Unsolicited editorials on cameras, lenses, film, developer, and black and white photography in general.

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Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Classic 200 in Prescysol

What has the grain of push-processed Delta 3200 from a Minox yet is slower than TRI-X? Why would anyone want to know?

The European 200 ISO films all seem to have one thing in common: grain. The highly touted and expensive Bergger 200 is grainier than TRI-X, I found the Paterson 200 to be overly grainy, and the Classic 200 discussed here is grainiest of all. Classic 200 is touted as having a nostalgic, retro look. That might be the case if shooting 8x10 film, but with 35mm, it is grainier than anything I’ve ever seen short of Robert Capa’s botched Normandy shot. But, to be fair, it is the least expensive of the European 200 ISO films.

There is speculation that these 200 ISO black and white films are all from the same factory. At last count, we have:

  • Bergger 200
  • Classic 200
  • Foma 200
  • Forte 200 [I think Forte just folded]
  • Paterson 200

There may be more, but these have been commercially-available in the United States. I’m pretty sure that the Foma 200 is unlike the others. It develops beautifully in PMK Pyro and is one of my favorite films. The others? Any one of them would have been perfect for documenting the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Or just about any sandstorm. Or the Marlboro man’s lips. Other than that, it is just way too grainy. I have a few rolls left, but am not interested enough in this film to go out and purchase and grain-dissolving developer like Microdol-X. Inside me lurks the fear that I will run into a Pulitzer prize-winning photo opportunity only to dash my chances because my Leica was loaded with a roll of $1.99 film.

You'll have to excuse me for the subject matter in the pictures posted here. To add insult to injury, those guys were calling me a fornicator and a Catholic. The closeup of them reminds me of the shooter on the grassy knoll.

By the way, I developed it in Prescysol.

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