My experience with AgfaPan APX 400

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by aldevo, Dec 5, 2010.

  1. aldevo

    aldevo Member

    Messages:
    895
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Location:
    Cambridge, M
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm wondering what people's experiences have been with the "last batch" of AgfaPhoto-produced AgfaPan APX400.

    I have about 15-20 rolls of the stuff, all of which was produced during the "last gasp" era of AgfaPhoto and which expired in 11/2010 (obviously, very recently). The film has been refrigerated since I bought it from Hunt's Photo & Video in Greater Boston in 2006.

    I recently shot and developed two rolls. The film was only removed from refrigerator on the day it was shot and then stored at room temperature for about 2 weeks prior to being developed. The rolls were shot on a cloudy day (no shadows visible) on a camera & lens with which I was well familiar. The film was exposed at EI 400 due to the low-contrast lighting. All shots were hand-held but were shot at easily-handholdable speeds and with the lens stopped down at least a couple f-stops from the maximum.

    The lens was a SMC Takumar 50mm f/1.4 which is a lens that I would regard as quite sharp. The film was developed at 68 degrees in Ilford DD-X 1:4 for 10 minutes with 60 seconds of initial agitation and 2 slow inversions each minute.

    So here are my impressions of the film:

    * It isn't sharp.. I do not regard Kodak TX400 as a particularly sharp ISO 400 film and the APX 400 seems significantly less sharp. I can't speak for resolution because I don't feel you can make any safe judgements with the shooting that I did.

    * It's slow among ISO 400 films. I wouldn't hesitate to shoot any other of the ISO 400 films at EI 400 in this sort of light when developed in DD-X but the lower-exposure areas of the negative tended to lack shadow detail. This is in stark conrast to the perception of folks like Anchell & Troop who believe that APX 400 are "true" ISO 400 speed films that are best shot at box speed.

    * I would definitely give it a bit more development time. The Massive Dev Chart times for DD-X 1:4 @ EI 400 for APX 400 suggest 12 minutes. That might be a good suggestion, though I'd probably try 11 minutes.

    * I suspect that the characteristic curve features a short toe and long straight line region vs. Kodak TX400 or Fuji Neopan which have long toes. Again, this is not really scientific; I am basing this on the appearance of the areas on my negatives that received little exposure.

    * Grain size seemed about the same as HP5+ and 400TX. However, as noted above, I would give the negs more development next time - which would suggest they would be grainier.

    While the film could be considered old (it was probaby manufactured close to six years ago), it did not display elevated base fog. As a result, I believe that the performance I observed was reasonably close to what it would have been if shot & processed close to the date of manufacture.

    So I have to confess to being a bit underwhelmed with this film, with the lack of sharpness being the greatest concern, followed by its relative lack of speed. I shot a little APX 400 around 2002 and, though I did not process it myself, I recall better results. This makes me wonder if the film was reformulated (or if the manufacturing process changed) between 2002 and 2005.

    I will be interested to see how folks fare with the newly-introduced Adox Pan 400 film.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 5, 2010
  2. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

    Messages:
    2,027
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I shot some of the last batch of APX100 and it was nothing like the wonderful stuff I remembered from before. I found foma 100 a great replacement and beautiful in rodinal.
     
  3. Bundesphotograph

    Bundesphotograph Member

    Messages:
    91
    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2008
    Location:
    Lower Saxony
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
  4. sandermarijn

    sandermarijn Member

    Messages:
    769
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2005
    Location:
    Leiden, Neth
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I have no experience with the old APX 400. By the time I wanted to try the film it had vanished in 120. (I use Neopan 400 for 35mm--- no substitute for that film for me).

    I bet lots of people are waiting for the Adox-revived APX 400 (called Pan 400 I believe) in larger formats. The already released 35mm version does not have my interest. Eagerly anticipating the 120 version though!

    Thanks for your evaluation of the old APX 400, Alvedo. This is one of the few (available) films I have never tried and every bit of user experience is very welcome.

    Sander.
     
  5. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,107
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2002
    Location:
    Melbourne, A
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    The new version of APX400 had slightly different packaging, the speed "400" was in a green rectangle. From an Agfa pdf document:

    APX New generation:
    35mm as of em. no. 450,
    Rollfilm 120 as of em. no. 260.

    I think from the OP's expiry date he has the new generation. It did have significantly different development characteristics especially with Rodinal. I still have one roll of each type in 35mm but can't be bothered using them.
     
  6. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    12,201
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Sander, the APX 400 remake has not yet been released in the production version.
     
  7. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

    Messages:
    4,575
    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2006
    Location:
    İstanbul
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Its a film some hates , some loves.
    Its a very smooth film and lower contrast. I looked to flickr galleries and They are not different from my experience.
    It looks like 50s magazine prints or offset print with less ink and lots of water which smooth and blur the image.
    May be it has less sensivity to blue. I dont know. Its out of taste of todays photography. No blacks , no whites but always sandy greys. I tried to love the film but nowadays I prefer metallic look.

