With my film photography, I have had limited experience with the Fomapan products. I’ve shot Fomapan 200 with okay results and the surveillance variant of Fomapan 200 available through the Film Photography Project with much better results. I’ve tried Fomapan 400 in sheet film and got no results. But after seeing some amazing work with Fomapan 100, I decided to pick up four rolls in 120 from Argentix.ca to give it a try. I certainly found the film pleasing to work with, a classic response with the four different developers I worked with over the course of shooting the film in several different situations.
- Type: Panchromatic Black & White Film
- Base: Format Dependent (120/4×5 – Clear Polyester (PE), 135 – Cellilous Triacetate)
- Film Speed: ASA-100, with a latitude between ASA-50 to ASA-400
- Formats Avaliable: 135, 120, and Large Format
The number one good thing about Fomapan films is the cost; these are very inexpensive films to shoot which makes them a great film to start with if you’re learning to develop your own black & white film. But if you want the best bang for your buck, Fomapan 100 is the film of choice. And don’t think you’re getting a cheap film, Foma 100 is one of the nicest mid-speed films I’ve ever used. It has almost a classic look and film, like the films of the mid-twentieth century, great if you want to shoot World War Two reenactments on film.
The developers I used for the review are as follows, Rodinal, Kodak D-23, Pyrocat-HD, and Kodak HC-110. It was Rodinal that brought out that classic look and feel, while slightly more grain than you’d expect in an ASA-100 film, but nothing too serious. I saw a reduction in grain using Pyrocat-HD, but I felt that the film came out of the tank slightly under-developed, so it either needs about thirty seconds more in the developer or slightly warmer water, maybe 1-2 degrees hotter. Kodak D-23 is another winner, a bit grainer but brought out the tonality of the film and continues that same classic look that you get with Rodinal. I was also fairly pleased with the results of HC-110 Dilution H, kept the contrast on mark, and surprisingly the grain was hardly noticeable. My final say is that Rodinal is the best developer for this film as it gives you the shortest standard developing times with the best results and can easily be done in the field as you can just use water for your stop bath. I say standard developing times as Dilution B and A of HC-110 has shorter developing times but requires constant agitation.
Of course, no film is without fault. While many may target the film’s polyester base, it is not much of an issue. In Medium format, the PE base handles well and easily mounted onto the plastic reels of the Patterson system and will probably handle just as well on steel. No the biggest issue I have with Foma 100 is the long developing time. Most times are around the 10-minute mark, while not much of a slight against the product just a minor annoyance. Thankfully the Rodinal time is under the 10-minute mark. I mostly say this because often we do marathon developing sessions and working late into the night is tough because as you get tired, you’re more likely to make a mistake.
My final word on the film, it’s certainly worth a shot if you’re on a budget or just learning. You can pick this up for under six dollars a roll (Canadian). And if you’re shooting the film in 4×5, you’re looking at a buck a sheet, only Arista.EDU and X-Ray film is cheaper. It’s also good if you want that classic look-and-feel that you often saw with Adox and Efke films, it works well in daylight and shadow and just sings in the right developer. I hope to pick up some of the 35mm version and see if there’s any difference between the two formats.