Fomapan 100 B&W Film Profile/Review
This tech page is for Foma Fomapan 100 Film, or FOMAPAN_BW_100. This is a medium speed B&W film that comes in 35mm roll, 120 roll, and various sheet sizes. FOMAPAN_BW_100 is repackaged as Lomography Earl Grey (as of late 2017), and as Freestyle Photographic’s Arista.EDU Ultra house brand film, so this tech sheet covers all three films under this one page. This film is a panchromatically sensitized, black-and-white negative film designed for low granularity, high resolving power and contour sharpness and a wide range of halftones.
There are many ways to develop FOMAPAN_BW_100. Following Foma’s recommended development in their tech sheet is a good place to start if you want to develop this film yourself. If you send your film in to us here at Simple Film Lab, we develop FOMAPAN_BW_100 with Kodak D-76 mixed at 1:1 for one-shot usage. The development time is 10:00 at 20 degrees Celcius (+-0.1 degrees) in a Paterson daylight tank with 1 fast 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. This development process is for “full contrast”, which is better for scanning as it maximizes the number of bits used by the scanner and provides a larger number of discrete tone values per stop of light hitting the negative once scanned into the floating point Adobe Digital Negative file that you get from us.
There are many ways to meter and expose FOMAPAN_BW_100. If sending FOMAPAN_BW_100 in to Simple Film Lab to process and scan, we recommend taking an incident light reading of the darkest part of the scene you want to retain details in and subtracting 2 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 1/500 or close down the aperture to f/8.0, or a combination of the two to reduce the exposure by two stops.
If you don’t have a light meter, then set your camera exposure compensation to +1 stop, and that will generally result in an acceptable exposure for most situations once scanned in and density corrected.
Using the development described above, here’s the characteristic curve for FOMAPAN_BW_100:
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 with a studio strobe and 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 emulsion, development process, and scanner is generally very consistent.
The curve shown above is the actual curve used for Simple Image Tools to linearize the film into the floating point Adobe Digital Negative file when processed and scanned in here at Simple Film Lab.
Dynamic Range/Exposure Latitude
FOMAPAN_BW_100 has a fair amount of dynamic range. Since FOMAPAN_BW_100 was originally reviewed here we’ve exposed and generated a new profile and updated the chart above to show the toe of the film. The new profile also linearizes the toe in an effort to get more shadow/black performance out of the emulsion. If exposed and developed as described above, on the shadow side, the toe of FOMAPAN_BW_100 is -4 to -5 EV with the film base plus fog at -5 to -6 EV with film/scanner noise down to about -8 EV. In Adobe Lightroom, this is excellent black performance as any tone values from -5 to -6 EV will register as less than 1% luminance in the Develop Module with the default contrast and black level.
On the highlight side, FOMAPAN_BW_100 is reasonable. There’s a very gentle shoulder at +4 to +5 EV and from there, it just continues to gently roll into more and more compressed dynamic range all the way up until maximum density. We’ve exposed and linearized up to +8 EV with film/scanner noise up to +10 EV. In Adobe Lightroom +7 EV registers as 100% luminance in the Develop Module, so the highlight retention of FOMAPAN_BW_100 is fair.
With the above information, in Adobe Lightroom, the visible dynamic range of an exposure is +7 EV to -6 EV. FOMAPAN_BW_100 provides about 1 stop of under exposure and 1 stop of over exposure protection while still maintaining acceptable black levels and full highlight retention for the full visible dynamic range in Adobe Lightroom. These over-under limits can be exceeded if you are OK with reduced performance at the extremes of the exposure scale. Through our exposure and development testing we’ve determined that FOMAPAN_BW_100 has a real ISO of 125, so this equates to an exposure index range of EI 64 to 250.
FOMAPAN_BW_100 has reasonable resolution for a 100 speed film. Looking at Foma’s spec sheet, at 50% contrast, FOMAPAN_BW_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, Foma lists it as a granularity of 13.5, so it’s got grain, but it’s not particularly grainy. It’s a pretty pleasant grain. 400TX has a listed granularity of 17, so it’s comparatively finer grained, but not dramatically so.
I personally don’t shoot FOMAPAN_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.
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.