    Umut
     
  8. sandermarijn

    sandermarijn Member

    Messages:
    769
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2005
    Location:
    Leiden, Neth
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I know. If Adox comes with a first-emulsion version of 400-120 I'll be happy to guinea pig though, especially if initial pricing turns out similarly friendly.

    APX 25 in 120 was a film I only got to try after production had ceased. But I liked those few rollls. If 400-120 has the same look (with a bit more latitude and grain) I'll be all over it.
     
  9. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

    Messages:
    2,266
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2007
    Location:
    Metro DC are
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    * I suspect that the characteristic curve features a short toe and long straight line region vs. Kodak TX400 or Fuji Neopan which have long toes. Again, this is not really scientific; I am basing this on the appearance of the areas on my negatives that received little exposure.

    Wouldn't a short toe film give BETTER shadow detail?

    I'm confused. Can someone clear this up. I always thought Neopan 400 was close to 400 speed, so if Neo 400 had a longer toe than what you suggest APX400 has, the Agfa would provide BETTER shadow detail..

    What am I missing.
     
  10. aldevo

    aldevo Member

    Messages:
    895
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Location:
    Cambridge, M
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well, the shadows are better separated but the transition from deep shadows to completely blocked shadows (i.e. density = base + fog) is abrupt with short-toed films. As a result, it is best to rate short-toed films at lower EI to ensure that detail is preserved.
     
  11. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

    Messages:
    2,266
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2007
    Location:
    Metro DC are
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Aldevo,
    That makes perfect sense and I can visualize the concept.

    thanks for helping here.
     
  12. Leigh Youdale

    Leigh Youdale Member

    Messages:
    232
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    It's months and months now in which every little film coater/slitter/packager/marketer in Europe has promised a "direct replacement" for APX. Well, the conflicting stories keep swirling around and still no hard facts or product. And those few I tried were in no way a direct replacement - they needed to be treated as another film altogether. Several had quality control issues.
    So I'm sticking with Kodak and Ilford products until there's some real certainty. I liked APX but I haven't much liked the products touted as "the same as" and I'm prepared to sit this one out until it's laid to rest.
     
  13. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    12,201
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Actually over hear I haven't heard that many replacement stories.

    And yes, Fotoimpex have made a preliminary coating run and offered test films from that to anyone interested at least in Germany. Reviews have been written.
     
  14. aldevo

    aldevo Member

    Messages:
    895
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Location:
    Cambridge, M
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well the Rollei "RPX" films might be little more than Ilford's Kentmere-branded films "in drag", so to speak. At least that is what early reviews suggest.

    The Fotoimpex effort is being undertaken with small scale production infrastructure that was actually in use by AgfaPhoto - so it is a much more "genuine" effort.

    Unfortunately, APX 400 appears to be a film that degraded significantly in performance when it was reformulated in 2002 and (somehow) again in late 2004. So while Fotoimpex could well succeed in producing a "genuine" APX 400 film, it isn't clear to me whether it will be a desirable one.
     
  15. aldevo

    aldevo Member

    Messages:
    895
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Location:
    Cambridge, M
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I am now developing two additional rolls shot at EI 200 using stand development with Rodinal 1:100.

    I will post results once I have them.
     
  16. sandermarijn

    sandermarijn Member

    Messages:
    769
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2005
    Location:
    Leiden, Neth
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Anything online? German is fine. I'm quite curious.
     
  17. aldevo

    aldevo Member

    Messages:
    895
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Location:
    Cambridge, M
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The only replacement stories I have heard concern Rollei's new Ilford-produced RPX films and, of course, the forthcoming Adox APX 400.

    The former is claimed to be a replacement for APX 400, but not a copy. I believe that they are Ilford-produced with input from Efke under direction from Rollei-Maco (Rollei-branded films tend to have complex "parentage").

    There is some suspicion that these Rollei films are rebranded Kentmere Pan 100 and Pan 400 - which themselves have been accused of bearing a more-than-passing resemblance to the former Ilford Pan 100 and Pan 400 films (reputedly "close cousins" of the prior-generation HP/FP Ilford films ultimately replaced by HP5+ and FP4+, respectively).

    In fairness to Ilford I should note that Simon Galley has gone on record stating that Kentmere 100 and 400 are not Ilford Pan 100 and Pan 400 reborn.

    But, as I said, "complex parentage". :wink:

    The Adox effort is an attempt to truly resurrect APX 100 & 400 as produced by Agfa. It is my understanding that former Agfa engineers & chemists are very involved in the effort and that the films will be manufactured using small-scale production machinery that was in use by the former Agfa R&D department for research & development.

    So the Adox effort should, in theory, be capable of producing "genuine" APX films should all the constituents be available.

    However, the APX films themselves undersent considerable changes during their last years of production.

    * The APX films were reformulated after 2002
    * Many have reported that the behavior of the films changed again in late-2004 when the films were briefly produced by AgfaPhoto.

    In both cases, many uses reported a loss of film speed, a need for longer development times to achieive the same EI, larger grain, and (in some cases) diminished film sharpness.

