Reviewing B&W/Monochrome Instant Film!

Hey everyone!

So for this month, we have decided to talk about taking black & white photos! With various black and white (B&W) / monochrome films in the market, we decided to display some of our more exciting captures and “review” its capabilities!

Fujifilm Instax Mini Monochrome Film

Released in October 2016, the Fujifilm Instax Monochrome film created a huge buzz, as the titular Instax colour film was the primary film of choice for instant film users for many, many years. We were equally excited when we heard about it and sought to try it out as soon as it came out. Since then, we have not looked back on this film medium.

One of the initial quirks of the film is that after it develops, it tends to turn a bit purplish. It was probably rectified in future batches, as it does not happen too frequently now. Below are some photos taken with the Mamiya RB67 coupled with a modified Instax Mini back:

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While the frame exposure is not full, the black borders add an element of imperfection.

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Using monochrome film with strong lighting is always something we look to. To see the dark and light contrast in a perfect line is always satisfying!

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One of the iconic outer facades of a HDB flat in Singapore, at Tampines Street 41!

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Another use for monochrome/B&W film is to bring a vintage, rustic feel to the shot. Here, the rusted lock and gate and the worn door  made it look like it could have been an abandoned house, when it really wasn’t.

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The monochrome/B&W film is also great for capturing the blue skies, as it turns into a notable greyish hue on the film.

With cameras that tend to produce sharper images, the Fujifilm Instax mini monochrome film provides great contrast that can be pleasing (or distracting) to the eyes.

Fujifilm Instax Wide Monochrome Film

About a year after the Instax Mini Monochrome film was released, Fujifilm released the Instax Wide monochrome film. The film’s emulsion is exactly the same as the Instax Mini Monochrome film, and it also initially turned slightly purplish after development, but current usage has not indicated such results since.

 

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As mentioned above, the monochrome film is great for taking the skies, especially when cloudy!

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A Singapore architectural icon, the former Pearl Bank apartment has since been bought over and is undergoing renovations.

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The strong sunlight provides a sharp contrast to the shadows behind the various objects.

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And of course, double exposure! B&W film is perfect (if not arguably more appropriate) due to the greyscale tones.

Polaroid Original B&W Film (600/SX-70)

The Polaroid Original B&W Film first started as the Impossible B&W Instant Film, before Impossible Project acquired the IP rights from Polaroid in 2017, rebranding itself as “Polaroid Original”.

The film harkens to the older days when Polaroid ruled the instant photography industry. With its iconic square exposure, the colours appear more realistic than the Fujifilm instax film. However, in Singapore, we have quite a humid weather and environment. Coupled with the heat, this meant that the B&W film often turns brown really quickly. The initial Impossible versions turned brown in mere minutes upon development, which presented a bit of an issue! Nowadays, the film doesn’t turn brown for several days (in the worst case scenario).

A suggestion for people living in countries similar to Singapore is to put the film in a ziplock bag with separate ice packs. This apparently helps to slow the development and improve the B&W colour retention. We actually have not tried this but we have seen others suggest this, so do let us know your thoughts if you have tried this!

As the colours are not as contrast-y as the Fujifilm instax film, the Polaroid B&W film does not really have that stark effect. Nevertheless, the film colour is closer to grayscale than the Fujifilm instax film. Check out some of our shots below:

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The former Capitol Theatre at Raffles Place, Singapore. You’d see that there is a very obvious black patch on the film (which is not caused by exterior shadows), which is apparently caused by some development defect in the film. In fact, we have seen this issue come up in more recent packs, whereby the entire film is clearly exposed properly, but the photo is too dark, as if it was underexposed. This remains an issue and appears to hit randomly.

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Shot with the Mamiya MUP coupled with a modified CB70 back (to shoot Polaroid film)!

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Elgin Bridge, near Singapore’s Parliament Building.

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Fujifilm FP-3000B (Peel-Apart Film)

A final entry in our feature post today, the Fujifilm FP-3000B film was first introduced in 1994 alongside the peel-apart film craze. Fujifilm’s foray into instant film arose at a time where Kodak and Polaroid were embroiled in a legal battle over Kodak’s Polaroid infringement. As Polaroid’s patents had expire by 1980s, Fujifilm was able to expand their manufacturing and development in instant film. It seems like they would never look back from this decision!

The Fujifilm peel-apart film has been discontinued, the last FP-100C versions being in mid-2016. It was quite difficult to get our hands on the FP-3000B, which were discontinued in end-2013. As such, our remaining film are very precious and we try to use them on special occasions only!

Our experience using the FP-3000B film has been limited, but we are somewhat more forgiving in terms of our expectations to the film, as the most recent models would have expired around 2013. Unexpectedly, the results have varied: some boxes are completely useless and no image shows up on the peel-apart film; in other boxes, the photos are simply stunning, as if they were never expired! Our better photos can be seen below:

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Taken in Queensland, Australia: The texture of the rushing waters was very evident and it felt like you could almost touch it on film!

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Long exposure of the city of Townsville, Australia.

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Long exposure of the CBD in Singapore. The streaks in the center are due to excess chemical being retained on the positive.

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Long exposure at Lower Pierce Reservoir, Singapore. The surface of the water reflects the night sky and the shadows on the ground.

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A water service station in the middle of the Lower Pierce Reservoir.

Through this review, we hope to cover some of the more common B&W instant film being used till this day! Of course, there remains other mediums such as the Polaroid Originals 8×10 film and the Polaroid Originals Spectra film. Other smaller outfits such as New55 and supersense have been trying (or have successfully tried) to revive long-discontinued instant film as well.

With all the different mediums available, it’s no wonder that each B&W film brings its own eccentricities and uniqueness to instant photography. As such, we try not to rely on only one medium, and seek to exercise our creativity with these different film! B&W film, in particular, can be appropriate in certain settings, and it certainly takes an eye with experience to know when to use it. We are by no means at that stage yet, but a good start is using B&W film during the “golden hour”, as there is more opportunity for sunlight and shadows.

Do feel free to share with us your experiences and B&W photos!

Till next time,

Damianwithsandra

 

 

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