And this is where my journey of home developing begins! After a couple of disappointments – in rapid succession – of the work of some photo labs, it was time to take full responsibility for all the loosely cut last frames and poor development results. So, armed with an old Paterson tank and some Rodinal I already had (but never dared to use!), I began thinking about some guinea pig rolls for my experiments. I don’t shoot a lot, and before pressing the shutter button each frame is carefully evaluated as worthy and interesting. Or at least, this is what I wish was true.
Moreover, even if I am in a patient mood, I really can’t wait to finish a roll of 36. I needed a solution.
A quick look on a famous auction website and for something like 50 euros I purchased a bulk loader with enough film left in it to bulk load six or seven rolls of 36 frames each. The film was Kodak EASTMAN Plus-X 5231, the motion picture equivalent of Kodak Plus-X (sadly discontinued in 2010). Normally rated at EI 80 for daylight and 64 for tungsten light when being used to make movies, the general advice on the Internet is to treat it just like “normal” still photography ISO 125 Kodak Plus-X with respect to EI and development, and so I did. Here are the results:
The rendering is not bad and I like the grain, it has some mid tones and good contrast but I’m not used to the ~100 ISO speed. I have limited time to go out and take pictures when the sun is up, so after my first roll I decided to try to push it two stops, as you’ll see in the images below.
[SPOILER] I liked it a lot. Actually, I was blown away. The deep blacks, brilliant, glowing highlights and not too much in the middle grew on me little by little, as a filter to fix a lukewarm reality. Oh, and the grain too!
The rest of the year went like that somehow: I learned a bit of technique and I bought some HP5 PLUS to bulk load, but I didn’t forget the “cheap” EASTMAN Plus-X 5231. In fact, since I shoot with (too) many different cameras, I had that 6 or 7 rolls worth of film, rolled as many more rolls of 12 or 24 exposures in one camera or another for almost a year.
It felt right to pay a small tribute to this lovely combination by showing you how the film performed for me over the course of four seasons.
A very weird concert, the flea market and dances at the guinguette. (Mir and Jupiter 8, Zorki 6 and Jupiter 12).
Black dog, selfies at the marriage, slight blur (Zorki 6, Jupiter 8 and 12, and light leaks).
Like every morning: fallen leaves and people waiting for the bus. Days are getting shorter. (Olympus XA3).
Lonely figure. Snow and flowers! A beautifully dramatic evaluation error. (Olympus OM1 and Olympus XA3, with flash).
New year resolutions
I’m a sentimental, and It felt right after all this time to pay a small tribute to the lovely combination of the EASTMAN Plus-X 5231 with Rodinal. Moreover, it was fun to start playing with the developing process, and I won’t stop here for sure: my next goal is to find some good use for the bulk roll of ILFORD HP5 PLUS I bought. And since it does not get along too well with the Rodinal, I will try some Kodak XTOL and see what comes out.
On one hand, I would like to obtain a similar result to that which you see above but on the other, I might stumble upon some other contrast/grain structure I might like as much or even more. I would be also curious to try the EASTMAN Plus-X 5231 with another developer and see how it renders. But maybe this is something that one of you will tell me before I try! 🙂
Thanks to EMULSIVE for hosting me, maybe next year I’ll come back with another story if you’d like! 🙂
Share your knowledge, story or project
The transfer of knowledge across the film photography community the the heart of EMULSIVE. You can support this by contributing your thoughts, work, experiences and ideas to inspire the hundreds of thousands of people who read these pages each month. Check out the submission guide here.
If you like what you're reading you can also help this passion project by heading over to the EMULSIVE Patreon page and contributing as little as a dollar a month. There's also print and apparel over at Society 6, currently showcasing over two dozen t-shirt designs and over a dozen unique photographs available for purchase.