Adox CMS 20 advice?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by bwfan, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. bwfan

    bwfan Member

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    I'm considering shooting some landscapes on Adox CMS 20. Does anyone have any advice (please include examples shots!) on how to get the best tonality from the film? The promise of high resolution is very tempting but the film appears to be difficult to work with. I've had a look at filmdev.org but there aren't too many examples...

    From what I've read and seen so far, negatives tend to exhibit excessive contrast and little highlight or shadow detail when shot at ISO 20 but the situation improves when the film is rated around ISO 12 (this is also stated by Adox). Many people, however, believe that the correct ISO is actually ISO 6. Is this true? I can't find any examples of scenes shot at ISO 6. How should development be adjusted? I don't know much about darkroom theory: how will shooting at ISO 6 improve tonality? If I gain shadow detail, will I burn out the highlights? Some people also advocate exposing for the shadows...

    It also seems that poor results are to be expected if the film is developed in anything other than Adotech and there seem to be fairly substantial differences between the Adotech I and Adotech II developers. Is this true? Adox have, no doubt, spent a very long time perfecting the film and developer but it's not impossible that someone may have found something better.
     
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  2. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    People usually disagree with me on this film but I will give you my two cents based on the testing I've done with it (35mm only).

    1. You will have to do some careful testing to determine your working EI, how best to expose, etc. These films have ZERO latitude so care is necessary. Determining toe contrast is critical because you need to give these films the least amount of exposure possible to produce adequate shadow detail. Process very carefully.

    2. In my tests I found my realistic exposure index to be closer to EI 3.

    3. Adotech I was not a very good developer, in particular because uniformity was terrible. People argued with me on this, citing the claims Adotech I was "perfectly matched" to CMS20. Since Adox then reformulated it, my guess is it was not "perfectly" matched after all. I have not tried Adotech II. Hopefully it is better. I would try that first.

    4. At the time, since I did not like Adotech I, I tried a few other developers and found the best results were with TD-3. Suggest you try Adotech II first. Others may have additional recommendations such as developers from Spur.

    5. No matter what developer and process you use, these films do not have long exposure scales. Therefore they are best used under low to medium-low contrast conditions.

    6. **I have never seen an example (scan, print etc) that looks like it was made with anything other than a high contrast copy/document film. Shadow detail is always poor, and highlights are blank. People will tell you the high resolution and ultra-fine grain of films like Tech Pan, CMS20 etc can make 35mm negatives print like medium or large format. But I have never seen any evidence of this. In practice these films promise much more than they deliver. If you value tonality, you are much better off with a general purpose fine grained film such as TMax 100. Even if you could take advantage of the high resolution capability of CMS20, there is a lot more to image quality than resolution.**

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    I think that you could get better results from something like Ilford Pan-F. Reduce the EI to ISO 25 or 32 and develop in Perceptol or D-23 1+1.

    To add to what Michael says about CMS 20; bracket, bractet, BRACKET your exposures. Your exposure must be spot on because of the lack of latitude of this film.

    In particular I fully agree with Michael's point #6. Some years ago I pursued the lure of very fine grain prints with 35mm film. I was unable to obtain reasonable results after trying a number of special film/developer combinations. Contrast was always too high and the results unpleasant.
     
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  4. arealitystudios

    arealitystudios Member

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    I just finsihed developing my first six rolls of Adox CMS 20 about a week ago and I won't deny this film is quite a challenge to get used to. Personally I enjoy a challenge so I suspect I will be shooting more of this stuff but I wouldn't expect to get great results right away with it.

    All six rolls I did were done on 120 film. On all six rolls I did meter for ISO 20 and bracketed really heavily, two stops over and under. Letting in one extra stop of light seems to have been the sweet spot in almost every case so for me the working ISO was about 10. I used the Adotech CMS II developer and I didn't bother adding water after each roll to keep the developer from going bad. Instead I just developed all six rolls in one sitting at the Adox recommended times and temps for ISO 20.

    My results were pretty good and and contrast was under control for the most part. Granted, I have the advantage of living in Oregon where it is overcast almost all the time so I get to work with very even lighting.

