Film review: ADOX SILVERMAX 100 black and white negative film – 35mm – 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:
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).
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.
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.
I’ve also made a print and I quite like how it turned out!
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.
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.
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.
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
Write for EMULSIVE
EMULSIVE NEEDS YOU. The driving force behind EMULSIVE is knowledge transfer, specifically creating more of it in the film photography community. You can help by contributing your thoughts, work and ideas to inspire others reading these pages.
To take action and help drive an open, collaborative community all you need do is read this and then drop me a line.
Lend your support to EMULSIVE
Like what you see here? You can support EMULSIVE by helping to contribute to the community voice on this website (see above), or by heading on over to the EMULSIVE Patreon page and considering financial support from as little as $2 a month.
As if that’s not enough, there’s also an EMULSIVE print and apparel store over at Society 6, currently showcasing over two dozen t-shirt designs and over a dozen unique prints of photographs made by yours truly
In short, I want to continue building this platform and I’d love your help to make that happen.