ALPHA Testing

When the first test strips of FERRANIA P30® ALPHA were produced in early January, we enlisted the services of Officine Fahrenheit, an amazing lab located nearby in Milan. Our friend Matteo took charge of testing and here is his story.

Matteo Profile.jpg

“My name is Matteo Di Giovanni, and I am a documentary photographer based in Milan.

I also work with a group of people dedicated to film at Officine Fahrenheit, and we have been helping Ferrania to optimize their new black and white emulsion.

I had the pleasure and honor to test the first batch of the P30® Alpha made by FILM Ferrania. This film comes from the cinema tradition of the historical Italian manufacturer, Ferrania, and shares more than just a name with its predecessor.

Being a photographer and working in a traditional photo lab at the same time, I'm here to illustrate my treatment of this pre-production film, the same as I do for any new emulsion that comes out in the market.

First Test: Image rated at 80 ISO and processed in ILFORD Microphen for 13 minutes with 10 second agitations every minute.

Being a film that has cinema origins, there is a specific developer for it, and this is Kodak D96 - which is hard to find, but in the end, the same formula as Kodak D76.

I rated the first roll at 80 ISO, as stated, and then did some clip tests to understand its reaction to different developers. I first used the most common ones: Kodak D76, Kodak HC 110, ILFORD Microphen and Rodinal. The best results initially came from Microphen, but I wanted to dig more into it.

What I noted from the clip test is that the film shows a great definition - very crisp and sharp with extremely fine grain - however the contrast has to be controlled by changing dilution and agitation.

For the second test, I rated the film at 50 ISO and used D76 stock for 8 minutes with very gentle continuous agitation. Next, I tried Rodinal (1+100) for 45 minutes, a modification of the stand process, which is meant to be 60 minutes. I agitated during the first 60 seconds and once more after 25 minutes.

Second Test: Image rated at 50 ISO and processed in D76 for 8 minutes with continuous agitation

Second Test: Image rated at 50 ISO and processed in modified Rodinal stand for 45 minutes with two short agitations

With this second test I noticed a more controllable contrast (that still needs adjustments), while keeping the great sharpness as well as definition and fine grain.

What I can say from this first series of tests is that aggressive developers should be avoided, as they tend to increase the contrast, which can become an issue for shadows and highlights. At the same time, using the developers I mentioned in the second test, would allow you to create a very sharp negative that may still have some contrast issues. These issues can of course be treated when scanning the film. So far we have not printed the negatives in traditional darkrooms yet.

This is just the first batch and I can't wait to be able to test the second batch and give more detailed feedback on how to process it."

We thank Officine Fahrenheit, and Matteo in particular, for their critical help in refining FERRANIA P30® ALPHA film for production.

The data generated during their tests, as well as our other sample labs, The Darkroom, Blue Moon Camera & Machine, and Icon, is helping us to develop a "Best Practices" document which we will publish online and will be included with every purchase of FERRANIA P30® ALPHA when the shop launches later this month.

Learn more about Matteo and his wonderful photography on his website:

David Bias

New Yorker. Crazy for old cameras and analog film. But I love sci-fi. Go figure.