The Big Eastman 5363 Roundup

The Big Eastman 5363 Roundup

It all started when I was asked to test some new motion picture film for the Film Photography Project, and I found a new favourite slow film…that film is Eastman 5363 Positive Film II. A high contrast motion picture film specifically designed for the creation of titles and can be processed as a positive film or a negative film. But could it be used for regular pictorial work. I immediately got to work on shooting and making some developing choices. While I have written about this film a few times before I’ll be working my way from the beginning to the end of my experimentation of this fantastic film. My first choice of developer was Xtol, I figured the film may respond similar to another high contrast Kodak film, SO-331, and shooting the film at a speed of ASA-50. I used Xtol as a stock solution and developed the film for five minutes at 20 degrees Celsius.

Eastman 5363 Test - Roll 1 - High Park

Eastman 5363 Test - Roll 1 - High Park

The results were notable under exposed, but there were images there, so the Xtol would work it would just need maybe another minute in the developer, or shot at a slower speed. But since this was a working experiment, rather than pursue the Xtol route, I switched gears to HC-110. I happened across some photos on Flickr by friend and fellow film nut and FPP staffer Leslie shooting the film at ASA-25, and developing in Dilution G.

Eastman 5363 Test - Roll 2

Eastman 5363 Test - Roll 2

The results were, much better after a 22 minute development cycle in Dilution G and a speed of 25. Now I did this simply because I wanted some benchmark of how I wanted the film to look. While maintaining some chromy feel (it can be developed as positive) and a high-contrast look while maintaining some midtones. The Dilution G worked wonderfully. So for my next roll I dropped the speed another stop to ASA-12 and went for a stand developing method, using Blazinal (a Canadian version of Rodinal) at 1+100 for 1 hour, every fifteen minutes I would give the tank two inversions.

Eastman 5363 - Test Roll 3

Eastman 5363 - Test Roll 3

As you can see, we’re starting to get some great shadow detail and fantastic mid-tones, but the highlights are completely blown out, but for a starting point the stand developing is good idea but a shorter time or doing a 1+200 dilution for an hour might bring back some of the highlights while preserving the shadows and midtones. But I was ready to move onto a developer that I had just started working with and would eventually replace Rodinal, PMK Pyro. While a staining developer it was also a compensating developer and I was really liking the results I was getting on Tri-X, Efke, and Agfa films. The next roll of film I exposed again at ASA-25, which I was seeing was the ‘sweet spot’ for 5363. Next up was trying to decide on a starting point for developing time. Efke 25 has a time of 7 and a half minutes, while most films are within the 10 to 11 minute mark. The dilution was easy, I’ll use the standard 1+2+100. The first roll I went with a 10 minute developing time.

Eastman 5363 Test - Roll 4 - Niagara-On-The-Lake

Eastman 5363 Test - Roll 4 - Niagara-On-The-Lake

We have results, although underexposed, but after some tweaking in Photoshop with the curves I was able to pull out some details, there was that nice chrome feel that I got with the HC-110. So now it was simply a matter of tweaking the developing times. So for the next roll I bumped it up thirty seconds.

Eastman 5363 Test - Robert

Eastman 5363 Test - Chill

A little better but still ever so slightly under exposed, again curves in Photoshop helped bring out the details. But this is a fantastic film for portraits giving a really unique look. Then on an episode of the FPP the gang was discussing the sensitivity of the film, Mike had done some work under hot lights and a yellow filter and got a blank roll. As it turned out the film is blue light sensitive, so using tungsten lights and a yellow filter he had all but cut out the blue light hitting the film. So it was again Leslie suggested the idea about adding a blue filter onto the camera lens to see if that would improve the midtones. So my next roll I not only added a blue filter but gave another thirty seconds on the developing time.

Eastman 5363 In Downtown Soo

Eastman 5363 In Downtown Soo

I don’t know if it was the filter, or the fact I was shooting nearly wide open that gave a softness to the film, but there were certainly midtones back on the film but gone was the chrome feel of the film. So the developing time I settled on the 11 minute mark, but I certainly did not like having a blue filter on the film. It really only acted as a Neutral Density filter than anything. So for the final roll I removed filter.

Plattsburg, New York - Eastman 5363

Plattsburg, New York - Eastman 5363

And there it was, wonderfully exposed and developed negs with midtones and that chrome feel was back. It only took seven rolls of the film before I managed to figure it out. Other users of the film have been getting good results with Technodol, Xtol, and D-76. It’s a fantastic slow film that gives you that feel of a black and white slide film without it actually being a slide film. It’s sharp, fine grained, and makes for unique portraits. While not an everyday film, it certainaly adds a touch of magic. If you’re interested in trying this film out for yourself, you can pick it up through the FPP Store, just follow this link: Eastman 5363 Single Roll at the FPP Store.

5 Replies to “The Big Eastman 5363 Roundup”

  1. Wonderful write-up, Alex. Using these films for purposes they were not designed for is always a challenge, even when they are not exactly “mystery films.” I shoot a lot of TechPan, and it’s one of the most versatile emulsions I can think of, and in many ways, we are trying to achieve the results that we know TechPan can give — high resolution, minimum grain, with a slow film. Of course this 5363 is a very different beast, being blue-sensitive. Kodalith is the closest thing I can think of, and it too, has its own suite of interesting uses. I know the 5363 film I tried (only one roll so far), I did not too hard with it. I’ll shoot some more and use one of the developers you tested it with.

    1. Thanks Mark! Yeah it does remind me a lot of kodalith rather than Tech Pan. And yes, keep on shooting the film there’s still so much more that can be discovered with it. I might go back and retry an Xtol develop and if I can a Rodinal again to see if I can’t get those perfected.

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