In 2018 I stumbled upon a small camera store in Porto, Portugal. It mainly sold expensive vintage cameras, but it just so happened that I also noticed a jar full of white film canisters collecting dust behind the cashier. To my surprise it was Kodak EASTMAN Double-X 5222 film, cut and housed for the 35mm format. I knew about that emulsion, but I have never found a pre-cut and housed version of it, never mind packed in tin anywhere remotely close to my home town.
Double-X 5222 is a classic film stock with a quite prominent but soft grain structure. Highlights and mid-tones melt into each other producing a flat tonality that is quite similar to ILFORD HP5 PLUS. However, and that is probably the biggest difference: XX has almost zero latitude. That means that exposure has to be spot on. Under a controlled environment such as cinema is, that is not a problem. Using this film stock for street photography is thus problematic. If you can’t live with the fact that some images under strong light may lose a lot of information in the shadows and highlights.
I have shot the XX at ASA 250, which is standard for this film. The Canon A-1 and FDn 50mm f/1.4 lens, with which I shot these five frames, generally does a good job at exposing properly, but you can still see the aforementioned problem with the exposure latitude in scenes with lots of contrast, such as the beach.
Otherwise, I found the rendering of these images in conjunction with my A-1 truly beautiful, with a quite vintage or romantic vibe to it. It also produced one of the all-time favourite images I took so far. I highly recommend trying this film out and embracing its flaws and imperfections as unique characteristics.
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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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