FOMA Retropan 320 – Pt 2 – Insanity Test

My curiosity with Retropan 320 continues unabated.  Yesterday I headed out deciding that I’d try another variation of a comparison.  This time, instead of shooting a roll of FP4 and a roll of Retropan with my Leica M6, I decided to load a roll of each into two different cameras.  Not only are they two different cameras with two different films, the two lenses I was shooting with were quite different as well.  I put the FP4 in my M6 with a 50mm Summicron f2 ASPH on board and I loaded the Retropan 320 into my M2 with a 50mm Summitar f1.5.  If you don’t know, well, these lenses are from opposite sides of the planet. I’ll leave this difference and my views for another day.  Anyway, for some reason, this felt like a good idea and off I went.


To be quite honest, this endeavor was not even ever intended for a blog or video rather just for my own experience and photographic activity.  I did decide however to absolutely, to max extent possible, double up on every photo.  Meaning, I’d shoot the exact same photo with each camera and make an effort to keep the lenses in check as I did so.  I metered with a handheld for the M2 as the different film speeds thwarted what would have been a pretty easy session were I to have been able to meter off the M6.

I returned home in the evening after an enjoyable romp with bother cameras and developed both rolls.  Looking through the results this morning I found what I feel totally demonstrates both the difference between Retropan 320 and just about any other film on the planet and where the Retropan can absolutely shine!  For the record, I love both photos.

Let’s start with the shot made with Ilford FP4+

PTFP4  36.jpg

I absolutely love this photograph and the composition.  It was late in the day and the light truly does special things in this cemetery.

And now for the same shot made with Retropan 320

PTRetropan   36.jpg

Again, I love this shot.  There’s an incredible ghostly liquidity about the photograph.  Now, each one of these photographs in my opinion stand on their own.  It’s really hard to compare them side by side without the Retropan seeming to take a back seat.  One thing I noticed though when I was scanning these all in and viewing is that when I was deep inside the retropan photos they all seemed to make sense and work, however, the moment I moved between Retropan and FP4, like when I was matching shots up in Adobe Bridge, the Retropan images were hard to behold.  It’s weird.

I will leave the detailed comparison to your mind.  Try to dwell on each for a few minutes.  I might even suggest looking away for a minute and then taking in the Retropan.

In the end, I’ll say this.  The FP4+ delivered everything I love about it.  It’s lush, thick, deep, velvety, wonderful magical film.  In comparison to the Retropan, it’s seems over the top contrasty.  Of course, it’s not, it’s just that the Retropan is so soft and smooth.  The Retropan, on the other hand, can (when you’re lucky) deliver smooth, swirly, fluid, ghostly images that truly take the subject to a completely different level.


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