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.
What you’re left with are perfectly acceptable, cheap, fine-grained negatives.
Hello quejai and welcome to APUG. Thanks for posting. Way to much to do or worry about for me to use this film, however, it contributed to my curiosity about this film.
Thank you for the thorough review of your experiences with this film! What developer did you use? I've waffled whether to try it out and still hesitate because I don't like 'surprises'. But it seems that you've figured out how to (more than) optimize your output from this film. I absolutely love the 1st image you posted. So, so beautiful!
Having shot nearly 50 rolls of the stuff myself, I have never experienced the issues you are posting. My only complaints are the curl, and the frame numbers are not easily seen in a red window of my Franka. I have shot it through my Mamiya C series and Yashica Mats(and D) with no issues (other than the curl). You are correct about the junk tape holding the rolls and they are a bugger to open, but all (so far) have tape at the end of the roll (which I never use on any film, opting for a rubber band instead) Processing and printing has been smooth and grain is no issue. I still have another 50+ rolls to shoot from my initial purchase. I just pulled a couple from the freezer to shoot in my Mamiyas.
“What is a master but a master student? And if that's true, then there's a responsibility on you to keep getting better and to explore avenues of your profession.”ť
Review - Shanghai GP3 120 black and white film
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I use GP3 as my main 120 film.
I've not experienced any "print through" problems or any "scum" either.
I get the occasional roll that hasn't been taped properly but it's so cheap I can live with that.
It does curl like a beeyatch though, which I do find extremely irritating
In D76 1:1 it's very smooth looking but lacks a bit of sharpness and contrast to my eye
Lovely in Rodinal 1:50, quite "punchy"
Caffenol, somewhere between the two (but also I've shot rolls at 80, 100 and 400 then developed in caffenol for the same time and got perfectly acceptable results)
If you want to shoot a lot of film but don't have much money, I'd recommend it. But I wouldn't use it if my living depended on the pictures I took.
Thanks, amac - I used D-76 1:1 at 14mins/20c.
Originally Posted by amac212
A mamiya 6 with the 50mm. Nice shots, by the way!
Originally Posted by rich815
A scan, the result of scanning negatives to a computer. Scams rarely are good for looking at, so I normally don't get confused.
Originally Posted by desertratt
I too find the curl irritating, but wanted to advise it is brilliant when used for b&w reversals due to the clear base.
Cheers - Andy C
16mm Cine, 35mm, 120, 5x4 & 7x5.