That Glow of Fomapan

One of the most frequent questions I get from other photographers is about my use of Fomapan film. I would argue it is probably the most mis-understood films out on the market. There is good reason for that. It seems to be widely available, relatively inexpensive, and yet there is very little technical information about it out there on the internet. As such, I've noticed a lot of people try it, hate it, and then bash it as a cheap alternative not worth the effort of giving it a try.

Foma is actually one of the older film manufacturers out there with a history dating back to about 1920. Today they make black and white film stocks, paper, and chemistry in a surprisingly wide variety of formats including 35mm, medium format, and sheet film. From what I understand, the film is manufactured in the Czech Republic. 

I'll readily admit that Foma film stocks take some practice. Unlike modern film types by Kodak and Ilford, Foma films flair easily, have grain the size of golf balls at times, and don't push process all that well. However, that doesn't make them bad by any means. In some ways I'd call this a strength. I like the old school look and the slight glow one gets around the highlights. It pairs well with the older lenses on my cameras like the Rolleiflex and screw mount Leica glass. If you are a fan of the old school look one gets with Kodak Tri-X, then you may just fall in love with Foma.

Again, I'll emphasize that the only real downside to Foma films is the lack of technical information out there. If you want to use it, you'll just have to experiment for yourself to find out what works. Published development times and film curves vary wildly. A lot of people don't want to make that kind of effort but over the long haul, I'd argue it's worth doing.