The Online Darkroom Store

Thursday, February 2

Ferrania P30 resurrection: BRAND NEW black and white film

From early testing of the new Ferrania P30 panchromatic film.
More sample pics from Ferrania below.

* Hat tip to readers Ian Lee and ZZPZA for this story

This IS exciting news. Ferrania, the Italian company determined to bring back the glamour days of 1960s Italian film manufacture, has announced that it's entered the "Alpha" stage of its new 80 ISO P30 panchromatic black and white film. Not a rebadged film from another manufacturer but an entirely new emulsion. It should be available from the middle of this month - but only in the 35mm format. Who said film was dead?

P30 is a famous old name deriving from a very popular movie film stock from decades ago. The new Ferrania company bought up some of the old film making plant from the original firm a few years back and has been beavering away on new emulsions. They're working on bringing a colour slide film to market and now they're ready to proceed with what could be a wonderful, silver-rich mono film - once they've ironed out the inevitable glitches bedevilling them at this early stage of production.

To that end, Ferrania have come up with the singular idea of asking photographers to buy the film and report back with any faults encountered and their impressions of the product - in the same way that beta testers help out software developers. This feedback will help Ferrania improve the film. No doubt people will have different views on this but we live in different times from the peak film years. But more of this later.

The film's specification sounds nice. It doesn't offer anything new on the ISO scale as there are already a few films clustered around the 80 ISO mark such as Fuji Acros 100, Foma 100, Rollei Retro 80s and even the likes of Pan F in the right developer. However, if P30 is faithful to the original emulsion then we'll benefit from a silver heavy film that promises "the look" from old Italian movies of the 1960s. Sounds like it could be the perfect partner for a Leica M and 50mm Summicron!

Here's Ferrania's enthusiastic announcement:

Cairo Montenotte (SV), Italy – FILM Ferrania is proud to announce its first product, FERRANIA P30®, in a limited ALPHA edition. 
FERRANIA P30® ALPHA reproduces, with modern techniques developed by FILM Ferrania scientists, the exact film that made Ferrania world-famous more than 50 years ago. 
With its cinema pedigree, ultra fine grain, and very high silver content, FERRANIA P30® ALPHA has no peers in the modern analog film market. 
FILM Ferrania CEO Nicola Baldini said, “Each frame is like a piece of jewellery.” Pasolini, Rossellini, Visconti and many other Italian directors powered their masterpieces with P30 film. 
In 1961, Sophia Loren won the Academy Award for “La Cio ciara” ( Two Women) by Vittorio De Sica and the entire world started to appreciate the beauty of FERRANIA P30® . In 1963, the legendary film 8 ½ by Federico Fellini was shot on FERRANIA P30® stock, cementing its place in cinema history.

"Each frame is like a piece of jewellery." I love Italians. I really do. OK, it's a bit over the top but at least it shows the passion for which Italians are famous around the world - and the film industry could do with some more of that. Personally, it's thoroughly whetted my appetite and I can't wait to try it out.

Pre-sales of P30 in 36-exposure 35mm format will begin around mid-February through the company's online shop,

P30 is coated on a triacetate base and features what Ferrania describes as "an incredibly high silver content" of 5 grams per square meter. I'm not sure how this compares with other films - maybe someone can chime in below in the comments.

From the examples the company has released, P30 looks to be a very high contrast film but I can't see the fully developed product having quite that look. From memory, the Italian black and white movies had a long tonal range and I'd expect the final version of P30 to be similar, depending on the developer of course.

In an email interview I did with Ferrari's David Bias in 2013, the company said they were interested in one day resurrecting P30 and it's great to see them follow through.

With regard to the beta testing of P30, here's what Ferrania had to say:

Just like software goes through Alpha and Beta stages, we expect our P30 film to go through these same stages. However, we want to make it perfectly clear that the worst of these issues are being resolved before sales begin. 
In the coming days, we will share numerous updates from the factory, explaining the problems you see in the sample images below, as well as the solutions that are being created every day to ensure that the film you will purchase is amazing. 
That said, this film is an ALPHA edition for a clear reason. When the shop launches, every customer will be invited to share their experiences with us - and this data will be fed directly to the factory team. 
When released, the data you provide will directly affect the progress of this film from ALPHA, to BETA, to the final product.

So, the film you'll be buying - and please buy some if you can to encourage Ferrania - will be well-developed but probably still with some room for improvement. Isn't it great to think that we might be able to contribute to the development of a new black and white film! Or do you expect the product to be fully developed by the company before being sold?

Finally, it's time for some early, contrasty test shots taken with the new film and just released by Ferrania. Enjoy.


Kodachromeguy said...

This is great! It's an optimistic sign on the state of film photography to see another choice in black and white film. I have recently tried Fomapan 100 Classic in the 120 size, and it has a nice "feel" to it, as well. I can't say it is better or worse than a film like Tri-X, but it does look slightly different.

Roy Karlsvik said...

I can't wait to give it a go, and this was actually what I was hoping for some time back when Ferrania launched their campaign to start producing film again. Back then they talked a lot about the positive colour film, but a nice line of new B&W films would really please my heart. May they long live, alongside the other film manufacturers around the world.
There is still hope for the old dino's among us, after all.

Herman Sheephouse said...

Yes, positive news and rather like Kodak's recent announcements.
With regard to the look of the film, that looks 'modern' contrasty to me - could easily be TMX through a Ai Nikkor. It would be interesting to see it through various older lenses. I'm still firmly convinced that lens coating plays a greater part in "film look" than anything else.
I really hope they get good sales from it though and it is also nice to know that OD and all the other sites that have been manning the barricades for film have maybe had some influence in the world!

DavidM said...

Wow! Is that Dundee? Crikey!
They do seem very contrasty to me and the shadows look very black. Is this a personal preference of the photographer, the effects of scanning, or is it inherent in the film? Very curiously, I see scratches on some frames.

John Carter said...

Good news, I usually don't like contrast prone films. Plus X was enough for me. But I will still try a roll or if they decide to do 120; I'll do that. Thanks for the extensive heads up, other info I've read wasn't as complete.

Antonio Russell said...

Great to see you back online Bruce. Been a while... Will give the new film a try but currently really enjoying FP4+

Egt said...

Glad to say that I had 2 rolls of P30 ALPHA to be tested!
I'm from Italy.
I'll let you know about asap. The rolls are today in the mighty hands of a professional b&w alchemist, here in Milan, who's trying several treatments on it (we decided to have one roll for test, same shot for 36 poses, then clipped in 6 parts!).
My best. Egt.

Bruce Robbins said...

Good luck! Look forward to seeing the results.

MaxBlack said...

All I want to know is how does one get on the waiting list for this so far mythical film?