Monday, March 27, 2017

First Impressions - Lomography's New F2/400 film

When the new F²/400 film from Lomography was announced back in February, I eagerly pounced and bought 10 rolls.  I liked the images that I saw in their advertisements, and still, given the history of the film, I was prepared to be disappointed.  The thing about color films, is no matter what one gets, the resulting developing, scanning and modification can be quite different from person to person. That's because we tend to adjust the colors to what we find most pleasing. My red may not be the red you like, etc.

The history of the film -- from Lomography's site:

"In 2010, we bought the last ever Jumbo Roll of original 400 ASA film from some renowned Italian filmmakers. Then, ever the ones to experiment, we left the film to age like fine wine in oak casks in the Czech Republic. Thankfully, our crazy instincts were rewarded — seven years later, we went back to discover that this fantastic film still produces refined colors with a beautifully unique tone. It’s one-of-a-kind Color Negative with an X-Pro feel, and we’re so excited to share it with you! There’s a only a very limited amount of this film available, so make sure you don’t miss out.

Lomography Tipster: If you would like to experiment different ISO, the Lomography Color Negative F²/400 film gives exciting results also with ISO 200. "

Obviously, if it came from Italy, this is old Ferrania/Solaris film.  I don't recall any experience with that, but hey, I figured that I would still give it a go. The ad colors showed the film as having more of a pastel appearance, with some trending towards blue in the neutral colors.  I loaded two cameras with the film -- my Nikon FM2N, and my Minolta XG-M.  The film in the XG-M was finished first, and I developed it in a fresh Unicolor C-41 kit from the FPP store. About half the roll was shot in New Jersey while at the FPP HQ, and the rest was shot in Ann Arbor and a new state park in Jackson Co., MI.  I rated the film at ISO 400, used Aperture-priority mode, and did not do any exposure compensation for the shots. I used an Epson V700 scanner to scan the negatives.

The film base is a dark orange-red, and the frames looked uniformly overexposed to my eye.  As we know, scanning and post processing can do wonders,    The images did tend to have muted pastel colors, slightly bluish in the neutral colors, and a bit soft.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but I ended up tweaking every image to make them satisfactory to my taste, at least.  While the Lomo site says one can shoot it at 200 for exciting results, I think one should go the other way.  ISO 800 may be where this film really shines.  The roll in my Nikon is about half shot at 400, and I am going to do the rest at 800 and see what I get.  I'll post an uncorrected image from one frame first, and my corrected version after that. The remaining images all reflect my adjustments in Paint Shop Pro, reducing the exposure and in some cases, doing some auto local tone-mapping for a better effect.

unadjusted image - straight scan

adjusted to my liking

and here we go...

Judging by the indoor photos, this film could be easily rated at ISO 800.   I have used that XG-M many times, so I know it's not overexposing due to faulty metering.  My second roll will be additional data, for certain.  
Okay, what do I think so far?  I'm on the fence.  I sort of like it, and the indoor image of Mike Raso is quite good.  I think a little underexposure might be good.    I also need to shoot it with more people as subjects and see how it goes. Of course, if you want a washed-out Lomo look to your images, this film is perfect.  As of this evening, I see that Lomography Color Negative F²/400 is still sold out, so my remaining stock is all I will probably have on hand.  If you have shot some, let me know your opinion, as well!


Richard Keeling said...

Thanks very much for this excellent post. I, too, bought 10 rolls of F2/400 though I've not yet started photographing with them. I'm also going to be home developing with the Unicolor C-41 kit so your results are completely applicable to me. Your thoughts on effective ISOs are most helpful.

And, yes, I like the look too. It will be a good counterpart to more vibrant color films, something of a less extreme companion to Adox Color Implosion that is similarly muted (and a film I like to use).

I'll probably be shooting F2/400 with a Nikon F2 and most likely I'll exposure-bracket a few interesting scenes to see the differences.

Thanks again. I look forward to some fun with this. In a little while I should be getting my brand new FILM Ferrania P30 b&w film to try out, so in a sweet way this sort of closes the gap between the old and new company.

Mark O'Brien said...

Glad that you are enjoying going back to film! Some of these oddball emulsions have short lives on the market, and just when you start loving them, poof! They are gone. I have yet to try the P30, but am sure that I will.

August said...

Had a chance to use up all of my stash on a photo shoot. Figured the interesting colors and film would add something different than the standard Portra 400.

Probably should have done the smart thing and shot a test roll beforehand but I only had the rolls for a few days before I hopped a plane to California so really didn't have the luxury of time. That being said, I think I got lucky:

Mark O'Brien said...

Funny thing is that my second and third rolls were a bit better than the first, though shadow detail is grainy. The images I shot at ISO 800 looked about the same as the 400. I used different cameras, and maybe the exposure was off in the XG-1.

jon campo said...

Hi Mark, I just have to tell you that picture of Mike is really great.
I really enjoy the show a lot, and you are a good addition to the cast of characters.

Rick Scheibner said...

Good stuff, Mark. How am I just now seeing this? In any event, I like the muted, colder color cast that you've produced here. Except for the shot of Raso, of course. That's interesting that you're getting better results from underexposing an expired film.