Shanghai GP3 (120, 100 iso) User-Review

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When googled, a few things immediately jump out: It's listed in the "worst film + developer archive" and you come across quotes like "For sure it is amazing, that such a cheap product gives negatives with a picture on it. I still would not bother to waste my time with it." (Georg Kern on photo.net) - this is definitely a film some people love to hate!

Manufactured in China by the SMPIC Photosensitive Materials Factory. At £16.14 for 10 rolls incl. shipping to Europe, this is possibly the cheapest fresh film available.

From the moment you take it out of the faded reddish foil package, this film screams cheap! There are no visible markings on the roll, and it’s held shut with a piece of masking tape.

Be careful when loading the film, as the frame numbers on the backing paper are extremely faint. A clean frame counter window and a light source are necessities. I always manage to forget about this, pop in the film, and wind and wind and wind until eventually I think “hey…”. Of course at that point it’s much too late and I have to find a dark place to pull the film out and rewind it again.

If you like to develop your own film, I’ve got more bad news for you: This film is so curly you won’t believe it, count on at least 5-10 minutes of swearing and mental hair-pulling before successfully loading the reel. It’s also extremely fragile when wet and scratches and chips easily. Another oddity is the complete lack of frame numbers on the developed negative, in fact the only marking of any kind is “SG PFF”.

The final result is an image with grain the size of small moons, but bucket loads of charm. It lends a moody, film noir quality to the subject matter – perfect for shooting pictures of the Eiffel Tower or afternoons of with coffee and cigarettes. An added bonus is the chocolaty sepia tone you get if you scan the negative in colour.

In the end, what I’m trying to say is this: Film is like people, you like it for its positive qualities, but grow to love it for its imperfections.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photographic_film#Companies_that_manufacture_photographic_film
http://photo.net/black-and-white-photo-film-processing-forum/00JzUN
http://www.apug.org/forums/archive/index.php/t-4761.html

written by eggzakly on 2009-06-12 in #reviews #grain #russian #etyud #german #denmark #black-and-white #rodinal #film-noir #shanghai #chinese #zeiss #nettar

9 Comments

  1. dirklancer
    dirklancer ·

    well-written!

  2. lomodirk
    lomodirk ·

    Nice view on that film. Thought of buying some rolls and now I`ll do it :)

  3. eyecon
    eyecon ·

    Funny that even the same object turns out in different colors.....

  4. stouf
    stouf ·

    Yeah ! Great review ! And it seems a good film for this price !

  5. eggzakly
    eggzakly ·

    Thanks guys! @eyecon: most black and white negatives have some kind of colour tone, but normally you scan the negative on a black and white setting, so the scanner ignores the colour information. I just saved colour versions of all the scans as well as the black and white versions, so I have two sets of pictures. That's how come the same object appears in both black and white and sepia.

  6. falsedigital
    falsedigital ·

    You know I've noticed that the numbers on my GP3 aren't as faint as people have been describing. I think maybe the company read all the complaints and started printing them bolder. I've never had any trouble seeing through through the red window.

  7. eggzakly
    eggzakly ·

    falsedigital I really hope that's the case! :)

  8. aleiakrepi
    aleiakrepi ·

    Interesting results you've got. I love to love this film. The grain is not as fine as Fujifilm Acros but rather slightly more visible. Far from little moons or similar. Sepia tone comes from what? I develop it in Ilford DD-X (1+4) for 14 minutes at 20C when exposed as ISO100. The tone is similar to any B&W film. Scanned on Epson Perfection V500 or Nikon Coolscan 9000. The later gives much more details, of course. Details being registered by Xenotar on Rolleiflex. A lot of film for small money. Been using this film for at least 3 years now and will continue to do so full speed. Just don't forget to carry elastic bands in your camera bag to tie the roll when finished :-) Getting it on the reel doesn't bother me. I guess, after 50 years of reeling all kinds of film in, gives me some edge...

  9. aaronmchidester
    aaronmchidester ·

    i just read this review, and i'm sad to tell you all, this film is what lomography uses for it's black & white film! they repackage it and sell it for more money. not too sure about the new earl grey and lady grey black & white films, but it's a good chance they're repackaged film from somewhere else too. just thought you all should know.

    and by the way, i love this film! i shot a roll in my Holga, one in my Diana F+, and one in my Zenza Bronica (which came out crazy sharp), and the film base cleared completely (and i do mean completely) when i fixed it for ~8-10 minutes.

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