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Lomography ‘Babylon Kino’ B&W 13 ISO 35mm Film – First Frames Review

April 14, 2020

Back in late March I told you about my first experiences shooting Lomography’s new ‘Fantôme Kino‘ 8 ISO film. What I wasn’t able to tell you about at the time was that I also had the opportunity to shoot another forthcoming release, the announced today ‘Babylon Kino’ 13 ISO film.

Just as with the Fantôme Kino film, I shot this new Babylon Kino film with my Nikon F80. Again, I was keen to take advantage of that camera’s excellent evaluative metering system to ensure as close as exposure as I could to the stated exposure index. That being said, the Nikon F80 doesn’t do EI13, with the closest setting being EI12 – I figured erring toward overexposure would be better than under.

Of course, with this still being a very low ISO film, I still had the same issues with needing to shoot wide open to get acceptable shutter speeds. Though, with the film being 2/3rds of a stop faster than the previous roll I had shot, I did find usable shutter speeds slightly more readily achievable. It’s funny how when shooting this close to limitations, even less than a single stop can feel like quite a big difference.

When I received these two films from Lomography, I was sent with them a few notes on what to expect. As I talked about in my post about Fantôme, the notes attached that highlighted that it was a high contrast film. Duly, I went out looking for scenes that would make something of this fact. Conversely, the notes attached to Babylon talked of a lower contrast film. This made me think slightly differently about the sorts of shots I wanted to achieve. Luckily, the weather was similar on the days I shot the film, so you should be able to get some idea of the difference between them.

In fact, the first shot I took with Babylon was on the same day as the roll of Fantôme. I had finished the roll, gone back to the office, reloaded the camera and then had to fetch Norah from nursery. On the way out, I took the opportunity to grab this shot – I figured if it was lower contrast, I would get more in the shadow detail on the shaded side of her face and body.

Lomography Babylon Kino Test Shoots

The next day, toward the end of the afternoon, I took the opportunity to return to the flooded river bank. On the way down, I spotted this building in varying degrees of shade figuring it might give me a good idea of how much contrast this film has.

Lomography Babylon Kino Test Shoots

This next shot just felt like a must. These swans were all lined up enjoying the sunshine. I took a meter reading off the grass next to me, locked it in and took the shot. As I did, the two to the right started interacting in between me and the sun light. I had a feeling it would come out quite nicely.

Lomography Babylon Kino Test Shoots

For my next trick, I thought I would take something more of a conventional landscape shot. I think I might have even stopped down slightly – I can’t entirely remember. If I did, it wasn’t much.

Lomography Babylon Kino Test Shoots

After a few more shots of nothing, I started making my way back up to the office. I really wanted to find some subject matter that would be tonally interesting and might take advantage of the lower contrast of the film. I first found this plant…

Lomography Babylon Kino Test Shoots

… and a little later this tree. I hoped the tree would also give something a sense of the resolution of the film too.

Lomography Babylon Kino Test Shoots

Between those two images I also took a couple of snaps with little thought. This first one was of this bench that but for the part of it that was reflecting the sun light was in the shadow of a tree.

Lomography Babylon Kino Test Shoots

These early blossoms caught my eye too – I actually really like this shot, despite not being the sort to often photograph flowers. I think there is something in the tonality and rendering that I just find satisfying here. Like with the 8 ISO film, the 13 ISO film allowed me some very shallow depth of field even in the sunshine.

Lomography Babylon Kino Test Shoots

Now, it this stage you might be thinking that some of these look a little underexposed, despite me shooting them at EI12. In actual fact, I think slight underdevelopment is the issue as it was quite consistent across the roll. Just as with the roll of Fantôme, I sent it to be developed by Duncan at SilverPan Film Lab, the notes for the two films he sent back were as follows:

Both films were developed in a Patterson Tank in fresh stock D96 with standard agitation (30sec + 1 inversion every 30sec
The 8 ISO film developed at 21C for 5.5 mins
The 13 ISO film developed at 21C for 6 mins
The 13 ISO film looked a bit thin at 6 mins (including the leader area), so I would probably go for 6.45 as a next test.

Despite this, I was not unhappy with the results at all. There certainly does seem to be less contrast to this film – even taking into account the apparent slight underdevelopment.  I also think this film might be more versatile, if such a statement can be made about such low ISO film?!

Just like Fantôme it certainly pushed me to think creatively when it came to the use of camera settings, though I perhaps felt it a little less limiting. The higher contrast film almost forced me to think about photos that would work with more contrast, here I was more concerned with the idea of harnessing what I expected to be a lower grain and greater shadow detail.

Which film would suit me better moving forward would definitely come down to my expected subject matter and desired outcome… but isn’t that in itself the joy of having all the different films we have to choose from on the market today?! To my mind, Lomography have definitely added something to that range of choices we have with these two films!

