Disclaimer : this post is not serious photography! It’s just a general blog article provided for information with some demo images.
So recently, by a stroke of sheer good fortune, I happened to visit a UK medical store called Boots, where they still stock some limited film stocks, albeit at a very high cost compared to online retailers. I was just looking to see what they had with no intentions of buying, and to my surprise I saw some black and white film for £2! Intrigued, I picked it up, only to find it was for 3 rolls of 36 exposures!! For just £2! I thought it must be expired or something but no. It was Lomography lady Grey 400. So I thought, “What the hell – for £0.68 per roll, I couldn’t care less. I am having it”, and I bought the remaining two boxes off the shelf.
I quickly headed home where I discovered this film usually sells for about £17-£20 for a box of 3 rolls. So I felt well chuffed with myself. Today, I was off work with my kids and it was a bright sunny day. I had read this film works well in such conditions but should ideally be pushed a bit to give best results. So, I loaded a roll into my trusty Nikon F5 which I know well and fitted my 105mm AI lens on the front, and used centre-weighted or spot metering (as you can’t use Matrix metering with this older lens and why would I want to anyway?).
Out we went and I photographed them as they played and messed about on the park.
On our return, I began development in my usual developer – Ilford Ilfotec DD-X. The Massive Dev Chart only had one recipe which was for 10 minutes at 24 degrees celcius when shot at box speed (EI 400). In my case I had shot the roll at EI800 – a one stop push. So I developed it for 13 minutes at 22 degrees to see what I got. I was expecting some fairly contrasty images.
The results were, erm, disappointing, but let me preface that with the fact that I totally accept that I only paid £0.68 per roll for this film! Fuji Superia 200 is another film I often use for casual family stuff like holidays, and whilst it is fine on a sunny day, I find its quite bad as soon as the light gets a bit low. So yeah, cheap films are OK in certain conditions but not especially versatile, whereas the pro films tend to handle all sorts of conditions.
Maybe shooting this film at EI800 in this bright light was a mistake – maybe I should have kept it at EI400. Maybe my metering was off (unlikely – I am pretty good at it). Maybe my development was not ideal for the film, or the developer was not suited to it, although I use it for all my regular film. Either way, the results were dodgy. I scanned it all using VueScan as usual and for the first btach, below, I set VueScan to give me a flat standard negative – no shrpening, no colour adjustment etc, like I always do with my film scanning (I then tend to post-process using Darktable). I guess for £0.68 per roll I can’t expect too much but I did see some better examples of the film online, so I have probably taken a step somewhere that did not suit the film. I suspect used properly it is fine or perhaps in different light. But suffice to say I will not be using it for anything serious other than a casual off the hook shoot for things totally unimportant.
The first gallery below are post-processed scans! So this is AFTER I’ve done my thing in DarkTable to make them look half decent. The second gallery is where I set the VueScan “Colour Balance” setting to “Neutral” instead of none.
What do you think? Have you photographed subjects with this film and if so how did you find your results? And what shooting\metering\development\scanning technique did you use? Maybe you have workflow this film nailed, in which case perhaps you can share it with me before I use the other 5 rolls. Comment below.
Maybe you just want to try it out? It’s far more affordable than many film stocks so certainly worth a buy. If you need some, head over to Analogue Wonderland or do so via my loyalty link and bag yourself a freebie while you’re at it 🙂 Thanks