Kodak P3200 – My first Roll

I would imagine that by now most of you have heard that Kodak recently re-released their P3200 film. Soon after I heard the news I got in touch with them to ask them for a couple of rolls to shoot.

Early last week it turned up. Unfortunately, the Beers & Cameras meet-up where I’d planned to use my first roll of new P3200 on was the previous Wednesday to when I received it. Whilst it’s great that Kodak are bringing films back from the past, they haven’t invented a time machine to do so. As such I was out of luck shooting a roll of the newly released P3200 on the desired evening. Luckily, I had a single roll of out of date but cold stored old P3200 to hand to use instead.

I was actually given this roll for Christmas by my Emulsive secret Santa. I was told it had been cold stored and since it had gone out of date in 2011 I decided I’d do the same to this roll and put it in the kitchen fridge. I’d actually forgotten it was there. I don’t tend to buy much out of date or hard to find film, mainly because I agonise over what to use it for. That’s exactly what had happened here. I put it in the fridge, wondered a few times if I should use it for this or that event or evening out then had eventually completely forgotten about it. That was until the re-release was announced and it jogged my memory.

In a way, I guess it was a good thing that the new stuff didn’t turn up in time. Had a received new rolls I probably would have then agonised over the older roll worrying about whether or not I should shoot it and if it would have been up to scratch. Having the new rolls not turn up, and with me already being committed to the idea of shooting a roll on this particular night out, it pretty much worked out perfectly.

As far as I can see, there isn’t a great deal of difference between the results I’ve got from this old roll and the results I’ve seen floating around from the new stuff. I asked Em about it, and he tells me there are very slight changes to dev times between the old and new films but in terms of results he can’t see any difference either. It’s the first time I’ve shot a roll, so I find it hard to comment in too much depth about the results I got back… and even if I could, given the abuse I gave it, it’d probably be unfair for me to make any particularly specific comments about the results.

According to Kodak, P3200 is

“…a multi-speed panchromatic black-and-white negative film. While the nominal film speed of P3200 TMZ is ISO 800, the “P” means it’s designed to be push processed to EI 3200 or higher. This film excels when shooting in low light or when capturing fast action. It is ideally suited for handheld street scene photography, night work, and in dimly lit venues where you can’t use flash”

Reading this little bit of text after I loaded the roll, as I was walking down the road on the way to the pub, the two key words that jumped out at me were “or” and “higher”. I knew I was going to a dark dimly lit pub, so figured why not push it an extra stop. If there was any impact from it being out of date, pushing it a stop would probably remedy that too.

By the time I got to the pub, it was still fairly light outside. I was shooting a borrowed Leica MP (review coming soon) with an also borrowed (likely soon to be mine) Canon 50mm 1.4. I didn’t find myself especially inspired when I first got there. The inside light of the pub was a bit poor, and the light from outside very muted. I took a couple of shots but didn’t have particularly high hopes.

Beers & Cameras

I figured I’d wait for it to get dark outside and hope that more interior lights would be turned on. As it turned out they weren’t. As annoying as that was, the 90’s Indy being played by some drunk people by the bar was more annoying still. As such we decided to shuffle off to somewhere else. One of our party isn’t exactly great on his feet, so we decided to go somewhere close by. One of the nearest places was a burger establishment by the name of Hanbao. It’s quite a trendy place and is, to say the least, quite dark. Unlike the previous place, it did have some fairly contrasty lighting… though let me just emphasis the fact that it’s really quite dark in there.

The booze must be quite strong too, as actually my memory of actually taking the photos is a little hazy. What I do remember quite well is my fairly slapdash approach to metering. What metering I did do told me that my planned push was going to be worthwhile, even shooting at 1/60th and f/1.4. I still received some fairly thin looking negs.

Beers & Cameras

Beers & Cameras

Beers & Cameras

Beers & Cameras

Beers & Cameras

Beers & Cameras

Beers & Cameras

The frames in this post were all scanned flat with my Noritsu LS1100 then tweaked to taste in Lightroom. Despite the dark, despite me being a little merry, and despite the negs looking a little thin, I really like the results. I’m not the biggest fan of large grain, but it has a place, and for me this sort of subject is where it works best. That being said, I’ve now loaded my first new roll of P3200 into my newly repaired Olympus XA4 – I’ve taped up the DX code and I’m shooting it around ie800-1600 depending on the subject. I’m going to have it processed normally, and am really looking forward to seeing the results.

