Grain at Last! Ilford Delta 3200 in Rodinal.

Or alternatively (suggested by Nick in the previous post’s comment section) ‘The Search for the Holy Grain’.

Ilford Delta, Rodinal, Olympus OM2N

Worbarrow Bay with Portland just visible on the horizon on the left. I thought this very heavy grain may be caused by under/over exposure but the negative looks fine.

In an attempt to get some really grainy results I’ve been trying some faster films with little success – I want a really grainy image like those obtainable using now discontinued films such as Kodak TMax 3200, Scotch 3M 1000 or even Kodak Hi Speed IR.

Ilford Delta, Rodinal, Olympus OM2N

The central portion of the above shot. That’s a lot of grain… I was after grain but maybe a bit less than this!

At 1600 and 3200 ASA Ilford Delta 3200 is (annoyingly) very well-behaved when developed in ID11, so the next step is Rodinal which sharpens up detail at the expense of harder grain.

Ilford Delta, Rodinal, Olympus OM2N

Tyneham church entrance. The sky has overexposed – as I took a meter reading from the ground here – and the grain hasn’t shown on the scan. Interesting.

Ilford Delta, Rodinal, Olympus OM2N

The centre of the previous shot – grainy goodness in spadefulls!

All shots from one roll in an OM2N using a 17mm f3.5 lens in manual mode as the max ASA setting is 1600 – so set the exposure and take a stop off. The Rodinal was at a 1+25 dilution at 20 degrees c for 11 minutes.

Ilford Delta, Rodinal, Olympus OM2N

Centre weighted meter reading and some grain in the sky as it hasn’t overexposed. This is just about right.

The grain is most evident in skies when no exposure compensation has been set for the main subject. If a meter reading is taken from the ground (rather than the whole scene) the clouds become over exposed and the grain can’t be seen – so a choice of technique.

Ilford Delta, Rodinal, Olympus OM2N

On a fairly bright winter’s day exposures are possible at 3200 using 1/1000th of a second and f16 to f11. On a brighter day a red 25A or polarizer would be needed – unless your SLR can shoot faster than 1/1000th of a second or you lens run to f22/f32 of course.

Ilford Delta, Rodinal, Olympus OM2N

Sorry – another shot of the same building. I got a bit carried away here.

These were all taken an Tyneham and Worbarrow Bay in Dorset. The ruins are what’s left of a small village which was taken over by the army as a combat training zone in World War 2 with the promise to the villages and landowner that it would all be returned – it never was.

Ilford Delta, Rodinal, Olympus OM2N

Anyway, back to this film/developer combo. Well I can’t complain that it’s not grainy. What’s odd is how variable the appearance of the grain is. In some cases using the same exposure for different shots of the same subject produces markedly different grain, even though the negatives look fine. Shots with lots of mid-tones seem to show the most grain when normally exposed, highlights when overexposed are fine and shadows are fine too surprisingly though the darker greys are a bit ‘grungy’.

Apart from the first picture in this series, the rest of these are just what I was after so I’ll stick with this for a few more rolls. Oddly several shots earlier in the roll showed the same ultra graininess but all the subsequent shots had less obtrusive grain :-

Ilford Delta, Rodinal, Olympus OM2N

Another shot from earlier in the roll.

So – a few mysteries and mishaps, but I like this a lot (you may not!) and it’s good to finally find a film/dev combo which achieves the look I was after.

Hope you find this useful, thanks for looking!

p.s. There a reviews of lots of other films on the film, camera and lens review index tab.


AgfaPhoto APX100 Film

After doing some posts on various Ilford, Adox and Fuji films I realised I hadn’t done one on the film I use most, Agfaphoto APX100. This is an excellent general purpose film, reasonably priced, fine grained with very good contrast control. Although other films may be better in any single aspect, this emulsion strikes just the right balance for me.

These first few were all taken on a dull, wet day to add to the challenge, using an Olympus Om1N and a 50mm f1.4 lens.


Although the negs were fairly low in contrast it’s always easy to add some in post-processing. If they’re very contrasty to start with you’re stuck with it! I liked the vintage feel to the next shot – could have been taken 60 years ago.


Same with this one…


The curved distortion of the 50mm F1.4 wide open (lower part of the frame) is quite noticable here – I quite like it, but others won’t. It’s gone at F2.


Finally one which made it to the agency – a bandstand shot through a dirty shelter window.


