Fomapan 400 B&W Film Profile/Review
This tech page is for Foma Fomapan 400 Film, or FOMAPAN_400. This is a medium speed B&W film that comes in 35mm roll, 120 roll, and various sheet sizes. FOMAPAN_400 is repackaged as Freestyle Photographic’s Arista.EDU Ultra house brand film, and also as of late 2017, Lomography’s Lady Grey 400 film, and Holga 400 BW film, so this tech sheet covers all four films under this one page. This film is a panchromatically sensitized, black-and-white negative film designed for taking photographs under unfavourable light conditions or using short exposure times. The film meets high requirements for low granularity, good resolving power, and good contour sharpness.
There are many ways to develop FOMAPAN_400. 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_400 with replenished Kodak XTOL with constant rotary agitation in a JOBO film processor as standard practice. The standard development time is 8:45 at 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and nets a usable speed of EI 160. We use a 1+4 water+vinegar stop bath between development and fixing.
There are many ways to meter and expose FOMAPAN_400. If sending FOMAPAN_400 in to Simple Film Lab to process and scan, we recommend exposing FOMAPAN_400 at an EI of 160 to 200. This is done by 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 160, 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, or set the ISO to 200, 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_400:
The scale along the bottom is exposure in log lux-seconds, the scale along the left is log density as measured by an X-Rite transmissive densitometer.
Dynamic Range/Exposure Latitude
FOMAPAN_400 has a reasonable amount of dynamic range. If you expose the film at EI 160 you will get very usable images with a solid 4-5 stops of shadow detail below a correctly exposed 18 percent grey card before film base plus fog and 4 stops of highlight density above 18 percent grey before the film very noticeably shoulders off. You can get another 3-4 stops of exposure above the shoulder, however it is relatively low contrast so don’t expose anything important that high. As a result, FOMAPAN_400 does not have a huge amount of exposure latitude, but it is still a very usable film if exposed correctly.
FOMAPAN_400 has average resolution for a 400 speed film. Looking at Foma’s spec sheet, at 50% contrast, FOMAPAN_400 is about 25 line-pairs per mm of film. Looking at a film scan of a 135 frame at 1:1, its grain structure is pretty present, but there isn’t really anything particularly objectionable about it. I’d rate it as middle of the road in terms of resolution for a 400 speed film. It has marginally less resolution than Fomapan 100 and about the same as Fomapan 200. In terms of grain, Foma lists it as a granularity of 17.5, so it’s got grain, but given that it’s a traditional grained film, it’s pretty pleasant. 400TX has a listed granularity of 17, so it’s about the same grain size as 400TX.