Developping old Plus-X and Tri-X from 1950's

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by GoodMarie, Dec 20, 2011.

  1. GoodMarie

    GoodMarie Member

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    Hello,

    I'm new here, and I would like to benefit from all of you in order to solve a specific problem.
    I work at a university archives department and we are facing a dilemma concerning undevelopped rolls of Plus-X and Tri-X that are apparently from the 1950's.
    I have developped plenty of films as a fine arts student, but always while following a guideline. I have no clue how, if it is even possible, to develop older films without knowing grossly what kind of products and time are supposed to be used.

    I had found guidelines on Kodak website about the discontinued Plus-X Pan (wich I assume is what I had in hand, considering it said it was made on 135 format; however I don't see the mention «Pan» anywhere on the can, but i'm guessing that it would be assumed) but I am not sure how something from 2002 applied to 1950's films will work.
    Same for the Tri-X.

    Needless to say, the cans were not in their original boxes.
    We are aware that these films may have been stored in conditions that may have ruined them, but since they are part of the estate of a professor we need to at least check what's on them.

    If any of you have an idea of how to develop these, which product to use, temp. and time, it will be amazing.
    Sorry for the bad english, it's not my first language.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 20, 2011
  2. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I have developed rolls of film from the 1960s, and while the results are, as expected, less than ideal, I was able to get pictures from all frames.

    My recommendation is for HC-110 developer, which seems to be very good at minimizing fog of all kinds in the film. I recommend using Dilution B, because the shorter the time the film is in the developer, the better it is. I would probably start with one roll at 4 minutes to see what happens.

    Plus-X will likely be a lot less fogged than the Tri-X. Higher speed films react more to cosmic radiation due to their higher sensitivity.

    Attached picture is from a roll of Verichrome Pan that I found in an old Zeiss Ikon belonging to a friend of mine. His dad shot the pictures. I scanned the negatives and ended up doing a LOT of cleaning and digital repair, but I think the effort was well invested.
     

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  3. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    Your english is fine.

    I'll recommend Kodak HC 110 because the film may have a fair amount of base fog by now and HC 110 won't add anymore. Times are usually shorter also depending on dilution. This will help speed things up a bit.

    As far as times for these film I can't help but someone here will.
    The films from the 50's are quite different from the recent versions and the Plus X "PAN" is refined from the plain plus x from the 50's.

    I'd also recommend doing clip tests after you get an idea of your starting times.
    A clip test is where you snip a few frames from the roll (in the darkroom) and develop that before a batch so you can evaluate.
     
  4. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I would expose a step wedge on a section of film that is likely to be unexposed. Maybe the leader a few inches in... or the tail end. Then I would develop that for an best guess time in a developer (I'd look for a formula that minimizes fog).

    Once I got the results, I would look for an imprint for a film code name or number. Then I would compare my step wedge results with a "Time/Contrast Index" chart to choose the process time for more of the roll. I'd maybe cut the roll in half and develop in two passes - sacrificing one shot for the chance to not lose it all.

    If I found the exact film, then I'd look for an unexposed stock of the exact same film to do any additional testing. If the film is Panatomic-X then you would get almost no fog and the pictures will come out as if you took them yesterday. If Plus-X or Tri-X, I agree with Thomas. Verichrome Pan wasn't very common in 35mm.

    ps. I work for Kodak but my opinions and positions are not necessarily those of EKC
     
  5. GoodMarie

    GoodMarie Member

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    Thank you! HC-110 Dil. B seems to be what was recommended by Kodak as of 2002; 6 min at 68F but as you said, I will try at less first.
    Just to make sure, all the other steps (kodak stop bath, kodafix, photoflo,etc.) work the same? I don't see why not but I guess I just don't want to mess them more.
     
  6. GoodMarie

    GoodMarie Member

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    Thank you! Clip test is a good idea, considering how uncertain this whole process is. Funny how I've never thought of that in my personal practice as well.
     
  7. phfitz

    phfitz Member

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    "I have no clue how, if it is even possible, to develop older films without knowing grossly what kind of products and time are supposed to be used. "

    Kodak really did change their films over the years, the old ones had thick emulsions and took quite some time to develope. Try the clip test with extended times up to 20 minutes. A one minute water bath instead of stop bath. Fix for 2X clearing time with hardening fixer. You could try divided D-76, 10min in each bath. Good luck with it

    **********************

    From Kodak's Data book 1954:

    Kodak Plus-X Panchromatic for miniature cameras
    D-76, Microdol or DK-20 - 68*f - 16min - intermittent agitation - small tank

    Kodak Super-XX Panchromatic for miniature cameras
    D-76, Microdol - 68*f - 16min - intermittent agitation - small tank

    Tri-X roll film is not listed

    **********************

    From Kodak Dataguide 1988


    Plus-X Pan film (Rolls)

    HC-110 (Dil B)___ 5min - 68F - small tank
    D-76__________5.5min - 68F - small tank
    D-76 (1-1)_______7min - 68F - small tank

    Tri-X Pan film (rolls)

    HC-110 (Dil B)___7.5min - 68F - small tank
    D-76____________8min - 68F - small tank
    D-76 (1-1)_______10min - 68F - small tank

    **********************
     
  8. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    You might want to check ebay or Amazon to see if you find any old editions of the Kodak Data Guide. I have a coupl of old copies from the 60s but not the 50s. You might want to check with Kodak, they may have the data on hand.
     
