Do you remember that first "love of your life," back in like... middle school? You were in love within the span of like, a week, and your love was absolutely eternal. But then about a month later, it turns out it wasn't so eternal after all. Now you're having to explain, "it's not you, it's me."
Well, Ferrania P30, it's not you, it's me.
A few weeks ago I made a video about my thoughts on Ferrania P30 film which you can see here. In the video I was completely honest about my thoughts on the film and I actually really liked it. I still do like it... just not in THAT WAY. Do you understand? No? You see, I like you more as a companion film, not as a main film, that's all.
All joking aside, I have come to realize that I might not like Ferrania P30 as much as I thought I did. I like it, yes, but my initial reaction to it was somewhat of a new love scenario. I was blinded by my infatuation and couldn't see what was really in front of me.
I came to this conclusion recently after trying out my second roll of P30 which you will be seeing throughout this post. For this roll I wanted to see how this film looked "pushed." When you push film, basically you take whatever iso/asa rated film you have and you increase that iso by, usually, 1, 2, or 3 stops. (More, sometimes, or in half increments, but you get the point.) Then you develop it for the new speed you pushed it to. Doing this means you have effectively a more light sensitive film, but also more grain and more contrast. So with P30 it is an 80 speed(iso/asa) film and I wanted to see how it looked pushed 3 stops. (Mind you P30 shoots more like 50 iso, so instead of pushing to 640, I pushed to 400) I didn't really expect much from the film but I wanted to try anyways.
I wanted a little feedback from the P30 community before I pushed the film. I figured these would be the people to get input from since I am sure others are curious about what this film can and can't do too. So I consulted the facebook page we have about what everyone thought development times should be when pushing this film. I also made it pretty clear that I didn't really know what I was going to get out of this film by pushing it. I simply wanted to experiment, which I was confident others wanted too.
I should have known better. You see, the film community can be really irritating sometimes. A good majority of the community is cranky old men who think that no millennial has ever shot a roll of film in their life. (Hello! I grew up with film too!) So my idea of pushing this film was met with constant negativity. The most common response was, "why do people want to push film?" Which is a thinly veiled way of saying, "do not push film." This makes absolutely no sense. It's not like pushing film is this new idea or anything. It has been done for ages by pretty much every photographer. Plus, why not experiment with this film? It's a new film after all and we are some of the first in the world with our hands on it!
So, I posted my results and I even had one guy say, "Not impressed," which was a passive way of saying, "told you so." Which he was right, I wasn't thoroughly impressed either, but that being said, I did actually like the results of SOME photos, though much less than other film stocks pushed similarly.
Ok. All that ranting about grumpy old men aside, now for my thoughts on Ferrania P30 after a bit more time with it. First off, I didn't really like everything about my first roll of film. One of the things I didn't like was how thick the blacks were. Its just my personal taste, but I like black and white film to have a little bit less contrast to begin with. That is partially because I am scanning the negatives. When there is a lot of contrast to begin with, a consumer grade scanner like what I have just doesn't deal with it very well. Even so, if the film doesn't retain detail in the shadows very well to begin with, after scanning it the image just doesn't look good. For example, the next image you will see was shot on Acros 100, my favorite black and white film. This is a very contrasty film straight out of the box, yet look at the details underneath this bridge, and this is with more contrast added after it was scanned in. The second photo is P30 shot at 80 iso/asa. This was just under a little bit of shade from some trees. Look how the statue's eyes are almost lost from the shadow cast by its cap and the trees.
The problem that I have with this film's lack of shadow detail is not just something I am doing wrong either. All of the photos posted by others I have felt the same way about. The blacks are just completely black and the shadows are really really dark. So pushing this film only exacerbates the problem as you will see in this image here. Keep in mind that this is metered correctly.
Now, of course I expected the film to perform poorly when pushed. I already knew that I didn't like the amount of contrast this film had when shot regularly, so pushing it was only going to make matters worse. Still, I did get some shots that I thought looked pretty decent like the one of the tight rope walker and in those cases, I think this film handled exceptionally well. But it wasn't consistently good like other films are.
In the end I think I have figured out who this film is good for and I do not think it is good for a photographer like me. Instead I think this film works best in a setting where you can control the light. A studio with flashes or predictable lighting and subjects is where I think this film will shine best. After all, it was originally a cinema film. However, that is not at all what I like to shoot, and therefor, the film is not really for me.
I will of course shoot more of this film from time to time. Maybe I can really get to know this film and develop a sort of affinity for it, if only as a novelty film. But, I don't think I will ever grab it over Acros or HP5. Those films just suit me far better. Between the community and the poor results I have been getting thus far, I am kind of saddened. I really wanted this film to become one of my favorites but I don't see that happening any time soon.