Kodak BW400CN Film Review

Kodak BW400CN Film Review (Expired 35mm Film Photos)

Quick Kodak BW400CN film review to accompany my YouTube video. Here I share some expired 35mm film photos using this old film. 2006 dated film yet still nice results! (I think).

Kodak BW400CN Film Review

Kodak Professional BW400CN Discontinued

In August 2014 Kodak announced that it’s popular and readily available black and white film Kodak BW400CN would be discontinued. BW400CN was a special B&W film and unlike most in that it could be developed in normal high street stores such as Boots in the UK.

Voigtlander Nokton 58mm f1.4

Kodak Black and White BW400 CN C41 film

Kodak BW400CN is a C41 film (like colour negative films) so can be developed in regular C41 chemistry. It is cheaper to develop C41 films in a high street store or photography lab than traditional B&W film. The only remaining C41 black and white film in production is Ilford XP2 Super 400.

Mr Leica Selfie

Ilford XP2 Super vs Kodak BW400CN

As both films are 400 speed C41 black and white films they are very comparable. When I get timeI still need write an Ilford XP2 Super film review so I can’t link it yet. I sometimes use 120 Ilford XP2 Super 400 film in my medium format cameras such as the Fuji GF670 or the Mamiya 7. I can’t provide an accurate Kodak BW400CN vs Ilford XP2 Super comparison as the BW400CN film I use is 35mm format. Here is a sample 120 Ilford XP2 400 photo just as a sample.

Medium Format Camera + 35mm Film

Expired Kodak BW400CN film

I was kindly given over two full ‘bricks’ of 2006 dated expired Kodak BW400CN film. The film had not been refrigerated and was exposed to heat cold heat cold each summer and winter in an out building. When I first received the film I was using it just to test new cameras. It wasn’t until a few years or more later than a shot as few more rolls and really enjoyed the results. What had changed? My developing method!

Expired Kodak BW400CN Film Developed in Rodinal :)

C-41 Kodak BW400CN developing in B&W film chemistry. Why?

As you probably know i’m a bit of a strange one so I decided to develop my Kodak BW400CN in B&W film chemistry rather than C41 chemistry. Why? In the past especially I shot 90% black and white film so I could develop it at home. I knew C41 colour film could be developed in B&W film chemistry so using that logic I did the same for Kodak BW400CN film. Depending on what chemicals (and processing method) you use the results will vary.

Kodak BW400CN Film

Kodak BW400CN in Rodinal developer

In the past (especially) I used to develop my B&W film in Rodinal One Shot developer. Using this film chemistry I achieved the following results. I put the strong grain look down to the age of the film and soon stopped using it. It was a bit too grainy for me for female portraits.

Expired B&W Film
Expired B&W Film
Leica Elmar 50mm Collapsible
Kodak BW400CN in Rodinal

Kodak BW400CN in Xtol developer (or Xtol + Rodinal)

Currently I tend to use Kodak Xtol developer or sometimes a mix of Xtol + Rodinal developers. Kodak Xtol produces a much smoother grain vs. Rodinal for any film and Kodak BW400CN was no different. When I shot a roll of this now 13 years expired Kodak BW400CN and developed it this way I was pretty impressed with the results. With the ever rising cost of new film this summer I decided to just start using the expired BW400CN as part of my day to day film.

Mamiya 7 65mm Portrait
Voigtlander Ultron 40mm
Nikon FE2 SLR Photo
Leica M3 Portrait
Kodak BW400CN Portrait
Leica M4P Portrait
Leica M3 Film Camera

Developing Kodak BW400CN (and rating it)

As my expired Kodak BW400CN film is now over 10 years old I rate the film at ISO 100 rather than the ISO 400 box speed. This is good practice for any film of this age (over expose it a few stops). When developing BW400CN in Xtol the film seems to retain any ‘blow/ clipped’ highlights nicely and produce smooth creamy whites. I think it even holds on to the highlight detail better than many modern true black and white films in B&W chemistry. For this reason I have been using BW400CN happily in harsh lighting conditions such as direct sunlight portraits.

