A wonderfully soft emulsion: delivering low contrast in all your images, this 35mm film will help you create beautiful portraits in gorgeous lighting.
It is also commonly used in technical photography to reproduce images without imposing harsh contrast constraints. A gentle final look.
To understand more about the details above you can check out our film guide or if you want some inspiration then head over to our page on choosing your next film. And if you want the full details about the film, including technical information, read about Foma Retropan over on EMULSIVE.
Foma traces its origins back to Prague in 1919. They have remained in the Czech Rupublic ever since, working throughout the past century on different films, papers and chemicals for use by medical schools and the military - as well as ordinary photographers in Eastern Europe. Their black and white films are the result of decades of expertise - you will not be disappointed!
For more information about the brand check out our bio of Foma
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I started shooting this film at mine and my partner's wedding, figuring that the promise of softer images would work with the day, and then took it on some trips away around Scotland. Firstly, this roll was not developed with the recommended Foma developer for Retropan. It was shot at box speed and this created rather thin, very low contrast images. It seems to be a bit of a delicate film stock, perhaps just coated unevenly at manufacture as you can occasionally see the odd patch or kink in the emulsion. But despite this, it's a shame its no longer available in 35mm as I'd love to experiment some more with it, maybe shooting at 200 or 250 to try and get a bit more 'thickness' out of this film. Still, with the images I had, the dreamlike, quirky, grainy worked with some of my subjects and for the first time one of my images was picked up by a publisher for a future book cover, so it can't be all that bad a film stock! Tempted to give the 120 format stock of this odd film a go.
Shot on my decades old Pentax MZ-30 with stock 35-80mm lens, processed and scanned to TIFF by my usual choice of professional processor.
I shot a roll of Foma Repropan with my Contax 139 Quartz, and knowing from reading previous reviews that it's low contrast, I thought that, especially as it was quite a bright day, I'd use an Orange filter to both help with the light situation and to bring out the contrast a little. The results were that my negatives were quite nice....until I came to scan them! It appears that the emulsion must be quite fragile as, despite me dilligence with handling the film, most frames had some marks. I tried carefully cleaning the negatives, but the result was the same. Maybe(?) the film doesn't like being developed in HC110 B, I don't know...I've never shot it before. That said though, once I'd done a bit of work on the scans with Affinity Photo (something I'm only just starting out with) I managed to get some reasonable images.
Would I shoot it again? YES I would, but maybe try a different developer next time.
UPDATE:-. After speaking about the problem of badly marked negatives with a few other photographers, it appears there has been a bad batch of this film recently, as they had the exact same problem and Foma replaced their films. Hopefully my review hasn't put anyone off trying Retropan.
The Foma Retropan 320 is a nice film, for close ups that is. I really wouldn't recommend the film for landscapes. I found the film to sometimes be quite flat and lacking in contrast. Close up shots did however show better contrasts and tones than landscapes.
The film is recommended to be developed with a special Foma developer but I developed the film with Ilfosol 3, using the recommended developer may have given me different results. I may retry the film again one day with the recommended developer.
I would definitely reccomend this for some creative close up work, that soft and grainy detail works so well for that sort of thing. I found it not so great for landscape and portraits but I enjoyed shooting the spring bloom on it.
I'll start with saying that I'm a big fan of Foma. All the Fomapan films (100, 200 and 400) I've had great results from. And I'd been cautiously looking at Retropan for a while; I say 'cautiously' because I was interested in it even though it didn't sound like my kind of film. Low on contrast and can be very grainy? Nah - not for me. But I was still interested in giving it a go!
And the results were.... Yes, it is grainy. And it does lack in contrast.
I know....! I was warned!!
But apart from it doing what I was told it would do, I also found it inconsistent and a bit... weird. I quite liked it on some close up detail shots - the grain works nicely there. But for everything else I just can't see anything apart from the grain. For landscapes it loses everything - any subtleties are completely lost. And yet the tonality of the film (once I'd tweaked the shadows and highlights) is actually quite nice. But it seems to be different from frame to frame - and whatever a film is doing, I tend to like it to be consistent.
It looks like the film has been pushed. Which is fine - if you want a pushed grainy film then be my guest; that aesthetic can work very well. But I'm not entirely sure who this film is made for. It doesn't give a particularly 'retro' look; it's not good for landscape, and for grainy street photography I'd be more inclined to grab some Fomapan 100 and push it if I wanted more grain.
And yet I can't really mark it down too much as I do quite like the tonality. Maybe it just has a very specific purpose - as I said, I did like it on some detail shots. But I'd suggest trying it out before you do anything important with it.