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  1. #1

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    Review - Shanghai GP3 120 black and white film

    GP3 is the cheapest film you can buy new. It’s 100 ISO, in 120 format, and is B&W.
    It's good, especially for the price.




    On opening the box, which looks quite cool, the reel is inside a grey plastic wrap. Nowhere as easy to open as the ubiquitous Kodak or Fuji rolls, this takes some tack to split. When its open, you’ll find it has a bit of generic sticky tape stuck haphazardly in an attempt to stop the roll from unraveling, and you’ll need to peel this off before you can load your camera.

    Note: there isn’t tape at the other end of the reel, so you somehow need to stop it from unwinding when you’re done shooting. Some people carry around a pack of rubber bands with them for this purpose; however I just stick this tape to the inside of my camera (away from where it will contact the film when the back is closed) and peel it off before using that to seal the roll.

    Loading is the usual, however if your camera has a red window thing, be careful of over winding, because some people think the ink is too dark to see the numbers easily this way. After you’re used to it, this ceases to become a problem.
    Shooting: I did some tests, and the box speed of 100 ISO is quite accurate. However, I recommend overexposing slightly (to around 80 or 64 ISO) to capture shadow detail. It has quite a high latitude (usable images form within 12 to 800 ISO at least) so no worries if you don’t have a meter on your camera – you’ll get photos.

    Results: When I got my first results back, I was heartbroken, for two reasons. The film had so much fog (i.e. what was meant to be white on the negative was grey) in the form of what looked like a dirty surface thing. I tried to clean it off with various solvents, window cleaner, alcohol – nothing worked, except some started to dissolve the plastic base.
    The second issue is that on the first roll there were little circles and numbers, on every frame, that had been somehow imprinted on the film from the backing paper. This ruined all my photos, in that it was almost impossible to ignore.


    You can see here, compared to the first photo, the differences: circles, and huge grain.


    However, then I realized that I could prevent these issues. When I was washing my second roll of this film (the Ilford archival method), the water came out cloudy, each time I replaced the water. When I took the film out of the tank, I saw it was covered in a milky scum; I removed this with a sponge, and that roll of film had no issues with the fog, or with the numbers seeping through. This fog was also quite grainy; and thus this step will effectively reduce the size of the grain on scans!
    I predict, then, that the fog-and-numbers problem is that the paper backing leaves a deposit on the film, which, unless sponged off, dries; and interferes with scans of the film, producing bad results. Washing it off eliminates these problems.

    There is, however, one other issue with this film. Every now and then, on close inspection of a scan, you may find a tiny black ‘shape’ every now and then. These can easily be removed with photoshop, aperture, elements, etc.

    Attachment 63466

    What you’re left with are perfectly acceptable, cheap, fine-grained negatives.


  2. #11
    gorbas's Avatar
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    So, how much is average price of this film? Is there any other source than Xbay?

  3. #12
    Richard Sintchak (rich815)'s Avatar
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    Review - Shanghai GP3 120 black and white film

    I loaded up and brought back to the US around 200 rolls a couple years ago from Beijing for about 75 cents a roll. Last time I tried to get more when my father-in-law went back we were told its been discontinued and any found is simply remaining stock. That was about 9 months ago I think. Who knows if its true. Other than eBay or if you go to China not sure where else to find it.
    -----------------------

    "Well, my photos are actually much better than they look..."

    Richard S.
    Albany, CA (San Francisco bay area)

    My Flickr River of photographs
    http://flickriver.com/photos/rich815...r-interesting/

    My Photography Website
    http://www.lightshadowandtone.com

  4. #13
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    I seem to be the only person who hasn't experienced any of the problems mentioned here or on other photo sites. No curling whatsoever, no backing paper residue or print through and no violently blue dye coming out during development (a complaint mentioned on another thread).
    Overall, I don't mind it at all. I appreciate the time you took to review it, however, and also for posting examples. Thank you to rich815, also, for showing what this film is capable of

  5. #14
    Richard Sintchak (rich815)'s Avatar
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    Review - Shanghai GP3 120 black and white film

    I do get the curl, and the blue dye, sometimes some minor imperfections and artifacts, and even the numbers showing occasionally (but seemingly only when I use it in my Fuji 645 cameras), but its still a film capable of gorgeous results. Would not use for a paid gig but I pretty much shoot for myself anyway, at least rarely doing paid in advance stuff...
    -----------------------

    "Well, my photos are actually much better than they look..."

    Richard S.
    Albany, CA (San Francisco bay area)

    My Flickr River of photographs
    http://flickriver.com/photos/rich815...r-interesting/

    My Photography Website
    http://www.lightshadowandtone.com

  6. #15
    ambaker's Avatar
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    Review - Shanghai GP3 120 black and white film

    Quote Originally Posted by Molli View Post
    I seem to be the only person who hasn't experienced any of the problems mentioned here or on other photo sites. No curling whatsoever, no backing paper residue or print through and no violently blue dye coming out during development (a complaint mentioned on another thread).
    Overall, I don't mind it at all. I appreciate the time you took to review it, however, and also for posting examples. Thank you to rich815, also, for showing what this film is capable of
    Molli,

    What developer are you using? I've heard that some work better than others, for avoiding the curl. I've got 10 rolls waiting to be used here.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

  7. #16

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    Ah brilliant. This is a timely review for me.
    I have just got myself a mamiya rb system and ordered a first batch of shanghai (along side my fav Delta 100) for those. I shall be following the recommendations closely!

    cheers!

  8. #17
    RalphLambrecht's Avatar
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    remember, if you choose this today over high-quality ilford or kodak films, this may be the only film you can buy tomorrow. no way!i'm not going to touch it with a 10-foot pole.
    Regards

    Ralph W. Lambrecht
    www.darkroomagic.comrorrlambrec@ymail.com[/URL]
    www.waybeyondmonochrome.com

  9. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by RalphLambrecht View Post
    remember, if you choose this today over high-quality ilford or kodak films, this may be the only film you can buy tomorrow. no way!i'm not going to touch it with a 10-foot pole.
    Oh no, no. Not over the Ilford's definitely. I love the quality of the Deltas, they show the kind of contrast and detail that I typically love of B&W.
    However, one always needs something to experiment! Shanghai might very well be it.
    I think, therefore I am.

    "aham brahmasmi"

  10. #19

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    It seems a little extreme to suggest that we should actively avoid supporting one of the few remaining a film manufacturers.

    One could equally say that not buying Shanghai might lead to the demise of yet another film.
    Alternatively, increased sales might become an incentive to greater QA and QC on their part.

    In the meantime, it is nice to have a choice. And we are not all professional photographers

  11. #20
    dances_w_clouds's Avatar
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    The part about excessive curling is not evident in the rolls I have used (30ish). What I use is ID-11 @ 1-1 and the water I use here in Vancouver is quite soft so that might what is helping the flatness of the negs. As for the "scum" that is reported I just do a longer than normal with more agitations through the wash. One of great things about it it is a great practice film to use in between my usual Neopan Acros film and I did have several rolls that were printable. And with "free" shipping I always have this film in my freezer.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	1-Shanghai GP3 1-1 ID-11007.jpg 
Views:	68 
Size:	681.8 KB 
ID:	63625
    Last edited by dances_w_clouds; 02-03-2013 at 08:50 PM. Click to view previous post history.

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