Shanghai GP3 120 Film (ISO/ASA 100): A Review


This film has to be the absolute cheapest black and white on the market. There is good reason for this, it's terrible.

Credits: adam_g2000

On the plus side, this film makes 120 B&W photography very cheap, it can be great for testing cameras for light leaks and flaws as if you waste film, then it’s unimportant. The grain is ok, pretty good in fact. Pictures are nice and sharp if you develop it well.

Nice grain, I developed it well (in summer where you can control temperatures better).

Unfortunately the negatives for me outweigh the positives. Compare it to Ilford, or Kodak, or even Ultrafine films, and it sits very much at the bottom of the pile.

It isn’t tolerant of variations in development. Everyone makes mistakes occasionally and my temperatures varied by about a degree, two max when I developed the roll below. Any of the other films I use would tolerate this and still give me superb results, however this film reticulated beyond anything I’ve ever seen. So if you want to use it your process must be flawless.

That isn’t grain, it’s reticulation… Oh and look at the dots from the backing paper!

I realise many of you don’t self develop, so this may be immaterial to you, but this film curls. It’s like a tightly wound spring. From the minute you remove it from your developing reel to the time you try to scan it, it bounced around all over the place, like trying to wrestle a snake. This is a disaster waiting to happen, you are going to drop it at some point, getting it dusty and scratched. Fine if that’s the look you want, but I’d rather the camera speak for itself. It’s the flaws in the cameras I like, not technical fubs in the substrate of a film. And just wait until you scan, loading it into the scanner holder is like trying to put a cat in a cage for a trip to the vet.

And lastly, the worst crime of all is the backing paper. Every single time I shoot this, no matter which camera I use, without garnering light leaks you are guaranteed impressions of the design of the backing paper in your images. Every, single, time.

Credits: adam_g2000

“But Lomography is all about the randomness, don’t think – just shoot!”, I hear you cry. This film isn’t random. It’s rubbish.

written by adam_g2000 on 2012-08-30 in #reviews #black-and-white #grain #asa #self-developed #shanghai #100-iso #develop #reticulation


  1. chetsellars
    chetsellars ·

    One man's trash, you know? For me, this film would be a blast (if I shot 120)l, but I see why you don't like it. What camera were you using?

  2. adam_g2000
    adam_g2000 ·

    @chetsellars no man, poop is poop, no man's treasure (unless you rent portaloos). I bought 5 rolls and have used it in a couple of Lubitels a Diana and a Holga. it's rubbish.

  3. adam_g2000
    adam_g2000 ·

    @chetsellars though if the manufacturers are listening, all it takes is to sort out the backing paper, put the same protection in as other films have instead of just back paper, and sort out the curling and it would be ok.

  4. brandkow93
    brandkow93 ·

    This film is fine for what it is, its a cheap everyday film, of course your gonna get crap results out of a holga or a diana they have plastic meniscus lens, i have shot this film in a Kiev 60 and it gave great results. Also you cant really compare this film to ilford or kodak as they cost around 3 times the price. I've found the best way to tame this film is to develop it in rodinal 1:150 for 1 hour with 2 agitations at 30 minutes. If your looking for a better cheap film then try my two films of choice fomapan 100 and lucky shd 100.

  5. trincheiras
    trincheiras ·

    i've come across this pearl :) i like the randomness of results but i agree with you... its very bad :) never to be bought again! lol

  6. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    "Like trying to wrestle a snake", Great simile! I had to press the negatives with heavy books a few hours before scanning the GP3 trying to flatten the curl. I think I still may have a few more rolls of this to shoot. I will not buy it again and rather spend the money on some Ilford or Efke.

  7. brandkow93
    brandkow93 ·

    @neanderthalis better do that quick seen as Efke have stopped producing film.

  8. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    @brandkow93 I just read that somewhere else a few minutes ago. I like using their 25 & 50 iso in my pinhole cameras. Time to look for alternatives...

  9. adam_g2000
    adam_g2000 ·

    @neanderthalis & @brandkow93 you could try 'pulling' some shanghai? ;) Couldn't help myself - though in all seriousness you can pull Ilford FP4 to 50 iso. Probably even 25 - those Ilford films seem to be almost bulletproof.

  10. brandkow93
    brandkow93 ·

    @neanderthalis I only ever used there 127 format stuff and loved it, The obvious alternative is Adox CHS 25 and 50 available in both 120 and 35mm if your uk based heres a good site they are lovely films just becareful when developing they have a delicate emulsion, heres a shot on my flickr using the CHS 50 in a kiev 60…

  11. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    @brandkow93 in the article I was reading, Adox is connected to Efke manufacturing. If so, it will be in serious jeopardy. I just picked up some Adox in Los Angeles and was told by the shopkeeper that the negatives were delicate. He suggested using a "hard fixer". Does that sound correct? I do not process my own film so I need to discuss this with my local developer.

  12. brandkow93
    brandkow93 ·

    @neanderthalis Ohhh yeah crap i forgot that, im hopeing it is just the brand Efke that is being stop and not the company shutting down.. Sounds right, though im sure any fixer will work ok, i just used a normal fixer. And just tell your developer the emulsion is very delicate and im sure they will take care of it.

  13. brandkow93
    brandkow93 ·

    I have 3 fantastic analogue for sale check the listings kiev 4 with 3 lenses…)1400wt_1183 Lubitel 2…)_871wt_1170 and Minolta X-700 with amazing 50mm 1.4…)_1633wt_932

  14. contaflex4
    contaflex4 ·

    GP3 is great film. OK, the curl can be a bit of a nuisance, but it can deliver almost grain-free, beautifully toned, sharp negatives. I get good results by semi-stand developing it in 510-Pyro diluted 1:300 for 60-70 minutes, agitating three inversions every ten minutes. Here's an example from my Flickr photostream I've never experienced frame number print through or backing paper shading either.

  15. horacekenneth
    horacekenneth ·

    just read on apug that the image left from the backing is very easy to remove during your washing process with a sponge

  16. adam_g2000
    adam_g2000 ·

    @horacekenneth really? That's fantastic news as it would really make a difference to the usefulness of this film? Can you post the link here please?

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