Second review of Fomapan 400 by Shane Booth

Fomapan 400 4x5 film

The second review of Fomapan 400 4 x 5, this one by Melbourne photographer Shane Booth.

As an amateur 4 x 5 landscape photographer I use a variety of film but over the past 12 months I have been making images on Fomapan 100 or Ilford FP4+, I very rarely use higher speed films for my images, so I was interested in trying Fomapan 400.

My development method is continuous rotation in a Unicolour print drum on a roller base mainly using Rodinal but occasionally Kodak Xtol. For this test I used Rodinal 1:50.

The Fomapan 400 given to test looks just like Fomapan 100 in the dark, just a single half circle notch code, it shouldn’t be that hard to put two in so we can tell the difference.

Murray River at Echuca. Fomapan 400 4x5

Murray River at Echuca. Fomapan 400 4×5

The first chance I had to try out this film was up on the Murray River at Echuca, the morning light was soft and diffused. The film was rated at ISO 320, no filters were used.

There’s not a lot of information on the internet regarding Fomapan 400, but Foma’s own spec sheet lists Fomapan 400 as having a developing time of 11-12 min at 1:50 @20degC when using FomadolR09 (which I took to be the same as Rodinal). Since I used a rotating drum I reduced that time by about 15% to 9.5 minutes. 

The negative out of the drum were quite nice, no blocked up shadow or blown highlights in fact I could hardly tell the difference from the Fomapan 100 shots I made at the same time as the Fomapan 400 images. Both resulting images printed happily on grade 1.5 using a diffused enlarger. I would imagine a bit of fine tuning of the developing times would only improve things. With an 8 x 10 print the grain was as expect nonexistent, however enlarger up to 16 x 20 the pepper like grain become apparent but not extreme.

Murray River at Echuca. Fomapan 100 4x5

Murray River at Echuca. Fomapan 100 4×5

The second try using this film was in light with considerably more contrast. I continued to rate the film at ISO320. I exposed the two last sheets of the same scene using same setting with the view on reducing the developing time, the first image I developed at minute less than previously (to 8.5 minute) and was still unhappy was the contrast, the second sheet was reduced by a further 1.5 minute to 7.0 minute and I felt little was achieved in controlling the highlights. The resulting images were high in contrast at any grade.

You can come to two conclusions regarding the last two sheets, Fomapan 400 doesn’t like high contrast light or I messed up, maybe a bit of both. But I was happy with the earlier results, certainly enough to consider putting some into the fridge for use at a later date while the cost was so reasonable.

A box of 50 sheets Fomapan 400 4 x 5 is $68.00 from Blanco Negro, Sydney.

It is also available in 5 x 7 for $98.00, when comparing prices with other brands, note that Foma sheet film is 50 sheets per box. 

Shane Booth

Fomapan 400 data sheet