It’s always interesting to see what you can do with what Adox calls a ‘closed imaging system.’ CMS 20 II is a film that is specifically designed for one developer, and one developer only that is Adotech II. In fact, in their datasheet, they even discourage the use of traditional developers as they could yield poor and unpredictable results. But thanks to the power of the Internet and having a bit of an experimental side and writing these blogs for you, my dear readers let us continue and say you can use traditional developers with CMS 20, and the results are rather stunning.

CCR:FRB - Review 23 - Adox CMS 20 II

Film Specs
Type: Orthopanchromatic B&W
Film Base: Polyester (PE)
Film Speed: ASA-20, Latitude: 12-20
Formats Avaliable: 35mm, 120, 4×5

Roll 01 – Kodak D-76
I rather enjoy the results I got with D-76, now, shooting handheld I went for an ultrawide lens to compensate for the wide open apertures and slower shutter speeds. But I picked a day that would have some bright morning sunlight. Also getting out before the heat of the day set in helped as well. While you get that high-contrast look, there’s actually a decent amount of mid-tones, no grain, smooth, and sharp. But not overly so, probably due to D-76 being not the best for achieving sharpness. Though I did start to notice a lack of shadow detail and far darker foliage than I would expect.

CCR:FRB - Review 23 - Adox CMS 20 II - Roll 01 (Kodak D-76)CCR:FRB - Review 23 - Adox CMS 20 II - Roll 01 (Kodak D-76)CCR:FRB - Review 23 - Adox CMS 20 II - Roll 01 (Kodak D-76)CCR:FRB - Review 23 - Adox CMS 20 II - Roll 01 (Kodak D-76)

Technical Details:
Nikon F90 – AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8G – Adox CMS 20 II @ ASA-20
Kodak D-76 (1+3) 10:30 @ 20C

Roll 02 – Rodinal
I don’t know what happened here, I’ve lost my highlights and my shadows (further thinking the film is not sensitive to green), overall the film has an over-developed look. Though the rebate markings are clear. And with me shooting my Nikon F5 I know it can’t be the meter. What I will however assume is the big problem is that the developer formula is for the older version of the film and just doesn’t work on the new version, unlike the Pyrocat experiment and the TMax formula. But the frames that did work are sharp, more B&W than scales of grey, and no grain at all. But not my first choice for future use (if I use the film again). I might consider trying a stand develop in Rodinal.

CCR:FRB - Review 23 - Adox CMS 20 II - Roll 03 (Rodinal)CCR:FRB - Review 23 - Adox CMS 20 II - Roll 03 (Rodinal)CCR:FRB - Review 23 - Adox CMS 20 II - Roll 03 (Rodinal)CCR:FRB - Review 23 - Adox CMS 20 II - Roll 03 (Rodinal)

Technical Details:
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 35mm 1:2D – Adox CMS 20 II @ ASA-20
Blazinal (1+100) 18:00 @ 20C

Roll 03 – Kodak TMax Developer
I honestly was rather surprised when I first pulled the film out of the tank and saw these beautiful images, and even more so when I actually scanned them into the computer. For a film that warns against using any other developer but the specific one for it, I usually have a bit of trepidation when developing. But wow, just wow, the film responds beautifully to Kodak TMax Developer and considering there’s no filter you get that rich darkened sky along with bright whites and deep blacks and everything in-between, oh and no grain.

Space Center on FilmSpace Center on FilmSpace Center on FilmSpace Center on Film

Techincal Details:
Pentax 645 – SMC Pentax-A 645 35mm 1:3.5 – Adox CMS 20 II @ ASA-20
Kodak TMax Developer (1+4) 5:30 @ 20C

Roll 04 – Pyrocat-HD
I’m going to say this right off the bat, this was a complete experiment. The time I based this on was for the original CMS 20 film, not the CMS 20 II and the time was for PMK Pyro, not Pyrocat-HD. But having done some reading, I found that Pyrocat-HD will reduce developing times by 30%, so I left the speed at ASA-12 and cut the developing time for 9 minutes from 10. Did it work, well sort of, the results were as the Massive Dev Chart reminded me, High Contrast. Some images were too far gone to even used, but I was able to pull some images out. As for those images, I feel that they are rather under-exposed, not underdeveloped as the rebate marks are clear. I think the CPOL filter may have something to do with that. But the images I could pull out with the scanner and Photoshop, the combination is amazing, all I can really say is that the images are smooth.

