Classic Film Review – Kodak Plus-X

When it comes to Kodak films that have ended up in the great darkroom in the sky, there is none that is more missed than Kodak Plus-X. A general purpose mid-speed film designed to give sharp, fine-grained images a popular film among photojournalists, street photographers, and portrait photographers, or any photographer who has used it in the past. It also has touched my photographic journey on multiple points being the film I shot of the most of in my 2015 trip to Europe and the second Kodak film I’m always on the hunt for and am willing to spend a fair price on when I do run across it. Because of it’s more recent cancellation it is still possible to find short-dated films in all formats, 35mm, Medium, even Large Format.

Film Specs
Type: Panchromatic B&W
Film Base: Acetate
Film Speed: ASA-125
Formats Available: 35mm, 120, Sheet
Year Discontinued: 2011

Roll 01 – Kodak D-23
If there’s one thing I like about Kodak D-23 is that fact that it’s a far slower developer than it’s younger cousin, D-76, and it always gives a wonderfully classic look to most films. Unlike FP4+ with D-23 you can still shoot Plus-X at box speed, and while there’s a bit more grain than you’d normally expect, it’s fairly pleasing. Plus you get to see how well the film renders skin tones even in bright sunlight it works beautifully. While there is a bit more contrast, that could be due to age in this case. D-76 will probably do just as good a job with the film as D-23 does.

Sentry DutyDeep DiscussionThe LookAt Rest

Technical Details:
Nikon F5 – AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm 1:2.8G – Kodak Plus-X @ ASA-125
Kodak D-23 (Stock) 7:00 @ 20C

Roll 02 – Kodak Xtol
What happens when you combine a fine-grained sharp film with a fine grain developer? You get magic, that’s what you get. Honestly, Xtol is one of those developers that can make almost any film look good! But with Plus-X you get a special kind of magic, from next to no grain, sharp edges not to mention that beautiful tones between the bright whites and deep blacks. I mean this is what I feel the world would look like if we only saw in black & white is Plus-X and Xtol.

Hello Rotterdam!Hello Rotterdam!Hello Rotterdam!Hello Rotterdam!

Technical Details:
Contax G2 – Carl Zeiss Biogon 2,8/28 T* – Kodak Plus-X @ ASA-125
Kodak Xtol (1+1) 7:30 @ 20C

Roll 03 – Kodak Microdol-X
While Microdol-X is not known to be a sharp developer, you can be sure that having a sharp developer with Plus-X isn’t a must. It is, however, a fine-grained developer, maybe Microdol-X was improved to become Xtol? Either way, Microdol-X works wonders on Plus-X giving you a rich tone and almost a classic softness to even the 4×5 images featured here. The images are razor sharp, and the rich tonal range makes the negative easy to print in a traditional darkroom and deliver a punch that you come to know from Plus-X. And while Kodak Microdol-X is not available, you can get the LegacyPro version, Mic-X which is the same developer.

The Centre BlockShort Days Ago We LivedNational GalleryConnaught Building

Techincal Details:
Graflex Crown Graphic – Multiple Lenses – Kodak Plus-X @ ASA-125
Kodak Microdol-X (Stock) 8:00 @ 20C

Roll 04 – Rodinal
If there’s one thing that I love using on sharp films is a sharp developer, and there’s none better than Rodinal. The images have that sharp quality we’ve come to expect from Plus-X as well as the same rich tone and a little more contrast than with other developers. Though you do get a minor uptick in the grain, it is the same pleasing grain structure that you get with traditionally grained films.

The Fort on the HillThe Enlisted BarracksThe Western BlockhouseFort Gardens

Technical Details:
Mamiya m645 – Mamiya-Sekor C 35mm 1:3.5 N – Kodak Plus-X @ ASA-125
Blazinal (1+25) 6:00

Final Thoughts
If there’s one strength that makes Plus-X stand out of all the classic films still available is that it’s consistent. No matter the format or developer Plus-X will deliver. The mid-speed makes it perfect for outdoor work in sunny and dull lighting conditions or the studio under strobe or hot lights. Today Plus-X is still readily available both expired and short-dated. This, of course, means you may pay a little bit more to buy the stock, but it’s worth every nickel if you can find it. Of course, once you start to get into the 1980s expired stock, you’ll probably want to start pulling the film slightly to better adapt for the age of the stock. But for the most part, I’ve shot most of my Plus-X at box speed without any issues. And as always ensure you are buying from a seller who has a good reputation for the proper storage of expired film.

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