At about £3 for a 35mm/36 exp roll in the UK (less if bulk bought) it’s a recommended choice for an ‘everyday’ B/W film. While it doesn’t have any strong characteristics – such as Rollei Blackbird or Ilford Pan F+ – it’s a consistently well behaved film with a great range of midtones providing loads of scope for post-processing to get a desired final result.

Thanks for looking – hope you find this useful.

Adox CHS50 – My Last Roll

(Three Images). A few weeks ago, my last roll of  Adox CHS ART film was shot and developed – an ‘old school’ film made in the same way it was 60 years ago and despite a few irritations, was a bit of a special film. The Efke factory (where it was made for Adox) was closed last year, so shooting the last roll was a sad day – I used to use a lot of Efke film.

The CHS range (25, 50 and 100 ASA) had a fine grain and an unusual response to colour which gave the results a special ‘vintage’ look. The example below has been lightly layered to enhance the effect. Everything developed in Rodinal 1+50, and shot on either an OM1N or an OM2n with a variety of lenses.


The range of tones captured is impressive due to the high silver content though they may seem rather low contrast to digital photographers. A characteristic darker appearance of blue skies can be seen in the example below.


Its weakness is its soft emulsion which produced some very dusty negatives when compared to modern films. It also needed more care than usual during development – especially with regards to temperature. Above 20 degrees centigrade, the emulsion becomes very soft, and at 25 degrees will separate from the backing! Still, the vintage look was worth the dust cloning required – in the example below there are still a few dust spots in the sky above the church tower.


All is not lost though – Adox are developing a 100 ASA replacement, made in Germany and available in 35mm (36 exposure and 100 ft rolls), 120 and every variety of sheet film size – see here.

I’m really looking forward to trying it – I just hope we don’t have to wait too long!

Hope you find this useful, and thanks for looking.

40 Years of Imaging Technology Development – how much difference has it made?

An earlier post saw me going on about how good the Olympus Trip was.  So in the interests of  ‘putting my money where my mouth is’  I got to thinking – how does it compare to a relatively recent digital equivalent – an Olympus PEN? Both are aimed at roughly the same group of  photographers, even if they are separated by a generation or two. How much has technology really improved photography at the ‘consumer end’ of the market?

Olympus PEN and EPL3

So, armed with an Olympus Trip (loaded with Agfaphoto APX100) and an Olympus EPL3 on a fine winter’s day I took the same pics with both and did a comparison – it turned out to be more of a challenge  than I anticipated.

ot9s cmp

Trip on the left, EPL3 on the right. Not bad for the Trip but the EPL3 has a bit more dynamic range.

The EPL3 has a smallish micro 4/3 12 Mp sensor, the Trip uses full frame 35mm film so can be scanned to 20 MP, it’s only advantage. The Trip has no autofocus, no image stabilisation and only has simple metering. It’s also only equipped with ‘P’ program mode, the EPL3 has all the bells and whistles – aperture priority, ISO 200 (the lowest setting) and mid aperture were used for this comparison.

The film pics are nearly all crops – it’s surprisingly difficult to compare the field of view between a LCD and a basic viewfinder when taking comparison shots. Good fun though… This is a monochrome test because – well, I like black and white. No other reason!


EPL3 Top, Trip bottom. More even this time – the Trip has a slightly better look but it’s only a personal preference.

To do a fair comparison, the EPL3 pics were taken in RAW and converted using default settings to JPG and desaturated in Photoshop, the Trip shots scanned, then noise reduction, ‘dust and scratches’ and unsharp mask applied which seemed fair for comparison purposes.


Trip left, EPL3 right. The EPL3 has managed to capture more DR in the water but only marginally.

The EPL3 has a nice 14-42mm (28-84mm equiv) zoom lens, the Trip a faster fixed focus 40mm lens. this meant the ‘defining’ shot had to be taken with the Trip, then an approximation with the EPL3.

ot4l cmp

Trip left, EPL3 right – these were framed as the same shot the same to me on the day. This was more difficult than I’d initially imagined!

As much reduced images size can only give a basic impression – so here are some crops:-

ot4 cmp

Detail crops from the above shots – Trip left, EPL3 right. Not much in it but the EPL3 has just won this one on sharpness (and no scratches).

The APX100 film was developed in Rodinal 1+50 for 12 minutes.

ot10s cmp

Trip left, EPL3 right. The Trip is better based on personal choice here – more subtle midtones.

It’s significant that these shots were taken in good light – the EPL3 would have such an advantage in low light that the test wouldn’t be worthwhile.

