35mm Kodak Double-X Film (“Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222”)
Matthew Osborne Photography – August 2018
I think it was a couple of years ago when I purchased a 400ft bulk roll of 35mm Kodak Double-X 5222 film. Fresh stock in a Kodak factory sealed tin as shown above. Kodak Double X or “Kodak XX” is black and white negative film produced primarily for the movie industry “Kodak Motion Picture” film. (*The colour Kodak Motion Picture film is called Kodak Vision3 film stock which I also use and will cover in a later blog post).
Movies such as James Bond -“Casino Royale” had scenes shot on the classic Kodak Double X B&W film which I believe is unchanged from the 1960s. Unlike the modern T-grain Kodak T-Max black and white film stocks that have a much finer grain structure and more modern look, Kodak Double-X has a classic grain and more vintage appearance.
Kodak recommend rating Double-X at ISO 200 in daylight but I have shot it at anything from ISO 100-1600 (I think) and still received great results. I feel it is much better in low light than Kodak Tri-X 400 film or Kodak T-Max 400 film and believe it should have a native ISO closer to ISO 640.
I bulk load the 400ft film onto 35mm cassettes to use in my Leica film cameras (and other 35mm film camera).
Below are some sample images of me shooting Kodak Double-X in my various film cameras. All film was home developed and scanned with a flatbed Epson V800 scanner. (*Some film negatives have scratches on from a cheap bulk loader I used).
Kodak Double-X Flickr Photos
(Click any image to see the camera used and what I rated the film at)
As you can see I use Kodak Double-X quite often. You can find more examples images in my various model photography overseas photoshoots – Poland, Hungary and Paris (especially). I have used Double-X during multiple Leica photography workshops in London and also for one of the Leica workshops I ran in New York (using the Hasselblad XPan). For my Leica wedding photography and bridal shoots I find Kodak Double X great for low light photography or varied lighting conditions. I guess in summary I like the film a lot!
Some different Kodak B&W film stock photos as a very rough comparison
35mm Kodak T-Max 100
35mm Kodak T-Max 400
Kodak Tri-X 400
35mm Kodak Plus-X 125
I have opinions on all the film stocks listed above but in summary I find 35mm Kodak Tri-X too grainy for my taste so I have used it the least. The sharpness and fine grain of 35mm Kodak T-Max 400 always impresses me and I use it a lot. Discontinued Kodak Plus-X is a fantastic film but sadly I got into film photography too late and Kodak had already ended production in 2011 (I understand). Kodak Double-X gives the best classic look of the listed Kodak films, to my eyes.
35mm Cinestill BwXX film
If you would like to avoid the hassle of bulk loading your own 35mm film or you don’t think you shoot enough film to use up a 400ft roll then there is another option. The Brother’s Wright, aka founders of Cinestill film, sell a rebranded version of Kodak Double-X simply called BwXX which can be bought in individual 35mm cassettes.
I will review more film stocks when I get chance and add them to the Film Photography tab at the top of this site where a list of film stock links already exists. Coming soon!
Written on the flight home, here were my thoughts after my model photography photoshoots in Budapest at the end of December 2017.. (and sorry I am so far behind with the blog!)
I spent the last two Christmas holidays (2015+2016) visiting Poland for model photography shoots so I thought this year I would go to Budapest for a change. It became apparent that many of my regular Budapest models were out of town during my stay so I took the opportunity to work with some new faces. I’m glad I did as now I have three more great models to add to my Budapest model list for next time.
I booked a city centre Airbnb apartment again for a few days. Although it was quite spacious and very central it didn’t really have any photogenic features and was very dark inside.
