Hey look what I've got here! It's Ferrania P30!
So where do I begin? This is a tough one for me because I have so much to say about this! Unfortunately that kind of lengthened the video past what I wanted it to be, the likes of which will be linked below, but I think the video was good enough as is. I hope.
I'll start with a brief history of Ferrania as I remember the details. Please feel free to fact check me as I am sure I am getting a whole lot of stuff wrong. Their story is published on their website here: http://www.filmferrania.it/
Ferrania is an old Italian company that opened in the 1930s or so and made film. Most notably, they made motion picture film and they were so good at it that big directors used their stock. Eventually they also made their stock into 35mm still film up until the point when the market for film came to a stand still with the popularity and advancement of digital cameras. After becoming an outsourced factory for many film companies, Ferrania decided to cease their film production and thus Ferrania film died. The company was still around, they just weren't in the film game any longer.
A few years ago, however, a team decided to buy the film factory seeing that there was still a market, however small, for film photography out there. From the very beginning they ran into problems from machines breaking to scaling issues. This factory and its machinery back in its day was meant to be churning out thousands of rolls every day to meet demand. Demand, however much it has seen a resurgence lately, is not nearly as big as it was, and so to use the factory's full power would just be wasteful and not very cost effective. But despite that, the Ferrania team persevered and had a plan to scale appropriately.
So comes the kickstarter for their new film. I was not a backer, I didn't know about it at the time, but in 2015 or somewhere around there, Ferrania announced that they would begin crowd funding their operation to get everything up and running. Their goal was to bring back Ferrania's color film. They met their initial goal but ran into technical problems as mentioned before. Two years later they changed their game plan and instead decided to re release P30, one of Ferrania's famous black and white film stocks until they can release their color film. Some people were a bit unhappy about that but, for my sake, this is where I come in.
When I heard about a new film coming to market, I was pumped. I love film, as I am sure you have gathered by now. I will not get into the debate over which is better, film or digital, because I think both are wonderful and both have their merits. However, having more options when it comes to film is awesome in my book, so I was ready to fork over my money as soon as they announced that the film would go on sale, and that is what I did.
In March I put in my pre order and there was a tentative delivery date of April. Mind you, I said tentative. This delivery date was not met and instead I got my film in July. Yes, July. It wasn't so much the wait that ruffled my feathers, but rather the fact that some people were already getting their film and shooting it but others, like myself, were waiting months.
The wait aside, I accidentally put in my old address when I ordered my film. I quickly realized my mistake and e-mailed Ferrania asking them to correct the issue. They assured me that they cancelled the incorrect order, and to go ahead with a new one with my correct address. Ok, cool, end of story.
Four months later, I see an e-mail saying my film has been shipped. "Oh joyous day!" says I, and I click on the shipping tracker every day. One day I see that it has been delivered. Great! I run to the mailbox and... well, nothing. It was indeed shipped successfully. To the wrong address.
So, in my head I am thinking the following: First, "I am going to have to go and explain to a complete stranger that I used to live in this house and, 'May I please have my mail?'" Second, "What if they just throw it away?" and third, "Does Ferrania now have another order pending for me?" In that case I would be paying double to get only one set of film. At this point, I am pretty fed up, the pre order process was a disaster, and I gladly say as much in an e-mail to Ferrania.
Luckily enough Ferrania has some pretty awesome people working for them and they graciously corrected the issue. So all that to say, yes, Ferrania has some kinks to work out, but the important thing is the film, so how did it stack up?
Well, in not so many words, marvelously, and I mean that. This film has a look that you only see in old black and white movies. For good reason too, the film was originally a motion picture film stock. But the feeling you get from it just takes you to a place that you can only feel when watching those old black and white movies. It really has a special quality that I can't really explain in words. It's more of just a feeling.
Looking at it, I guess a bit technically, my first concern is with the blacks. Black and white film has to sort of tip toe this very fine line between really thick blacks, but still being able to retain shadow detail. These blacks are great and shadow detail can look fantastic. For whatever reason, my images looked a bit under exposed, but still, I could see the potential of the film in each image. One thing that did concern me though was dark skin tones. With this film it does seem you have to be really careful not to lose detail in someones face who may have a darker skin tone and be in, say, shade, for instance.
That being said, midtones and highlights are astounding. Midtones feel really... smooth. There is no other way to describe it. With the right lighting this film performs amazingly.
For those of you wondering, I developed this in Ilfosol 3 for 5 1/2 minutes. I wasn't really sure how to go about developing this film as the development times listed on their website do not have Ilfosol 3 listed yet. So, what I did is I looked at 3 different films that I knew the development times for. I used Ilford 100, TMax 100, and some other 80 speed film that Ilford had a time for. Those times were 5 minutes, 5 1/2, and 6 minutes respectively. I decided to try 5 1/2 minutes for this roll and see what it gave me. The results turned out nice, however, I do not have any other rolls to reference it to so next time I will try a shorter development time, and a longer one after that just to see the difference, if any.
My main question, though, going into this was, "Is this a replacement for the films I currently use?" and the answer, for me at least, is, "No." But that is because of the way I think of film in general. I have my favorites, but I get bored of the same film roll after roll. This will, however, go right along side my two other favorite black and white films Ilford and Fuji Acros. This film produces a result that the other two does not, just as other black and white films do the same. P30 is a great film and I am so glad that I got to shoot it finally. I am looking forward to shooting my next roll and I might put it up against one of my other favorites just to compare them side by side. Stay tuned!
Below is the video I made. Yes, I am still trying to get into my vlogging groove, please be patient through the growing pains.