Friday, December 17, 2010

Kodak Pro BW400CN Film

One of the reasons I love film has to do with shooting black and white. Yes, I know you can shoot monochrome with digital - and convert every digital colour shot to b&w later in Photoshop - but it's not the same is it, really? Well it's not the same to me at least - someone who 'grew up' with the smell of fixer on my fingers from many hours spent in a darkroom.

I haven't quite gotten back to the darkroom stage again, but that hasn't stopped me shooting b&w. My film of choice has been Kodak's Professional BW400CN film - a black and white film that gets developed at my local lab in C-41 (colour) processing chemicals.

It's a fine-grained 400ISO film that I have been using in my Olympus Pen EES-2. The Pen cameras love the faster 400ISO film, and I've been very pleased with the exposures coming out of the Pen with this combination of film. It seems to handle a wide variance of lighting conditions with perfectly exposed images every time. And what's more, the negatives scan beautifully on my Epson V700.

The above image entitled 'Drawing Room', shot on my Pen EES-2 is a perfect case in point. It shows a tremendous tonal range, with detail remaining in both the shadows and highlights, even though it was an image with extremes of light and dark. The Pen has handled it superbly with a sharp, crisp image - even given the half-frame format. This is an image that I pre-visualised as black and white, and I knew it would make a great monochrome print when I saw the scene.

Due to it's small, compact size and unassuming 'retro' looks, the Pen EES-2 is a camera I've been carrying around with me almost everywhere. Loaded with the 400Cn film, it's so quick and easy to grab a snapshot with - especially with the quick icon focus settings on the Pen. The above image taken in our local supermarket is the kind of shot I've always wanted to take, but never bothered with. I couldn't imagine carrying my Nikon D300 around with me to get a grab shot like this - but with the Pen it was easy. Again the exposure is bang on and the overall image sharp and clear.

'Old Cromwell Town' was shot recently on my trip to Central Otago. It was a very bright, sunny day and once again I was concerned over the wide exposure range the image would exhibit. But once again, the Pen and BW400CN has handled the scene beautifully. To say I'm happy with the results from this combination is an understatement. I'm thrilled with the results - and love this Black and White C-41 processed film. The images are fine-grained, clear, contrasty and have a beautiful full tonality to them - and are a joy to scan.

I'm also delighted that while I was away down south I came across 4 rolls of 400CN in a photo store going cheap. Of course I snapped them up - and am glad I did. I also came across another store selling 120 film - and bought a roll of 120 kodak BW400CN. If it's half as good in the 120 roll as it is in 35mm then the resulting images will be gorgeous!

If you haven't tried this film before, and can get your hands on some, then I would encourage you to give it a go. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the results, no matter what you shoot with.

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