What’s in the future for Ferrania?

I’ve always tried to be upbeat and positive regarding Ferrania in the past, and certainly this year must certainly have been hard on them. I suppose some will read the announcement and accuse them of abandoning their original promises (well, the phrase “Our Kickstarter campaign must evolve into something new…” probably sets off some alarm bells) and honestly I don’t know what Ferrania is ultimately saying myself.  They throw out a hint at color film (note: they never use the word reversal) down the road but wisely have not committed to anything; in the past laying out projected timelines hasn’t worked well for them.

I just hope that they actually are working on color reversal film and that it will be happening soon.  I like the P30 but it’s no substitute; I’ve hoarded my 5 Alpha rolls for years now but it’s my plan to shoot up the rest of it this year and buy some of the fresh regular production rolls.  Here’s a compilation of what I was shooting back in January and February:

It’s good stuff, but very slow for what I do so I don’t anticipate using it much.  On the other hand, if they had made just another ASA400 film I’d complain about that too (I have in the past).  Actually I’d love to see P30 slit as super 8 or at least 16mm: considering how fine-grained it is it would look lovely in small-gauge.  I hope Ferrania thinks about some of the underrepresented markets out there, like Double 8, Double Super 8, especially in 100ft rolls there.  Hopefully P30 will work with reversal chemicals but it can of course be scanned too, and even just selling long-length cans of super 8 film (not loaded in cartridges) would be great for those who load their own cartridges, like those shooting single-8 cameras.

But I am still eagerly awaiting some Ferrania Chrome 100 and it does get frustrating sometimes when all I hear about from Ferrania is updates on P30.  That said, I hope readers can tell which side of the fence I fall on here.  I want only the best for Ferrania and hope they are tremendously successful.

Snow in Garden of the Gods

It’s been a hot week in Colorado, I hiked through the Garden just yesterday at about 80F; that reminded me of the last time I hiked through the Garden in February back when the weather was much colder.

I was scheduled for a tour that day but it got cancelled last minute due to weather.  As I was already on my way down to Colorado Springs, I took the opportunity to do something that I almost never do, take a hike through Garden of the Gods.  I usually see the park only from the road going around the outside.  Also while I was down there I took the opportunity to pick up a certain camera I’d had on layaway at Cameraworks.

As Colorado Springs has around 300 days of sunshine per year I like being able to see the park when it has something different to offer, like fog or snow.

These were taken on Ferrania P30 alpha shot at ASA50 developed in Sprint Standard for 7min at 70F (M) and I experimented with a single agitation every 15 seconds, though I don’t know what that accomplished.  I also shot a few still lifes (like cameras) and I am blown away with how little grain there is in this film, and how sharp it can be when used with my lovely Takumar lenses.  I suppose I could have used the Macro lens for these as well but shooting at ASA50 I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t need to keep the aperture open past f/4.

I also made sure to run a focus test with my Pakon scanner using this film as the template.  My theory is that it’s slightly thicker than other films and the scanner needs to be refocused or else the film won’t be sharp; that and I think the grain being so fine it’s hard to focus on it anyway.

My Grandfather’s cameras

According to my dad, aunts, and uncle, my grandpa (father’s side) was a pretty good photographer.  I haven’t seen too many of the pictures he took, certainly by the time I knew him he wasn’t actively shooting much, if at all.  One of my aunts worked part-time as a wedding photographer for a long time, my dad was fond of photography for a while, and certainly the photo bug resurfaced in me!  Just a few weeks before moving to Colorado I had been over to their old house and found some of his old cameras, which I took with me when I moved:


Imperial Cubex IV, TKC Kalimar A, Kodak Bantam f/4.5

Only one of those took 35mm film so it was the one I used way back when I was a wee baby photographer.  The other two take rollfilm that’s not readily available (it all has to be cut down from 120 medium format) so I’ve never used them, though I did buy a few rolls for them years ago.  As this is my last semester with access to a darkroom I’m making it my mission to shoot those rolls and develop them by June.

When I went back one last time in April 2019 I happened across two more, and it would seem the cream of the crop, as far as features go: an Argus C3 and a Kodak Retina IIIc.  The Retina will require some work to be functional but the Argus works well enough, a tough little camera.  So along with the two rollfilm cameras I’ll at least put a roll of 35mm through the Argus and Kalimar, for old times’ sake.

Ferrania P30 in the Trip 35

Shot at ASA50, developed in Sprint at 70F for ~7min (M).  I can’t even remember how far back I shot this roll, maybe late 2017?  It sat in my freezer because I wanted to be able to give it a little more attention with hand-developing.  I still have 2 rolls left over from the Ferrania alpha run a few years ago now (maybe I should have ordered more when they were available but I missed that window).

With more film I’d want to try some of the D-96 Monobath as I have a feeling the film wouldn’t be as contrasty.  That said, there’s an incredible amount of detail there if the film is exposed properly.  There are several images in here where I burned in the sky quite heavily to get more cloud definition: not that I’m a master at dodging/burning but I have to say that they look relatively believable.

I shot this roll with the Olympus Trip 35, with the incredibly sharp 40mm f/2.8 lens.  Go ahead and find some grain in these shots.  In fact this was the last roll I shot in the Trip 35, the shutter seems to have seized up and I’m bummed about that.  The 1/40 second shutter speed caused some blurry shots on the ASA50 film, I suppose that was to be expected.  So does the Pakon have problems focusing for this film?  I think it does indeed have a thicker base and the grain is so small.  But I calibrated my Pakon when I took it out of storage (as I write this I just put it back in storage while I move) and I think there’s decent sharpness there, my own focusing errors notwithstanding.

