As you well know, I’m a huge fan of Kodak Panatomic-X and by far it is the one film I would like to see come back in some modern form. And while I can give TMax 100 a similar look, what if I could find that look I’m fond of in a modern new film? Well, I feel I can find that in CatLABS X Film 80 and sure it’s not an ASA-32 film, but what if I pulled it? I mean I got stable images out of TMax 100 at nearly a two-stop full, in this case, it’s only about a stop and a half. Thankfully I bought a brick of ten rolls so I had plenty to play with, so I designated three developers, calculated the times for D-76 (Stock), HC-110 Dil. B, and Rodinal (1+25). By reducing the times first by 10% then taking off another 5%. It also helped that I had a general idea of the latitude of forgiveness already in X Film 80, but again I was dipping into unknown territory. When I did a similar experiment with TMax 100 I knew that I could push and pull the film to my heart’s content and it would deliver. I had no idea how well this new film could handle pushing and pulling and ~1.5 stops aren’t much but on some films, it could ruin the stock. But thankfully I ended up getting some amazing results!
Roll 01 – Kodak D-76
Initially, I thought these images were overcooked, the negatives were rather dense. But as soon as I got these into the scanner, I was treated to a beautiful set of images. Supersmooth contrast and rather low. But no surprise that is what we’re going for here. In fact, I certainly think we have a real winner by pulling the film about a stop and a half (or so). And you know it certainly does look close to Panatomic-X, more so than doing this with TMax 100. Sharp images but not cut your face, fine grain, and just very pleasing.
Roll 02 – Kodak HC-110
When I first reviewed X Film at box speed, I picked Dilution H (1+63), however, the resulting images are low contrast. Knowing that a pull would drop the contrast by pulling, I decided to increase the dilution to Dilution B (1+31). And to be perfectly honest, these hit just the right points for me, super smooth on the tonal range with crisp low contrast. The best part is that the images remain sharp with little to no grain.
Roll 03 – Rodinal
You know that feeling you get when you pull the film out of the tank hold it up to the light for the first time and just known you nailed everything? That’s exactly the feeling I got when I pull these negatives out of the tank. At first glance, they looked a little too dense, but when I got that light behind it there the images were! And when scanning, pure magic, even tone with good blacks and bright whites, smooth contrast with lots of greys, and next to no grain. Plus that smooth sharpness that I’ve come to expect. And in my opinion pretty darn close to Panatomic-X!
Is X Film 80 Panatomic-X? Of course, it’s not. And as much as I would love to see Kodak release a new version of the film or anything slower than ASA-100, I am not holding out hope. Not when you have a pile of slow films available in the broader market. Rollei Retro 80s, RPX 25, Ilford Pan F+ and now X Film 80. And many would say that I’m crazy for trying to chase after a classic film by forcing new films into that mould. I’ll counter with at least I’m shooting new fresh film and not just hoarding and shooting expired Panatomic-X, although I do that also. Overall I think this trial has been a success and X Film 80 when shot at ASA-32 brings me the closest to recreating that classic look than even working with TMax 100.