  9. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    Hi, Marie! The one thing that you don't want to do is add benzotriazole (Edwal Orthazite) to the developer. This is a chemical used with older paper, or to get whiter "whites." What this will do on old film is completely destroy the latent image. Just use the developer as noted, and no other additional chemicals.
     
  10. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Hi GoodMarie,
    It will only give a little information. But a little information is good.

    If you can take a tiny snip of the film and drop it in 68-degree F fix and report back to us how quickly it clears. Panatomic-X clears in 2-4 minutes while many others take 5 minutes. So the time to clear may give a clue to what kind of film it is.

    A general comment, while black and white films and chemicals have evolved over the years, old and new film still responds to the same basic developer-stop-fix-wash processing steps using chemicals of the same name.
     
  11. spoolman

    spoolman Subscriber

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    developing old plus-x and tri-x from 1950's

    Hello GoodMarie: I'm in the process of developing a large number of old B&W roll films that I was given last month.They varied in type of film(Verichrome and verichrome pan,plus-x,super-xx and Ansco plenachrome.I did a Google search for processing old film and of the results I chose to use HC-110 dilution "A" at 64 degrees F and between 8 to 10 minutes.The colder temp helps keep emulsion swelling down and the high developer concentration helps to keep the fog levels down. Just make sure that the temperature of the other chemistry is at or close to the developer to avoid swelling of the emulsion and reticulation.

    The other respondents are correct in that the slower speed films will have less fog than the faster speed films.Anyway thats my two cents worth.Good Luck.

    Doug:smile:
     
  12. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    My 1970 Kodak Master Darkroom Dataguide gives the same recommendation for Plus-X Pan, Plus-X Pan Professional, Tri-X Pan and Tri-X Pan Professional (in roll film and 35mm sizes).

    HC-110 - 68F - 5 minutes
    HC-110 - 64F - 6 1/4 minutes

    As a matter of comparison, the 1970 recommendations for Plus-X Pan Professional in D-76 is 6 minutes - quite a bit of difference from phfitz' recommendations from 1954.
     
  13. snederhiser

    snederhiser Member

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    Hello;
    Plus-X at this time was rated at 50 while Tri-X was 200. Use D-76 full strength, water bath, Kodak fixer with hardener at 68 degrees. Developing time should be 10-12 minutes. Do a test strip of each first and adjust times as needed, Steven.
     
  14. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    My venerable 1965 edition of the Kodak Darkroom Dataguide shows both Tri-X Pan and Plus-X Pan Professional in HC110 dilution B as about 4.5 minutes @ 68ºF for average contrast; D-76 straight was 6.5. But that may be after the switch to ISO ratings vs ASA, and whatever else happened with that. I must confess my memory is a bit fuzzy on when that transition occurred (even though I lived through it!) Obviously some clip tests, etc. would be well advised.
     
  15. wblynch

    wblynch Member

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    This is my method for old films or unknown 35mm films...

    I cut the leader off about 3-4 inches and take it to the light. (It most likely did not hold any photos). Then, using a little suspension bridge fashioned from paper clips, I lower the first 1/2" into a vial of my developer. After 4 minutes, I lower another 1/2" and each 2 minutes after that.

    When the last segment has been in there 4 minutes I take it out, rinse and drop it into a cup of fixer for 5 minutes.

    Then, looking through the film into the light, I choose the stripe that is dark enough that only a tiny amount of light can be seen through. I use that time for my development.

    This should get you useable negatives and if you have many rolls, you can adjust from there.

    At least you don't risk loosing a whole roll or cutting potentially irreplaceable frames into pieces to test strips.
     
  16. cmacd123

    cmacd123 Member

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    two notes:

    1: The switch from 200 to 400 asa for tri-x was in the 1950 era, but the film was not changed - just the way the speed was rated so you can ignore that one.

    2: I just used a roll of Double-x 5222 from my freezer that was from 1985, it was fairly foggy but the images will probaly print.

    2.5: in the early 1970's A friend bought some old darkroom stuff with some tri-x from 1956. it liklwise had lost speed to shoot, but did make useable images even though we did not know what we were doing at the time.

    Good Luck.
     
  17. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    A guy named Mark Antony used to post here on APUG, and he specialized in processing old rolls of film. You might find a lot of value by seeking out his posts via Google. Just type in as search string: site:www.apug.org mark Antony old film and you should be able to fetch lots of info.
     
  18. Loren Sattler

    Loren Sattler Subscriber

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    Have old Tech Manual info

    Attached are two scans from a 1947 Kodak tech guide showing info on Plus-x in 35mm format. Tri-x is listed in the guide, but only for roll and sheet film, no 35mm. Time for Plus-x in D76 is 16 minutes in a tank with intermittent agitation. My other guide is from 1966. It shows a time of 5.8 minutes for D76 and Plus-x (135 format).

    These are quite different times. They obviously changed Plus-x significantly in those 19 years.
     

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