35mm Kodak BW400CN Portraits (in Xtol)

Voigtander 58mm f/1.4 Portrait
Leica M3 Single Stroke
Leica Noctilux Photographer
Leica M3 Film Portrait
Voigtlander 58mm f1.4 Portrait
Expired Kodak BW400CN Portrait
Expired Kodak BW400CN Portrait

More 35mm Kodak BW400CN Photos

Honfleur black and white photo
B&W film colour scan
MrLeica.Com on YouTube!
Mamiya 210mm lens

Scanning Kodak BW400CN film

It is a very recent thing for me but currently i’m enjoying scanning black and white film in colour mode on the scanner. This gives the B&W film scans often a slight sepia to cyan cast. I’ve never been one to add a tone to a B&W film photo but i’m quite enjoying the perhaps more vintage look of a slight colour cast. Specific example above are both portraits and landscapes shot in France on Kodak BW400CN.

Kodak BW400CN Film Review

Film curling while scanning

Each film stock has it’s own unique properties. Some films are easy to scan and lie nice an flat. An example is 35mm Kodak T-Max 400 film. Kodak BW400 is the opposite and is extra curly! The photo above is 35mm BW400CN in the Epson V800 film holder. The film photo made nice ‘art’ but it was really to show how much this film curls. Once it is clipped into the film holder it scans quite flat so there are worse films to scan.

MrLeica.com YouTube video – BW400CN

Short YouTube video covering Kodak BW400CN and how you can still make great photos with very expired non-refrigerated film. Video shows some of the cameras used to make these images.

Buy and Develop Film for the Price of a Coffee!

More black and white film reviews

You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!
  • See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit  – HERE
  • See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit  – HERE

10 thoughts on “Kodak BW400CN Film Review (Expired 35mm Film Photos)”

  1. Dear Matt,
    Super results with the old BW400CN! Wish I’d found some too in my drawer… And learned again a lot about developing.
    By the way I’d appreciate a hint from You as to working with my new bought Leica M3 I mentionned some days ago. I’m thinking about protecting it being on the road with it, strolling through the woods, walking through the city… Would You think it good to have something like a “half case” ( http://www.artisan-n-artist.de/product_detail.php?id=186) or even a bag (like https://www.leica-store-berlin.de/en/product/10559/artisan-artist-acam-76-red) or maybe both? Which one would You prefer? Would You recommend an alternative? Or – are those all superfluous hanging the camera just with a strap around the neck?
    Thank You very much again for Your feedback!
    Best Regards

    1. matthewosbornephotography

      Hi Heinz, I use a Billingham Hadley Digital bag (link on Leica tab on my blog). It might be a bit big for 1 camera 1 lens. If this is all you will use maybe look for a smaller bag or full case. I think half case not enough to travel with and other bag you linked has no straps. You want it easy to access so you will use it 🙂 Matt

  2. Hey. Great work and really nice pictures. Takes some guts to trust the film and a different development. 🙂
    Why didn’t u develop it in C41, just because its easier to develop?
    You wrote that you over expose by +2 Stops. Was this a guess or experience?
    Did you also develop the film bei 2 Stops, like a pull development or just the regular time for a 400 film?

    1. matthewosbornephotography

      Hello sorry for slow reply! Yes I do much more b&w developing as less temperature dependent and my house is cold 🙂 (I have a huge baclog of colour film to do that keeps being put off!) 2 stops over is based on experience and common agreement amongst others that you add a stop over e try 5 years it is expired. Old film is less sensitized to light so needs extra. I rate films in camera and develop as normal in this instance (shoot it at 100). I develop longer if say 400@1600 for HP5. I hope that helps. More videos soon! 🙂 Matt

  3. Hi Matt,

    By chance, a few days ago I found some expired BW400CN film. I remembered your article and bought some. Is there any chance that you can give me some advise about your X-Tol developing times. I may use it as a staring point for my development times. Thanks

    1. matthewosbornephotography

      Hello, firstly I tend to expose it an 100 then see my Flickr feed photos for developing as I shot maybe 40 rolls of it at many different developing times. Search film on my Flickr then look under the photo to see the times used.

  4. I’m now ready to shoot some Kodak BW400CN expiration 2009 in the Canon Z90W that I just purchased. Thanks to your informative blog I will shoot this film at the +1.5 setting.

  5. interesting article in relation to Kodaks BW500CN. Being 2006, did you shoot it at 200 or 100. Ive never shot this stock before and a little advice would be useful – cheers

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