In Lomography’s words:

Coming from a roll of German cinematic production film, the Babylon Kino B&W Film has a high dynamic range and retains information in both bright and shadowed areas. It’s perfect for intimate portraits and soft storytelling scenes, rendering gorgeous light effects across candid close-ups too.

The Babylon Kino B&W Film is the fourth in our B&W Kino Film Family – our very special collection of multiformat monochrome masterpieces. Each family member has a distinct personality and renders images with timeless cinematic ambiance.

Lomography ‘Babylon Kino’ B&W 13 ISO 35mm Film has been officially announced today. It is available to preorder now with 20% off from final retail price. It is available for £8.50 a roll with expected delivery in July. You can pre-order the film in 5 packs here.

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19 Comments

  • Reply
    Duncan
    April 14, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    Oh, I didn’t know this film was coming out too!
    I’ve just seen Lomography’s new shooting/developing notes for this: https://microsites.lomography.com/download/babylon-development-guide-en.pdf
    They are now recommending 10mins at 20C for D96, as opposed to the 6mins that was suggested in the document with the test film.
    So that should give better results next time around.
    Duncan

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      April 14, 2020 at 8:50 pm

      Just in reference to Huss’a comment – you’re sure it was underdevelopment. It seems to add up as such, doesn’t it

      • Reply
        Huss
        April 15, 2020 at 12:26 am

        Duncan wrote:
        The 13 ISO film looked a bit thin at 6 mins (including the leader area), so I would probably go for 6.45 as a next test.

        There is a huge difference in dev time between 6.45 and 10 mins. I can’t see how an extra 4 minutes will brighten up the images.

        But.. you know what to do – shoot another roll at the same settings and have Duncan bake it for 10 minutes and report back!
        😉

  • Reply
    Matthias
    April 14, 2020 at 3:44 pm

    I really like your shots with this film. It has a gorgeous look, especially your daughter, the swans and the cityscape with the river. Perhaps I’ll give it a try too. ISO13 is very limiting though, I think I’ll use it from a tripod.

    All the best wishes in these terrible times.
    Matthias

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      April 14, 2020 at 8:42 pm

      Thanks – yeah, a tripod would give it a bit more use, for sure!

  • Reply
    Kodachromeguy
    April 14, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    Sorry Hamish, I think something went wrong. On the tablet screen, these look underexposed and a bit muddy. Was it:
    1. Development.
    2. Light meter error in the camera?
    3. Scanner gain? Try rescanning.

    Nice experiment. This film may work out eventually.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      April 14, 2020 at 4:12 pm

      I could have boosted the contrast, but I wanted to be true to the underdevelopment I mentioned.

      • Reply
        Kodachromeguy
        April 15, 2020 at 5:17 pm

        Hi Hamish, you misunderstood. I think they might work if you reduce contrast and bring out some of the detail in the dark areas. The picture of the plant (grass?) is just about right. Cheers,

  • Reply
    Mark
    April 14, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I don’t think this film is for me, but I really do enjoy your grasses exposure. It appears to demonstrate the best usage of the film’s contrast. Quite brilliant.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      April 14, 2020 at 8:42 pm

      Cheers 🙂

  • Reply
    Nick Colburn
    April 14, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    Man… give me dark and underexposed/developed any day… so much feeling and mood. These are excellent Hamish. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      April 14, 2020 at 8:51 pm

      Thanks Nick!

  • Reply
    Huss
    April 14, 2020 at 7:39 pm

    This doesn’t look like underdevelopment to me, but underexposure by about 1/2 to 1 stop.
    The pic of the reeds however is very nice.

    I placed an order for the Fantome film, and so will wait out the Babylon version. Even if they were released the same time I’d pick Fantome as the higher contrast is more interesting to me. I have plenty of other B&W films that are lower contrast.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      April 14, 2020 at 8:40 pm

      Seems unlikely to be consistent underexposure across the whole roll out of a camera that’s known to be functioning properly. Did you read Duncan’s comment he sent me too?

      • Reply
        Huss
        April 15, 2020 at 11:54 pm

        Perhaps this film needs to be shot at ISO 8

  • Reply
    Marc Wick
    April 15, 2020 at 12:12 am

    Uups, I have never heard about this film, but it sounds very interesting. I think at the beginning with a new film you just have to learn the pitfalls in order to know at which opportunity you should take this film. But I like the results. I will give it a try too.

  • Reply
    Ed
    April 15, 2020 at 5:52 am

    Films for holiday in Mallorca. No the Midlands.

  • Reply
    Jim Hanes
    April 15, 2020 at 10:39 am

    The 12iso film is just too contrasty and too dark at box speed to be useful. I doubt a tripod and long exposure would make much difference.

  • Reply
    Michael Kay
    April 20, 2020 at 2:36 am

    Will this be available in 120 at some point? I’d love to shoot it with my C330f or Makina. The “mood” of these images I find really brilliant. Very Lasse Hoile-esque.

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