5 frames with...

5 Frames with Fomapan 400 “Action” (@ EI1600) – by Simon King

Fomapan 400

Fomapan is one of those films that I tried early on when I first started shooting film – a gateway option which allowed me to explore the process of a mechanical camera without having to think too much about the cost of consuming a more expensive film. I think because of this approach my opinion of Fomapan is based on a less than ideal situation, and the work I produced on it is not the greatest; not due to anything inherent about the emulsion itself, but because of my low level of technical skill.

Fomapan 400 @ 1600

Fomapan 400 @ 1600

Now that I’ve been dedicated to shooting film for over a year I’ve been feeling more comfortable in revisiting some of those films I’d previously disavowed to see what they offered a more experienced film photographer.

Fomapan 400 @ 1600

Fomapan 400 @ 1600

Fomapan 400 @ 1600

This roll of Fomapan 400 was exposed EI1600 and developed at a +2 stop push. My previous pushing experiences with 400 speed films is with Tri-X and HP5+, both well known for their excellent latitude. My results from pushed Fomapan are not quite as nice as these, but I think the results hold up quite well, and the real errors are down to my own mistakes rather than a failing in the film. When metering for the shadows the exposures were especially nice, with lots of detail and great grain.

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Part of the reason I wanted to try Fomapan 400 again was that a commenter in a recent article about Neopan 400 told me that the two films were comparable, and I definitely see where they are coming from when comparing these images to the results from pushed Neopan at the same exposure index.

Some of the images I accidentally underexposed by not paying attention to what the meter readout was telling me. These were totally unsalvageable, but I don’t think any film I’m aware of would have faired better under the circumstances.

I really hope you enjoyed the images in this post! If you did, you might be interested in following my Instagram, where I share a selection of my best work.

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7 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Recky
    November 2, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    Interesting read, Simon! I use Fomapan 100 and 400 almost exclusively, both at box speed and pushed. Since the “true” speed of these emulsions is about half a stop below box, I give both films a mini-push in development when shooting at box speed. I love the combination of Foma films and Rodinal developer, but have recently discovered the virtues of Atomal 49 by Adox, an old-fashioned speed-increasing developer which I now use in push development. The results are more “classic”-looking, a bit like old Tri-X, than with Rodinal, and print really well.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Simon
      November 2, 2019 at 12:31 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experiences! I’m really looking forward to printing my Fomapan images, I think the grain will be excellent. And thanks for the reccomendation of that developer you use!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Gabriel
    November 2, 2019 at 4:35 pm

    what developer was used ? and time of development ? what were the lighting conditions ?

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Simon
      November 2, 2019 at 4:37 pm

      My favourite chemical for pushing is DDX. Massive dev chart is pretty good for times.
      Lightinf conditions were variable, but pretty dark/overcast for these.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Lars
    November 5, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    Always nice to see Fomapan getting some love!

    I shoot both Fomapan 100 and 400 at box speed and develop them in Rodinal and Fomadon Excel respectively. I also started experimenting with caffenol recently and got pretty good results in both films. But as mentioned above, their actual speed is lower than the reported box speed and they don’t really shine when pushed IMO. But I just got 30 meters of Fomapan 400 so I might give pushing another try one day.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Chalifour Bruno
    November 14, 2019 at 11:10 pm

    Just a note here: don’t the results of a specific film, its sensitivity/speed expressed in ISOs understood as its response to light in terms of density, also depend on development, thence the specific developer used, its dilution and temperature. Won’t some 400 IS0s (Kodak and Ilford included) behave as slower or faster film (than what is indicated on their box and cartridge) depending on those developing “circumstances”?
    I was interested in reading your post, Simon, because I have never used FOMA 400. So your experience is valuable and I thank you for sharing it. I must say that seeing the results I am not that inclined to try it (time and budget spent, correlated with quality of results are two things I consider before photographing. I must say my enjoyment mostly comes from the quality of my results, not so much the playing around with hardware… unless it provides quality results).
    A final note: What film and development were used for the photograph of the Nikon F4s at the top? In my opinion this is by far the best [technical] image of this post. If I were you, Simon, I would stick to that combination, it just works and gives you results.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Simon
      November 15, 2019 at 10:56 am

      You are right, changing the development process does have an effect – these were developed with a combination for 1600 film. It’s entirely possible that developing slightly longer would give me different results, but I haven’t tried this yet.
      If you don’t think these results are a good indication of what this film is capable of I’d agree, and say to wait for the next piece I’ll be writing about this film, where I’ll be using a different method for exposure…

      The top product/header shot for most of my writing is taken on an RX100 – a digital camera. I’m not really ever looking for technical perfection in my images, I don’t think that would be a good use of my time. I’d prefer to search for something a little more ambiguous and intangible.
      Thank you for your comment!

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