18. oktober 2016

Shooting a classic film in London, Kodak Plus-X 125

A couple of weeks back, I was able to buy some Kodak Plus-X (aka 125PX) on eBay, from a seller in the UK.












This film is one of the oldest emulsion in the Kodak lineup, but it did get a facelift some time around the start of the new millennium (or was it in the nineties??), causing it to have a new rated speed and development-times. (and some say, a different look, most disagree about the last part)

Most of the photo's in this blog-entry was shot during overcast weather (some say classic English weather ^^), which, in general, gave me pretty empty skies with little or no visible graduation.


Here's a very nice blog, dealing with the history of this film, up to it's very unfortunate demise in 2011:
http://silverbased.org/plus-x-kodak-woes/

St. Paul's cathedral
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar F2.0 ZM
Kodak Plus-X 125 @ 160

 

The film shown in this blog is actually called Kodak Eastman Plus-X 5231, which is the cinema-version of the Kodak Plus-X for still cameras, the look, feel and development-times remains the same though.


Tower bridge
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar F2.0 ZM
Kodak Plus-X 125 @ 160

 I've seen various discussions on the internet regarding pushing this film as far as ISO 500, I have no idea if this is feasible or not (examples looked very good though), but it really is pretty dynamic and gives interesting results in stuff like diafine, pyro, rodinal and the more classic Kodak-developers, like D-76 and HC-110.
 
Your average pub-life
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar F2.0 ZM
Kodak Plus-X 125 @ 160


Chocolate bokeh in Borough Market
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar F2.0 ZM
Kodak Plus-X 125 @ 160

 Walking around London with the Leica and the Carl Zeiss F2.0 ZM was really easy though, this combo is very light and solid, so I was always very confident that the photo's taken, would come out just fine.

The old and the new
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar F2.0 ZM
Kodak Plus-X 125 @ 160

The squirrels in St. James's park are so tame that you can feed them by hand, we found out quickly that you should probably bring a few nuts if you go =D

Tourist-lady feeding the squirrels at St. James's park
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar F2.0 ZM
Kodak Plus-X 125 @ 160


Was fairly easy to capture quick moments like these, with the excellent viewfinder of the Leica and the smooth action of the Carl Zeiss lens.

The following shot is probably overexposed by 1-2 stops, but I really love how the tones came out. The negative looks good, so it is going to be interesting to print it when the winter sets in.

Elizabeth tower and Big Ben
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar F2.0 ZM
Kodak Plus-X 125 @50

Just a different take on the London-eye, the 50mm lens helped isolate the subject and constrict the shot a little

London Eye
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar F2.0 ZM
Kodak Plus-X 125 @50


As i mentioned, I bought 25 feet from the UK (expiration 2009) and later added another 100 feet to that. I already have some of this film in regular 35mm cassettes and 19 rolls in 120, which I secured in 2011.


Old, classic double-decker, heading for Trafalgar Square
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar F2.0 ZM
Kodak Plus-X 125 @ 160

Frozen, this film should keep for a very long time, I've seen people shooting and developing Plus-X from the 80's and 90's with little need for compensation for tone and sensitivity.

Buckingham palace, seen from St. James's park
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar F2.0 ZM
Kodak Plus-X 125 @ 160

So what's so special about this film?

To be honest?

Hard to tell:  It's a medium-speed film, not particularly grainless for 100 ISO and works very well in most developers -just like most other films.

Random street-photo with interesting walls and tones
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar F2.0 ZM
Kodak Plus-X 125 @ 160

But, there is something about the tones......how the inherent curve looks in various developers, how the highlight-gradation (separation) is and how the darker tones come out. Also, the spectral response also seems to be a little particular for this film. (ie sensitivity to red, blue and green and how these colors fall into the grey tones).

Choices
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar F2.0 ZM
Kodak Plus-X 125 @ 160

It's a lovely film and the look is "classic", in the sense that reds tend to render a little darker than the most modern films, the results can be everything from "snappy" to "delicate".

See? It's all subjective and very hard to explain.

I shot all of the photos in this entry at EI 160. That's what I set the camera to anyway, but I suspect I've shot the roll, ranging from EI 50 to EI 200, depending on the light, since my Leica M6 max shutter is 1/1000s and I love huge apertures. ^^

The developer used, was Kodak HC-110, dilution B, the recommended development-time for this combo at box-speed is 5 minutes at 20 degrees, I left it in for 6 minutes, but reduced agitation to no agitation from 4 to 6 minutes, to keep the highlights from getting too dense.
Cafeteria-scene from when we went on the wrong bus ^^
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar F2.0 ZM
Kodak Plus-X 125 @ 160

Also, on this trip, I really got to use my Carl Zeiss Planar F2.0 ZM properly and I've concluded that I love that lens, really....my silver version is solid, smooth, sharp and just works, the resulting photos also have nice contrast and the bokeh (subjective) is smooth.

For a $700 lens, it really is an affordable match in heaven to my Leica M6, although 'cronopiles' may disagree. =)

City-view from St. Paul cathedral
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar F2.0 ZM
Kodak Plus-X 125 @ 160

There have been numerous threads around the internet since 2011 from people wanting to find a good replacement for plus-x and, among the varied answers, there seems to be one film that gets the most recommendations: Ilford FP4+.

FP4+ is an older, classic emulsion with similar spectral response, it's different, but close they say...personally, I like it, but as long as I have Plus-X and Acros, I rarely shoot FP4+......I should probably buy at least one 100 feet bulk-roll and add it to the 4 rolls i already have.

Black cab
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar F2.0 ZM
Kodak Plus-X 125 @ 160

The other conclusions I've seen regarding a viable replacement, is to use any film you like and process it in various ways until you get what you are after, most B&W films can be shot and processed to yield many different looks and if the spectral response is "wrong", there is always color-filters. :)

Paternoster square from the top of St. Paul cathedral
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar F2.0 ZM
Kodak Plus-X 125 @ 160

Anyway, I am happy with how my shots from the London-trip came out, I am going to have a good time in the dark and print several of them when the winter comes. ^^


Evening city-view from St. Paul cathedral
Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss Planar F2.0 ZM
Kodak Plus-X 125 @ 160

Indeed, it really is sad that this emulsion is no longer produced. I will keep shooting the stuff I have and enjoy it until its gone, I have no issues using this film for anything you can photograph, that's for sure. =)

Bye for now ^^

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