    I think the next time I try this film I would like to give it a go in 35mm. In my case I was using an RB67 with a lens that had a maximum f/stop of 4.5 which meant I was always using a steady tripod and limited to scenes with zero movement. Even a tiny breeze was a no-no given the long shutter speeds I had to use. In 35mm I have faster lenses which may give me a bit more flexibility when working with such a slow speed film.

    By far the biggest challenge when working with this stuff was the extreme curl I got in the film after it was developed. It was near impossible to load the film in a negative sleeve or holder for my scanner without getting my fingers all over it. Really annoying. I don't typically have problems with film curl but this was an exception for sure.

    If you want to see samples of the work I did please feel free to send me an e-mail to: arealitystudios@gmail.com and I will point you to my blog which has a few shots posted.
     
  5. pstake

    pstake Member

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    There's a recipe for Caffenol LC+C somewhere online that's essentially a weaker version of it. http://silent1.home.netcom.com/Photography/Dilutions and Times.html#Caffenol_LC

    This worked very well for me. In fact, I wish I'd have developed a tad longer (I don't have my notes handy but can respond later —I think I exposed at box speed and dev'd 12 mins at 68 degrees F)

    I ordered another box of CMS20, intending to mix this developer again and add at least a minute to the dev time. LOTS of midtones with this developer / film combo. Very high resolution. Pretty stunning. I blew up one negative to 11x14 and had a hard time focusing it because there was so little grain.

    I'll try to scan negatives later as well. That Caffenol LC+C is the way to go.

    UPDATE:
    Okay ... I have looked at my notes, now. And had another look at the negatives, some of which I quickly scanned. I guess that the ONLY negatives I printed were the not-contrasty, flat ones. Which is why I remembered the negatives as being flat. MY MISTAKE and another nod to areality's post; this stuff is a challenge to work with — but, I do think Caffenol is a viable option over the proprietary developer.

    In full sun, harsh lighting, still quite a lot of contrast. That's probably why I made the prints I made and not the others. I used the Caffenol LC (as opposed to Caffenol LC+C) recipe because I was having trouble finding ascorbic acid powder.

    I souped it for 12 minutes at 20 degrees c / 68 F and used one inversion every three minutes.

    These are scanned at 800ppi on a v500, with no post processing except to reduce file size.

    Even light:
    img741 copy.jpg

    Harsh light / full sun:
    img739_1.jpg

    same roll of film, etc.
     
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  6. piu58

    piu58 Member

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    > Adox have, no doubt, spent a very long time perfecting the film

    No, Adox did nothin wit tha film CMS 20 is Agfa High Definition Pan, a very constraty working reproduction film (thought for b/w documents).

    > No matter what developer and process you use, these films do not have long exposure scales

    SPUR developer works at least satisfying. I used some rolls wit an older version of this stuff. The highlights were slightly too dense for my taste, but manageable.
    I wrote a text in German. May be at least the images are of use for you:
    http://home.arcor.de/piu58/fotoweb/aufsaetze/OrthopanUR.pdf
     
  7. ath

    ath Member

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    If you intend to burn in highlights or sky take another film.
     
  8. pstake

    pstake Member

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    This post kind of begs the question:

    Does anything resolve as well as CMS 20 ... but has more latitude in development?
     
  9. 250swb

    250swb Member

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    I couldn't swear to it, having never done it with CMS 20, but I would suspect a good compensating developer like DiXactol if you are using 120, or 510 Pyro, would be the way to tame a high contrast film. It certainly works with Pan F, and means the contrast range is kept well in check without producing flat negatives. Both developers also provide a lot of exposure leeway while you are nailing down your exact times.

    Steve
     
  10. piu58

    piu58 Member

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    > Does anything resolve as well as CMS 20 ... but has more latitude in development

    As well - no.
    You may think about Agfa Copex Rapid. It is a reproduction film for grey tone reproduction. It is quite sharp, and gives with SPUR developer fine shadings of grey. It can be used even on sunny days. But the resolution is lower. I made some prints from 35mm -> 30x40cm. I burned in the sky slightly, and got some grain there. Agfa High Definition Pan is nearly grain free. You may have problems using a focus scope - you don't find any grain.