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18 thoughts on “Kodak P3200 – My first Roll”

  1. I recently tried a roll of delta 3200, and I would say that the results are similar. Being the grain so big, probably the developer, and how it handles grain, makes more difference than the film itself. Not the most resolving film in the world, but in my opinion still fun to use when resolution is not really important, as with an f/1.4 lens you can shoot in almost any light situation, and because of the resolution also focus becomes less critical.

    1. Indeed – part of the fun of low light shooting like this, sharpness matters even less than it usually doesn’t

  2. I am curious to see what it looks like rated at 1600. I have shot a lot of Ilford 3200 which I usually rate at 1600. It is very tight on medium format at 1600. The grain is more evident at 1600 on 35mm but still very nice. That said, I really like grain. These look very nice. What developer did you use? I always use D76.

  3. I was really happy to hear that P3200 was being brought back. And I really like a lot of these images too – especially that very first one of the ‘mixologist’, where the character of the lens and that of the film both seem to be working in the same direction to give a beautifully ‘together’ feel.
    My own use of P3200, when it was available (I’m down to my last two rolls in the ‘fridge now) usually rated it at 1,600. At that speed it’s grainy, but it’s a soft graininess, and the contrast isn’t too high – both of which make it a flattering film for pictures of people. It has about the same level of purely subjective grain as Tri-X at 1,600, to my eye, but character of the grain and the level of contrast couldn’t be more different from that old staple of journalism. Even at 1,600 I used to think the negatives tended to look a little thin, but they still managed to hold lots of information and a decent tonal range.
    I’m getting so excited about shooting this film more often again 🙂

    1. Thanks, Peter – yes I like that shot too. The canon lens continues to engage me…
      I’d be interesting in seeing some of your results!

  4. With high speed film that’s expired, you definitely don’t want to push. Shooting at a lower ei and developing less (faster Dev time) will help suppress the base fog

    1. Is that right? I’d figured, all be it guess work, that it might help in the same way as shooting at a lower IE… Good to know, ta!
      That being said, it didn’t feel like a risky manoeuvre given the amount of years OOD, and claimed storage

  5. I agree. These images are good, especially given your parameters. Should be interesting to see what a fresh roll shot at 800 can do with better light!

  6. Large grain? Looks amazing to me for 35mm. May not be the finest grain but it’s certainly very pleasant in texture—I prefer these to other high iso films I’ve seen around the web. Currently shooting HP5+ at 1600 and would be happy to get results like this.

  7. Pingback: Kodak T-Max P3200: My First Roll | TAZM PICTURES

  8. Why Kodak 3200 rather than Delta 3200? Just curious.
    I shot some Delta 3200 (rated @ EI 1000) and processed it in Sprint B&W film developer, using their recommendations. I got usable negs, but the film is so out of my mainstream use that I’m not comfortable shooting it. I guess I need to hang out at pubs more often :-))
    I rather envy some of the people who have posted because they shoot lots of these film & are happy with the results.

  9. This film was a mainstay for those of us in the newspaper business shooting high school sports in the early 90’s. Before we transitioned to color we had all the Tri-X we wanted, but T-Max 3200 was doled out at only two rolls per assignment. That film was magic in those very dark basketball gyms or football fields. We soon learned that half of the magic was in the T-Max developer and we started shooting Tri-X at 3200 using the T-Max developer rather than the D-76 with Borax instead. While not as good in the shadows and the grain was a bit more, it worked well as a poor man’s T-Max 3200 when the editors were stingy near the end of their budget times.

  10. Dave Luttmann

    The new P3200 is awesome. I prefer it to the Ilford Delta 3200. For the shots like those in this article, I rate at 3200, but process like 6400 in Kodak HC110, Dil B.

  11. Pingback: Black & White World Cup results: Round of 16 - Kosmo Foto

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