter. FILM Ferrania’s press release stated that the ultra-fine grain and high silver content has no peers in the modern analog film market. CEO Nicola Baldini says about P30®Alpha, “Each frame is like a piece of jewelry”, with this in mind and two rolls from batch number P30-17-001, I headed off to my favourite testing grounds.
I received my high res scans, around 50MB each, from Ag-Lab and the scans were resized to A3 at 300PPI. Brightness, contrast, cropping, burning-in or shading was achieved in Photoshop, and the final result was printed on Fotospeed Platinum Lustre Art Paper.
This is my usual workflow for film.
P30®Alpha: my conclusion
I shot the film in a variety of lighting conditions and it performed well. The film grain is superfine; on A3 prints it is hard to see any grain.
The negatives look very contrasty but scanned well, retaining plenty of shadow detail.
The film leans towards the orthochromatic: dark red objects like London telephone boxes and buses go dark. I didn’t find this a problem and with the contrast, it helps give the film a nice look.
Definition is very high and fine detail is excellent, as can be seen from the 100% crops above.
I have shown my prints to plenty of people including photographers at my local photo club in Rochdale, UK. They all say the film has a look to it and were impressed. I was surprised to find one of the club members was also a Kickstarter funder and awaiting his film order, sadly we are the only members in the club who use film.
In summary, I would recommend FERRANIA P30®Alpha to those of you who like to use medium speed fine grained films.
Thanks for reading,
~ Philip Harrison
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