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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. #51
    alex gard's Avatar
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    I was running this through my Diana camera and thought that the circles/numbers coming up on the film was a result of the viewing window thingy on the back having a severe light leak or something .seems this is not the case! time to bust out the Diana once again I also ran a roll or two through my Hasselblad and did not encounter too much trouble with these numbers/circles (which lead me to believe the Diana had a light leak). If I was going for a washed out vintage/grainy kind of look I might go for this film. I still have a ton of it sitting in a box so maybe i'll give it another shot

  3. #52
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    These are visible even when shot thru mamiya rb - maybe not so visible in high contrast pictures. Just maybe

    Sent from Tap-a-talk

  4. #53

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    I just shot my first roll of GP3 in a Holga 120n, developed in Caffenol-C. Clearly, it's a cheap film, but that's why I got it. I actually look forward to getting to know it better. Example shot here.

  5. #54

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    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.

    I am a bit puzzled here. Are you developing with the backing paper attached or is the backing paper leving deposit before you even unpack it?

    Nice scans, i like what I see!

  6. #55

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    @mnystedt

    Did you experians annything like quejai (film covered in a milky scum) when devolping?

    Did annybody else have problems developing?

  7. #56
    Griff's Avatar
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    Ive been using this film for a couple of years now, I pre-wash with 20c water, and get the blue/purple colour coming out, then I use R09 and fix AG plus, no stop bath, just two rinses between dev & fix at the recomended times for Rollei 100, at 1-50. never ever had any scum on the film, or numbers/circles showing through, it does seem to curl excessively though. had some excellent results in a Bronica etrsi, also in a Bencini Coroll, A king penguin, and an old french box camera.
    for anyone considering this film, I would say its so cheap, just give it a go, what have you got to lose.

  8. #57
    Richard Sintchak (rich815)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Griff View Post
    Ive been using this film for a couple of years now, I pre-wash with 20c water, and get the blue/purple colour coming out, then I use R09 and fix AG plus, no stop bath, just two rinses between dev & fix at the recomended times for Rollei 100, at 1-50. never ever had any scum on the film, or numbers/circles showing through, it does seem to curl excessively though. had some excellent results in a Bronica etrsi, also in a Bencini Coroll, A king penguin, and an old french box camera.
    for anyone considering this film, I would say its so cheap, just give it a go, what have you got to lose.
    Ever used any of it expired?
    -----------------------

    "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/

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  9. #58
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    I havent used any expired GP3, but only because I usually have used it long before it expires, but I dont see any reason why it wouldnt work OK if its been stored properly, I find the main problem with it is the markings on the paper backing, crap to say the least, you can hardly see it through the red window. Thats why I mostly use my bronica cos it does it for you

  10. #59

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    Re: Shanghai GP3

    I have used seventy rols of the stuf over the past five years. Never trusted it for anything of importance.
    It works out at about three UK pounds a roll wheras Ilford FP4/Fuji Acros/Kodak T Max 100 is around five or six pounds.
    Of course the otther three films are waay better. Use those for important work.
    But when you are messing around with a Holga, a Diana or another old bargain basement 120 roll camera then Shanghai GP3 is the film to use.
    The source is usually from ebay.


    When you get the film the expiry date is usually no more than two years away.
    Why could this be?
    The film does now come in a foil/plastic wrap. It used to be a paper bag.

    The backing paper is poor stuff imprinted with frame numbers in white ink that got diluted with a few tubs of water.
    With a red window camera you need to concentrate sometimes to see the first frame appear, especially if the light is poor.
    The inside surface of the paper is not glazed to make it moisture resistant. I believe that this is the problem where the imprinting of frame number markings comes from: There is a chemical interaction between ink & paper if the film is subject to too much humidity.
    The imprint is not just the ink marks but also the structure of the paper. This is what I found when I used some expired GP3.
    If you use GP3 then get it as fresh as possible and use it quickly. It may also be that if the backing paper is not of a good grade there may be chemical residue from the paper manufacture. It could explain why you get the impression of the paper all over the surface of the film and not just the marks of the ink framing marks.
    To my way of thinking SMPIC are aware of the film's problems and that is why the expiry date is usually about two years off at best.

    When it comes to developing I have mainly used Rodinal dil 1:50 or 1:100 stand dev or D76
    The film itself seems to be prone to emulsion defects & I would advise to treat the film very delicately when it comes to drying it.
    However 'nice' you are the fiilm still seems to curl like a spring. It is a pain in the arse when it comes to scanning the stuff or printing.

    BTW: When we are talking about "frame numbers" I am referring to the numbers on the backing paper that ought not to get transferred to the negative.
    Films usually have edge numbers to denote the frame number. All you will find on the edge of GP3 is "SMPIC", which is the factory name.

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