Wabash St.

When it comes to black-and-white photography, I hew to the classics. Lately I’ve enjoyed Ilford’s FP4 Plus for its rich tones. When I want something faster, it’s a tossup between Kodak T-Max 400 and Ilford HP5 Plus. But I am also a deeply curious man. When I heard about Film Washi, a one-man film company from France, I wanted to try its films.


I’ve already shot a roll of Film Washi S, and here I’ve shot a roll of Film Washi D. Analogue Wonderland sent me both rolls in exchange for these mentions. Their Film Washi stocks vary with time; check here to see what they have available now. Or choose from any of the over 200 other films they keep in stock.

I loaded the Film Washi D into my Olympus XA and brought it on a weekend trip to Chicago with my wife. It was early January, cold and gloomy. Who knows whether this was the best light to test this ISO 500 film, but that’s what I threw at it.

Cafe view

Like so many boutique films, Film Washi D loves contrasty scenes. I knew this going in, because I read up about it on Film Washi’s site first. I learned my lesson after not doing that with the roll of Film Washi S I shot last year. Turns out this film was originally used for aerial surveillance and cartography. Strong contrast is likely useful in that application.


I had a devil-may-care attitude as I shot this roll. “I wonder if this film can handle this light,” I kept wondering. It kept saying yes. I’m especially pleased with how it captured the iconic sign of the Berghoff Restaurant.

The Berghoff, Chicago

We had tickets to see the new production of The Phantom of the Opera; this was the marquee. (I’d never seen the show in any form before. The production was first rate, but I was surprised to find I don’t like the story.)

Phantom of the Opera at the Cadillac Palace Theatre

There was a dull muddiness to all of these photos as scanned. I shouldn’t be surprised — the negatives were incredibly thin. I shot at the box speed of 500, but I wonder now if I should have shot at half that. Or perhaps my lab didn’t know what to do with this film and underdeveloped it. I opened these images in Photoshop’s RAW editor and used the Black and Dehaze sliders to tame the muddiness. Sometimes it wouldn’t be fully tamed without losing all the shadow detail. I had to stop short of that in the photo below.

The Loop, Chicago

Skies were overcast all weekend, creating diffuse, even light. But there wasn’t always enough light for Film Washi D to pull detail out of the shadows.

Umbrella Men

Not knowing this about the film yet, I lucked into using it to good effect here.

Shadowy Tower

But give Film Washi D some blacks and some whites to play with, and it brings them home with aplomb.

Painted rhino

If I had this roll to shoot over again, I would have shot nothing but street with it. I made exactly one street image, this one, shot from my hip. I thought there was something interesting in this lone woman at the end of this line of chairs, and I was right. The Film Washi D captured a reasonable range of tones.


The woman spied me with my camera, even though it was at my hip, and shouted obscenities at me. She was most unhappy about being my subject. So here you go, lady: you’re immortalized on the Internet.

Many thanks to Analogue Wonderland for the chance to try Film Washi D and give it this one-roll review.

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17 responses to “Shooting Film Washi D”

  1. Lone Primate Avatar
    Lone Primate

    Man, Jim, you’ve really, really got an eye for B&W photography, particularly the composition of contrast. I recently snagged the Time/Life photography books from the early 1970s,and the work you have here would easily have found a home there. Fire up your TARDIS. :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Well hello old friend. Surely good to see you once again. Thank you — I had no experience with this film so I just shot and waited to see what turned out. As you can see, things turned out all right.

  2. Dan James Avatar

    Very contrasty indeed, almost like Moriyama! Don’t think I recall any black and whites like this from you Jim, they usually show a much wider and more subtle range of tones.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Normally I’m not a fan of big contrast like this. I like seeing the range of tones. But when someone gives me a roll of film to play with it’s easy to just experiment and see what happens!

  3. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    Dark, gritty and foreboding. Very moody of you.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      So it turned out! I had no idea what I’d get.

  4. Andy Karlson Avatar
    Andy Karlson

    That shot of the Berghoff sign is a stunner!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It did turn out all right, didn’t it.

  5. seatacphoto1951 Avatar

    Is there a reason you did not develop the film?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m not yet confident enough in my skill to develop a roll that really matters.

  6. Sam Avatar

    Great results Jim! Fantastic deep tones!!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Sam! These were fun results to see.

  7. roykarlsvik Avatar

    Oh, I really love it! But at the same time it really seems it’s something for the right occasion and not for every subject and everyday use. I really liked these however, and is a bit curious if the muddiness on the negs comes from wrong development or a bit optimistic ISO notation. Anyway I’d like to try it one day for sure. I have been thinking about getting a few rolls of Washi lately, so I need to do something about it one day :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Roy, nice to see you around here again. I think you’re right — either the developing wasn’t right, or the film’s ISO isn’t exactly 500. I don’t know after just one roll what this film’s best use really is, but it was fun to shoot the roll anyway.

  8. analogphotobug Avatar

    I’ve used the Washi-Z film. Need to post some more examples: https://myvintagecameras.blogspot.com/search?q=washi

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I didn’t know about your other blog! I added it to my reader. I shot one roll of the Z and it was waaaaaay too contrasty for me.

  9. […] without a filter? I don’t know that roll is the one that I lost. But if you check out my good friend Jim Grey, he shot Washi D without a filter in my favourite American city. Will I shot with Washi D again, […]

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