Kodak BW400CN

Forums Forums Get Technical Tips & Tricks Kodak BW400CN

Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • Author
  • #1760

    Just wanted to share a note, that this film is some magic stuff. If you haven’t been through the film section of your local W-mart lately, there’s a C-41 process black and white film from kodak.

    BW400CN at B&H. You can also find it at the W-mart and most pharmacies in three-packs. You can also order it online in 120 and 220 format.

    I say it’s magical because it works fairly well as an acceptable B&W film, you can have it processed anywhere with a minilab (you don’t need your own chemicals, and you don’t have to wait two weeks and pay a small fortune), and you can scan it as a color negative for some interesting sepia-like effects.

    I’ve used it in two contests so far, so you’ve seen it’s effects, but here’s some exmples:


    This was taken with a Nikon N65 and 24mm f/2.8 prime in aperture priority at f/2.8 then scanned as a black and white negative to a 16-bit greyscale image.

    Three Mile

    This was taken in the farkolga then scanned as a 24-bit color image before being saved as a .jpeg. When I was adjusting the curves in the scanner to bring out contrast and detail in the shadows and clouds, it moved from greytones to a nice sepia-like flavor, I’m guessing as a result of the brown hue of the film itself. And I really like that.


    I second that, it’s definitely good stuff. I have a whole bunch in my freezer right now.

    Ilford XP2 Super, the other C41 process Black and white film, is worth checking out as well. It’s got a clear base rather than the colored base of 400CN (it was intended for BW printing not color, but that doesn’t matter if you’re scanning), and while it’s not quite as contrasty, it’s got a ton of exposure latitude and a lot less grain.



    I’ll have to try the Ilford. I actually haven’t found the 400CN to be very contrasty, but maybe that’s my scanning process.


    Are you scanning it as a color negative or Black and white? It’s got a narrower overall tonal range than real BW film, so if you’re scanning it as BW film it might come over quite flat (and the BW mode probably won’t account for the mask on the film base either) but it seems to have a pretty steep tone curve within that narrower range. It could be down to different equipment too, though.


    The CN400 BW tends to come out a little on the flat side, mainly because it usually gets printed on regular color paper through the minilab, and the paper just isnt balanced to give a good black and white tone (if you ever have a lab print from these negs, watch out for a bit of color shift, depending on when the last time the lab balanced that particular paper).

    We’ve done a little experimental work on the film and found that it likes a little extra time in the developer, which is a real trick when you’re running the film through a minilab. We’d wait until the cutter separated the film from the spool, count to ten, then cut the power to the machine and let it sit in the developer for about an extra minute (development time in a minilab is a little over three minutes.) Good luck trying to get your friendly neighborhood Walmart lab tech to do that for you (“Uh, you want me to do WHAT?”)

    The orange film base is there so that the film scanners on the minilabs see the film as regular C41 color film. My machine (an Agfa D-lab) gets upset if it sees clear film base and spits the negative out. This is the case with Ilford’s XP2 film, which I have never liked.

    On another fun note, my brother-in-law was a research chemist for Eastman Kodak and had a hand in the original R&D of this film. He also holds a patent through Kodak for the tabular film grain structure used in Tmax and Ektar films.


    I might also have to check out the ilford. Sleeping, some of your shots had a warm tone to them. Were they scanned as color vice greyscale?

    As far as the minilabs go, does anyone know if the Fuji minilab will process the clear film? I know that you can manually override to push/pull process, but only one of the four techs at my local walmart knows how to do that. Both the walmarts and the walgreens in short distance all have the fujilab (not sure which exact model).


    Some of the color ones are as-scanned, and some have been post processed from greyscale originals. I couldn’t tell you which are which though, not without checking the files….

    My local CVS’s minilab gave decent, distinctly sepia scans from XP2, but BW400CN usually came out an ugly mix of purple and green if they didn’t correct them and make them BW.

Viewing 7 posts - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.