The streets of Madrid in black & white with Ferrania P30 film


I went for a photowalk around the centre of Madrid in hope of plenty of light, which is what is needed for the low ISO film that is Film Ferrania P30 film (ISO 80). Unusually I was met with cloudy conditions, but I made the most of it and managed to document some good Madrid street scenes.

I still have a few posts left to publish from all the rolls I shot over the December break, as I had taken a whole load of film with me for the 3 weeks holiday. I had some different themes in mind, one of them was ‘Madrid in black & white’, where I wanted to take advantage of the bright winter days in Madrid. This would have provided some great backdrop for Film Ferrania’s P30 film, but unfortunately the light was quite flat so I had to be really patient for the right moments.

A bit more about the film

I have shot and reviewed this film before, you can find an initial review here. Here is what Ferrania Italy has to say about this film:

FERRANIA P30® ALPHA is an 80 ISO panchromatic black & white motion picture film for still photography, and reintroduces the legendary P30 film produced by Ferrania during the 1960s. FERRANIA P30® ALPHA is coated on triacetate base and features an incredibly high silver content of 5 grams per square meter. Speaking about this silver-rich film, FILM Ferrania CEO Nicola Baldini states, “Each frame is like a piece of jewelry.”

Pasolini, Rossellini, Visconti and many other italian directors powered their masterpieces with P30 film. In 1961, Sophia Loren won the Academy Award for “La Cio ciara” ( Two Women) by Vittorio De Sica and the entire world started to appreciate the beauty of FERRANIA P30® . In 1963, the legendary film 8 1⁄2 by Federico Fellini was shot on FERRANIA P30® stock, cementing its place in cinema history.

The last time I shot this it was a very bright day in Frankfurt and the film really excelled, with extremely dark shadows and a really wonderful sharpness. I knew it would be hard to replicate that with cloudy weather in Madrid, so I brought along my Voigtlander 35mm lens, which with its f1.4 lens would allow for plenty of light and also avoid a tripod.

A bit more about the photos

All photos was taken with my Leica M2 camera and for the most part my Voigtlander 35mm f1.4 lens, some were shot with my 50mm lens. My idea was simple, try to shoot some interesting scenes that captured the essence of Madrid. I was also in the mood for looking for patterns, so some of my shots show this. I find it is always good practice to focus on an idea or a theme and to be specific about your photography when out and about.

As usual all photos are clickable for full screen viewing. I highly recommend looking at these shots on a laptop or desktop monitor, as some of the detail deserves a large screen.

The line of empty street bikes for rent caught my eye. This film is very contrasty and super sharp when properly exposed.

A typical street in the centre of Madrid. One of the things I noticed with this film is how it blows out the highlights, which is not always the effect I am looking for.

Great sharpness in this shot, despite the blown out highlights. Just look at the detail on the building, impressive for 35mm film.

I stumbled across a professional photo shoot, and it made me laugh that the police officers were distracted from their jobs!

Plaza Colon in Madrid. The flag is really enormous, so much so that it hardly ever flies fully as I guess it would need a really big amount of wind, which isn’t that normal in Madrid.

One of Botero’s masterpieces. Totally unplanned but funny the girl is also fiddling with her hair like the sculpture! You can see the signature dark shadows from this film in this shot, although I think it is more evident with bright sunny weather.

Petrol stations under apartment blocks is quite common in Madrid, not sure I would want to live above one though.

Two pretty identical looking backpacks with a phone post in the middle, I like the symmetry of this shot!

Looking for some leading lines in this shot, not a bad effort I must say.

I liked the right angles in this shot. Very sharp too.


Very slight handshake as this was shot inside and I did my best to keep the camera steady.

I really like everything that is going on in this shot, as well as some strong leading lines and intersections. I think I framed it quite well.

The exposure didn’t really work in this shot, but it made me laugh that there was a grandfather sitting right under the “La Casa del Abuelo” sign.

Always hard for dogs to keep still and pose for me!

Nothing overly special about this shot, I was curious as to how sharp the details in the gate would be. This is Puerta de Toledo.

Another perspective of the main shot of this post. I am really happy with how both shots came out, particularly the first one. I stumbled across this fish mongers before 9am and was really surprised as to how long the queue was, they must have great fish!

You can’t get more Spanish than this shot. Tiny bit of camera shake as I shot this through the window of a cafe on the opposite side of the street and didn’t have much time to setup the shot.

Despite the blown out sky I like the composition of this shot.

Another favourite shot of the roll. The very dark shadows mixed with the bright daylight creates a really good scene.

Always look up is one of my favourite mantras, and there are plenty of nice facades in Madrid to enjoy (and photograph).

I really like the strong contrast in the bright lights and the dark letters.

Of course it would be rude not to include myself in this Tour of Madrid!

Overall observations

Film Ferrania P30 continues to be one of my favourite black & white films, but due to its price and limited availability it is one I keep for special occasions or specific themes like this post.

When exposed properly it creates an effect unlike any other film I have used, but sometimes the super dark shadows overpower the rest of the composition. I suppose if I shot lots of rolls I would be better acquainted with how it behaves under different lighting situations. The sharpness and detail are really exceptional when the shot is exposed well.

Despite the challenging lighting situations, I think I stumbled on some interesting scenes and was able to practice some compositions working on patterns and leading lines.

I hope you enjoyed some street photography in Madrid on this wonderful classic film!

See you next time,