After the recent fall of packfilm, some good news in the world of film photography!
Kodak is bringing back the venerable 3200 ISO black and white film… sort of. It doesn’t seem to be exactly the same film as the old version, but it should hopefully get similar results.
The new version of the film is called T-MAX P3200, with the ‘P’ in the name standing for ‘push.’ The film is technically 800 ISO. However, Kodak claims that it can be shot and developed at 3200 and even 6400 with good results. You can read more about the details on Kodak’s FAQ.
The original version of the film I shot at the ultra-high ISO of 3200, and created wonderfully grainy images. I used it quite a bit, and still have some old rolls lying around. It’s perfect for shooting in the dark with nothing but ambient environmental light.
When the original Kodak 3200 black and white film was taken off the market, I moved on to Ilford Delta 3200 black and white film, which is just as good (if not a little better, in my untested, totally subjective opinion). However, it’s always good to see a format return, and bodes well for the short-term survival of other Kodak 35mm films. Also, in my experience ultra-high ISO films tend to fade quickly and not store well, so it’s always good to be able to buy fresh packs of either Ilford or Kodak 3200 ISO film if one or the other is temporarily unavailable.
I always thought it was a strange choice for Kodak to discontinue 3200 ISO black and white film. The whole point of shooting film these days is to achieve a specific type of grain and look. Now that film is primarily for artistic purposes, I thought that ultra-grainy films like T-Max P3200 would outlast low-ISO films that once tried to compete with digital in terms of clarity. It’s far, far cheaper to shoot clean, low-grain images with digital, so when I go through the effort of using 35mm film, I love films like T-Max P3200 that really lean into the look.
Kodak is in a weird place these days. The company has split itself into multiple units, with something called Kodak Alaris acting as the entity that currently sells and distributes film. Kodak is looking a lot like Polaroid, as it sells its name off to be used on various trinkets that have nothing to do with the venerable company of old.
Fingers crossed, however, that this is a sign that my absolute favorite 35mm film, Portra 400, is going to continue sticking around. The new T-Max P3200 will go on sale this spring, and I’ll be sure to buy a pack and try it out.