Ingredients getting expensive

This will just be a short post, without photos, to update on some of the earlier posts on ‘recipes‘. So far, there have been four of those and for all intents and purposes, that should be enough. But at some point, you run out of stock, to find prices that aren’t quite what they were last time….

Ever since Covid broke out, a lot of things have become more expensive, and unfortunately this is also the case for quite some film. Nothing overly dramatic, but where I live, Ilford has gone up around 30%. It pushes prices of some emulsions to a less comfortable level. For Kodak, I believe increases are similar, but not sure on this.

The big exception, so far, has been Foma. Their films aren’t expensive to start with, but now with a lot less price increase than the others, their value for money only got better.

What I use these days…

Fortunately, I am still well stocked up on HP5 and also have enough T-Max P3200 to last me a while. No changes there. Also in the developers I have no change, since I had plenty of the commercial ones I use (HC110 and T-Max developer), and plenty of raw chemicals for the ones I mix up myself (Beutler and Caffenol).

The main victim in my stock has been Delta 100. I love what I get out of this film, but it’s now twice the price of Fomapan 100. That gap is a bit too large, especially since Fomapan 100 is also great stuff.

Already before prices were rising, I had bought some Fomapan 200 Creative out of curiosity. I saw plenty nice results with it online, so that made me want to try it. It’s marginally more expensive than Fomapan 100 Classic, but still lots cheaper than Ilford and Kodak, so worth the shot.

First attempts with Caffenol scanned nice, but they were quite dense. Caffenol tends to fog film, and with Foma 200 it is a lot worse than with Foma 100. Scanning them wasn’t too hard, printing surely went beyond my limited skills. So having a couple left, it was time to try other things.

A nasty surprise

One nice sunny-ish day, I shot two rolls of Foma 200 in an area I visit extremely often. More or less pure test shots, there would be no pain if I’d mess things up.
The idea was: one roll in Beutler, and the other in Rodinal, as I saw nice examples online of that combo.

The left-over Rodinal I had was actually the bottle I got with the “starter kit”, my very very first developer. Awwwwww….. So who knew, Rodinal can expire? Sure, it was fully hubris on my part to think it was still OK (it was over 6 years ago I opened it the first time!), but then, Rodinal has a reputation for lasting a long long time. Anyway, one roll entirely blank. No idea if Foma 200 and Rodinal mate well.

Beutler does, though. Does it ever. It looks nearly as good as Delta 100, with the Foma shot as ISO160-ish. Sharp, modern, really quite close to the results with Delta 100. A very pleasant surprise.

I need a bit more rolls shot with this combination, but for now, this might replace my need for Delta 100. And with a nice twist. ISO 200 may seem a bit an odd in-between speed, but in the Netherlands, where abundant sunlight is not a given at all, it’s a very useful speed. So it widens the possibilities. I haven’t tried prints yet, that will happen soon enough.

And the unnasty surprise

For reasons I don’t fully understand myself, I felt it was only right to get a new bottle of Rodinal. Well, the R-09 One Shot stuff. It doesn’t cost a lot, and using it 1:50, a 120ml bottle lasts a lot of shots. A strange sentimental buy, since I really didn’t need more film developers. But it was my first developer, and it works well with quite some emulsions, if you treat it right (*). So I just wanted it.

So, with that bottle happily standing alongside Beutler and HC110…. now something to soup in it. Fomapan 100, as the cheapest option around, there you go….

Oh. My.

That is a very happy pair.

Results are very different from Caffenol. Much more bite and contrast, yet still the old school look of traditional grain. Like with the Foma 200, I need a bit more time with it to be sure, and to have a go at printing, but so far, this combination makes me seriously happy.

Is it all about savings?

Well, no. Photography isn’t a cheap hobby, and shooting film and making prints (either darkroom or inkjet) doesn’t help economics at all. But making some savings on film makes it easier (mentally at least) to continue shoot reasonable amounts. 

When I run out of HP5, I will probably still cough up for HP5. I may try Kentmere 400 or Agfa APX400, but deep down, I realise that HP5 is my desert island film. But on the slower side of the spectrum, I used to think Delta 100 was the other choice to last. And that has changed. For savings, yes, but also because I’m every bit as happy with the results. Saving money, without the idea that it is a compromise? Count me in.


(*) If you treat it right…. in my experience, Rodinal is so much nicer if you keep agitation limited, and use it as cold as possible. It keeps grain down considerably. Since I mainly tested it these last months, it was easy to develop at 16 to 17 degrees Celsius. So that helped. Let’s see what summertime brings. Hopefully more than 17 degrees!

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