Smooth grain, dramatic blacks, and high contrasts reminiscent of the film noir—this is the Fantôme Kino B&W 35 mm ISO 8 look. It's a low-ISO panchromatic film from our lineup that will make your photographs cinematic! If you're still curious, here are two photographers who shared their photos and experiences with the film.
Napoli-based consultant and street photographer Simone Scarano considers film photography as a creative outlet and a form of therapy. He says that he loves the process of shooting film and he's slowly trying to learn the craft, to connect with film photography's material and artistic sides. Style-wise, he likes to "lean into a serendipity-oriented approach when I shoot."
He tested the Fantôme Kino B&W 35 mm ISO 8 using a Minolta X-500 with an MD 50mm f1.7 and a cheap Hama tripod. We asked about the idea behind this photo series:
"I decided to shoot the roll with a specific project in mind to see if I could produce some cohesive body of work. Judging from the promotional images, I almost instantly thought “drama” and therefore one of my favorite quotes from Shakespeare “all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players”. I thought, then, all the objects around us are “props” so I decided to shoot these props whenever I find them in a dramatic light to discover if just a prop can convey some sort of emotion if found in the right light condition."
As for his experience with the film, here are his impressions:
"The low ISO rate has been a real challenge to me (in a good way) since I usually shoot handheld and at a fast pace in the streets. The experience has been refreshing, though, because it forced me to slow down and focus on light and composition. I loved the high contrast this film has and the drama it adds to the photo. I must be honest, I didn’t like the extreme curliness which made the home digitizing of the photos more difficult. I would pick it among other b&w films in case I needed that drama directly out of the camera, it’s not an “all-around” film stock but I think it’s not meant to be. The look it gives is peculiar and would be the deciding factor for specific projects/looks."
Among his favorite photos in this series, he chose the one featuring the reflection of just the camera and his hands. "That speaks a lot of me and my journey into photography. The high contrast of Fantôme just helps to convey the drama and passion that I constantly feel in this journey."
His advice to Fantôme Kino users?
"Just try it. Experiment with it. Take a look at the amazing photos a lot of talented photographers are taking with this film so you have a feel for it. Have fun, cause I did, a lot."
Nat is a 21-year-old queer photographer based in New York City. Currently, she's on her first semester at the esteemed Tisch School of Arts, after having moved from a broader liberal arts program at NYU. "This definitely isn’t how I envisioned my first semester at Tisch going, with COVID-19 going on and having all online classes, but I’m making the most of it. I’m honestly just really grateful and excited that I’m able to study here, and study something that I love!"
Aside from her studies, Nat also maintains YouTube channels and a Tiktok account, where she shares her journey and experimentations with analogue photography. She admits that not a lot of her friends shoot film, so creating videos for these platforms enable her to share her passion for film.
"I definitely feel some sort of duty to provide people with more resources about analogue photography—it’s sadly still a dying medium, even if it’s becoming more popular. Digital photography is something that almost everyone with a smartphone has access to, and I feel like because digital is the easier route, a lot of people just stick to that and never try the older, slower ways of taking photos. Especially in this fast-paced media consumption age that we live in, art forms like analogue photography are becoming less and less desirable—though I don’t think analogue photography is as “slow” as people make it out to be. Obviously, you have to put in more work to make an image, but there’s a reason for it, and film will pay you back for the extra time you put into it. I think a lot of people, especially my age, are starting to see that and are trying it more and more. Film is definitely on the rise, but I think it’s still important for analogue photographers to actively keep it alive."
We're curious about Nat's first impressions with Lomography film, so we asked her to test the Fantôme Kino B&W 35 mm ISO 8. Rated at ISO 8, the Fantôme Kino requires adequate lighting for best results. Nat waited for a bright sunny day and pushed the film to 25 ISO, which allowed her an extra stop and a half of latitude to work with.
"I ended up pushing it since my camera’s light meter can only go down to 25, and I was a little nervous about it if I’m being honest. (Funny enough I actually used a light meter app on my phone when shooting this, and failed to realize I could rate it at 8 ISO on there. Oops.) I had never shot a film with such a low ISO before, and I developed it using chemicals I had never used before either. Usually, I develop B&W films with a standard multi-step process, but I used Cinestill’s monobath to develop this roll instead, which I was a little apprehensive about. The mono bath simplifies the developing process of B&W by a lot, and I was worried that it would result in lower quality images, but I’m really glad that wasn’t the case. In development, instead of the standard 3 minutes, I developed it for 6 minutes at 85 degrees Fahrenheit. There were definitely a lot of firsts for me with this roll, but I’m super happy with how they came out."
"Fantôme 8 definitely stands out among all the B&W films that I’ve tried—it is incredibly dramatic and cinematic, mostly due to the very strong contrast the film has. The blacks are pure black and the white are pure white, leaving little room for gradients of grey like other B&W films. Though the film has such a harsh contrast it’s still very soft looking, which is surprising— but definitely one of my favorite things about it. It just gives your photos such a nice nostalgic and comforting feeling to them. The whites and highlights were really nice and hazy, and almost looked like they were glowing— I’ve never seen that sort of effect in any other B&W film."
"Another really great thing about shooting a low ISO film like Fantôme 8 is the low grain that you get in return for taking the extra time to shoot with it. The grain in this film is honestly unnoticeable, and I think that definitely added to the soft and dreamy effect I was talking about earlier. In some of the photos I took, where the negative space made up most of the photo, I was expecting grain to really show up there—but instead, it was so smooth that it looked like I painted over it. I really don’t have many complaints about the film, it was really refreshing to shoot such a different and fun film like Fantôme 8."
Now, shooting such a low iso film like the Fantôme Kino can be intimidating even for more experienced photographers. We asked Nat to share some advice to someone just starting out with film photography and looking to try out this emulsion.
"Honestly, I’d say don’t overthink it. 8 ISO sounds really intimidating, especially when paired next to the more standard films that are 200 and 400 ISO, but it’s not as hard as you may think. When you’re shooting with a film that has an ISO as low as 8, you just need to make sure you use it when you have a lot of light available. The lower the ISO, the less sensitive the film is to light, meaning that you need to give the film more light to get a good exposure. That probably sounds confusing, but it’s easier if we think about the inverse: higher ISO films are MORE sensitive to light, meaning it’s going to be able to capture and pick up on more light that’s in your setting. So if you’re using a higher ISO film like 800, which is very sensitive to light, you wouldn’t want to shoot it on a sunny day—you’d be more likely to overload the film with light and get an overexposed image. So now think of the opposite for low ISO films like Fantôme 8: since the film is not very sensitive to light, you want to give that film a lot of light to get a good exposure. It’s not able to pick up on as much light as higher ISO films, so if there’s only a little bit of light available, it’s not going to find it!"
"The next time you wake up and see that the weather is going to be pure sunny skies, grab this film and try it out. And if you’re really nervous about shooting an ISO that low, you can always rate it a bit higher like I did. Just tell your camera you’re shooting a 25 ISO film for example, and then tell your lab to push it in development to compensate. I’d also recommend shooting this film with a manual camera you can change the settings on, and to use a light meter. If your camera doesn’t have a light meter built-in, you can always use a free iphone app—which I do a lot. Overall, just have fun! Film is always the most fun when you get to experiment with new things."
Follow Natasha on Instagram to see more photos.