    > a good compensating developer like DiXactol if you are using 120, or 510 Pyro,

    No way. I tried everything. If you use extremely diluted compensation developer you may prevent the film building up to much density. But the "medium density" is the same across the whole negative, much to less differentiation. SPUR developer contains a forceful inhibition system, whose effect cannot be copied with other substances.
     
  11. georg16nik

    georg16nik Member

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    CMS 20 and Spur developer is best match, shoot at less than ISO 10.
    Most scanners would be challenged to scan CMS20 negative at best, so most of what You see on the net is not even close to the real result on negative (or decent optical print).

    As Uwe mentioned Agfa Copex Rapid is another option, much faster and exceptional scale.

    These are the 2 films Zeiss AG Camera Lens Division are using to benchmark their optics.
     
  12. fatso

    fatso Member

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    Hi Michael,

    I've read several comments about Agfa Copex Rapid having excellent tonality, is this an exaggeration ? Is it more similar to Techpan or Tmax ?

    Paul
     
  13. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    Much more similar to Tech Pan than TMax. That is not to say it is all that similar to Tech Pan, just that it bears zero similarity to TMax (or any other medium speed general purpose film for that matter - I just used TMax 100 as an example because it is the finest grained general purpose film I know of).

    "Excellent tonality" is highly subjective, and also relative. Perhaps relative to CMS20, Copex Rapid has excellent tonality. But any general purpose film will spank it. Note also the exposure scale is very important - ie how long a subject luminance range the film can record/render.

    I think it is important for people to see the "big picture" here. When you use a film like Tech Pan, or Copex, or CMS20 or Imagelink etc for general photography, you are working against the film. That is, you are using it for purposes for which it wasn't really designed. People want to try to make these films work because they are exceedingly fine grained. But you don't get something for nothing. In exchange for micro-fine grain you get relatively poor, harsh tonality, a short exposure scale, abysmal speed, odd spectral responses (Tech Pan for example), and zero flexibility.

    This is not to say you shouldn't use these films, and I've seen some good examples here and there - but these have always been examples that made use of the inherent high contrast properties of the film. They might be useful for very low contrast subjects, special effects etc. But when it comes to the notion you can substitute these films for general purpose films and make prints from smaller negatives look like they were made from larger negatives, not gonna happen.

    All I can suggest is try them for yourself. Do some careful testing, expose and process very carefully, and decide if they give you the results you want. Everyone sees things differently so they might work perfectly well for you.
     
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  15. fatso

    fatso Member

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    It seems most people using these document films are only concerned with resolution; most of the examples on the net show a problem with contrast.

    I wanted to test a few rolls of Rollei/Agfa Retro 80s but my RLS developer was DOA. Several people have compared Retro 80s it to APX 25 - I'm curious to see the results. Do you have any experience with this film ?

    Paul
     
  16. piu58

    piu58 Member

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    > Copex Rapid having excellent tonality, is this an exaggeration
    No. With SPUR developer Copex works fine and has a good tonality. What you sacrify, however, is the flexibility of conventional films. But ther is no "contrast problem" anymore with that dev.

    > When you use a film like ... Copex, or CMS20.., you are working against the film.
    Yes, that is right. But the SPUR dev ist the solution at least for copex. It is quite expansive, of course. But Copex + spur is an all purpose combination. You have real 40 asa what is not too far away form the widely used 100 asa film (which may have 50..80 asa in reality). And you have a good tonality.

    BTW, I found Agfa Avi Pan 80 = Rollei Retro 80s having not much more grain than copex. But with that film you have a chance subduing it with conventional devs. And you have additional the IR capability. RR80s is my reason for leaving copex.
     
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  17. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    Well, resolution is only one component of sharpness, and plays a relatively small role in overall subjective print quality. This is not to say resolution isn't important. But it's not as though general purpose medium speed films have poor resolution. On the contrary. So when comparing something like TMX to CMS20, what we're really talking about is high resolution versus ultra-high resolution. Further, can we actually take advantage of the very high resolution of a film like CMS20 beyond shooting a 2 dimensional target on an optical bench? Consider all the variables involved in making an actual photograph. Subject depth, tiny focusing errors, flatness variations at the film plane, vibration, enlarger alignment etc all conspire to obliterate lines per mm.