There are so many film/developer/post-processing variables that any number of answers could result from this test – I like film and digital so I’m not trying to force any conclusion – just come to a general one.

The surprising thing is that for these two ‘consumer grade’ cameras the differences aren’t that great. The Trip needs slightly more experience to get the most out of it – especially estimating focus distance, and it’s results aren’t immediately available like its modern digital equivalent. However within the restrictions imposed by its age the Trip can put up a decent performance against its modern digital descendent which surprised me.

Maybe it shouldn’t though – film technology had many decades of development before it was widely dropped in favour of digital 10 to 15 years ago. The EPL3 is a very capable camera for all everyday uses, as was the Trip in its day. I’m really surprised that the Trip can still – just – hold its own against a much younger rival.

Is the inconvenience (some might say fun) of using film worth it versus the convenience and sharp clarity of digital? B/W film + home processing is £3 for 36 (more carefully) taken shots so you’ve got around 3000 shots before the cost equation is equal (the Trip was £50 refubished, the EPL3 £300). I’d personally say yes – on aesthetic as well as cost grounds, but many would say no!

Hope you find this interesting and thanks for looking – I had loads of fun doing this!

Adox Silvermax – Second Impressions in D76/ID11

Following on from an earlier post which detailed the results from my first roll of Rodinal developed Adox Silvermax, I thought some film users might want to see the second. No artistic masterpieces here I’m afraid (are there ever?) – these are test shots!


This seems like a good result – an excellent range from highlight to shadow.

The difference here is the developer – Ilford ID11 (identical to Kodak’s D76). I wanted to see how much the Rodinal developer which enhances sharpness was increasing the graininess of the final images – so ID11 seemed worth a try as it produces results which have less apparent sharpness, but also less grain.

On with the results – all taken on an Olympus OM2N and various Zuikos, developed for 9 minutes in ID11 stock. Scanned on a Plustek 7500 scanner using the ‘Agfa APX100’ profile which seemed to give a better result than the ‘no profile’ scans of the last test.

First shot – you may have seen this location before in previous posts – and a nice clear day with a pale blue sky.


Nothing to complain about here – nice dynamic range – similar to APX100,

And a small section enlarged.


The IDll developer has done a very nice job here – noticably more even than Rodinal.

Next one – again a standard test subject for me – and another sharp, fine grained result.


There’s an odd band of lighter grey along the very top of the frame here – it’s not on any other shots so I’m not sure what caused it. Easily cropped out if required though.

An enlargement from the centre of the frame.


Good sharpness again – this is good!

And one from the top left.


This small sample shows a more pleasing grain than the Rodinal developed film – more even and less ‘clumpy’.

The verdict then – as a confirmed Rodinal user I’m reluctant to admit that ID11 has done a better job. The grain is more even and less obvious, but the sharpness isn’t noticably reduced. The difference isn’t huge, but it’s significant. As an aside, to see just how good Adox CMS20 is (at the expense of 3 stops of film speed at ISO12) check here which is the same subject.

One odd thing – the film counter numbers on the film edges of this roll were ‘doubled up’ so the roll finished on shot 78. This obviously makes no diffence to the final shots.

Whatever you develop it in, Silvermax is an excellent B/W film, with a good balance of speed, grain and sharpness with some evidence from this second roll of it’s increased dynamic range. The weather being as it is at the moment, it might be a while before I can give it a test under really bright sunshine….

Hope you find this useful.

p.s. if you need development times for any B/W film with any possible developer try here – The Big Dev Chart – a truly useful website!

Adox Silvermax First Impressions

It’s not often a new film comes along these days, so when one does it’s almost impossible to resist trying it – so, here are some of the results from my first roll. There has been no post-processing on these images other than resizing, so they look a little more ‘raw’ than the images I usually post.


It’s been snowing in Dorset (as you can see!) so the conditions for a test aren’t exactly bright. However there are lots of subtle graduations in the snow which some films struggle with. I’ll do another test in brighter conditions, but until then this is what we’ve got.

Adox lost their monochrome CHS ART film lines after the closure of their supplier’s Croatian factory, and ‘Silvermax’ is the replacement film, manufactured in Germany. Adox claim it has a higher silver content than ‘regular’ film resulting in greater dynamic range.


Initial impressions are that it’s a quality film, light grey in colour, rather like APX100. The 35mm cassette feels well made with a substantial felt light trap and a hefty weight. The film, maybe because it’s thin and quite stiff, winds smoothly onto a plastic film spiral for development.

