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.

 

 

Introduction

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: photographs

Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha - 1/250 f5.6, bright sunshine
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha – 1/250 f5.6, bright sunshine
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha - 1/250 f5.6 @100% crop showing fine detail, bright sunshine
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha – 1/250 f5.6 @100% crop showing fine detail, bright sunshine
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha - 1/250 f5.6, bright sunshine
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha – 1/250 f5.6, bright sunshine
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha - 1/250 f5.6, bright sunshine
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha – 1/250 f5.6, bright sunshine
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha - 1/250 f5.6, bright sunshine
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha – 1/250 f5.6, bright sunshine
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha - 1/60 f4, poor lighting
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha – 1/60 f4, poor lighting
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha - 1/60 f4 @100% crop showing fine detail, poor lighting
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha – 1/60 f4 @100% crop showing fine detail, poor lighting
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha - 1/60 f4, poor lighting
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha – 1/60 f4, poor lighting
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha - 1/60 f4 @100% crop showing fine detail, poor lighting
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha – 1/60 f4 @100% crop showing fine detail, poor lighting
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha - 1/60 f4, demonstrating the lack of red sensitivity
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha – 1/60 f4, demonstrating the lack of red sensitivity
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha - 1/60 f4, poor lighting
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha – 1/60 f4, poor lighting
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha - 1/60 f4, poor lighting
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha – 1/60 f4, poor lighting
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha - 1/60 f4, poor lighting
Phil Harrison: FERRANIA P30®Alpha – 1/60 f4, poor lighting

 

 

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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29 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Claire, Thank you for your kind comments. My films were processed by a lab in Fuji Negastar developer. I have recently changed my lab, this lab uses Kodak XTOL which seems equally good. I also always have high resolution scans of each neg, around 50mb each, this influences the resolution of the final images too.

  2. Do you know what chemicals and procedures are used to develop these stunningly sharp photos?

    I would really like to try to develop this film if I have the chance.

  3. Hi Thomas, I have to admit that I don’t understand what you mean by ‘the highlights are not sharp’. Do you mean perhaps that some highlights have blown? I used a lab to process my films with a fixed time and temperature, I do believe that better results can be achieved with more sympathetic home processing.

  4. I shot my first roll a week ago, Pentax MX and Pentax-M 50mm f/1.4 plus orange filter, and sent it off to be devved. The lab didn’t know what to do! We had a discussion and they decided to hand develop it in a Paterson tank, XTOL 1+1 for 12 minutes. The results are… interesting. Several frames look severely under-exposed compared with the FP4 film of similar subjects shot a few days before. However, some frames came out reasonably well exposed, and one frame (a close-up of some graffiti from 1845 cut in stone) looked almost identical with both films. It’s a real puzzle. A colleague on Talk Photography who read this post suggested that if it is more orthochromatic than panchromatic, perhaps my use of an orange filter was affecting the film more than for the FP4. However, the jury’s out for now. BTW the frame numbers are visible so the development wasn’t too far off.

    Next roll will use only a UV filter, and I’ll develop it myself in Ilfosol 3 in a Rondinax tank (all I have in both cases). Not sure what time yet, though I saw a suggestion of 5.5 minutes on the Film Ferrania site…

  5. Photography is fun, it shouldn’t matter what method you use, it’s the end result that’s important.
    Making out that any method but your own is stupid suggests a very narrow and intolerant mind.
    The number of positive comments on this site and many others justifies the above sentence.

  6. Philip, great review. Nice to get some first hand info on the film. Would invite you to check out Creative Film Photography if you’re on Facebook. You’d be welcome. Randy…

    • Photography is fun, it shouldn’t matter what method you use, it’s the end result that’s important.
      Making out that any method but your own is stupid suggests a very narrow and intolerant mind.
      The number of positive comments on this site and many others justifies the above sentence.

    • I understand you have strong opinions, as exhibited by your other comments here on EMULSIVE. That said, your comment was out of line and inappropriate.

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