Kodak BW400CN, Fantastic Misunderestimated Film

Many of the chromogenic (C41) process black and white films get mixed reactions on the web from working photographers, but my recent and continuing exploration of Kodak BW400CN has changed everything in my mind and in a very good way. To listen to the audio portion just click on the audioblog logo.

AudioBlog LogoTest Image: Kodak BW400CN exposed at box speed (400) and scanned on an Imacon Scanner. Minor contrast and density adjustment were applied in Photoshop CS3. Negative was made using a Leica M7 with a 28MM Elmarit F2.8 ASPH lens. Please note the file is larger than most here on FR so you can really see the stunning tonal range and detail. One additional note on the weather here in Vemont… it has been raining a lot and as such this image was made on an overcast day, thus the gray sky.


11 thoughts on “Kodak BW400CN, Fantastic Misunderestimated Film

  1. It does have a nice tonal range, that’s for sure.

    I’ve never really had anything against chromogenic B&W films per se — just for some reason it doesn’t quite feel right unless my bathroom stinks of fixer after a day of shooting. 😉

  2. Thanks! I will have to give this a try — last used tmax b&w cn a long time ago.

    Love the shadow detail, and the ability to use digital ice.

  3. I’ve been playing with for a bit. Haven’t actually developed it as C-41. Been running them through the same chemicals as my other Kodak BW films. D76 68F 14 min. Has this 1950’s retro look that some of my mother’s old negatives have. I did try colored filters once but the film stopped winding 5 frames in, so no results.

    My negatives have a deep purple base, not orange. But they do scan wonderfully. I just need to get a new scanner. Stuck pixels or dust make this green/white line down the left hand side.

    You do have to let the film dry completely (12 hours here) before scanning or the image is very soft. Just out of the rinse they look almost blank, like something went wrong.

    I think I have a roll or two left. Maybe try the wide ASA rating. Even give it a run through the C-41 kit (just got!) and a duplicate roll in D76 to compare.

    1. The deep purple base is because of your developer… try the C41 I think you will like it. I also did a test roll in Xtol but decided to stick with the C41..


      1. Finally got around to developing the 400CN as C-41 (at 400). Hard to scan because the mask is a deep brown color. Using a loop the image is almost black against a “100 W” spiral fluorescent.

        It is no longer available locally, even the camera store has its last box on the shelf….

      2. the BW400CN is available everywhere but the older generation has been gone for sometime. The BW400CN is a cake walk to scan… give some a try.


  4. Steven, I have been shooting this film for a while. I take it to the lab & order Cd only, no prints The images on the Cd come back with a almost sepia tint to them. My last visit I told her about this & she said she would look into it. This last I just received is much better, but at close examination there is still a tinge of pink in the whites. I found that I can completely eliminate the pinkish tint by converting the photo to 8 or 16 bit greyscale in my editing software. I’m pretty new to editing prints & I was wondering what might be causing the sepia/pinkish tint to begin with? Also what editing, if any did you do to your print above. It looks great. Also if you look at the photo on my blog titled faith you will see what I mean. I left it unedited.
    Cheers, Greg

    1. The tint is caused by icc calibration issues/ WP … changes are that the scanner they are using is not producing a neutral scan due to its WP balance… converting it to 16 bit grayscale is the best choice as just removing saturation also decreases contrast. The issue could also be in monitor calibration unless you have also made prints and see this color cast but as I said I think it is in the scanner… they could just scan and set white balance in their software for a sample of an image but I doubt they will want to go there… just convert to 16 bit gray…. if you are printing on a color printer just convert it back to RGB before printing… I’d suggest sRGB Gray.


  5. I started using it because it is easier and cheaper to get processed than Tri-X or Plus-X. Costco seems to do a good job developing it. I agree that this film has very fine grain, especially for a 400 speed film.

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