Film Review: Fomapan R

Black and white reversal film are words you don’t see often but that is exactly what is written on the box of Fomapan R. One of only 2 monochrome slide films (the other being Adox Scala) for still photography, Fomapan R has its roots in the motion picture industry. The pretty cool looking package design plus the curiosity of black and white transparencies were more than enough for me to want to pop a roll in my soul stealer and czech it out.

Background History

Fomapan R is a panchromatic sensitized black-and-white reversal film intended for for black-and-white movies to be projected as well as still photography. It is coated on a very clear base for maximum brightness on projection. The film is supplied in 35mm 36 exposure cassettes, 8mm standard 8, & 16mm in 100 foot rolls on daylight-loading spools.

The spectral sensitization of Fomapan R is designed for to true transfer color tones into the gray scale when exposed in daylight, and simultaneously to make full use of the film speed when exposed in artificial light. It is coated on an extra clear acetate base, with no grey anti-halation backing. Due to a very efficient anti-halation layer, situated between the base and emulsion layers, the film features very good resolving power and high contour sharpness. The anti-halation layer will decolorize during processing.

Bear in mind you’ll need the special kit that Foma produces for it, the Fomapan R Reversal Kit. It may be a bit of a b!t*h to find a lab that can develop it otherwise. A quick search will show that not many do so you may have to send it out. For us, surprisingly no lab in Tokyo can do it so we had to send it to Camera Film Photo in Hong Kong.

Fomapan R Tech Specs

The film has a nominal speed rating of ISO 100/21o when processed in R-100 Process. Other processes can cause deviations from the nominal film speed. It is, therefore, recommended that the real film speed be checked by trial tests in such cases. From the shape of the characteristic curve, you can see the film is has very good differentiation of fine grey shades. Both in areas of highlights and shadows. In the areas of normal exposures, the linear part of the characteristic curve shows the gradation of 1,1.

  • Resolving power 115 lines per mm
  • Granularity RMS = 13.0. Measured at  γ = 1.1. Process R-100.
  • Base FOMAPAN R is usually produced on a cellulose triacetate safety film base 0.125 mm thick or on a polyester film base of the same thickness when higher demands concerning mechanical resistance and dimensional stability are made on the film.

Again, if  you want to process this yourself, you can use the Fomapan R Reversal Kit. There is conflicting reports online that conventional processing to negative is also possible but we can’t confirm.

Fomapan R Sample Pics

I took the roll to 3 trusted labs in Tokyo and all said they couldn’t develop it. One suggested I try a lab down in Atsugi, but in the end just sent it to Camera Film Photo in Hong Kong. The following are the files from a Frontier scanner they sent.



It was an educational experience to try out a black and white slide like Fomapan R. I was quite surprised at how difficult it was to find a lab that can process this rare film. I would be curious to try cross processing it, but like some comments have already stated, what would be the point. Like color slide film, Fomapan R does not like to be overexposed, so proper metering is of the essence like wetness is to moisture.

From the results of this initial roll, I’m not convinced the look is unique enough to warrant the hassle of getting it developed. It’s not a very Prague-matic (sorry) film. That being said, I can see it being used for some kind of installation using projectors. For pretty much for any other intents and purposes it’s difficult to justify from I gather. If you need ISO 100 black and white, I’d just stick to Fuji Acros, Kodak Tmax, or pull Double X. What are your thoughts and experiences with Fomapan R?