Old Ilford "Type RX" "Fine Grain Panchromatic Film"

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by newcan1, Apr 26, 2012.

  1. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

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    In a moment of insanity, I purchased a 1,000 foot roll of Ilford "Type RX fine grain panchromatic film" with an expiration date of March 1964. Based on other Ilford film I have of similar vintage, it's probably fogged to death, but who knows. Curiosity killed the cat and I decided I had to find out.

    The problem is -- I haven't a clue what "Type RX" film actually is. Does anyone have any insights on this?
     
  2. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    prescription film. Take 36 exposures in the morning with food.
    I'd expose a strip starting with 25 asa on upward in several series on the roll, develop a few frames for a set time, then repeat with a different time if you don't like the results.
     
  3. erikg

    erikg Member

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    Must have been for doctors. :wink: Seriously maybe Mr. Galley can help out. You've certainly got enough to test, why not snip some and start by treating it like Pan-F?
     
  4. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

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    I will do some bracketed tests when it arrives. I am rather hoping it is slowish, as that might reduce the chance that it is badly fogged. My HP-3 from a similar era develops almost black when un-exposed. See attached image (which could have been a bit better but I rather blotchily tried to reduce it). I had to hold the negative up to strong light to see any image.

    There is a book on the history of Ilford that might have a precise answer in it re: type RX, if anyone happens to have it.
     

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  5. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    At a guess, and doing a quick bit of googling, "Type RX" would appear to be an X-Ray film. This post has a snippet of interesting information. For further info, it would probably be worth contacting Ilford directly (and posting the responses here).
     
  6. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

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    I was wondering that too -- the other post is interesting - but it appears that the Ilford X Ray films of that era have different names. Still, it does seem possible if not likely. I will try to find a contact at Ilford to ask.
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    You don't say what format the film is, the fact that it's a 1000ft roll indicates it's commercial. Xray films don't need to be Panchromatic.

    Ian
     
  8. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

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    The film is 35mm, perforated.
     
  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Well I just looked through a few publications from the late 1950's to 1963 and there's no Ilford RX film listed however they did make specialist films for militatry and other government uses.

    Some of us here remember the shops like AW. Young, Harringey Photogarphic Supplies. Marston & Heard etc who specialised in ex Government surplus materials - films, papers, cameras etc.

    Ian
     
  10. juanito

    juanito Member

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    I used to work at a company that made medical x ray equipement.
    There were some equipement that was used to film the coronary arteries with x rays.
    I think it must be that kind of film.
    We used Kodak film for that and It was not a panchrometic film it was green sensitive.

    Juan Carlos
     
  11. alan doyle

    alan doyle Member

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    ilford will not know :smile:
    it is an old military and hospital film used in 35mm i assume for cost saving post war.
    unlike say panatomic x which works well from the same period the ilford stuff will be pretty weird and fogged but still usable for certain low fi effects.
    i believe ilford sold it as a flouroscience film mainly for dental photography a lot of this was used since we are world famous for are rotten teeth :D
    asa range to test 3..6...12 and 25 asa.
    since you have so much pull off a couple of feet and bin it in case of fogging over the years.
    i treated mine as pan f and i think i did stand dev in rodinal and normal pan f times in hc110.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2012
  12. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Subscriber

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    If you search our APUG classifieds , you find Field sell cinerex AGFA 80 ASA Orthochromatic film . Other brand name is Scopix AGFA. It is amazing film , high contrast and may be better than Panatomic X and Tri X. It is x ray film for cardiology and there is a special section for Scopix at flicker. Go , google it , it is amazing.
     
  13. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

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    Alan, what kind of results did you get in HC 110 and how badly fogged was it? I was kind of hoping that if it was a slow film to start with, it might still be OK-ish. I agree re: losing a few feet on the outer layer.
     
  14. Simon R Galley

    Simon R Galley Subscriber

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    I have absolutely no idea what it is ? from the expiry date it must have been manufactured in the very late fifties also from the description it does'nt sound medical, also 1,000' lengths of 35mm are very rare, my guess is its something military like a gun camera film ( usually 16mm ) or a 'recording' type film for surveillance or sequential exposing.

    Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited:
     
  15. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

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  16. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Visiting Marston & Heard and also AW Young in the early 1970's was like walking into an Aladdins cave of photography. Even David Bailey used them or rather sent his assistants there :D There were wooden 5x4 cameras all ex RAF, all sorts of aerial cameras, surplus film & paper by the mile. I cut my teeth on FP3 & HP3 in the late 60's bought mail order from them long before I could drive and visit them.

    Later I used an un branded PE paper they were selling long before Ilford released Ilfospeed, presumably another ex military material for high speed printing of aerial films.

    Talking to an Ilford director at Focus on Imaging we commented how 3 major UK suppliers evolved from that era of ex Government surplus - Firstcall, Silverprint and R.K. Photographics.

