FUJI ACROS II – FILM REVIEW
For quite a while it seemed the only news in the film world was the demise of another much loved film stock – and even with the increase of use and reemerging popularity of film, Fuji announced (to the resulting disturbing scream in the photo community force), the discontinuation of the beloved Fuji Acros black and white film.
It was a film my Dad loved, he tended to shot a lot with Fuji stocks like Pro400h, Veliva and the original Acros. So was I really disappointed to not get a chance to shoot with it now I was getting back into film.
But our collective sighs of sadness was soon met with celebration when Fuji announced they were going to reintroduce a new version of Acros, the Fuji Acros II. However, the announcement was hit with controversy with the news that the film was not being produced by Fuji in Japan, but by Ilford in England. (Such a rollercoaster of filmy emotions!) Ilford have since confirmed its not based on one of their existing films, but a totally new development, which is good enough for me!
So I purchased a number of 35mm and 120 medium format rolls and though it would be fun to try out with a few different cameras to see if I liked the results with different set ups and if this new version would become a staple in my bag.
The cameras I tested the film on are the following:
- Leica MP with the latest 35mm Summilux f/1.4 FLE
- Fuji TX-1 (Xpan) with the 45mm Lens
- Mamiya RZ67 with the 110mm f/2.8 lens
- Hasselblad 503cw with the 80mm f/2.8 CF T* lens (orange filter)
All the film was developed at home with Ilford Ilfotec DDX at the box speed and using the online mega chart developing times. I scanned them on my Epson v850 pro scanner and did some very minor adjustments in Lightroom to clean up dust etc.
Fuji Acros II is a really excellent black and white film. It is known to excel in two key areas, grain and long exposures. Overall, the film is very low grain, it has a lower rating than Kodak’s TMAX and Ilford Delta 100, and in medium format, it’s very smooth for a 100 ASA black and white film.
Of course, the appearance of grain and influenced by exposure, developing and post-processing, but overall the grain is very fine. I tend to like to see some grain, it’s why I like film, so some of my images might be a little more grainy that what you might achieve.
The second feature is long exposure. This is something I have not done a lot of yet, but Fuji Acros and Acros II is very good at exposing under very low levels of light. Many films require, at a certain point of shutter time, a longer exposure than what your light meter may suggest. For example, a 10 second exposure might need 15 or 20 seconds because the film responds more slowly to light the longer the exposure. Fuji recommend 1/2 a stop of extra exposure for shutter speeds between 2-16 minutes, whereas most other films require 1-3 stops, or more.
There are a number of sites shooting the original VS new film side-by-side, which is not something I find interesting to do, but it certainly confirms my findings, that this film is slightly more contrasty than the original, especially in the midtones and shadows that are darker and richer. It’s something you really need to keep an eye on when metering as I find the shadow detail can be lost quite quickly.
You may have noticed most of my images are more landscapes rather than city / street photos which I normally love to take too. But with the spread of Corona here in California, my wife and I are hiding out in our cabin. I really look forward to taking more street photos with this film which I think it will be very well suited.
But I must admit, I like this film a lot. When converting digital images to Monochrom, I tend to go quite contrasty and rich in the blacks. This film, especially with an orange filter that I tried on the Hasselblad, delivers this in spades and really gives me the high contrast look I love with digital black and white, but still with a grain and feeling in how it responds to light that is different to achieve in digital files. I really look forward to shooting more of this film in different settings.