Washi Film is 35mm film that captures a positive image directly on handcrafted paper

35mm film washi paper japanese print
With the exception of plate and collodion processes, most film consists of a thin layer of silver halide particles suspended in a gelatinous coating atop clear plastic. The film used by Film Washi isn’t ‘most film’ though.

Rather than putting the silver halide particles on top of a thin layer of plastic, the self-proclaimed “world’s smallest film company,” Film Washi, hand-coats strips of traditional Japanese paper, known as washi.

Since 2013, the company has released large format and 120 film using this technique, but now Film Washi is bringing its interesting take on a high-contrast black and white film to 135 film.

“Made for centuries in Japan, this paper combines just the right physical properties with a unique aesthetic,” says Film Washi, adding, “[it’s] strong, flexible, and transparent […] the ideal medium for creating a handcrafted photographic film.”

The 35mm film is rated for ISO 25, so you won’t be shooting any nighttime photos with it, but with the right conditions — and/or exposure times — the results look pretty interesting. As seen from the example photos below, the prints look something like an old black-and-white photo printed out on a laser scanner that is running out of toner.

You won’t be winning any pixel-peeper awards, but it’s the experience that makes it worth it.

Unlike traditional film, which usually undergoes a specific developing workflow and can’t be exposed to any light, Film Washi’s ‘W’ film can be developed in the same chemicals used to develop a print and can also be exposed to a red “safe light” throughout the process, as seen in the video below (press the closed caption button for English subtitles).

Each roll, which is loaded into recycled 35mm film stamped with Film Washi’s signature ‘W,’ consists of 16 exposures. Certain cameras handle the unique film better than others, so consult Film Washi’s compatibility list to get a good idea.

Pre-orders have already started, so consider heading on over to Film Washi’s website and pick yourself up a roll.

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