After a disappointing run with my first roll of Lomography Fantôme Kino (seems I only shared that on Twitter, and so I’ll rectify that next week, God willing), I shoved the other rolls of Fantôme and the rolls of the Babylon Kino to the back of the fridge. In an attempt to kickstart some photographic interest in the waning days of 2020 and first days of 2021, I grabbed a roll of the Babylon, shoved it into the FM3a with the 50mm 1.2, and got to it, and when I finished, just so’s I’d have two rolls in the tank, I shot another one days later, this time with the Tokina 100mm.
How did it go? Well…
The 50 1.2 AI-S is a great lens. I haven’s shot much with it, but wow. Here it is at f/2, f/4, and f/8, all focused on the tree limbs out the front window:
Fun. Soft focus, bokelicious, black & white here I come!
My wife and I went for a walk in a local park, and I shot the ducks.
And then the first roll was done…
For the second roll, and wanting to see how the lens I bought to be a new scanning tool worked as a photographic tool, so I switched to the Tokina AT-X Pro 100mm f/2.8, and we went on another walk…
ISO 13 (or 12, on the FM3a) requires bright light and a wide aperture… “f/8 and be there” doesn’t apply.
Once I remembered that, it went better. The Tokina is easy enough to operate in manual mode. (I had some trouble getting it to work in the D7000, but that was user error, and its equally easy to operate in full auto too. But this isn’t a lens review…)
I somehow missed focus with the Tokina more than I did with the 50 1.2… or maybe it’s just that the Tokina is slower (by more than 2 stops), and while I could shoot the 50 at f/2 and be mostly fine, the Tokina really wanted to be f/4, and then I couldn’t get a decent shutter speed, not for a 100mm lens, anyway.
But it went ok, and foreground blur isn’t too busy or anything, but isn’t quite as luscious as with the 50 1.2.
When I finished the two rolls, I followed Lomo’s recommended times for HC-110, souped it in Ilfotec HC, 1:31, for 8.5 minutes, and had no issues at all, well, except that this film is curly. Even after three weeks reverse rolled into a tube, it still wants to roll up into a 35mm canister-sized ball. It’s only along the length, and stays fairly flat across the width, so it scans ok, but still. CUR-UR-LY.
The dynamic range is decent, it’s not overly contrasty, and what grain there is is pleasant. I have I think two rolls left to shoot, and I’ll shoot them happily enough one day, and then probably not buy this film again. For general purposes, ISO 12 is just too slow, really. It sings with the 1.2 and houseplants, but so does FP4 or HP5, more or less, and you can shoot those at a variety of apertures and shutter speeds; it’s not always wide open and 1/focal length. And, really, for a slow film, my favorite is PolyPan F 50, which is plenty slow for me.
Of course, your mileage may vary, and Lomography have a good how-to advert for the Babylon film if you’re interested, and at time of writing, it’s available for preorder. Again, it’s not a film for your young nieces birthday party or going out or anything save bright lights and wide apertures (or tripods, cable releases, a light meter, and B or T mode), so it wouldn’t be a roll to just grab on the way out the door. But with the right equipment and subjects, it’s not bad.