Hasselblad 500CM film camera
Hasselblad A12 6×6 film back
Zeiss Planar 100mm f3.5 CF lens
Leica M4-P camera body (film)
Leica M240 camera body (digital)
Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 lens
Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens
Leica Macro-Elmar 90mm f4 lens
Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH lens
Leica D-Lux Typ 109 (Lumix LX100)
Manfrotto PIXI EVO Tripod
Siri Carbon Monopod
120 Film – Fomapan 100/ Kodak T-Max 400
35mm Film – Kodak T-Max 400/ Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222
Available Light Photography
The AirB&B apartment was so dark inside with little window light and little useful/ useable continuous lighting (room lights). I almost didn’t take a speedlight to Budapest so I could shoot with available light but I’m so thankful I did. I shot almost every digital photo at ISO 800-1600 with the Leica M240 and I metered the few film photos I took at ISO 800 and will push the Kodak T-Max 400 film one stop during developing. (400@800). 98% of the photos were taken inside as the clothes the models were wearing were not suitable for the daytime temperatures as low as -3 degrees celsius. (I much prefer to shoot outside especially in a beautiful city such as Budapest but it isn’t always possible). I tried to use what little window light we had in the apartment but that meant using camera settings such as f1.2-f1.4, 1/45-1/60, ISO 800-1600.
For available light photography I shared the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 lens and the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.2 ASPH lens between the Leica M4-P film camera and digital Leica M240 camera bodies. I also wanted to use the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 lens so for that I used flash. (Being an f4 lens it needed more light than was available to use, even with a high ISO). My new flash trigger was being temperamental so I had to use a mix of off camera flash and on camera flash (direct flash and bounced flash) with my mini speedlight. I also used one of my bike LED lights as a video light if I needed a little extra lighting. The lack of interior lights meant I had to create my own lighting for almost all photos with the gear I brought with me from the UK. I probably overused a few of the spaces in the apartment but I didn’t want to shoot up against a white wall where possible (I did that far too much for a previous Poland photoshoot trips).
One advantage of the small speedlight/ light source is it was highly likely that every set of images would look a little different even shot in the same part of the apartment. Just a small change to the light position had quite a big effect to how the light illuminated the model. I realize that most decent modern digital cameras from the likes of Sony, Fuji, Nikon and Canon now have a useable high ISO far in excess of 6400 but it reality if you are shooting indoors after daylight hours then standard ceiling lights are unlikely to give you ‘exciting’/ flattering lighting for people photography (or any photography where you want to illuminate the subject). My top tip to myself after this visit is always carry a small speedlight even if I plan to shoot only by available light!
If there was too little light for fast (“fast” = small f stop like f1.4) 35mm camera lenses then there was certainly too little light for a medium format camera. I had packed a table top tripod (the Manfrotto PIXI EVO tripod) in case I did any landscape photography in Budapest so I took a couple of Hasselblad Portrait images with the camera setup on the tripod on a table facing the model. I fired the camera with a cable release but I’m worried the models moved to much to get any sharp images.
UK Models (and Overseas)
I worked with three new models and my model friend Nikoletta (ex-Miss Universe Hungary). I’m not sure what they put in the local water but Budapest homes some of the most beautiful girls I’ve met in any country I’ve visited. I had to ask on two occasions “Are you all natural or artificially enhanced as it all seemed a bit too perfect”! They both replied 100% natural to which I think I answered “Amazing high 5”!. As I’ve written in other blog posts working with amazing models is not all good. My expectation bar is now so high I am shooting less and less in the UK. I just can’t find girls with the look I appreciate easily (seemingly near impossible!) I did maybe two months of almost no model photography in the build up to Christmas 2017 in the UK. That contrasts to when I was shooting 3 times a week in the UK when I started out with my people photography/ portraiture and when I shoot 5-6 girls A DAY on some overseas trips! There are some pretty girls in the UK but they are in such high demand due to the novelty factor that I often rather wait til I travel abroad to get a similar look but where the experience and resulting images are appreciated 100x more by the model. Maybe I am just too needy ha!
