Saturday, February 6, 2016

Film Mini-Review - Kodak Plus X Aerecon II

A while back I was approached by an online acquaintance and asked if I would be interested in going in with him and another Filmwaster on a group buy of some odd expired film. If you have read any of my other posts, you will suspect that I am loath to turn down such an offer, regardless of the "oddness" of the film. I like grain and contrast (both low and high) and "cheap" is my second favorite price right after "free". The particular film that was being considered was 2 100' rolls of Kodak Plus X Aerecon II (expired 1998). What the heck, the more mysterious the better! At least this film was produced with pictorial photography in mind, unlike some other films. The group buy went ahead and then I didn't hear from the buyer for some time. I didn't pay up front, so it wasn't like he was holding something of 'mine', but I was curious to get the film and try it out. Time passed, and I communicated with him a couple of times and it was clear that he was busy with more important things. So I took the opportunity to practice patience and grace. I have plenty of film and the resources to buy more when I run out (that is not likely to happen any time soon). Finally, he sent the film along with some other treasures. There was two rolls of K-Mart branded slide film and an instamatic cartridge of Ektachrome HS! Awesome! Mike, if you're out there. THANK YOU!!

Any-hooo... I read the tech sheet and what little I could find online, which wasn't much. I did see that it was originally rated at iso 200 for daylight, so I figured I would start at iso 100, ignoring the "loss of 1 stop per decade" rule of thumb. I put one of the 100' rolls into my Watson daylight loader and rolled a couple of 36 exp rolls for an online trade and then a couple of 20's for myself (I don't have the patience for 36). I loaded one into my Nikon N2020 because that camera lets me shoot fast. I think that is psychological since an internal meter shouldn't make any difference unless you are really shooting from the hip to get street or action shots. I do neither of those, so the N2020 with its internal meter and auto-wind just makes me feel faster. I took some shots around my workplace and around my home. I think there is an endless supply of good photos right around us in the "mundane" surroundings we take for granted. So I tend to take a lot of photos right around the places where I spend the most time.

I didn't think that the development times from the Massive Dev Chart were going to be of much use, even though it says "Plus-X". So I decided on my old stand-by... Adonal (Rodinal) diluted 1:100 with semi stand development for 70 minutes. Semi stand, for me, means agitation for 20-30 seconds at the beginning and another 10 seconds or so half way through (35 min in this case). That does all the good things we expect from stand development, but reduces the bromide drag associated with stand development of 35mm film. The base of this film is clear (so could be reversal processed for slides), and is VERY thin. In fact when I walked by it hanging in my office to dry, the static actually started drawing it toward me. But it flattened out fine for the scanner and it didn't tear in the camera or spooling it for development, so all's good.

Over all, I was very pleased with this film. The grain is there, but not at all obtrusive. When I zoom in on the original 4800 dpi scan, I can definitely see some degradation of the grain. It has the salt & pepper look of a badly stored film, but to a much lesser degree. At normal magnifications, it is practically unnoticeable. Here is a 100% zoom on a smooth sky area of one of the photos. Remember, this is 4800 dpi, so you are looking at a piece of an image that would be over 5 feet wide.

Here are some more of the photos from this first roll. I am happy to have almost 200 feet of this film. I'm sure I will enjoy many of the images I make with it. I would be happy to hear any feedback or experiences of others who have used this film. Leave a comment.