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Wednesday, October 29

Will Ferrania resurrect P30 black and white film?

Ferrania's Kickstarter project has just ended successfully with an amazing 5,582 backers pledging $72,420 over and above the target figure of $250,000. That means the company should now be able to rescue some machinery from the old Ferrania factory in northern Italy and scale up production of a new colour transparency film.

That's great news for all those shooting slides but what about us monochrome guys? Are we likely to benefit from Ferrania's new operation once it's up and running? That's the question I put to the head of FILM Ferrania's US operations, David Bias.
"We're interested in one day recreating that formula." - Ferrania
Although clearly not ruling it out, I think it's fair to say that the reintroduction of P30, the black and white stock on which many Italian movies of the '50s and '60s were shot, is not a priority at this time.
Just now, it's full speed ahead on the slide film front.

Production of the first batch is underway and the aim is to increase capacity to a volume that is necessary to support a larger market, although David wasn't able to give a firm date for the introduction of new film.

He said, "We have ambitions and plans - but until the first batch lands in the hands of users, there's nothing we can really say about timing. That said - we of course eventually plan to produce a full spread of film speeds both in chrome and C-41, and in several additional formats to be somewhat defined by the market."

My personal interest - and I'd imagine its shared by many readers - is in the possibility of another black and white film from a new factory. Although we're still well served by Ilford, Kodak, Fuji, Adox, Rollei and Foma, it never hurts to see a new film manufacturing plant coming online - and not just an existing one that produces the same emulsion for rebranding under different names.

The more independent film manufacturers there are out there the greater chance there is that film will survive into the future - provided, of course, that the market grows rather than film companies just getting a smaller slice of the cake.

So I wanted to know if Ferrania believed there was a market for another black and white film and if they'd any plans to reintroduce any of the classic range of films from the '50s and '60s.

David said, "Clearly, black and white film stocks are widely available in a number of different speeds, formats, etc. Film users are not begging for a new black and white at this time.

"We have plenty of work ahead of us to establish our brand and make color film products that are lacking in the marketplace.

"Since the old Ferrania company produced a rather famous black and white motion picture film called P30 (also later in 35mm/120), we are of course interested in one day recreating that formula. But again, our priority is to first fill some other gaps in the market - most notably with color reversal films."

In addition to P30, an 80 ISO speed panchromatic film, Ferrania also produced P24 (20 ISO), P27 (40 ISO) and P33 (160 ISO). There may have been others through the decades I've missed. I've posted a few images off the 'net here to give you a flavour of their P30 offering at the time.

I've never used any Ferrania film - I suspect P30 and its siblings were a little ahead of my time - but I'd be very interested to hear in the comments from anyone who has used this stock. How good was it? What was it comparable to? Should we be salivating at the prospect of its resurrection?


marty said...

hey, Bruce. Most, if not all, my late dad's earliest pictures were on P30. For this reason this brand has particular and sentimental value to me. It would be great to have the possibility to shoot it again. I'm tempted to browse those old negs and try to make some prints, just for the sake of it.

Cheers, M.

Richard Sintchak said...

If they do a Ferrania Kickstarter 2.0 just for making P30, then I'm in....

Tobias Key said...

I think we should be careful what we wish for. I would rather have a few strong companies making black and white film than too many brands weakening the market. Interesting though it might be to use these films, I wouldn't like to sacrifice FP4 or Tri-x to use them.