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Film Review: ADOX SILVERMAX 100 – by Christopher Schmidtke

First of all a disclaimer; I am not affiliated with ADOX, nobody paid me to write this and I’m just doing this review because I think it might be of interest to some people. Here goes.

What I like about analog photography is the fact that there are countless old and new cameras available to choose from; and each enables you to capture the world in a slightly different way. It takes time to get used to a new camera, even if you’re simply adding another in the same format as you’ve already been using.

Additionally there so many films that not only differ in speed but also offer black and white, color negative and color slide options. If stuck creatively, what I like to do is switch things up a bit. It’s easy to get in a rut and to the same things over and over again. And as a photographer, be it amateur or professional, I believe it’s important that you keep progressing with your photography.

Here’s what I cover in this review:

 

 

Creatively stuck

ADOX SILVERMAX - Tree

ADOX SILVERMAX – Tree

I found myself in such a situation and wasn’t feeling too hot about photography anymore. So I went out and bought a couple of rolls of ADOX SILVERMAX film. It’s a 100 speed film, which is quite different from my usual Kodak Tri-X 400.

I used to develop Kodak Tri-X in Rodinal and as you guys probably know, it yields very grainy results which is especially noticeable with 35mm film. With summer approaching, I thought a film with an ISO of 100 might be the way to go. If the sun is out you don’t even need a tripod (in most cases).

ADOX SILVERMAX - Starry Night

ADOX SILVERMAX – Starry Night

 

 

 

Choosing ADOX Silvermax 100

So why did I choose this film and not say, Ilford FP4+ or some other ISO 100 film? Well I have to admit I was influenced by the marketing. ADOX say that SILVERMAX has an increased silver-content and can render 14 zones of latitude. The kicker is that in order to get the maximum out of the film you are urged to use the SILVERMAX developer.

For ‘normal’ results ADOX say that you can use any developer. Now I’m no chemist or engineer, so I didn’t get into my laboratory and check the amount of silver is on the film, or whether it can actually render 14 zones – I simply went out and took some pictures.

ADOX SILVERMAX - Sturmreiter

ADOX SILVERMAX – Sturmreiter

The image above is ‘Sturmreiter’. I used a Minolta XD7 with a 50mm f/1.4 and a cheap red-filter. I have a Canon Scanner and it’s not the best as you can see with the scans, but I think it’s sufficient for this illustration.

Anyway, the image below shows the biker and tree at 100% crop and the ‘sharpness’ is pretty good.

ADOX SILVERMAX - Sturmreiter (detail)

ADOX SILVERMAX – Sturmreiter (detail)

I’ve also made a print and I quite like how it turned out!

ADOX SILVERMAX - Sturmreiter (print)

ADOX SILVERMAX – Sturmreiter (print)

The next image, ‘Storm’ was also handled pretty well by the film.

The sky was pretty bright in the lower right hand corner and parts of the trees are relatively dark, but there is detail in both areas and I’ve found that SILVERMAX prints very well.

I overexpose the images just a bit and it works perfectly with medium-contrast paper.

ADOX SILVERMAX - Storm

ADOX SILVERMAX – Storm

I underexposed ‘Storm 2’ a bit because I metered incorrectly, but as you can see the detail in the trees is alright and still sufficient for a print.

I actually cropped this image but since it is a 100 speed film it is not too grainy and you get some latitude for later framing in the darkroom.

ADOX SILVERMAX - Storm 2

ADOX SILVERMAX – Storm 2

The final image below, ‘Festung’ was shot at f/2. I don’t know why but I think the background is slightly out of focus. The prints I made are not that large so you actually don’t even notice it.

What I really love about this film is its rendition of the lighter and darker areas. If your exposure is anywhere near the optimum you’ll have detail in both.

ADOX SILVERMAX - Festung

ADOX SILVERMAX – Festung

 

 

 

Conclusions

So what’s the verdict?

Do I like this film? Yes!

Will I continue using this film? Yes!

Would I recommend it to friends and family? Yes!

I have to be honest though: I’ve shot both Agfa APX100 and Ilford FP4+ and if I was to put three images on the wall, one from each film, I don’t think I could tell you which film is which. You probably could go about and take a loupe or get a hi-res scan and analyze the pictures to death but I’m not that kind of guy.

I went out a couple of times and photographed some trees in stormy weather and this new film didn’t let me down, so I’m happy. If you’re thinking of buying this film or any other new kind of film I urge you to get out of your comfort zone and just try it.

At the end of the day it’s not silver content or some other feature that’s important; it’s that you get back out there and start shooting.

~ Christopher Schmidtke

 

 

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About The Author

Christopher Schmidtke

I love taking photographs of people. On film. Yes, they still make film.

For all the gear-nerds out there, I use an old Mamiya RB67 medium format camera and a Minolta XD7 for 35mm.

I live in Würzburg, Germany and if you want to make some images or have any questions feel free to contact me.

10 Comments

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  1. AS far as I know, Silverman is the result of Adox long endeavor to create a “real” successor to AGFA APX100. Hence the similarity. 😉

    Reply
  2. Thank you. Great images!

    Reply
  3. now that shot is right up my street. May try some of that film 🙂

    Reply
  4. One of my all time favorites.

    Reply
  5. Very good review. Thank you. I get it that it’s very similar to Agfa APX100. One huge advantage of Silvermax is that it’s available in 100ft rolls. This cuts the costs of a 36exp roll in half, to maybe $3.50.

    Reply
  6. Great review and images, i agree with you that its a fine film to work with. I shoot the past time 3 test film silvermqx and was very pleased with the result i.e. Development in the Adox silvermax developer. So again bougt new film and waiting for some winter weather to do more experience with this amazing film.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment Robert!

      Reply
  7. It’s a lovely film, agree simerlar in ‘feel’ to FP4+ must get some more and try with their dev.

    Reply
  8. great shots. I’m trying this next on a back to back with Neopan 100

    Reply

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