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.