Kodak BW 400 CN – An Obituary. Nearly.

Kodak BW 400CN, Neue Freiheit Schleswig| © mare.photo

The Kodak BW 400 CN was the world’s finest-grained chromogenic film. Until just a few years ago, into the digital age, there were professionals who solely relied on this film. But the mass no longer appreciated him. His pictures are still fascinating today. We picked out a few and describe our fascination.

Kodak BW 400CN, Rendsburg | © mare.photo

Kodak BW 400CN, Rendsburg | © mare.photo

The Kodak BW 400 CN, available in every drugstore just a few years ago, can be used in any standard color film C41 development process. It is very easy to scan and magnify perfectly. Noticeable is its soft tonal gradation and its high sharpness, although the edges radiate a pleasant and atmospheric softness. It has a range of contrast that even without digital programs makes even details in deep shadows visible, without the bright lights seem like white blots.

Just for the analog professionals, it is not worthwhile to maintain production. It will be launched in 2004 and will be discontinued in autumn 2014. The films are no longer available in the meantime.

And yet, during our visit to the largest photographic collection in Scandinavia, in the Fotomuseum in Åland, I get into conversation with owner Ole. He is fascinated that I am one of the few who photograph with an analogue Leica. He, too, photographed analogously after a brief excursion into the digital world. Oles drawers contain photographic chemicals and also films, some of which have been sleeping in their original packaging for 100 years.

As I write some articles about the film director Ingmar Bergmann, he lends me a magazine of the Swedish film company and he gives me two Kodak BW 400CN from his fridge.

They are so valuable to me that I now consider what motives I capture with these two films and the swan song of this really great movie can put off a little. A few years ago, I took the pictures shown here with exactly this film and a Leica Summilux 1.4 / 50mm lens.

P.S :: Ilford provides the XP 2 a film with similar properties, which can also be processed like a color film. He is extremely good-natured in the exposure and has a huge tolerance range.

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