I guess lots of film photographers look down their nose at ISO 200 film. Get off the fence, they say: go ISO 100 for best sharpness in daylight and ISO 400 for low light. 200 is the ISO of uncertainty and compromise.
After having shot miles of inexpensive, highly available Fujicolor 200, I don’t understand the bias. There are absolutely times when ISO 100 or 400 is a great choice, but ISO 200 has delivered fine results for me time and time again.
I’ve been searching for an inexpensive everyday black-and-white film for a long time, and lately have been trying the Foma films. I tried Fomapan 100 first and liked it okay. Then recently I put a roll of Fomapan 200 through my Nikon F3 with my 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor lens attached
Lookit, lookit! Sharpness, clarity, detail, and a wide range of tones!! And glory be, it’s an ISO 200 film.
I was mistaken in my Fomapan 100 review that all Foma films use classic grain structures, because Fomapan 200 is a tabular-grain film. Yet somehow, under some circumstances, it takes on a classic grainy look. The city shot above is sharp and clear, while my portrait of Margaret below shows a little of that wonderful classic grain. How does this film do it?!!?
I shot most of this roll on photowalks with Margaret, including one to the war memorials downtown. Ever had a day when you couldn’t get a bad shot if you tried?
We also walked through the cemetery near my house. I just love the tones in this shot. I also got a lot of good sky with the Fomapan 200 despite not using a yellow or orange filter.
I’ve shot the cemetery’s Liberty bell replica over and over and never get tired of it as a subject. The Fomapan 200 resolved it well. I shot this whole roll at ISO 200, but Foma claims that this film can be shot anywhere from 100 to 800 without changing anything about how the film needs to be developed. That would make this film hugely versatile, and I’m eager to try pushing it to the max when the light is low.
Here’s the housing for that Liberty bell replica, with some glorious sky backing it. I got this film on sale at Amazon and paid south of $4 for a 36-exposure roll. Freestyle Photo rebrands it as Arista.EDU 200 and sells 35mm 24-exposure rolls every day for $3.39, and 36-exposure rolls for $3.89.
Black-and-white film prices just don’t get lower than that. And this film’s value-to-price ratio is super high. Just look at how this stuff resolves detail!
All of my gushing aside, the one criticism I’ve encountered around the Internet about Foma films is possibly iffy quality control. I’ve shot exactly two rolls of the stuff, both trouble free. That’s hardly a statistically significant sample, so all I can say is so far, so good.
I’m stocking up. Unless persistent quality issues crop up, I believe I’ve found my everyday black-and-white film.
Last updated on 19 March 2020 by Jim Grey