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Lomography recently announced two new low ISO black-and-white films: Fantome ISO 8 and Babylon ISO 13. Both films belong to their ‘Kino’ line, which has been created from cine film stock produced by a German company. These monochromatic films offer some of the lowest ISO on the market at the moment.
The slow speed means that they will produce negatives with very fine grain, but it also means it can be challenging to capture enough light for a proper exposure. With this in mind I loaded the test rolls into my Contax T2 and hoped that New York City would grant me some sunny September days.
Babylon ISO 13 is advertised as BW film that has a ‘high dynamic range’ and can capture very subtle gradient transitions. Fantom ISO 8 falls on the opposite side of the spectrum. This film is a high-contrast stock that renders images with super crushed shadows and bright highlights. It’s incredibly moody and the grain is very fine.
For the most part, my favorite frames from these two rolls were ones shot in bright conditions and with a flash. Frames that were captured later in the day or on overcast days just didn’t work as well. Like most of Lomography’s speciality film stocks, the Kino films aren’t necessarily for everyday use, but these black-and-white rolls do seem a little more versatile than some of Lomo’s speciality color films.
Babylon ISO 13 worked nicely for daytime portraits and urban architecture
I love the way that Fantome ISO 8 rendered urban architecture, skies and close-up detail shots. But I found it difficult to get shutter speeds fast enough for scenes with lots of subject movement. As expected, Babylon ISO 13 was a little more forgiving. It worked nicely for daytime portraits, urban architecture and the subtle gradient shifts within a frame are quite lovely.
Both films are definitely best shot with a camera that has automatic metering and a fast lens. Having a camera with a small flash can also be helpful. Lomography recommends that both are processed using D-96 or Kodak HC-110, something you will definitely want to keep in mind if you are dropping it off at a lab.
These low ISO Lomography films certainly aren’t going to be for everyone, and shooters should definitely expect more ‘misses’ than when they are shooting with a standard film stock. That said, I’m happy with the way my frames turned out and would definitely give these films another go. Next time I think I’ll save a roll for an aggressively sunny day at the beach though.