Fuji Super Prodol (SPD) first impressions

As my regular followers know, I go to Japan once a year to visit friends and hang around in Tokyo.

I usually swing by Yodobashi Camera to pick up some Fuji Acros and other Japan only films. There’s not much left out there, but I have previously picked up som Japan only developers. One of the two I have is Super Prodol or SPD, made by Fuji camera.

Not much is know about it in the west. It is quite expensive to buy unless you pick it up yourself, but if you do it’s very cheap. I think I paid 290 yen for a liters worth of developer. That is something like $2,50USD.

Rummaging around on the interwebs I found this short description:

"Super Prodol (SPD) is a rapid processing, push process developer provided in dry powder package. The developing agent listed is hydroquinone (3.9%) which is probably augmented with phenidone or its derivative. The developer contains 70-90% of sodium sulfite, and buffered with metaboric acid (3.4%) and sodium carbonate (3-7%). This formula resembles Crawley's FX-37. This developer is likely to contain bromide restrainer or possibly other antifoggant."

I have never heard of, or used FX37 in the past, so that’s interesting..

I also found that as a baseline for development times, you can look at HC-110 dil. B for the stock solution and dil. H for 1+1. I have tried both stock and 1+1, and can’t say I find much difference. Not that I have yet developed a lot of rolls, I think it’s just 4 at this time.

I have found that pushing HP5 two stops to 1600, and developed in SPD 1+1 in 20c for 15 minutes gives great results. I also tried pushing HP5 three stops to 3200 and developed in SPD stock (20c) for 11 minutes gave great results. I think SPD is a really good developer for pushing.

Neopan 400 looked also great, but my Neopan 1600 was a little aged and I think it got more base fog than it deserved in SPD.

Here are some sample pictures. First off Neopan 400 shot at ISO320, it was developed in SPD 1+1 for 7min in 20c.

Here is HP5 pushed 2 stops to 1600, developed in SPD1+1 for 15 minutes in 20c.

Here is Neopan 1600, slightly expired. Shot at box speed, developed in SPD 1+1 for 6,5 min in 20c.

Lastly, here is HP5 pushed three stops to ISO3200. Developed in SPD stock for 11 minutes, 20c.


I think SPD works great for medium speed films, 400 ISO. Both HP5 and Neopan 400 look just fine. I can’t say it looks much different than say, D76. But it really does come into its own when pushing film. There seems to be more shadow detail, the grain feels controlled.. I am not sure, but it does feel alright.

I mixed up this liter back in October, it is now late January and the developer looks to be totally fine. It has changed color from a clear liquid into a very light yellow one. So shelf life seems to be fine. It comes in powder form, in sealed packages, and based on my experience these will last forever.

When it comes to developers, there is usually quite little difference between them. People would like to think that there is more difference than there actually is, because it is one of these things analog photographers like to quibble about, and have heated arguments about Rodinal and which developer is the best for pushing film. But I have used a dozen different developers and I can barely see any difference between them, really. And whatever the differences might be, you need to use that developer for a long time before you can really see what it is all about. I’ve done something like 5 rolls now in SPD and that is just not enough for a proper review. But I like writing these posts, for my own sake if nothing else. And finding the development times can be tricky for this one, so maybe it will help someone.

Alright, write in comments below if you have any questions. Until next time!

Fuji Neopan 400

Fuji films have a cult following, even though Fuji kind of ignores its fans and keeps discontinuing more and more films. Few films are as known as Velvia, or Fuji Acros. Velvia is still around, but who know for how long. I give it a couple of years, then I think Fuji will discontinue all of the film production.

Anyhow, this blog post is about one of the fallen ones, Neopan 400. When you talk about Neopan 400 with someone who has shot it in the past, they get misty eyed and start reminiscing about its tonal scale, it’s great grain, how fantastic it was to push process.

I have recently aquired around 15 rolls of pretty fresh Neopan 400, and have these past few months managed to shoot two of them. One was developed in Fuji Super prodol, aka Fuji SPD, 1:1. 20c, 7 min. The other one I did in HC110 dil. E (1+47) for 8min in 20c.

I have not yet tried any push processing, but I might. I think SPD might be a good fit, of which I have a few packs left (I’ll write about this Japan only developer at a later date).

The first thing that hit me was how it renders blue skies, they are a bit less white compared to other films I have used. Slightly reduced blue sensitivity or just great highlights? I don’t know. It seems to really keep detail in the highlights anyhow.

Grain in SPD is around the same as HP5, in HC110 it is less than HP5. Around same as Tmax400 I’d say, but with better tonal scale. I prefer it in HC110 I think, but looks like I got a little bit more speed out of SPD. Should have shot the HC110 at ISO320.

Here is a 100% crop in SPD:


And here is a 100% crop in HC110:


Here are some sample pics, first when done in SPD:

And some pics in HC110:


I really like this film. It shares a lot of its characteristics with Acros 100, and I can very easily get the type of feel to the images that I want. I just set white and black point and pull the midtones down, way down. And it look so rough, grim, sad. It evokes exactly those feelings in me that I often want to portray with my images, the underbelly of the big city life. The loneliness of being in a big crowd, the absurdity of the way of life in a modern big city.

Alright, that’s it for today. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or thoughts.