Why I love Double-X

Because for some reason Tri-X just isn’t enough for me.  When I want something a bit different I go for the 5222, Eastman Double-X.  Reasons to use Double-X?  Though grainier, it’s sharper, and it gives a different look, lovely tonality.  And cost, if you’re willing to invest in a 400ft roll of the stuff!

Tri-X is an everyday film, Double-X is for special occasions, and I used it for a few specific projects including my 2-semester-long (and just wrapping up) document of making Overwhelming Majority.

This current iteration was developed by Kodak in the late 1950s and then left alone, so it will give you a classic, mid-century look, especially if you use older lenses/cameras. And that is something I recommend!  It requires fairly precise exposure and development can be tricky since it’s designed to be used with Kodak D-96, and anything else will boost the contrast quite a bit.  Using older, low-contrast lenses will tame that somewhat.  I tend to shoot it inside if the light is good enough, or outside on overcast days.  I’ve seen some pretty good results from pushing, etc, though I’ve never had much luck myself.

Here are some great resources if you’re going to shoot Double-X:
Project Double-X (sadly defunct due to the death of its owner)
Through the Viewfinder’s 400ft Roll Project

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Why I love Tri-X

It’s Thanksgiving, so what am I most thankful for?  Tri-X, of course.

I suppose it’s all about the mood.  There’s a lot of darkness in these photos, perhaps because I tend to use Tri-X where there isn’t a whole lot of light, and it always gets the image.  You can push it, pull it, overexpose or underexpose it and still get results.  It’s the most versatile film I know of, the best damn black and white film ever made.

You will notice that most of what I have here are people.  I suppose that with larger formats it would work great for landscape photography (which I don’t do a whole lot of in black and white), and I was experimenting a bit with caffenol back in the day, pulling film a stop and using a semi-stand development to reduce grain.  Fuji Acros 100 seems to be the king of black & white landscape photography these days, but I’ve always said it’s Kodak for black & white and Fuji for color (and I’ve always said that I’ve always said).  One of these days I’ll mix it up.

I’m not the only person in the world to love Tri-X, it does happen to be the best-selling black and white film in the world.  Because of its latitude and forgiving latitude in not only exposure but also development, it’s used in a lot of photography programs (including mine).  It was used by newspaper photographers from the 1950s to the 1980s, used by combat photographers in Vietnam, and countless street photographers to this day.  Think of a famous black and white photo and chances are it was shot on Tri-X.  Classic Americana.

I know that guy!

I love seeing locals in the news!  My friend Jeff Cloutier is featured on Japan Camera Hunter, it was a pretty cool treat to run across that (and evidently it’s not the first time he’s been featured).  I met Jeff my first semester at UCCS when he taught the intro to sound recording class (he’s also a sound engineer, a man of many talents), and then ran into him one day when I stopped by Godec’s Photo.  He later bought the business and changed the name to Cloutier Photographic, one of the three camera stores in Colorado Springs.

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Check out the Reflex, a new 35mm camera

This is everything I love: manual focus lenses, solid metal body, and some impressive new features like interchangeable film backs (like a medium format SLR) and interchangeable lens boards: M42, Pentax K, Canon FD, Nikon F, Olympus OM.  I suppose that these are all in the public domain now and this idea really intrigues me.  I do run across Zuiko glass from time to time and it might be time for me to start investing in some.  Also, it will have a 1/4000sec top shutter speed, plus aperture priority (though how they’ll do that on the M42 mount I don’t know yet).

Check out the Kickstarter campaign here.

So the downsides?  Price, for one.  I think if it were $400 I would be more interested, but £375 shipped is about $100 past that.  I don’t like that the electronic system would be powered by an internal rechargeable battery (same problem I have with the Kodak super 8 camera), it seems to me that if you’re doing a lot of shooting it should be possible to drop in new batteries as needed instead of having to find a USB charging slot.  Besides those two things I’m pretty excited about this camera.  The extra features it would give over every other SLR I own is extremely tempting and I’m trying to justify the expense…

edit: they were funded by the beginning of the third day.  Unfortunately I don’t think I can justify the expense right now, but I’ll be following their progress closely and definitely want to grab one of their cameras later on down the road!

Bad news and good news

So the bad news first: according to Japan Camera Hunter, Fuji is discontinuing 5-packs of all their 35mm slide films, plus Natura 1600 and large format Acros 100.  http://www.japancamerahunter.com/2017/10/film-news-fujifilm-end-nigh

Considering that a single roll of Velvia 100 costs $15 and a 5-pack costs $55, it will be costing $4 more per roll.  I’ll be stocking up as much as I can now because I certainly can’t afford a 25% increase and I’m sure neither can everyone else. Now this is only the 35mm, it seems medium (and large) format is safe for the moment.  It might be the beginning of the end, but we probably have a few years left.  Still, I’d say that by 2020 Fujifilm will be making film no more.

While I love Fuji slide film and will shoot it as long as I can, I hope that Ektachrome will be a tremendous success for Kodak and that it will have been reworked for increased longevity.  While Fuji slide film is supposed to be stable for 300 years, Ektachrome has a reputation for fading rather quickly, and this problem had better be addressed in the new formulation.

Also, I learned today that Cloutier Fotographic, local camera store #3 (and run by a friend of mine) will no longer be carrying film and darkroom supplies, due mostly to the bankruptcy of their distributor of Ilford products, but also because of Fuji’s announcement.  I try to support my local camera stores as much as possible, but honestly things like film, etc I’ve been getting from Freestyle Photo for quite a while.  I do hate that so much stuff is going online (especially as Cloutier just started carrying JCH Streetpan recently), but I’d rather that my dollar went further, and I’m really more interested in supporting the film manufacturers than I am brick and mortar stores that mark up the prices.

Now on to the good news: there’s a new black & white film company from Russia called Silberra, and they’re holding an Indiegogo campaign right now.  Please contribute if you can! https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/silberra-b-w-photographic-films#/

Also, don’t forget that the Reflex 35mm camera will be going onto Kickstarter November 7th (originally they said it would be yesterday but they pushed it back). For all the bad news, there are plenty of exciting things happening in the film world.