This film was developed in Rodinal 1+50, rather than the specific developer Adox supplies. There are development times for most common developers here on the Adox website. All shots scanned on a Plustek 7500 and taken on an Olympus OM2N with exposure compensation as required.


Below is a small section enlarged from the right side hanging branches.


The grain is moderate for a 100 ASA film – no surprises either way really.

The dynamic range under these limited conditions was very good, the film picking up a good range of midtones. Quite a bit better than AGFAPhoto APX 100 (which is my favourite general purpose film), and handling the range from deep black to white so well that the scanner just needed to do a straight scan with no adjustments or pre-canned film profile which is very impressive!


Initial impressions are very good. I think the dedicated developer might be worth a try rather than Rodinal, which has maximised edge sharpness but hasn’t done much for the grain. However many photographers only use Rodinal so it’s been a useful test.

So – next step is a roll under brighter conditions – blue skies, sunshine etc. I may need to wait a while for the weather before it’s done though!

Thanks for looking and I hope you find this useful.

Click here to see my second impressions, this time developed in ID11/D76.

p.s. I have no connection with Adox in any way – other than buying some of their film of course….

Recent Film Stuff

These are some film shots which were recently accepted by the agency, proving there’s still life in the Olympus OM1 yet. All taken on Agfapan APX 100 film rated at box speed, developed in Rodinal 1+50 for 12 minutes.

This didn’t seem that good through the viewfinder – a bit of post-processing worked nicely though.


This  was shot on an overcast day on the 50mm F1.4 at max aperture. Looking at this now I should have cropped away the roof at the lower left just leaving the tower.


Same lens with the narrow depth of field blurring the closed leaves into a nice soft mush.


This is a covered walkway with plants trained over arched supports. As this was taken in autumn, most of the leaves had fallen off and the gaps allowed dappled light to filter through which gave a nice effect. Zuiko 28mm.


This shallow puddle was full of fallen leaves – providing a way to break up the bare tree branch reflection. 28mm lens again.


It’s strange – I take shots on film equipment which are very different from those on digital kit. Maybe it’s the fixed focal lengths or the slower approach. Anyone else find this?

Thanks for looking – hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

A Winter Day in Dorchester + APX100 film

Enough vintage clothing shoots (see previous posts)! It’s back to film and Dorchester in Dorset (UK) – one of my favourite photographic locations, especially given some foggy winter weather.

Firstly a Victorian park and some nice foggy tones into the distance. APX100 is very good at rendering delicate midtones which is why I use it as an  ‘all purpose’ film.

There wasn’t much light around so this was shot at maximum aperture hence the narrow depth of field.

This shot of benches and some pollarded trees really came alive with a texture layer – something to do with the way it interacts with the foggy midtones.

Next on to a church and a cemetery – sorry I’m a book cover photographer and a bit of gothic is irresistible!

My usual ‘not sure why I like this’ shot – I’ve taken it several times over several years but it’s never quite right.

Finally a controlled depth of field shot taken at 3 apertures to get the best effect – the maximum aperture of 1.4 left the gravestone too out of focus – this was at f2.

All shots on Agfaphoto APX100 on an Olympus oM2 with either a 50mm f1.4 or a 28mm f2 Zuiko, which is a lovely light kit for a day’s shooting. The film was developed in Rodinal 1+50.

As always these shots are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Thanks for looking – hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

Shooting Funfairs

I was never really interested in funfairs or carnivals until I read ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes‘ by Ray Bradbury – which made all the difference. Now they seemed a bit more dark, mysterious and intriguing rather than just a noisy place to eat burgers, chips and candy floss.

Anyway, on with the pics – a shot of  the artwork on a modern ride with split frame to show the grass underneath and not make it a ‘straight shot’ of the artwork. Rollei Blackbird film in an Olympus OM1.

Another bit of artwork from one of the ‘horror’ type rides, rendered nicely dark by Rollei Blackbird again.

More funfair artwork but less horror this time! This is an odd composition, and I’m not sure if I like it or not. Agfa APX100 film for this one.

This was an empty children’s ride – only a small child could get into these seats, they’re that small. I must have been in a ‘leave the bottom half of the frame empty’ mood judging by this and the first one. Good ‘copy space’ is always an excuse if you’re a book cover photographer! APX100 film again.

More Rollei Blackbird and a narrow depth of field of this empty ride. without the blue tone it doesn’t work s well for some reason.

