Buildings on the Circle
Canon PowerShot S95

Film Photography

Goodbye Kodak BW400CN

Kodak has announced that it has ended production of BW400CN, a black-and-white film.

Film manufacturers keep shrinking their product lines because digital photography has all but collapsed demand. Only technophobes, certain pros, and hobbyists like me still shoot film. That’s enough to support some film production, but not on the scale of just five or ten years ago. I think it’s safe to say that I will write more film “Goodbye” posts in the next few years.

BW400CN’s appeal was that any drug store could develop it in an hour because it was processed just like color negative film. Traditional black-and-white films such as Tri-X and T-Max use a different processing method that the one-hour labs couldn’t do. You always had to send traditional black-and-white films to a pro lab or process it yourself. But now that almost all of the one-hour labs have disappeared, so has BW400CN’s main advantage.

That’s not to say that BW400CN wasn’t worth shooting for its own sake. I shot a roll two years ago in my Olympus OM-1 with its wonderful F. Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 lens. After removing a slight purple caste in Photoshop, the photos were contrasty with rich blacks. BW400CN has a look that the traditional black-and-white films can’t duplicate.

Peppy Grill on Kodak BW400CN

With that F. Zuiko lens, I got plenty of good detail on BW400CN. I love how every word is crisp in this view of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, which is on the circle in Downtown Indianapolis.

To Indiana's Silent Victors, on Kodak BW400CN

My neighborhood CVS Pharmacy processed this roll of Kodak BW400CN. If they had not removed their one-hour lab last year, I might have shot more of this film. Alas.

Here’s an instant film that ceased production recently.

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.