Kosmic Clean up – A one roll review of Kosmo Foto Mono

You might remember those nice folk at Analogue Wonderland sent me a box of 3 very different rolls of films recently. Amongst these is Kosmo Foto’s B&W film launched last year a 100 ISO Panchromatic number. So I loaded up into my trusty Nikon F55 and headed to the Solway coast with the weans to do our bit for the environment and to test out this film.

Dog v Tractor
Mersehead Reserve, Sept 2018. Nikon F55 with Nikkor 35-80mm 1:4-5.6 AF-D with Kosmo Foto Mono. K2 Yellow filter on.

The load out and destination

Mersehead was our destination one windy day on the Solway coast. This RSPB bird reserve is great for walks and watching the wildlife in the coastal area with both wetland and saltmarsh areas providing a haven for the birdlife. But wasn’t twitching we went for it was the autumn beach clearance. But as well as doing my bit for the environment I though it the perfect chance to try out Kosmo foto’s film.

The loading gear was my limited but reliable Nikon F55. I decided to pair it with a cheap nikon 28-80mm AF-D zoom and pushed things a bit by sticking on a K2 yellow. The film got shot at stock speed and sent to AG photolab for processing and medium level jpeg scan.

Yup I could have used my prime 50mm and dropped the filter but first I wanted to shoot with less than optimal gear and secondly its a sand beach. Sand in a cheap lens I can live with. My prime shall not pass !!! It’s also a roll on an assignment rather than doing something dull with test condition shooting.

Driftwood

Kosmo Foto Mono

Back to the film and the name. Kosmo Foto is the excellent film blog  created by Stephen Dowling. Arguably one of the better film blogs out there, Stephen started under the name Zorki Photo but when he wanted to launch his own film he ran into obvious trademark issues. 2017 was certainly the year of the film blog film with Japan Camera Hunter’s Streetpan 400 being another notable release.

Stephen indicated on his blog that Mono is made by a leading film manufacturer and is a tried and trusted emulsion. What is clear is that it’s a fresh emulsion not some rebadged expired stuff like lomo F400+. Most fingers point to Foma which is no bad thing as they do make quite good 100 stuff IMHO.

Beachcombing

What is new is the packaging. Stephen has arguably the most attractive boxing on the market with a retro soviet era box. The roll isn’t DX coded (another pointer to Foma) so be aware for more modern cameras. Luckily most (like my F55) default to 100 ISO if no DX code. One nice thing is on loading I got more than 36 shots.  If you don’t own a later Nikon that wont seem relevant but…. The F55 like several other models unwinds the roll on loading and shoots the film in reverse meaning. This means you don’t loose shots taken if open the back. The downside is you never seem to squeeze out an extra shot  as I get on other rolls. In fact often you’ll only load 35. So this was a boon.

Flora

Results

It is quite a nice 100 ISO B&W and certainly competent in use. Light conditions were complex. However the film seemed to have enough latitude to cope quite well with both highlight and shadows. It is a good balance of grain and contrast. From what I’ve read you can push more contrast in by shooting at 400 iso. Colour gradient seems pretty good to.

Given the withdrawal of Acros 100 and Ilford near dominance of the 100 ISO B&W market it’s great to have an alternative.

Stumped

Is it hugely different to Fomapan 100 ? In truth on one roll I can’t tell you. Also I’ve tended to shoot Fomapan 100 in medium format only. It doesn’t command that big a priced difference and you do get that fantastic box in any event. You’re also investing in choice.

Mono is available from those good folk at Analogue Wonderland. You’ll currently get a 5% discount on your first order if you sign up to their newsletter. You can of course buy it from other good retailers.

Treeline

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Kosmic Clean up – A one roll review of Kosmo Foto Mono”

  1. Am I missing something Al, why would someone just rebrand an exsiting and available film which then for them to pay for costs would make it more expensive than the original? Surely no one really cares about the packaging once the film is loaded in your camera, and it’s completely irrelevant once the film has been exposed and processed. I understand when people resurrect an old emulsion that hasn’t been available for a time, but I just don’t get how this one benefits anyone. Why not just buy some Fomapan which is presumably cheaper?

    1. There’s been a lot of debate about whether it’s a different emulsion or not. I couldn’t really call it as my use of Fomapan 100 has been confined to 120 to date and largely that’s been n more basic cameras (buying a secondhand hasselblad or rollei not quite in my price range). The fact the film has a Foma canister underneath doesn’t confirm it is just rebadged.

      Even if it is, I still think it’s a great thing for diversity. Different branding can help market penetration. Take a look at Boots the last high street purveyors of film in every good sized town. They don’t stock branded Fomapan but they do stock Lomography’s rebranded Foma. I can see Kosmic getting sold in quirky specialistshops. I also believe if successful it will give Stephen the encouragement to do something even more unique on the next film.

      Plus the box is to die for. I’m a sucker for nice looking things

      1. I agree with Dan on this. There is ample evidence that this is Fomapan 100, and the re-branding simply makes it £1 (36.5% in reality) more expensive than the original which can be purchased from AG Photographic.

        It is not a different film giving photographers a wider choice of emulsions to try. Where’s the added value of it coming in a pretty (different) box?

        1. I reckon that the extra quid helps to keep the Kosmo blog going, and that is a good thing.

          Anything that helps keep folk publishing and keeps the advertiser and the corporates at bay, gets my vote.

      2. Yep. I bought some purely for the box ad it looks great with my Zenith and Trabant. I shall use it during our car Club’s Cold War installation visits

      3. I guess film rebranding is nothing new – look at all the variations of Fuji and Kodak and Ferrania consumer colour negative that have been available over the years.

        I’m a fan of beautiful design, but from a tight fisted consumer perspective, I wouldn’t pay extra for it when the film in the canister is exactly the same as a cheaper canister with dull branding!

  2. I met a bloke from Harman/Ilford at the Kickstarter launch party for the Intrepid Enlarger on Friday night.

    I have just put my name down for the 4×5 camera and the new kit for £399, a bargain from a great British company.

    He claimed that even though there were somewhere around 120 different types of film on the market, there were only three firms actually making the stuff.

    He suggested that these are Kodak, Ilford and Lucky.

    I thought for a couple of seconds and retorted that he was perhaps over egging the pudding, but he wasn’t far off.

    I added Foma, who are definitely producing this Kosmo, I have peeled off the Kosmo label from the canister and Foma is printed onto that can.

    I then remembered Ferrania, who are very publicly writing about their restoration of the machinery at the factory in Italy.

    I later thought about Bergger, and the old Agfa facilities, the currently mothballed Fuji, which may yet reopen. I expect there are a few others.

    The message really is that any new entrant, whether they are keen re-badgers like Kosmo, or Ferrania who are firing up the old machinery again, are to be applauded…

    …But the real asset, is the people that insist on using this old tech, in the face of the digital rot model that is so loved by the big camera manufacturers.

    My favourite camera, amongst my selection of old bangers is my 1932 Leica iii, it still works as well as the day it left the factory, and it fits in my pocket… And the Elmar lens is still perfect for making wonderful pictures with whatever film I shove through it.

    All that is needed now, is a bit of compositional talent, I keep trying though!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.