A subject I’m always trying to get that ‘killer shot’ of horse carousels. They’re fickle subjects though – you think you’ve got the shot on the day but they’re never as good in Photoshop. There is something scary about those horse faces. APX100 again.

Finally – a digital one. Close up of some traditional funfair decoration – though not very mysterious!

For ‘film people’ interested in such things, the Rollei Blackbird shots were developed in ID11 stock, the APX100 in Rodinal 1+50.

As always these are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Shooting Cars

I’m not really into cars – well not in the sense of talking about engines and cylinder heads down the pub. If mine starts in the morning that’s all I need to know about it.

Morgan + Lensbaby plastic lens + barely perceptible chromatic aberration

However, cars do offer a real opportunity for some creative shooting. Some talented designer has spent months getting the perfect body shapes and colours.  A looked after car has nice glossy paint, shiny glass and chrome so  should look gorgeous. Even a  rusty wreck should look good too.

Rusty Wreck

So here are my best attempts so far – though it must be said I don’t find shooting cars that easy. Modern cars didn’t work that well, so these are all old ‘classics’. Don’t ask me what make/model they are – apart from the Jaguar, Morgan and the Jeep I haven’t a clue.

First a few shot on Agfaphoto APX100 developed in Rodinal 1+50 which gives it’s usual nice mid tones.

Jeep Steering Wheel

Another steering wheel on a military vehicle

APX100 toned in DXO filmpack

Just a wing mirror but a nice abstract

Don’t know what this is but it makes another nice abstract.

Second set is from some 1950s/60s cars, shot on the Lensbaby and run through the Canon 60D’s ‘Toy Camera’ creative filter. Other than these shots the creative filters haven’t been used that much, but it seems to work here.

Next a simple shot of a Jaguar headlight – can’t mess around with a classic.

And finally one from inside my car using the image in the side view mirror – just to be contrary.

As always these are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

I really must think of a better way to finish each article!

Off Season English Seaside Towns

There’s an enduring fascination with seaside towns off season. I like the emptiness of these places which were packed with tourists and holidaymakers in the summer and are now closed up and dormant for winter.

So I thought I’d have a wander around a few of Dorset’s resorts with an Olympus OM2N, a 50mm and a 28mm lens and a few rolls of Agfaphoto APX 100. I had in mind taking some quirky shots of piers, beach huts, amusement arcades and the strange stuff which is wheeled out to grab the attention of visitors.

Hope you like them – they were taken just for fun really – they won’t go to the agency as I’m not sure what they’d do with them.

This first set is in Swanage which is a very old fashioned family resort.

Empty Swanage Tea Shop

And another one

It was really good travelling light and taking shots for the enjoyment of it rather than trying to get agency shots. None of the shots are extensively post-processed, maybe just a slight tint or a layer – APX100 is such good film it doesn’t seem to need much, and always seems to produce a rich range of midtones without becoming too dark. All developed in Rodinal 1+50.

This is quirky…

So, off down the pier – always a good location.

These Jubilee flags are getting a bit worn.

Victorian pier and beach front shelters – I could shoot these all day!

This chair was outside one of the beach huts and had seen better days (and plenty of them).

This is the corner of a mural – nice of them to tell us.

How much more Swanage Tourist Information can there be off season?

This second set is in Bournemouth, which is a bit trendy (at least by comparison with Swanage!).

Happy happy happy!

Cheesy shot of some plastic spades in a beach hut – sorry!

Beach huts and a shadow – one day I’ll get the perfect shot.

I’m sure the curious lady on the left was determined to get into a picture.

Comments, critiques and questions always welcome.

A Rainy Day Out with the Olympus OM1n

This post is about gaining inspiration on a wet, dark day. Sometimes simplicity is in itself inspirational, so leave the digital monster and zoom lens at home (it’s raining and it’s probably best not to get it wet) and just take out the most basic equipment and try to get some good shots.

In this case a 30 year old OM1n and a 50mm f1.8 lens, plus 2 rolls of film – Agfaphoto APX100 which is a great all purpose B/W film. As it turned out I only needed the 1 roll.  All  shots developed in Rodinal.

For those not familiar with old Olympus cameras, an OM1n is a small, all mechanical manual camera with just the basic controls –  shutter speed, aperture and focus. There’s the built in luxury of a needle exposure meter too powered by a battery, but if the power fails you can carry on shooting anyway, guessing the exposure.

Wet Day Shot 1

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