    So now the question becomes - just which Agfapan APX 400 will the Adox film resemble?
     
  18. Sal Santamaura

    Sal Santamaura Member

    Messages:
    1,621
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2005
    Location:
    San Clemente, California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Just scroll approximately 2/3 of the way down this page

    http://www.adox.de/english/ADOX Films/Premium/ADOX-PAN-400/PAN400.html

    and read what to expect (compared to the last APX400) when the final ADOX PAN 400 version is offered.

    I hope the longer development time in Adonal (Rodinal) 1+50 doesn't change. It provides another option for those of us with high ambient temperatures who use continuous agitation in Jobo processors. Mirko has already indicated that the time in Adonal 1+25 will not be unusually long.
     
  19. AgX

    AgX Member

    Messages:
    12,201
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Fotoimpex already stated that they are not in state to clone the APX400 due to lack of original elements.


    Fotoimpex is having a custom coating done at a company of former high rank Agfa specialists devoted to special emulsion designs and coatings which uses a former Agfa coating machine that in the original state had a nominal capacity of over 800million type135 / year.
     
  20. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I thought the stuff was pretty crappy as well, even when fresh. I tried 10 rolls of it when it was rebadged as Efke 400.
     
  21. aldevo

    aldevo Member

    Messages:
    895
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Location:
    Cambridge, M
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    AgX,

    Thank you for posting Adox's official statement regarding the film. This certainly sounds encouraging, as the most recent generation of AgfaPhoto-produced film is not living up to my expectations.
     
  22. mablo

    mablo Member

    Messages:
    389
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I bought a largish amount of the 'last batch' APX 400 a couple of years ago on a whim. What an error. Oh, I hated that film. I gave away the last bulk roll of my APX400 last Xmas. I just wanted to get rid of it.
     
  23. aldevo

    aldevo Member

    Messages:
    895
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Location:
    Cambridge, M
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well I have completed stand developing the next two APX 400 rolls in Rodinal. Of course, all these results are mooted by the fact that the ADOX ISO 400 film will be a somewhat different (and possibly better) emulsion.

    Before discussing the results, here are the details regarding how the film was exposed and processed.

    Both rolls were shot at EI 200 in bright, high-contrast, ambient outdoor lighting. One roll was shot using my Fujica ST705 and a couple of very good quality Fujinon & Pentax primes with which I was well familiar. The other was shot with my new Canon FTb and 55mm f/1.2 (non-L) lens with which I am still getting familiar. All shutter speeds were safely hand-holdable. The roll shot with the Canon equipment enabled quite small apertures to be used.

    Both film rolls were developed together in Rodinal 1:100 at 68 degrees. I used a 1L tank with 950 ml of distilled water and 9.5 ml of Rodinal. The film was developed at a temperature of 68 degrees for 48 minutes using stand development. The film was agitated with gentle inversions (one complete inversion every 5 seconds) for the first minute and then left to sit.

    Overall, the results I obtained were considerably better than what I experienced with DD-X and low-contrast lightinng. Here are my impressions.

    * There was no streaking (sometimes a concern when using stand development)

    * EI 200 was perhaps slightly too optimistic. Some loss of detail did result in the deepest shadows. This occurred even with the small compensating effect that the stand development seemed to provide. Even so, the shadow detail seemed reasonable given the contrasty lighting and a bit better than expected given the very disappointing shadow detail the film exhibited when processed in DD-X.

    * The film's toe still seems short-ish. Not TMY short, certainly, but the shadows do block quite abruptly.

    * The overall contrast was still slightly too low for my tastes. In the future I might extend the development time a bit.

    * The overall sharpness was quite good. I haven't ever tried stand development with any other ISO 400 film so I can't make any direct comparisions. Suffice to say that it was far, far better than the rolls processed with DD-X and that I feel comfortable stating that a Canon FD 55mm f/1.2 (non-L) lens can be quite sharp when stopped down.

    *Yes, the negatives were fairly grainy but the grain pattern is quite regular and orderly. I probably wouldn't want to enlarge scenes with large areas of continuous midtones past, say, 6-7x - but I tend to err on the conservative side when making enlargements.

    Overall these rolls performed far better than the ones developed in DD-X to the point where I would consider the film tobe quite usable. I still prefer Tri-X, though.
     
  24. sandermarijn

    sandermarijn Member

    Messages:
    769
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2005
    Location:
    Leiden, Neth
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thanks for your report, Aldevo. I find your preference for Tri-x the most interesting bit, however subjective that information may be.

    I will want to try for myself once the 'final' version is out.

    Sander.
     
  25. aldevo

    aldevo Member

    Messages:
    895
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Location:
    Cambridge, M
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    A couple things I forgot to mention:

    * I found this film to curl quite a bit when drying

    * More importantly, it stays extremely tightly wound upon the spool. So much so that for 2 of the 4 rolls processed a snipped the end of the film from the spool well before the last frame. I had never committed a mistake of that kind ever before, so be warned!