    Ian
     
  17. cmacd123

    cmacd123 Member

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    I beleive taht is where Freestyle started in the business also, they used to say "since 1947"
     
  18. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

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    Ok, the Ilford RX film arrived today! I am a bit disappointed. I opened the can in a changing bag, and there was a huge 1,000ft reel inside, but probably only about 400 ft left on it. The original cloth tape sealing the can had been slit, and covered over with a newer tape. I don't know under what conditions it had previously been opened.

    The emulsion is very thin and doesn't look to have any anti-halation backing, It is a thin, pale grey, and can be scratched with the fingernail if scraped hard. In color it looks a bit like some PolyPan film I bought from Germany recently (which is advertised as a 50 ASA emulsion).

    So it does look like a special purpose emulsion. I will try to shoot a few bracketed frames tomorrow and will report back with my conclusions. My hope is it was a slow speed film and may have withstood the test of time better than high speed in terms of fogging etc. But then my luck hasn't been that good recently....!
     
  19. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

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    I now have some interesting information regarding this film. I had reached out to Maurice Fisher, who is the creator of the Ilford historical website at http://www.photomemorabilia.co.uk/Ilford/Chronology.html. He consulted his references and his friend, Michael Talbert, a fellow APUG-er, who apparently owns a number of Ilford references. I also contacted Harman Technology Ltd.

    Michael Talbert was very helpful, and identified the film, using an Ilford Professional catalog from the 1960's. Ilford made a special purpose film called RX Recording Film. It was used for recording traces from oscilloscopes, among other things. It had a thin, hardened emulsion suitable for high temperature processing. This is in line with the physical charactistics of my film. Michael's data also indicated that the film had an EI of 50 to 100 ASA. The film was sold on rolls of 300m (1,000 feet).

    In addition, Sue from Harman Technology Ltd's technical services responded to me. She also indicated that the film was likely RX Recording film. She confirmed the 50-100 ASA working speed and the specialized nature of the film. Also, that while it was good in providing negatives, it was very good at providing reversal positives. The film was apparently also used to provide images of such things as racecourse finishes.

    I was gratified by this information but still thought I had bought old film of doubtful use. I took some test shots this morning and developed them at lunch time. The results blew me away. The film has virtually no base fog. The negatives exposed between 25 and 50 ASA looked awesome. It was like I was looking at new film (but knowing there had been some speed loss). However, for some reason, my scanner is not doing justice to this Old School emulsion. I've attached one image, but frankly, the negatives have far more information in them than the scans. I am jammed for the next couple of weeks but will try to make some prints to scan to share here. It seems from the image that while panchromatic, the film may have a green bias, as the grass looks pale. I used a yellow filter but maybe I should try something different.

    Imagine that someone leaves a digital camera SD card lying around for the next 48 years. What is the likelihood that someone could pick it up, put it into a then-current camera, and record an image? Just food for comparative thought.

    Please give thanks to people like Maurice, Michael, and Sue at Harman for taking the time to do such an in-depth analysis of this single, long-obsolete emulsion. They clearly understand the value of keeping such information alive, and in my case it is especially valuable given my acquisition of about 400ft left of this very interesting – and useable - emulsion.
     

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  20. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Member

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    Thanks for reporting back - it's a very interesting story, and judging by the test photo, the film seems to have great promise!
     
  21. alan doyle

    alan doyle Member

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    good news about your film.:smile:
    i have rechecked my film is use by 1955,i had a lot of base fog at the beginning but mine got better after about 10 frames in.
    i rated mine at 80-100asa.
    mine stated yellow green florescent screen.may explain your grass issue?

    i got some cool results using this ilford military and hospital film by using may and baker promicrol developer with a use by date 1964.
    my ilford film was stored in a tin roof shed on a windy rain soaked military airforce base in scotland for over 30 years.
    amazing that nobody had opened the rusted film can,looking for treasure : )
    ya gotta love ilford.what a great company.

    4382973480_fa7558e132_z.jpg
     
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  22. newcan1

    newcan1 Subscriber

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    It is a great company. Yesterday I developed one of many, many Ilford SG Pan plates that my father in law shot in 1952, but never developed!! It came out as if it had been taken yesteday, although just using D-76 it was a bit low in contrast.

    I am getting the impression that anything at ISO 50 or so lasts forever no matter what.

    While my RX film is panchromatic, I think it does favor green (because of its principal use with oscilloscopes) so I am going to have to figure how to deal with that. Red filter, perhaps? Also I want to fiddle with the processing to try to get it to ISO 100.
     
  23. John Shriver

    John Shriver Member

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    By 1960, many oscilliscope had blueish-white traces. Still no need for much red sensitivity.

    Slow films are pretty eternal.

    As for the flash card 48 years from now, it would be toast even if you had a working matching camera or card reader. NAND flash is pretty flaky stuff. It can forget in 5 years, to mention 50. Very high error rate, hidden by error correcting codes.