Developping old Plus-X and Tri-X from 1950's
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 GoodMarie; 12-20-2011 at 10:18 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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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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.
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
Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson
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.
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Originally Posted by brucemuir
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.
"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
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.
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.
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.