Film Review: Lomography Earl Grey 100 B&W Film Profile

Revised 2017-12-08

Introduction

Today, we’re going to take a look at Lomography Earl Grey 100 Film, or LOMO_BW_100. This is a medium speed B&W film that comes in 35mm roll, and 120 roll. Lomography repackages emulsions from other manufacturers to sell as their own, and research on the internet shows that at one point LOMO_BW_100 was Kodak’s 100TMX, however, as of mid-late 2017, the emulsion appears to be the same emulsion as Foma’s Fomapan 100. Fomapan is also available as Arista.EDU 100 film, so this review will serve as a review for all three films since they’re the same emulsion.

Development

There are many ways to develop LOMO_BW_100. If you send your film in here to Simple Film Lab, we develop LOMO_BW_100 with Kodak D-76 mixed at 1:1 for one-shot usage. The development time is 10:00 at 68 degrees Fahrenheit in a Paterson daylight tank with 1 inversion every 15 seconds. We use a 1:4 water:vinegar stop bath between development and fixing. We fix all BW films in Kodak Fixer.

Characteristic Curve

Using Simple Film Lab, here’s the characteristic curve for LOMO_BW_100:

FOMAPAN_100_characteristic_curve

The scale along the bottom is exposure EVs, the scale along the left is the measured density as seen by the film scanner, meaning raw ADC integer values. The EV 0 mark is an 18% exposure card exposed correctly via an incident light reading via a Sekonic light meter through a T-Stop rated lens. Every dot along the curve is a full stop of light. As a safety measure, I’ve extended the curve by a couple of stops on both sides of the scale to account for variances in development and scanning, though the film, development process, and scanner is generally very consistent.

Exposure Guidance and Dynamic Range/Exposure Latitude

LOMO_BW_100 has a good amount of dynamic range. You can safely shoot it at ISO 25-200 using the development process described above. The chart above (and the corresponding film scanner profile for Simple Film Lab) has been updated to linearize the toe area of the film in an effort to get a bit more black performance out of the emulsion. The toe of the film is from EV -5 to EV -6 where the film base plus fog starts. As before, by EV -7 we’re well on our way to fully clear film base if not there already with film/scanner noise down to just past EV -7. On the highlight side, it’s hard to see on the chart above, but there is a very gentle shoulder at EV +4. From there, we have exposed film density samples up to EV +10 with film/scanner noise samples all the way up to EV +12, though the step from EV +9 to EV +10 is 24 discrete tone values, which is borderline enough to use without posterization, though you won’t actually use EV +9 to +10 unless you shoot the film at ISO 12 with more than 12 stops of subject brightness range.

For exposure guidance, if developing this film as described above, or if sending it in to be developed by Simple Film Lab, I recommend taking an incident light reading of the darkest part of the scene you want to retain details in and subtracting 3 stops of exposure from that reading. For example, if the darkest part of the scene that you want to retain detail in reads 1/125 shutter, f/4.0 at ISO 100, either set the shutter to 1/1000 or close down the aperture to f/11.0, or a combination of the two to reduce the exposure by three stops.

If you don’t have a light meter, then set your camera exposure compensation to 0, and that will generally result in an acceptable exposure for most situations once scanned in and density corrected.

LOMO_BW_100 has nice black blacks at ISO 100. I’d say it’s actually more a 200 speed film as you can shoot it at ISO 200 and still have the film base plus fog starting to happen at EV -5, which will still render good blacks. LOMO_BW_100 has enough highlight range that it can easily handle being shot at ISO 50 or even ISO 25 without hurting the highlights for most scenes, though doing so will put the film base plus fog down at EV -7 or -8, which will render super black blacks. If you need to, you can shoot it at ISO 400, though doing that will put the blacks midway through EV -4, which will render a more milky black like LOMO_BW_400.

Resolution/Grain

LOMO_BW_100 has OK resolution for a 100 speed film. Lomography doesn’t publish a spec sheet for it, but Foma does for Fomapan 100. At 50% contrast, Fomapan 100 is about 30 line-pairs per mm of film. Looking at a film scan of a 135 frame at 1:1, I wouldn’t say it’s particularly sharp, but it’s also not particularly soft either. I’d rate it as middle of the road in terms of resolution. It has marginally more resolution than Fomapan 200 and Fomapan 400, which are both at about 25 line pairs at 50% contrast.

In terms of grain, maybe I’m just used to Kodak TMAX films, but frankly, I’d expect to see less grain for a 100 speed film. With that being said, it’s visibly less grainy than most 400 speed emulsions I’ve looked closely at, and it looks somewhat clumpy in places in what relatively little of this film I’ve developed and scanned in. It’s not distracting and you have to look for it, but otherwise, it’s pleasant grain.

I personally don’t shoot LOMO_BW_100 as it’s not really a match for my personal preferences, however, that doesn’t mean that it’s not a great film, it’s just not my personal first pick.

Sample Images

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Here’s a link to a Flickr Album of more images shot on Lomography Earl Grey, Fomapan 100, and Arista.EDU 100. I’ll add more images as I have them available.

Author: Adrian Bacon

Photographer. Videographer. Coder.