Or, the beauty of black and white
I’ve been on something of a black-and-white kick recently. But more specifically, the gradual appearance of brighter weather finally allows me to use lower-ISO films. It’s often forgotten that back in the day the film for most of the cameras I use-old Soviet or East German cams in the main-was very restricted. Generally speaking, you could have any colour as long as it was black and white, and film speeds were very slow-what most behind the Iron Curtain considered the best of the bunch, East German Orwo film, was ISO 20 as standard from what I’ve seen, and Soviet films were in the same ball park. All these films gave photographs which now have a very distinctive look. Such slow film speeds impose real restraints in some ways but open up the possibilities in others. I’ve recently discovered Adox film, which has also traded under the Efke label, and is made in Croatia to a formula dating back to the 1940s. The result are photos with a very distinctive look that reproduce what one sometimes sees in classic old-school photojournalism.
The other joy of B&W is that Ilford make a huge range of wonderful films, and B&W in general of course also allows for easy home developing. I’ve never yet used an Ilford film which I didn’t like, but some of it is really exceptional
In pursuing my low-ISO vintage kick I’m now working through some Adox in 35mm through my Zenit B (of course many of the ‘classic’ lenses, like the Helios and the Tessar, would also have been designed when B&W was the norm, another interesting point to consider), and I’ve also bought some Ilford Pan F Plus 50, one of their lowest ISO films. I must admit I can’t wait to see the results.