Black and White Chromogenic Film: Or How I Learnt to Love Film Development Labs and Stopped Processing my Own Film
I’ve been processing film for the past 7 years.
That’s a lot of film.
Like, A LOT of film. I used to shoot at least two rolls a week.
I can’t begin to count the amount of film that I’ve lost due to wrong processing, or films that were too dark because I used the incorrect ratios for developing, or the water was too warm, or I just forgot to do something important!
A couple of weeks ago I bit the bullet and bought Ilford XP2, a black and white chromogenic film. B+W chromogenic film, is film that can be developed with C41 chemistry, which is the same chemistry used to develop regular colour negative film . So this means, you have a film that takes black and white photos, that can be developed with colour chemicals.
Now, the immediate advantage is that any lab that does colour negatives can develop your film. However, there is a slight trade off in quality. The grain isn’t as fine, and it has less contrast. Now, I like grain, so I like it.
Ilford and Kodak both make chromogenic film. Ilford make the XP2 while Kodak have the 400CN. Or something.
I decided to switch mostly because I got sick and bored of developing film. There’s nothing exciting or fun during the process itself. The only excitement is when you reveal the negatives and check your results. Other than that, it’s dull and boring. In fact, the only reason I would develop my own film is if I’m after a certain effect, be it a solarized effect, or I’m push-processing my negatives for that rougher grain, or I’m processing a super fast film like 3200 ISO or higher.
Here are some pictures from my XP2:
Istanbul in front of the Blue Mosque
Istanbul Tram Way
Now I heard from a number of users that XP2 has a great exposure latitude. You can over and under expose by up to 2 stops either way, and you’ll still get results. While I’ve seen it on my negatives, at some point, they become too thick when over exposed, so scanning becomes difficult. It goes the opposite way when under exposed. Since I’m not doing any of my scanning, I’m not sure how usable the negatives are. Scanning by yourself gives you more control over the process, so in theory, you should be able to get better results with difficult negatives. Once I buy my scanner I’ll let you all know how it looks like. Till then, I’ll be happy sending out my films to the lab. They know how to get things right.