Thursday, January 10, 2008

Fortepan 100

Forte were a Hungarian photo materials manufacturer, I say 'were' because as of last year (2007) they ceased trading.
So rather than this being a test of a going concerns product it will now be only of historical interest after the remaining stocks are used up.
I believe the Forte factory was originally built by Kodak as part of a European expansion program in the early 20th Century. I would imagine that after the war the plant now being in the Eastern Bloc meant that Forte were put under government control, but there doesn't seem to be much about this on the internet (I'll slot info in here as/if I find it).

I can only source the film in 120 Rolls and have no experience with the 35mm so this test was solely shot on 120.
I started by exposing at the box speed of 100ISO and developing the film for 10 mins in Rodinal at 1:50.
The resulting negatives looked pretty high in contrast, and a little low on shadow detail even for the bright lighting conditions.

Looking at the 100% crop, grain seems OK not as good as FP4, APX or Plus-x but acceptable.

You can tell that this film is old technology even compared to 1970's Kodak or Ilford emulsions, I would imagine that the film is similar to films from the 1940's or 50's which is not a bad thing if you want a slightly 'retro' look.
To be fair to this film it was very cheap, and I originally bought it to put in my 1930's Bessa for which it was perfect.
But if I were to use it in a modern camera I would rate it at EI50-64 and drop the development time by 20% (8 mins 1:50 in Rodinal) in order to cut the contrast and improve shadow detail.
I still have a few rolls left so possibly I'll add to this test my results with amended exposure and development times.
OK I've tried about 6-7 rolls of the Fortepan now and I have to say I really like it!
I bought the last 10 rolls from Retrophotographic although they still have some 400 left (at time of writing– Feb 08)
I think the settings that work for me are rating it at EI 64 then developing in Rodinal 1:50 for 8 ½ mins.
Here are some images:

I really a shame this film is no longer in production, try a roll while you can.

Images and text © Mark Antony Smith


Edward S. Isaacs said...

I have to admit, the grain and resolution from what I see here, warrants a try! :) Thanks for the valuable information.

Photo–Smith said...

Hello Edward
I hope you are well.
I think there is a fair amount of this Fortepan around in various guises Classic pan, Bergger are all Forte.
Remember I'm shooting medium format, so resolution is good on most films. What I like about the Forte (apart from the £1 per roll price) is the way it seems to give a slightly retro look, especially with older lenses (check out my Bessa blog entry).
Some folks on APUG have said that they have had coating problems (pin-holes) but I've found none of that so far (4 rolls).
Try it! as in a year or so it'll all be gone.

Gustav.Holmberg said...

I've shot a number of rolls of 35 mm Fortepan 400, developed in Rodinal. Very grainy.


Photo–Smith said...

Never tried it in 35mm Gustav but the 100 is OK in medium format, very similar in grain to top quality 400 ISO films.
I find it also to be very contrasty and sharp, almost like Pan F (but no-where near as fine grain)
At the moment I'm playing with EI and dev times in order to cut contrast, I have about 10 rolls that cost about £1 each

jojonas said...

I had stocked up a lot of rolls that I've now mostly shot up and I went trying to find more. sad to hear that they've stoped production.. the iso100 had a nice punch of contrast that worked well with my holga.
I've tried fortepan now but it's not the same.. might try some of that shangai lucky film, or what it's called? have you tried it? can be found in some toycam shops online like four corners dark or light leaks I think.