One of the great things about shooting film is all the different films you can try, and all the different types of images they produce.
In reality though, a lot of the differences, particularly with black and white film, are often very subtle. Sure we talk about images having “lovely fine grain” and B&W films having “great dynamic range” but unless you’ve shot a lot of film, often the differences are barely noticeable.
Sometimes though you come across something completely distinct, and quite clearly different from your run of the mill films…..
And Washi film is one of those, no doubt about it!
We asked founder of Washi, Lomig, to tell us more about how his journey started......
“Washi started in 2012 as a labour of love. I thought I’d have a go at making some film, but I soon got some good feedback from friends who I gave some rolls to. They started asking me to make more for them, which was great. I even found a shop in Paris - where I lived - to distribute some of my films for me.
That encouraged me to think about doing this “for real” and in October 2013, I finally took the leap!
By 2015 I was effectively working two full time jobs - one in the film processing lab and another running Washi. So I decided it was time to move out of Paris to get some more room for Washi, throw in the towel at the processing lab, and go for it for real.
Four years on and I’ve not regretted it for a moment!”
Washi offer two main different types of film. One set are handcoated on Japanese paper. These give a totally unique look and feel to the images....
Another set are ‘converted’ films. Washi take factory produced films that are made for industrial purposes - CCTV cameras, X-Rays, and many more - and ‘hack’ them so they are useable in 35mm film cameras.
And it’s that creativity and fresh thinking that we absolutely bloody love.
We’ve listed all the different films here with a quick summary of what they are and what they produce:
“A” Film (ISO 12)
Yes, you read that right - ISO 12! Not sure we’ve seen anybody else offering that.
This is one of Washi’s ‘hacked’ films. It is a light sensitive leader film, from the movie industry, which was originally used for recording main title shots.
Great for being really creative with; long exposures, fast apertures, or both! It produces really high contrast and a very fine grain, given the level of detail the film was originally required to capture in its movie days.
“D” Film –(ISO 500)Another of the hacked films this one, taken from Soviet surveillance film used in old school military aerial recon missions.
Lots of contrast with this one, so again, good for being creative with but you’ll also get some good every day shots with this one.
“F” Film (ISO 100)This one began life as a film used for X rays, specifically used in Eastern Europe for diagnosing lung disease.
We’ll tell you more about this one when we review it....
“P” Film (ISO 100)
Deliberately lacking any ‘anti halation layers’ this film will produce ‘diffused’ images with that soft and dreamy feel. Great if retro looking portraits is your thing.
A handcoated film made using a good old fashioned polyester base, as used for lots of classic films from the early days of photography.
“S” Film (ISO 50)
A bargain entry into Washi film this one, at just £5 a roll. But boy does it perform well.
Originally used for recording sound, now it’s been converted into 35mm film it produces ridiculously high definition, loads of contrast, and a really nice fine grain.
We doubt you can find a better quality film for a fiver.
“V” Film (ISO 100)
This is our pick of the bunch. A totally unique handcrafted film backed with Japanese paper. This will produce images unlike any you’ve ever seen, and prints that filters on your phone could never match.
Definitely worth checking out this one, and get your prints nice and big we say, so you can appreciate the beauty of the texture they produce.
“W” Film (ISO 25)
The original Washi film - the acorn from which this fantastic range grew. Another using Japanese backing paper for that awesome textured look. The lower ISO than the V Film produces images with tonnes of contrast. Great for experimenting with or using on super sunny days.
“Z” Film (ISO 400)
Another well priced every day film this, with an ISO that will cover you in nearly all situations...
Owing to its origins as a film used for mapping vegetation from the air (yes, apparently that really is a thing!) it will produce great contract between subtle variations in shades of green. So unsurprisingly it produces great results for those who like to shoot landscapes, vegetation and macro in black and white.
As you’ll see from those links, the films start from £5 (bargain!) rising to the top end of the market at £13, and other prices in between. If you ask us though, what’s an extra £5 or so on a roll of film if you can produce images like these....
We’ve shot a roll of ‘F’ and will be reviewing it soon, so keep your eyes peeled. We’ve also got a roll of ‘S’ we’re planning to shoot over summer and we’ll share the results of that too.
If you want our advice, find yourself £15, pick up a couple of rolls and do something totally unique and wonderfully exciting…..
That is, after all, what film is all about!