Often when we speak of black and white film – we really are referring to an infinite palate of shades of gray. And if you’re like me, on occasion you may be guilty of taking the occasional liberties with the contrast level in lightroom to your otherwise perfectly even toned Tri-X. But every so often when you have a real contagion for contrast a film comes along that satisfies this lust to see the world in the most binary tones of black and white.
And so it was that I was thrilled to give a shot to the newly issued Lomo film Fantôme 8. Let’s get the main thing out of the way up front. The 8 in the name stands for the ISO. That’s right, not ISO 400, not ISO 100, not even ISO 80 which I previously felt was pushing all limits of light insensitivity. But ISO….8! That means you are loading this role on a beautiful bright sunny happy day and coming out with film noir.
I hadn’t thought of it before placing the order – but I was relieved to confirm that my Leica M6 even had a meter setting that went that low. For the record it actually goes to ISO 6, which is completely bonkers. It’s like the fact that your car speedometer tops out at 180mph. Interesting, but you will never see it in action.
But I digress. So when shooting this film just know anything that is in the slightest shadow is black. Anything that is in a nice bright area is white. It’s like you took the two polar ends of Ansel Adams zone system and just left the rest on the cutting room floor. I for one am smitten. It’s not the type of roll that you will want to use to take pictures of your kids birthday party. But if you have the luxury of being somewhere where you can take the liberty of letting your more artistic side show. Just check out what this film does with texture. Think rocks, rusty patina, rough edges, water ripples, cobblestone. You get the er…picture. What on an iPhone would be a shot of stunning boredom with this film becomes a sensory feast.
A quick word on the 7Artisans 50mm 1.1. I’m not sure where I land with this one. I was tempted by the lower cost and super wide capabilities of this lens. Needless to say with ISO 8 film most of these were shot completely wide open. I have no regrets and I have no real criticism of this lens other than that I don’t like that the aperture ring is smooth and doesn’t have stops.
So you always have to look to see what you have done to your f-stops when adjusting it. This is super personal, but there’s just something about this lens that doesn’t excite me to use it. I have another much more compact 50mm M mount and I find that I will reach for that 8 out of 10 times versus this 7Artisans. But that being said, this lens does serve a very specific low light purpose and as in this case, I was very pleased with the creamy super surreal depth of field in these shots. So for the lower price, I guess it’s worth it even if it’s not going to just live on my camera. One funny side – on my digital Leica this lens reads as a Noctilux in the Exif Data. A Noctilux it most certainly is not.
Enough words – have a review through the below shots. If you enjoy them order a roll yourself and join my Fantôme Fanatics fan club Flickr group. I would love to see others work with this crazy and exciting new film.
I hope you enjoyed this post. For more of my work you can also just check out my Flickr site here.