CCR:FRB - Review 23 - Adox CMS 20 II - Roll 04 (Pyrocat-HD)CCR:FRB - Review 23 - Adox CMS 20 II - Roll 04 (Pyrocat-HD)CCR:FRB - Review 23 - Adox CMS 20 II - Roll 04 (Pyrocat-HD)CCR:FRB - Review 23 - Adox CMS 20 II - Roll 04 (Pyrocat-HD)

Technical Details:
Nikon F5 – AF Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4D (CPOL) – Adox CMS 20 II @ ASA-12
Pyrocat-HD (1+1+100) 9:00 @ 20C

Final Thoughts
So did I give the film a fair shake by not going with a roll developed in Adotech? I checked through Flickr and honestly, I cannot tell the difference between the traditional developers and Adotech. If anything there might be more resolution, but in the end does that matter? Either way, the film itself is pricey, the developer is pricey and not worth the effort there are plenty of other fine-grained, sharp, high-resolution films out there that you can develop fair easier in traditional developers. Now the following observations could be due to the traditional developers, but I feel the film has two noticeable behaviours, the first is that CMS 20 II, like Streetpan 400 loves light, it needs direct bright light to really show off, the second is I think the film can’t see green all too well, my foliage was almost always coming out dark. If you want something different, then go ahead with CMS 20 II, but for me, I’ll stick to the usual.


    1. Author

      Well let me get my jaw off the floor first, and say that’s awesome, and secondly thanks for sharing!

  1. Some developers will give good results if the film is shoot at between 3 and 6 ASA. The examples above are underexposed. The midtones can come out right in compensating developers but the toe of the curve is hanging. ADOTECH does exactly this: Raising the speed to 12 ASA and straightening the curve. It should not be bashed like this without a real 1:1 comparison. Comparing with other images from flickr on a screen is not “exactly” scientific πŸ™‚

    1. Author

      I never said these were ‘scientific’ also I wouldn’t say I bashed this film no more than any other film or camera I’ve reviewed. Just telling it like I see it. And yes, I should have used the Adotech developer, that I’ll admit, but it was costly to get shipped to Canada for just a single roll.

      1. I hear you from the left coast, eh? (Victoria)
        Happily, I have a bottle of Adotech unopened. I just did my first order from Fotoimpex and as I’ve recently picked up a Flick Film temperature bath and E6 and C41 kits and needed to stock up on graduates, bottles, funnel, and other stuff so I have sets for both processes. Their prices for those items are actually excellent and it offset the 35 euro shipping somewhat. B & H’s loss πŸ™‚ I am also playing with Double-X 5222 and B.W. & Green developer. Good things are happening in Canada.

  2. Why didn’t you compare to the recommended developer? I don’ understand haha.

    can you do that and update the article?


    1. Author

      I didn’t compare it because I could not get my hands on the developer at the time. I have a roll left of the stuff and plan on doing another couple rounds with the film and the proper developer in 2019 with a whole new article!

  3. Excellent articles on developers and films.
    On Flickr the development time is 6’30” and in the article 5’30”.
    What is the correct time?
    Regards from Spain.

    1. Author

      5’30” it’s what I have recorded on my log.

  4. I tried your CMS 20/T-Max combination. I got mixed results – but all films give mixed results. This roll was mostly pictures of shapely dirt and four of dried lakebed salts. It tended to work best on more conventional scenes. I only used a polarizing filter on some scenes to artificially darken the sky, and many were taken with no filter at all. The filterless were actually the better ones. Of course, I have a second roll, they come in pairs. Gonna take it on a road trip for more conventional scene tests. I’ll do a few filter sweeps too: yellow, orange, red…

    I’ve opted to not use their developer – too expensive, too specialized and never in stock – whereas T-Max developer has worked well for me with T-Max film and very well with FP4+.

    I’m trying CMS 20 II out in 35mm to see if I want to use it in 4×5. No hurry though, I’ve got hundreds of sheets of 4×5 in the freezer: Tri-X (1997), T-Max, FP5+, FP4+, HIE, Fomapan 400…

  5. This was outstanding review thanks a million. Here in Europe the roll cost about 4.50 dollars. I am looking forward to read your other reviews

    1. Author

      Thank you! This isn’t a review I’m too proud of, because of the lack of the proper developer (Adotec)

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