5 Frames With Fomapan 400 “Action” at EI1600, Developed as 3200 – by Simon King

If you’ve been following my recent experimentation with Fomapan 400 you will have seen my results so far from a +2 push (EI1600), as well as from 1 stop overexposed (EI200). The images made with that extra stop of light were enough to allow me to “settle” for shooting with that as my standard while in India, but on returning to London’s grey skies I found myself limited by that requirement. I wanted to see whether the parameter of simply adding a stop was enough to give me similar results to those at EI200 whilst pushing the ISO higher to allow for the lower-light conditions.

Zack Webb, peaking over the top of the first frame of this roll.

I was hoping that by setting my meter for 1600, but developing at conditions meant for 3200 (a +3 push) that I would be able to achieve nicer tones, and help make the results more consistent with the standards I’m working towards in my black and white photography.

The results are mixed, but definitely more preferable to my eye than those at the “normal” +2 push. I was definitely allowing more light in the areas they were needed in for the composition, especially an improvement in the mid-tones. Shadow detail is close to non-existent, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for the way I expose – if my point of interest is in the shadow then that’s what I’m exposing for.

The grain is very, very visible in these, and for some this would be a dealbreaker, but I don’t think it’s the worst aesthetic – it’s maybe slightly more blocky than my usual high speed option Delta 3200 – but that film is two or three times the price!

It’s nice to know that this option is open to me, but realistically this will not be my general application. This kind of process makes more sense as an emergency fallback, to keep a couple of rolls at the bottom of my bag for the unlikely scenario of running dry of films like HP5+ which take push latitudes up to 3200 very much in their stride. Fomapan exposed and developed this way is nice for times I want to shoot personal images, indoor situations and night scenes which aren’t “important” stories but still important enough to record on film.

Thanks for taking the time to read this “5 Frames With…” article! You might enjoy some of the other writing I’ve done here on 35mmc, or my Instagram for a steady feed of my work. I buy all of my film from Analogue Wonderland.

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9 thoughts on “5 Frames With Fomapan 400 “Action” at EI1600, Developed as 3200 – by Simon King”

  1. Thanks for sharing these results, Simon. In my experience, I have found results from pushing FOMA 100 and FOMA 400 more than two stops to be unusable, and at two stops about the same you found–very grainy–although at the time I was using Rodinal as developer. Not my first choice film stock ether if I want to push, like you mention. Kodak TMAX 100 and 400 push up to three stops with great results as long as you use TMAX Developer in my experience, but are pricier films, particularly after Kodak’s recent price hike. I have found both the original Neopan Acros 100 and now Acros II push well up to three stops. In Japan where I live, the old Acros was a bargain at about ¥1780 for a three-pack, or about US$5 per roll. Acros II however, is more like US$9 per roll. I have found no particularly inexpensive options for push processing if image quality is important.

  2. Very blown out highlights sadly, as one would expect from pushing Foma 400 and overdeveloping one stop past the necessary for the push

    1. My goal in photography is not to make images with “perfect” or even correct histograms. Losing highlights or shadows doesn’t bother me as long as my subject and intent is clear.

  3. Informative read and I really like some of the images. There is a cost issue with pushing film (unless you develop yourself). The labs around me charge extra by the amount they push which may not make it worth while using a cheaper film.

    Best regards

  4. I like them. I agree, you don’t need “perfect” images for it to be nice. Making pixel perfect images, with perfect highlights and shadows isn’t the only option.

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