Chromogenic – Shooting Kodak BW400CN Professional For The First Time

Apartment Building Downtown, As Seen From The Library Walkway.

Apartment Building Downtown, As Seen From The Library Walkway. This is my favorite shot from the morning. The portal in the library walkway forms a virtual matted vignette.

I’ve always wanted to shoot Kodak BW400CN. It is Kodak’s C-41 black and white offering. Yes, you can bring it down to your CVS, Walgreens, or Costco, and have it developed just like you would Portra, or FujiColor. A lot of B&W purists over the years since Kodak’s introduction of chromogenic black and white films that can be processed at the lab have looked down on the film. Why, I don’t know. Choices are great for the film photographer- and choices are something we have less and less of these days, with Fuji discontinuing films every day, Kodak itself teetering towards economic ruin, and Ilford having its own problems over in Europe. To me, I am thankful this film is still around.

I won this roll from The Film Photography Podcast/Project, in a great film giveaway. Thank you, Mike Raso! You continue to be my source of inspiration in shooting film. This film is indeed available for purchase at It can also be found at your local CVS, in a pinch.

So, what’s it all about? With a box speed of ISO400, Kodak claims it to be the finest grain chromogenic film on the planet. This is likely the truth, as Kodachrome is no longer with us. Yes, Kodachrome also used the chromogenic process. Would it ever take the place of Tri-X, T-Max, Delta 100, FP4/HP5, and home developing of black and white? For me, no. However, the film has amazing contrast and tonality, and yes, is almost too sharp. Want your shadows and blacks as dark as can be? Want that Life Magazine look? You’ve got it. A few more examples-

The side of The Smokestack Urban Barbacue.

The side of The Smokestack Urban Barbecue.

The Lucky Dog Music Hall.

The Lucky Dog Music Hall.

The tonal range is mind blowing, Daddy-O!

The tonal range is mind-blowing, Daddy-O!

What does the Kodak Film iPhone app have to say about BW400CN? I’d say this is fairly accurate, with maybe the exception of the Quick Specs’ Contrast categorization. Medium?

image 2


From the Kodak Film iPhone app.

Of special note here- the camera used was the Nikon F2S, completely manual exposure, with the film shot at box speed. I rarely get out to shoot in the morning, but I pretty much finished the roll by 9AM. The lens was the 35mm f/2.8 Ai Nikkor. And, I used a simple UV filter. I did read online that some people shoot it with a yellow filter, although I’d guess this can also easily be rendered with yellow photo filter options in Adobe Photoshop. I used that for the grayscale conversion.

Wow. Another film to absolutely love. More choices, more looks. Fill up the fridge. box_bw400cn

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s