I Shot a Roll of Washi Film F (120 Prototype)
Sometimes I open up my stash of films and realise I have some undiscovered gems hiding in there. After almost one year of holidays, the other day I decided that it was time for my Mamiya 7 to come down the shelf and go out for a walk to the beach.
Next thing I was looking for was a film to shoot with. Had the choice between Fomapan 400 or a old roll of Cinestill 800 that has probably gone bad… Both not ideal to shoot at the beach at large aperture. That was until a forgotten roll with the letter “F” written on a piece of painter’s tape appeared in my hands… I knew this was coming from Washi as I also have a few of these alphabet marked rolls to try in 135.
Washi Film are mostly known for their paper based film V and W (that we tried here) but they also have a few other delicacies on their catalog. Today we are shooting a prototype of the Washi “F” in 120.
Table of Contents
Washi F is an ISO 100 black and white film that, for now, comes only in 135 rolls. Lomig, the founder of Washi, kindly sent me this test roll a while ago which I shamefully forgot about. The Washi F was initially used for X-ray imagery, mostly for lungs diseases. The “F” stands for “Fluographic” which was the type of film used for type of application. Not the most joyful things to do, but someone has to do the job…Hopefully it’s now getting a new life and can be used to shoot nicer things that sick lungs!
One of the characteristics of this film is its “glowing” effect which can remind of infrared B&W film. This is because it comes without anti-halation layer. This is layer is found on most photographic film to absorb the light reflected by backing paper in case of 120 film or camera inner elements. Removing the anti-halation layer results in the emergence of halos and create a dreamy effect that I find to work well to create soft portraits and diffuse light. According to Washi:
“the diffusion effect can change depending of the light conditions, it is also much stronger in 135 than in 120 format.”
The most obvious characteristics is indeed the glowing highlights which makes it look like it was overexposed. I find that it soften even more the out of focus background like on the picture right below.
While some informations are lost in highlights, mid-tones retain lots of fine and sharp details. We don’t have much shadows in this series to get a proper idea of how they look but there’s a fair amount of details in her hairs and that’s all I need.
It’s also a little more grainy than what you’d expect from an ISO100 film but when shot on a 6×7 negative, it’s not as visible as it would on 135 format because of the reduced enlargement factor. Grain
pixelpipers can visit this Flickr album to check the high resolution images.
Unlike the film V and W, processing is pretty straight forward and works with most common developers. In my case I developed it using Kodak HC-110 with dilution A for 4.30 minutes. More information can be found in the datasheet but basically you can follow the dilution and time of Ilford FP4 for unlisted developers.
You may see on a few images uneven development in some areas. This is because the test roll was a little too tall and must have curved when I load it on the developing reel. On some pictures, the developer couldn’t reach the surface and a few images were lost along the way. I realised that later when trying to mount the negative on the Epson V550 scanner film holder and saw that the negative was about 1mm too wide to fit in. I had to recut it by approximately 1mm just so it stayed flat in the holder. Unfortunately that was too late to save the undeveloped areas but I could get a few usable images anyway.
I brought that up to Lomig who explained me that the test roll was hand-cuted with scissor, so not as precisely as it would be for its already running production of other 120 format films like the Washi S. He’s considering making it available in 120 in the near future if there’s enough interest around it. I certainly would like to try it again in better condition so please, leave a comment below and help me motivating Lomig to bring the Washi F to our medium format cameras!
I leave below a few other shots from this roll that have suffered a little but it may give you a better idea of what you can expect from this film. I wish they were a little more presentable but that’s all I had left from this test roll.