    I have not used the specific Rollei film you mentioned so I can't comment on it.
     
  18. Роберт

    Роберт Member

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    Ultra high resolution is interesting when you can shoot with an excellent lens wide or almost wide open. Going down in aperture the resolution went down quickly. All micro films have a problem in high contrast light situations. Good results I had with the Rollei Retro 80s E.I. 50 with different developers. For a cubical type film the grain is extremely small. Recommended and available in 135-36, 30,5m/100ft and 120 roll film.
     
  19. fatso

    fatso Member

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    TMAX/XTOL so far seems to offer the best combination of overall tonality and fine grain. I tried some Rollei Pan 25 and my results are mixed. I don't find the grain any finer and the quality control of the emulsion is pretty poor and the film is terribly curly, though the comparison may not entirely be fair since the Pan 25 was developed in Rodinal. The TMAX was definitely finer grained than Delta 100/D76... As fine grained as the TMAX is my lenses are still out-resolving the film and looking back at my old APX 25 and Techpan negative they have 'significantly' more detail.

    I shot a few rolls of Retro 80S over the weekend - when my RLS developer arrives I'll post some results...


    Paul
     
  20. Роберт

    Роберт Member

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    RLS/CG-512 is an ultrafine grain type developer which should be used on 24C. So for an acurate processing you need a Jobo processor or something like that. And like all ultra fine grain type developers you have to over-expose the film +1F stop which means an E.I. 25-32 for the Retro 80S film.
     
  21. Noble

    Noble Member

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    If that is your reasoning then you may be mistaken. Adotech was probably matched for batches of CMS20. I have used CMS 20 in 120 format and I remember when I bought my first rolls Freestyle had a big warning on their website to only use Adotech I with 35mm CMS 20. They told us to wait for Adotech II for our 120 rolls. My understanding was there was something different about the 120 rolls. That change may have eventually occurred with the 35mm rolls. It doesn't make sense for Freestyle to be pushing Adotech I wholeheartedly for 35mm while telling everyone in big bold letters to wait for Adotech II for 120 unless there was some difference in the actual CMS 20 emulsions.
     
  22. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Both german enterprises involved into researching tonal renderimgh with high-resolution films have hinted at problems with larger formats than 35mm. The cause of that as well their remedies were not unveiled.
     
  23. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    The only very fine-grained film I've ever discovered that had long exp range (a long relative straight line
    to the characteristic cuve, reminiscent of some faster films) was Efke 25 (now discontinued). It worked
    wonderfully in ordinary developers including my preferred pyro options. By contrast, micro-films like
    Tech Pan needed special developers, were always disappointing in the shadows and highlights, and had
    poor edge effect, so actually looked less sharp in a typical print. Pan F works nice is your lighting isn't
    especially harsh.
     
  24. ath

    ath Member

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    My understanding is that CMS 20 II is from a different batch than the original CMS 20 and thus Adotech was tweaked and renamed Adotech II.
     
  25. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

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    What exactly are people trying to accomplish going to such lengths with these films? In the days when medium and large format gear was expensive and when Tech Pan was readily available along with the developer it could make a certain kind of sense for some photographers and subjects. But now? None of these films are as good as Tech Pan with Technidol was, and that wasn't good for everything and every subject. Films like TMX are far better, or at least far finer grained, than even slow conventional films of the pre-T-grain era, and finally medium format and large format gear is much less expensive. Get some TMX or Acros or Delta 100 (in that order if you are after the finest grain) and spend some time to really dial it in with pretty much any standard developer. If that's still not fine grained enough for you in 35mm, get a medium format camera for the same or less money than you'll spend on repeated Procrustean attempts to adapt a film poorly suited to pictorial photography to do something it isn't designed for.

    If you just like tinkering, fine, I get that though I prefer to use my tinkering time and energy on things less frustrating and more likely to be workable.
     
  26. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Roger, then you could also ask why people are using type 135 anyway... I mean, using it is not only a question of the price of larger format equipment.

    And Kodak Technical Pan was not readily available over here as far as I remember. At least not easier than those high-resolution films of today.