Washi Film V is probably the most special film announced in 2017 and I’ve had the privilege to be present when Lomig, the founder of Washi Film, introduced it at the Salon de la Photo in Paris last year. Since then I have always wanted to try it and see what it’s like to shoot with this very special film so that’s what we will be doing today.
If you’ve never heard about this film before, let me introduce it briefly. For its film V, the standard polyester film base has been replaced by a traditional Japanese Gambi paper. The emulsion is coated directly onto the paper and then loaded into normal 35mm canisters or 120 spools. This one is a 100 ISO film and the process is identical to the original W film. However the paper used for the V offers a higher transparency. Once enlarged, you can clearly see the paper’s fibres and it makes every picture unique. Depending on the situation, this can really add to an image and give it a special character.
As you can imagine, the processing of this film is a bit special and requires some extra equipment. The paper film base will not load onto normal reels, which leaves you with only two options:
1. Send your rolls of Washi film to Nation Photo, who has received the equipment and training to process this film
2. Roll-up your sleeves and follow my tutorial to do it yourself
If you have decided to go for the DIY solution, you will need the processing kit from Washi Film. This kit allows you to develop the films V and W into your Paterson or Jobo tanks. What’s special about it, is that it will separate the film and avoid to stick onto itself once in the tank.
In this article, I will show you how to finish assembling the kit and how to load the film onto the reel, which can be pretty intimidating I must admit. However, after seeing it and with a bit of practice, anybody can do it.
Unboxing the Film Washi Processing Kit
- 1 processing reel (male+female parts)
- 2 plastic separating stripes (135 and 120)
- 2 plastic strings
- 1 rubber band
- The film datasheet
Assembling the Kit
After unrolling the two plastic separating stripes, you will see a plastic string already attached to each of them. The only thing you have to do it pass the string through the holes following the existing pattern. This is very easy but it does require a bit of patience.
It took me about 30 minutes to finish both stripes. This step only has to be done once and then it will be ready for all your future developments.
Once you are done, the stripes should look something like this.
Loading the film onto the reel
This is where the fun begins!
From here you’re supposed to be in complete darkness so I recommend practising a little before playing around with the real film.
My suggestion is to prepare the film beforehand. For the 35mm, put it out of the canister and roll it onto itself. When you reach the end, cut it from the spool. For 120, the same thing except that you also have to remove the backing paper. In the video you see me loading the backing paper. Keep in mind that this for demonstration purpose only and you are supposed to load the film instead!
On the stripes, you will see one side two cuts. This side has to slide into the slot that’s on the reel. To slide it in, you will have have to align both parts of the reel and then slide the stripe into it. Then firmly hold onto it and to a full turn with the stripe to cover the starting point.
When you have done a full turn around the central axis, grab the film and place under your thumb onto the stripe. Now roll them both together until all the film and stripe have been rolled on the reel.
At the end of the stripe, you will see a tiny black bar. Place it between the reel’s bars so it stays in position. You can also use the rubber band if you feel like it’s not locked properly (I recommend it on the 120).
Then put it in your tank and you are good to go for the development.
Developing the Washi film V
The development of the film V is relatively standard. On the documentation, you will find processing times for the most common developers. In my case, the Ilford DD-X was not listed so I followed the advice given and stuck to the developing times of the Ilford FP4. I went for a 1+4 dilution for 10 minutes.
I won’t go too much into detail about the development as I already wrote an article explaining how to develop black and white film at home, so if you’ve never done this before I’d suggest to read it first.
I’ve had the chance to try both, the 35mm and 120 version of the film V. On some shots you will see that the fibres aren’t perfectly horizontal or vertical. This is because I had to the straighten the horizon (I’m terrible at having picture levelled!) so it’s good to keep that in mind while shooting as it will be impossible to correct.
I hope you have enjoyed this introduction to the Washi Film V and that you will give it a try too! The processing kit will be available for sale soon and you’ll find more information on the Film Washi website.
About the Author
Vincent Moschetti is a photographer from France. He has been into photography since 2013 and worked exclusively with digital equipment until recently. While looking for new ways to challenge himself, he got hooked by the beauty of shooting with film cameras. From this discovery, he has decided to sell all his digital cameras and get committed to analog photography for at least one year.