Film photography · Medium Format · Photography

First time with Fomapan Retropan 320

A while back – last year I think, although it could have been 2020 – I got in touch with the film manufacturer Fomapan. I’d had some issues with a batch of Fomapan 100 that I’d bought which was resulting in a lot of small white speckles on the scanned negatives. This wasn’t dust, but some problem with the film that was becoming apparent when it was developed. A bit of reasearch online produced a number of other reports of the same probleM, some with the same batch number as the rolls I had, so I got in touch with the company to ask if they could do anything to help.

Concrete and sky

They provided some instructions on how the issue with the problem batch might be addressed, and confirmed that there had been an issue with some rolls of the film that had been produced. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any luck after following the special instructions and the next roll still showed the same speckles, albeit slightly lessened. In addition, Fomapan also sent me a few rolls of film to recompense me for my troubles, some Fomapan 400, and also a roll of Retropan 320.

To the top

I’d never shot Retropan before so was curious as to what it might produce. Unfortunately, thanks to the pandemic and various lockdowns, the film languished in the freezer for quite some time, awaiting its day in the sun. That day came a few weeks ago when I took a trip to Leeds for the day with my wife and her sister. They hit the shops while I went off to make photos (and also visit the Royal Armouries museum). I burdened myself with choice on the day, having three film cameras, plus my little Ricoh digital compact. The film cameras included the Yashicamat 124g (with the Retropan), my Olympus XA3 (with some HP5+), and the newly acquired RETO Ultrawide & Slim (with some Agfa Vista Plus 200 – some of the shots which have already been seen here on the blog recently).

Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen

I wasn’t massively enthused about shooting the Retropan, even though trying a new film usually means at least some excitement is to be had. Most of the photos I’d seen online from other people had a bit of a flat look about them, which isn’t something I tend to favour. I also looked into what speed to shoot the film at, having had issues with underexposure when shooting other Foma films at box speed in the past. The general concensus was to overexpose it by at least a stop, with one person suggesting that 80asa was the sweet spot. In the end I opted to shoot it at 125asa and develop it normally.

City centre graveyard trees

The experience of shooting the film went without hitch, and developing was likewise straightforward. The film felt quite thin, but went onto the spiral without any problem. As with other Foma films, I pre-washed it before developing and got the usual witches brew of green liquid when I poured the rinsing water away.

Iron bridge

The photos are actually quite nice. Not the look I tend to go for, but there’s something there in the tonality that I find quite pleasing. There’s lots of grain present, but also good detail, and using my usual post-processing settings as a starting point soon got the scans where I was happy with them.

Street art, or river art?

So, would I buy a roll with my own money and shoot it again? Honestly, probably not. I’d go for one of the other Foma line instead. But I wouldn’t turn down a roll that came my way for free. šŸ™‚

River Aire

Yashicamat 124G & Fomapan Retropan 320. Ilfotec DD-X 1+4 10mins 20Ā° .

Taken on 26 February 2022

13 thoughts on “First time with Fomapan Retropan 320

    1. Thanks P. I have another shot of the same bridge taken the same day with another camera that I think is better. It’ll be on the blog in the next day or two I think, so you’ll be able to see if you agree.

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  1. Nice work! I’ve been hot and cold with Foma, at first liking it, then becoming displeased with the somewhat unpredictable results. I gave up on it for a bit, but started shooting it more again. The couple rolls that I home developed (except for the one that got bent up on the reel) came out fine. I have some of the Holga/Foma 400 in the Reto UWS, as it’s cheap and just 24 exposures, one of the few 24 exposure black and white rolls I can find locally.

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    1. I always shoot Foma 400 at 200asa now as it always resulted in very thin negatives otherwise and it seems to work quite well for me like that. Obviously the RETO doesn’t allow this, but I guess you could push it a stop in development for a similar result. Fomapan 100 is my favourite of the three – that one looks great. I’ve not bought any since the bad batch I had the other year, although that’s more down to me having a load of other film rather than not trusting it.

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      1. I really like all three of the standard Foma emulsions, but 200 is actually my favorite of the three, exposed at EI 125-160 and developed in a high acutance developer (but not so much in solvent-type developers). I think it has the most attractive grain structure of the three, by far, as well as the best tonality.

        Unlike 100 and 400, my understanding is that 200 is a hybrid emulsion, containing a layer of both traditional cubic grain and modern tabular/hexagonal-like grain.

        Just thought I’d chime in on this since only the 100 and 400 varieties seem to be getting any recognition here. šŸ™‚

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      2. I don’t mind the 200asa variant, although I’ve not shot it as much as the others. As you say, it has a different look to it. I think that, because there is a much wider range of B&W choices available, that I tend to either go for 400asa for versatility, or 100asa or lower for fidelity, leaving the 200asa choices in a bit of a limbo in between>

        There are some Foma 200 shots on the blog here: https://steelcitysnapper.wordpress.com/?s=%22fomapan+200%22

        Also some Arista Edu 200 (which I believe is the same stuff rebranded): https://steelcitysnapper.wordpress.com/?s=%22arista+edu+200%22

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      3. I’ve always liked your work with Fomapan 200. I think I’ve even commented on some of it in the past.

        Out of curiosity, where did you get Arista EDU 200 in the UK? I find it odd it would be for sale there since it’s Fomapan rebranded by Freestyle Photo in California, intended for distribution in the USA.

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