Shooting Lomography Fantome Kino, an 8 ISO Black and White Film

Shooting Lomography Fantome Kino, an 8 ISO Black and White Film

1800 1012 James Tocchio

I shot my first roll of Lomography’s Fantome Kino film, an ultra low ISO black and white film, back in the summer of 2021. I had some trouble with it due to its extremely low sensitivity and its very narrow exposure latitude. Even so, with the film’s extreme contrast and virtually nonexistent grain, some of the shots came out nice; moody and impactful.

Some time later I’ve shot a second roll and I’m finally ready to put fingers to keys in this quasi-review.

What is Lomo Fantome

Lomography Fantome Kino is a panchromatic black and white film repurposed from ORWO film repackaged and sold by Lomography for 35mm film cameras. It’s a part of Lomography’s Kino collection, which are supposed to provide a look reminiscent of classic cinema films.

Fantome’s look is contrasty and punchy – perfect, Lomo says, for striking portraits, cinematic shots and a “film noir” look. It’s ultra low ISO of 8 ensures almost zero grain.

The film canister does not include DX coding, so the film is best shot in a camera which allows the user to manually set the ISO.

Developing and Handling

I developed my rolls of Lomo Fantome the same as all of my films – using whatever method the manufacturer recommends. I don’t mess around with pushing or pulling, and with an ISO 8 film I’m not sure anyone should.

Developing went fine. No surprises. However when I pulled the film off of my development spools I was simply stunned at how difficult to manage the film strips were. They curled worse than any film I’ve ever used. Once dried, the film was just as curly as ever which made scanning more cumbersome than other films.

Images and My Experience

I shot my first roll of Fantome in mid-summer under bright sunlight and blue skies. A time of year in Massachusetts, unlike now, in which life is worth living. I was able to hand-hold my camera for all of these shots, despite the extremely low sensitivity of Fantome. I shot it through my Leica R5, which effectively metered and auto-exposed every shot.

My second roll was shot on a snowy day under grey skies and in miserable cold. For this roll I used a tripod for quite a few shots, which helped quite a bit at minimizing blur and camera shake. This roll was shot through a Canon EOS 1V, an amazing camera that metered and exposed things perfectly.

My takeaway, regarding cameras, make sure your camera has a manual ISO adjustment, and make sure you’re using one which can meter and (preferably) auto-expose in semi-auto or full program exposure modes. This film is just too picky with its exposure latitude to be shooting in full manual. At least that’s the case if you value your time and money. If you don’t, by all means, shoot Fantome all loosey goosey – who cares?

Images from this film, true to Lomography’s press copy, are punchy and high in contrast. The low ISO means that plenty of shots will appear under-exposed or dark. But if you have a good metering camera and auto-exposure mode, coupled with a tripod and nice light, it’s certainly easy to get balanced photos (though highlights will blow out quicker than more balanced films).

The film needs a lot of light – no surprise there, right? And so I really must recommend long exposures and using a tripod. Otherwise, shots are too blurry or too under-exposed. Plenty of the shots used in this review were made from 20 and 30 second exposures.

For me, the film’s biggest asset is its smoothness. There’s just no grain, and I sort of love that. I know grain is a film shooter’s best friend, but sometimes black and white shots just look gorgeous with that sleek, grain-free look.

Then again, if we’re looking for smooth black and white shots, maybe I should just be shooting digital.

Final Thoughts

My opinion of the film now is mostly unchanged from when I’d shot that first roll. Lomo Fantome is a finicky beast. And there are other films (and even digital cameras) which will give us all of the perceived upsides of shooting Lomo Fantome without any of the liabilities. Ultra fine grain, high contrast, moody shots – we can get all of these easily from other, much easier-to-use imaging sources. Fuji Acros or my Nikon Z5 and a nice sit-down with Adobe Lightroom come to mind as simple alternatives.

It’s probable that, in the right hands and in the right conditions, this film could become a photographer’s favorite. In my hands, however, it’s just too difficult. I’m not good enough to hamper my efforts with such a challenging film. Whether that’s a strike against the film or my own ability, well, I think I know the answer. I’m just not that good. But maybe you are.

And hey, I’m happy that Lomography is still making things for us film nerds. That’s at least worth buying a couple of rolls.

Buy Lomography Fantome here

We also sell film in our shop F Stop Cameras

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James Tocchio

James Tocchio is a writer and photographer, and the founder of Casual Photophile. He’s spent years researching, collecting, and shooting classic and collectible cameras. In addition to his work here, he’s also the founder of the online camera shop

All stories by:James Tocchio
  • Great Images
    Great review
    Great advices, ideas, comments,
    One more time!
    Thank so much.

  • Love this review. I haven’t shot this film, but I’ve shot some other very low ISO black and white films and many of your thoughts on these films mirror my own. At the end of the day, with film being as expensive as it is, I’m just not sure the juice is worth the squeeze unless you have a very specific look in mind. Beautiful images, nonetheless, as usual.

  • Surprise! Surprise!The farther East from Europe or the farther West from Japan is a film’s manufacture, the curlier it will be and always has been. This has always been a characteristic of cheap thin film substrate. Being a commercial process film, it stays threaded in a machine or on a spool and is never loaded as individual negatives by hand, so curliness doesn’t matter in that realm. If you research a little more deeply into ORWO you will discover that this film is not truly “re-purposed to look like vintage film”, but is actually orthographic reproduction film from book printing processes designed to have very high contrast and very limited shades of gray, printed with high intensity artificial light. When shot in full tonal range photography produces a generally poor and sketch-like look reminiscent of how bad film was in the days of silent pictures. Vintage like Blair Witch Project shot on a Fisher Price audio cassette video camera. If you want to get anything approaching 20th century film tonal ranges, which by the way is at least 50% of the joy of B&W shooting, you will need to use low energy diluted film developer and long development times with reduced agitation. Alternatively, you could use special expensive microfilm type developer such as PYRO or Blue Fire, etc. To shoot this stuff strait is basically a one-trick-pony special effect and free is too expensive.

  • correction: Lithographic Film not orthographic as written.

  • Appreciate your review and your thoughts, James! I recently picked up a Chroma Cube 35mm pinhole camera to capture incidental moments during my commute and workday, and I’m thinking that it might be neat to put a roll of Fantome through and see how it turns out. Always appreciate your images and insights, thanks for this consistently excellent website.

  • I use this film a lot. Not sure why they label it a pan film when it clearly is an ortho film. The clue is reds come out as blacks.

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James Tocchio

James Tocchio is a writer and photographer, and the founder of Casual Photophile. He’s spent years researching, collecting, and shooting classic and collectible cameras. In addition to his work here, he’s also the founder of the online camera shop

All stories by:James Tocchio