Dec. 17, Where is my Dream 100 ISO Film?

These are from a morning walk to the post office. Shot with my Canon IVSb2 and Voigtlander 21mm. Developed in FX-39 II. A morning walk in the 17° cold pretty much takes serious coercion for me to attempt. Avoiding a line at the post office when I had an international package to ship was coercion enough for me to brave the otherworldly chill.

These are almost too boring for even me to publish, but it’s what I got. I guess I’m on the fence about medium (low to me) contrast films again. I’m currently of the mind set that all ISO 100 films look alike. I know it’s not really true, but most 100 speed films seem to be mediumish contrast and many do have similarities. I guess I’m really whining about the fact that I have yet to find the 100 film of my dreams.

I think it may that the real problem is that lower contrast films require a better photographer than I am to be their best, someone who is willing to wait for the right lighting, angle and subject matter, as well as a cosmic alignment of the planets and other celestial bodies to take their shot. That’s not me, if it looks even 1/10th interesting I spend all of one or two seconds composing the shot and then go for it. I guess you get what you get in that case? Which doesn’t leave me much leeway for valid whining does it? Still, I know my dream 100 speed film is out there somewhere. Any suggestions?

The outdoor atrium at the post office, at least I think it’s called an atrium?
Corner House
Snow Trees 2

12 responses to “Dec. 17, Where is my Dream 100 ISO Film?”

  1. I’m going to assume you want a film stock that you can achieve inherently contrasty negatives with? Obviously, in software you can take a scan from a negative with normal contrast and do anything you want with it. So, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m guessing you want something that’s got high contrast baked directly into the negative.

    If you can handle and afford the asinine asking price, T-MAX 100 is a very nice film, and if you’re looking for a high contrast negative, simply developing longer — until you arrive at your desired contrast — will do the trick. The highlights will get dense, but any decent scanner should still be able to pull detail from them. T-MAX 100 can tolerate a lot of abuse in development without the grain becoming an issue.

    Another, much more reasonably priced option, is Fomapan 100. It’s easy to achieve a contrasty negative with it, too. Ascorbic acid developers, in particular, build contrast quite quickly for Fomapan. You’ll just have to experiment until you find the right developer and developing time to get the negative characteristics you’re after.

    Kentmere 100 is a nice film, but its not as easy to bake high contrast into the negative as it is with the two above, at least with the developers I’ve tried with it. I’ve created high contrast negatives by developing it for a long time in Caffenol-CL, but the grain got kind of ugly in the process.

    Delta 100 is also a nice film, but it’s kind of like Kentmere in that it’s got a creamier tonal range in most developers. In my experience you really have to work hard to get a super contrasty negative. It’s also gotten absurdly expensive.

    A final possibility, albeit another expensive one, would be to look into shooting Pan F at EI 100 and pushing it a stop in development. Now that’ll yield you some super high contrast negatives for sure. You’ll have to be willing to lose detail in the shadows if you go that route, though. Or, if you’re okay shooting it at EI 50, Pan F is quite contrasty even at box speed and developed normally if it’s shot in sunlight. It’s just a contrasty film, period.

    Unfortunately, the options for 100 ASA stocks has dwindled pretty severely over the years. It’s sad.


    • Hi P, you’re exactly right. I ‘think’ I’m looking for something with high contrast and good acuity right out of the box so to speak.

      I haven’t ruled out Tmax, I actually have a roll of it in my Sawyer’s Mark IV 127 camera, I’ll give it a try soon.

      I just bought a few rolls of Fomapan, I have high hopes for it especially after your recommendations! I’ve had ok luck so far with Kentmere. I definitely like it, I’m just not sure I love it. I had the same issue as you, when the contrast goes up, the grain seems to increase disproportionately.

      I also just bought some Pan F and will try that soon as well.
      Thank you for the recommendations!


      • Originally, I thought Agent Shadow was rebranded Fomapan 400. I thought I had read that, but perhaps I just assumed it because Mono Foto is rebranded Fomapan 100. But Agent Shadow obviously is NOT Fomapan after all. It appears likely it’s rebranded Kentmere 100, or possibly Ilford Pan 100. Either way, it’s not worth the asking price, at least in my opinion. Really, since it’s a rebrand, you’re just paying for a cool box, which isn’t why I buy film. Is that anyone’s reason? Personally, I really get tired of rebranded films. They quit having value the day they became MORE expensive than the official product. Remember when rebranded film was actually substantially cheaper than the name brand version? I do. Back then rebrands had value. Not today…


      • I thought I had read that it was rebranded Fomapan on Jim Gray’s blog, but I went back and reread the article and it just says it’s rebranded film. Now I don’t know where I got the idea it was Fomapan?


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