Last June I did a video on my first impressions on Film Ferrania P30 Alpha. Since then they have dropped the Alpha in the name, indicating a sort of graduation. Likely they have worked out a bunch of kinks for the initial run.
For those who have never heard of it, FILM Ferrania P30 is a cinematic black & white film with an iso of just 80. I liked the film, I thought it gave cool, dramatic results, but it wasn’t perfect. So I was curious to see how the new version holds up.
Hi everyone, Azriel Knight here and in this review we’ll take a look at the good, and the bad of film Ferrania’s P30.
The new non alpha P30 is just like its predecessor, when you get the exposure spot on, you’d swear it was 3D. But once you start under or over exposing, the image can be unusable. You may end up with something cool and dramatic, or you may end up with crap. If you come across something you want to capture, and you have the time, my first recommendation is bracket, make sure you’re using a camera with an accurate meter and avoid super high contrast scenes unless you’re willing to have super duper blacks and/or blown out highlights.
P30 looks great developed in anything it seems. Here it is in Rodinal.
In Kodak D76.
And in Xtol
While the look of this film gives a great feel for street photography, it’s important to keep in mind you’re not going to be able to freeze fleeting moments in the same way. At ISO 80, you’re shutter will be quite slow, even on bright days, especially if you want depth of field. If you’re goal however is to capture motion blur, this makes it easier. Especially on an overcast day.
I have some minor gripes concerning its limitations in regards to exposure, but some of that can be corrected with user experience, shooting in ideal conditions, and playing with your developers. There are however, a couple of things that I take issue with, and the first I’ll mention here is just personal taste.
I like a little curl in my film, like those slap bracelets from the 90s. So when I transfer from one hand to the other before loading it, it does most of the work. Not only that but it keeps from unraveling and hitting my work table and collecting dust. If you use a device that pulls the film from the canister, you won’t have an issue with this. If you rip open a film canister like me, P30, will want to spring loose like a can of snakes. I should say though this isn’t the only film that does this, and it is manageable.
Let’s talk about something that isn’t.
In my first video I complained about dust on my negatives that likely came from the factory, and I also talked about these halos with a spec in the center. First I should mention this halo has come up on other films for me since, even when using other developers, which I initially thought solved the problem.
I did a whole video on these differential drying marks, and it’s now been updated with a blog post on how I got rid of them, at least for now. The long and the short of this is P30 could be more susceptible to differential drying marks, but these are not unique to this film.
The black dust marks however are still here and I found some on almost every roll. Sometimes they are big too. While this is something that can easily be fixed in Photoshop, it takes a lot more skill to remove in the darkroom, it’s a skill that I lack and even if I didn’t it’s an added expense. I prewash all my film too so they are really stuck on there.
Another problem I had, that only happened once but is worth mentioning, is while I was shooting one day, I advanced at the end of the roll and the film came loose from the canister, I could hear it and feel it happen in the camera. The only way to get it out at that point was to go home and unload in the dark. The film didn’t rip from the canister, it unhooked from the base.
Are these serious issues? I would say yes, depending on what you’re shooting. It’s important to note that Ferrania is a very small company compared to the film giants like Kodak and Ilford and in order for them to grow they need our support, and they need to be allowed the freedom to make mistakes. You also need to be informed and you should have a few contingencies in place when shooting the film.
Here’s my list of best practices.
- As of this videos release date, P30 still has no DX code, though they will in the future, until then, this film won’t work on automatic cameras, like electronic point and shoots, or the occasional SLR like the Nikon F55.
- To maximize tonal range and detail avoid high contract and back lit situations.
- To ensure a proper exposure, when in doubt, bracket by 1 stop on each side.
- Take extra care when handling in the darkroom.
- Overcast days, and scenes with texture and patterns are great P30 subjects.
- And I know this only happened to me once, but if you’re at all concerned about the film coming loose, and if you plan to shoot multiple rolls, consider bringing a changing bag and something to store the loose film until you get home.
I think if you’re prepared you’ll have a great time shooting this film. This is a fantastic emulsion for dramatic and moody scenes, and though I didn’t get a chance to do it, I think this would be amazing to play with in the studio, having more control of your light and subject. Film Ferrania has a lot in the works and I’m curious to see what happens next.
Just a quick note too, that because of everything going on right now, their factory is not operating. I actually put this review off for a month, debating whether or not this is the best time to release it. My recommendation, is sign up to their newsletter, and grab a few rolls when they are back up.
And Until next time, stay classic!