In fact for a film that dates back to the late ’50s I couldn’t believe how little grain there is!  According to Ferrania they’re all caught up on repairs and making P30 again so I think I’ll buy another 5 rolls of this film when they start selling it.  It certainly isn’t going to replace Tri-X in being my everyday use film, but at ASA80 I wasn’t expecting it to, especially with the feeling-out that has been going on with developing.  Until then, I have 2 rolls left and I want to shoot those in the Spotmatic with the 50mm f/4 SMC Macro-Takumar.  If I ever needed to blow up a 35mm image to 20×24 or larger that’s the combination I’d use.

People at the airshow

The Axis Trio strikes back hard!  Seeing all the Allied warbirds was too much for them.  Although it was a perfect day to try out the Ferrania P30 Alpha film for the first time, I underexposed the film by at least a stop (and did in my Spotmatic too, shooting Tri-X).  Thankfully, it wasn’t a big deal:

Even though underexposed, there was plenty of detail, which I am extremely happy about!  The shots were completely usable, though like I said in my previous post, bumping up the contrast so much did start revealing lots of dust and scratches, water spots, etc, and I didn’t have the same problem with the Tri-X (see below). I will say that my local camera store isn’t one of the labs that Ferrania recommends.

Here is all that shooting info again:
Scanned myself with the Pakon F335, edited in Photoshop
D-76 stock at 8min (I think, or it could have been 9min…it was developed by my local camera store)
Canon 7 with the Leitz 35mm f/3.5 Summaron
Very overcast day
Shutter speeds were nominally around 1/125 at f/8 (I was shooting at around ASA100)

Tri-X definitely has a different look to it, slightly more consistent when underexposed I’d say (the middle shot was overexposed by a stop I think).

Alright, here’s the thing with the P30: It’s so fine-grained that I expected it to be much sharper than this, and it looks soft as butter.  I’m not completely convinced it wasn’t my lens, but comparing it to other shots on Double-X those look much sharper.  Here’s a 100% crop from my scan:

So the other possibility is that P30 is sufficiently thicker (or thinner?) than regular film to be out of focus in my Pakon, so I will have to rescan both negatives making sure I refocus using some P30 film.  Then I will have to refocus again with something like Tri-X, for everything else I scan.  It’s on the agenda, but I haven’t quite found time yet.

This is one of the best exposed shots I had.  And here’s the other one from the last post:

And one last one, this is an extreme example of burning in the sky, just to see what was possible:

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Don’t ever trust the meter…

Don’t ever trust, don’t ever trust the meter, it lies!
Don’t ever trust, don’t ever trust the meter, 
When it cries, cries your name…

I’m paraphrasing Queensryche here.  But the point is, that even I’m still making exposure mistakes on occasion, and evidently it had to do with it being a particularly overcast day (a rare occurrence in Colorado Springs, I can tell you).  Evidently everything I shot during the Pike’s Peak Regional Airshow was underexposed by a stop or so.  Not the end of the world, thankfully, as Ferrania P30 seems to just lose contrast when it’s underexposed.  At least, under the circumstances where it’s an overcast day, and using a 1940s lens.  Here’s the worst offender:

 

That was at least 2 stops underexposed.  Even though underexposed, I was able to pull incredible amounts of detail in scanning, it was just a matter of bumping up the contrast and usually lightening things up a bit.  What I couldn’t say is what’s up with all the dust particles and water spots (and I always run my film through the StaticVac right before scanning).  I had a roll of Tri-X developed at the same time and there was nothing wrong with that roll at all; I think I will make an entire post out of unfairly comparing the two films.

Here are all the stats for this:
Scanned myself with the Pakon F335, edited in Photoshop
D-76 stock at 8min (I think, or it could have been 9min…it was developed by my local camera store)
Canon 7 with the Leitz 35mm f/3.5 Summaron
Overcast day
Shutter speeds were nominally around 1/125 at f/8 (I was shooting at around ASA100)

The Axis Trio makes its first appearance, here’s a pic:

(Shot with the Spotmatic SPII on Tri-X) – Japanese camera body, German lens, and finally, Italian film!

As far as first impressions go, I wasn’t expecting much at all because John at Cameraworks said they were very underexposed and the negatives were quite thin.  I don’t know how to describe what I mean, but looking at the curve I provided, the picture was there right in the middle, where with something like Tri-X all that information would have been way to one side where it’s much less usable, and usually is a lot grainier.  And this film certainly has some fine grain!

I shot that 35mm Summaron at f/8 all day and it looks incredibly soft, compared to my beloved Takumars (this is really the first time I’ve put it through its paces), which threw me for a while.  Having had a couple weeks to think it over and studying the rest of my scans, I think I might be dealing with a focus error here.  Is P30 a different thickness from most other films?  I’m going to rescan all the negatives when I have a chance, and make sure I run the autofocus wizard using this particular film.  I assume that I will also have to run it again to refocus it to all the other films I use.  Again, nothing wrong with that roll of Tri-X I scanned at the same time.

I’m hoping that the dust/water spots were just so noticeable because of the underexposure.

P30alpha has (finally) arrived!

If you’ll forgive the phone pic, just wanted to post this ASAP.  I don’t know how many people that are still waiting for their film will read this, but Ferrania does follow through on their promises.  Here is the proof that you will get your film…eventually.

Now, I have no idea how far back in the queue I was: I was a Kickstarter backer so I think I’m at least before everyone that cold-ordered.  Still, I didn’t get my order in until at least a good 10 hours after the shop officially came online (some days you gotta hate work).

But there it is!  Now I have to find time to shoot it…