Ferrania P30 Alpha

I think all of us who use film regularly are delighted when not only does a new (old) film hit the marketplace but an old/new company returns with it. To a degree I think that we photographers are a friendly lot, who like to support each other and in that vein I ordered 3 rolls of Ferrania P30 (Alpha).

Ferrania is/was an old company with a fascinating history dating back to 1880’s within an Italian chemical company mainly producing explosives. In 1923 however a small spin off company was formed, partly owned by the French Pathe Brothers, Ferrania film proper was born.

In it’s heyday it manufactured many films, most famously it’s P30, which was mainly used in movie film productions, and a favourite stock of Pasolini and DeSica. They made some other interesting films too including a 1000asa E6 Slide film. I remember trying a roll of this, in the 80’s I think, and I have to say it was pretty awful and I never brought more – “before it’s time” would be the kind way of saying it I think!

After a chequered history, which included being swallowed by the giant 3M Scotch company, Ferrania ceased manufacturing film in 2009/10 and the last building was shut down in 2010. Fast forward a couple of years and a Kickstarter campaign, and new company FILM Ferrania SRL, was formed and purchased the production line and a lot of the machines. Sadly they were beset with problems, and years late, they announced the B/W P30 (re-release) in place of the expected E6 film. I have to say I would have been, and remain, more interested in the possibility of an E6 movie stock in either super8 or 16mm than another B/W film, however you have to try these things! Since Kodak have re-issued their Ektachrome 100, which changes the field a little.

They have their own web site/shop, and there is much on the net to read should you feel the need. So what was the film like I hear you say!

The Box of P30 Alpha

I will start by saying that this was an ALPHA film, meaning it was “in development” rather than a finalized product. So it would be un-fair to conclude anything without trying at least one more roll of the later product – however this is my result from ALPHA.

It is a film that has a higher content of silver, and it was this that made it interesting. The first roll I tried was either underexposed or underdeveloped, either was my error. The second roll I tried was much better, I guess I was concentrating more. The last roll, was the best. All three were developed in Ilford Ilfosol, my usual B/W developer, and I followed several threads of guidance from the net and came up with my own conclusion for timing, which from memory was 8 mins and 20 c, and fixed in the usual way. My main disappointment was how much contrast it has. I like a good black and white with both rich blacks and also bright whites, it’s the gradual tones in the middle that seem to be a bit lacking here. I am sure that with more practice, experimentation, and study I could do better. The trouble is, relatively speaking it’s more expensive than FP4 and I always get good constant results from that!

Poole Quay, Dorset. Ferrania P30 Alpha.
Stars and Stripes Helmet. Ferrania P30 Alpha.
Left Foot. Ferrania P30 Alpha.

It seems to suit quite graphic images, hence my choice above, would I use it again? Yes, I think it would be interesting in snow scenes, with it’s high contrast, but I’d limit myself to graphic shots. Would I bother to personally import the film from Italy and pay more than Ilford Delta – probably not. I wish the company well, and I wish them success with their E6. Would I buy “Ferrania Super 8 E6” you bet!

Let me know what you think! Have you tried it??

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