I’m lucky to be living in the same town as Blue Moon Camera, a retailer dedicated to analog photography and one of only four venues worldwide who have the alpha release of Ferrania P-30 film in stock. So, I picked up a few rolls this film along with some interesting advice from Zebidiah Andrews at Blue Moon about what I should expect to see in my first images.
Ferrania P-30 is a panchromatic black & white motion picture film packaged for still photography. Its the same film that was produced during the 1960s. Ferrania boasts that it has ultrafine grain and a high silver content. I shot my first roll on a walk in my neighborhood. The weather varied between bright sun and dense cloud, with alternating high and low contrasts. I exposed the film at ISO 80 as recommended by Ferrania and developed it in ID-11 (1-1) for 10 minutes at 20C. The film was scanned on an Epson V500 scanner using the same universal settings for all the shots. While the negatives look good to me, the scans of the low contrast subjects were muddy. These were shot at a local park and needed some level adjustments to make the highlights pop (see below, right). The shots with bright sunlight looked much better but the real test will be printing the negatives in the darkroom.
I also did a preliminary zone density test and found my step V density to be 0.60 above film-base fog, which is optimum for printing with a condenser enlarger. But I’m printing with a diffused-light enlarger so would like to see a little more density in my negatives. Zeb warned me that the shadow detail would be less than what I was used to, and he was right. The shadow areas dropped off pretty fast, but P-30 does have a nice film noir quality to it. It might be a good choice for street photography where high speed is not needed, but where one wants an edgy rendition of tones. I gravitate toward landscape/nature photography and prefer a much broader tonal scale most of the time. I’ll change my ISO on the next roll to 40 and adjust development to try and add more detail in the shadows without blowing out the highlights. Adjusting the exposure/development for more shadow detail might make me like this film a little more. Its certainly worth a try.