Kodak 2238
5 frames with...

5 Frames with Kodak 2238 in a M4 with a Canon LTM 50/1.4 – By Bill Thoo

December 18, 2019

I am no Kodak 2238 expert. In fact, I was introduced to Kodak 2238 by Michael Bartosek when I was lucky enough to be included in his project to shoot this film. The Kodak 2238 Project produced a zine, created a Facebook group (Kodak 2238 Project), a spin off group (The Ultra Low ISO Club), a podcast (The Ultra Low ISO Club with Michael Bartosek, Edward Conde, and Jason Konopinski), an instagram (@Ultra.Low.ISO.Club), and an Etsy store (HandRolledFilm). Everything I know about this film has been learnt from these guys, but any factual errors will be my own.

Kodak 2238 is a low speed film designed for archival purposes. Although rated at EI25, the results may be better at EI12 or EI6, depending on your purpose and conditions. The results are generally contrasty, but it is incredibly fine grained and acute, and you could be forgiven for thinking the images were digital. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love it.

This roll of Kodak 2238 was bought from the HandRolledFilm Etsy store (I have no pecuniary interests, and the Film Photography Project did sell Kodak 2238 too). I had previously shot this film almost entirely on the tripod, but I wanted to shoot more hand held. What better than using the Canon LTM 50/1.4 (with adapter) on my M4? I used a phone app to meter.

All captures here were at EI25 with the lens wide open. Even so, the indoor shots were often at 1/4 seconds hand held. The first three shots are in Sydney city and the last two in the suburbs. As expected, there is very little grain and good contrast. I didn’t shoot long exposures on this roll, but from my previous experience Kodak 2238 needs at least a couple of extra stops of exposure for reciprocity effects if exposing beyond a couple of seconds.

Kodak 2238

Kodak 2238

Kodak 2238

Kodak 2238

Kodak 2238

Kodak 2238 will not be for everyone. It is slow. But having shot Washi W and some sub EI1 film recently, it no longer feels that way. The experience coming back to 2238 is not quite post modern, but it does feel close. It also really has very little grain and is high acutance. It simply doesn’t look like TriX. For me it is a beautiful film. I love it especially in low light. Sure the exposure is super long, but the results are magic.

This roll of Kodak 2238 was developed in Ifosol 3 (1+3 dilution, 7min at 20c, 30 seconds initial agitation, then a 10 seconds agitation every 30 seconds). A number of other developers work too, and the HandRolledFilm will include a developer guide when you purchase the film. The Kodak 2238 Project Facebook group have the collected developer experiences documented in a pinned post, and the Massive Dev Chart has started publishing more recipes on the film.

I would encourage anyone wanting to shoot Kodak 2238 for the first time, and particular wanting to home develop, to check out the groups mentioned, but especially the Kodak 2238 Facebook group and to listen to the Ultra Low ISO Club podcast.

My other posts on 35mmc here

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  • Reply
    December 18, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    Really does look like digital output from a Monochrom.

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      December 18, 2019 at 7:49 pm

      If you get to look closely enough the grain looks much nicer then noise.

  • Reply
    December 18, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    They look much better here than from the small instagram form. They look a lot like the bnw out of my 10year old cmos ricoh GR digital 2.

    Can you please write an article about technique of shooting star trails? They are so beautiful

  • Reply
    Matt Jones
    December 18, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    lovely film and great write up Mr Bill

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      December 18, 2019 at 11:38 pm

      Thank you Mr Matt. I got most of my developing times from your posts.

  • Reply
    Andrew Kohring
    December 20, 2019 at 4:41 pm

    I never thought to shoot ultra slow film I usually stick to 400 or on occasion 200. I’m going to have to buy some 2238 now

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      December 20, 2019 at 8:59 pm

      Good one, Andrew. And then you could explore Washi W, Kodak Vision 3, Kodak 2468… there is a whole world of ultra low ISO films out there.

  • Reply
    Charles Higham
    December 23, 2019 at 10:44 pm

    Really clean, smooth and detailed look to these shots. I might try the film after seeing these.

    • Reply
      Bill Thoo
      December 23, 2019 at 10:49 pm

      I hope you do, Charles! There is no doubt this is a special film.

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