As a note, UK model agencies such as some of those in London can have fantastic models (and I have worked with a few) (models from all different countries including the UK) but I just really struggle to build a lasting working relationship with them. Overseas I just find it easier, to find great models and also model agencies wanting to collaborate.
Off Topic – Models and Wedding Photography
With me shooting less and less models in the UK at the end of 2017 my plans are changing. For 2018 I now aim to shoot more wedding photography than model photography so that I still get to use my cameras and shoot between my overseas model photography trips. I do enjoy wedding photography, especially engagement shoots and the wedding day itself but I’ve always struggled a bit with wedding photo editing. (It takes me too long so I limited the number of wedding bookings I took a year). Hopefully I have now streamlined my wedding post processing a little it won’t deter me from taking additional wedding bookings for 2018-2019.
I continue to use the Leica M240 as my main digital wedding camera but also use a digital Hasselblad which is very rewarding to use and of course wedding film photography with both Leica M film cameras and Hasselblad 500 series cameras. I realize wedding photography images are often deemed dull and repetitive when it’s not your own family or friends weddings. I want to challenge myself with the task of making wedding photos that are as well received on platforms such as Flickr, Facebook and Instagram as my often scantily clad beautiful models. I realize this may prove difficult but if I rely solely on Flickr likes the last wedding themed shoot I shot was my most popular to date (Harriett & Ash). I just need to carry this new enthusiasm forward into 2018!
Budapest Trip Thoughts (On Flight Home)
The lighting conditions were far from ideal and I wish we had braved the cold weather for more interesting outdoor photos. There were not many models available being the holiday period but I was very happy to discover the three new models and I look forward to working with them again on future trips. I am also disappointed I didn’t get to use the Hasselblad camera more but equally I am interested to see how the higher ISO digital Leica M240 images look. Previously I have usually tried to keep the Leica M240 ISO low and maybe ISO 800 maximum in most situations.
New Favourite Lens
If you have followed my model photography for a while you will know I have nearly always favoured either a 35mm or 50mm lens focal length on my Leica cameras. I have used wider lenses (which I often chose for my Leica wedding photography) and also longer telephoto lenses but not repeatedly. 35mm – 50mm lenses tend to be compact so perfect travel companions for photoshoots shoots whereas my Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO and Leica Summicron 90mm f2 Pre-ASPH are both big lenses so are often left behind when I travel.
The new Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90mm f4 lens has become somewhat of a game changer as it is super compact when collapsed and lightweight too. I really appreciated the Macro-Elmar 90f4 for this Budapest trip and I think it was my most used lens. In addition to this the Macro Elmar 90mm lens was the lens that captured the images receiving the most wow comments from the models. It is extremely rare that I have a Leica lens that focuses on a model closer than I need. (0.8 meters close focus distance when using the Macro-Elmar lens without the Leica macro adapter, (sold separately).
A big thank you models Edina, Anett, Nikoletta and Boglarka and I look forward to visiting again soon!
Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica – November 2015
Finally I can share a selection of Hasselblad medium format portraits taken in Poland during my model photography trip last month. There are still plenty of film negatives I have not yet edited but here are some of my favourites so far. I have split the photos by film stock used. Details of camera lens, filters, camera setting, developing method and model can be obtained by clicking on the any photo.
All photos were taken with a Hasselblad 501C 6×6 medium format film camera and shot with available light only.
Hasselblad Medium Format – B&W Portraits
Hasselblad + 120 Fomapan 100 Classic film Portraits
Hasselblad + 120 Fuji Acros 100 film Portraits
Hasselblad + 120 Ilford Delta 100 film Portraits
Hasselblad + 120 Kodak T-Max 400 film Portraits
Hasselblad + 120 Kodak Tri-X 400 film Portraits
Hasselblad Portraits – Colour Film
Hasselblad + 120 Kodak Portra 400 film Portraits
Hasselblad + 120 Kodak Portra 160 film Portraits
Hasselblad + Expired 120 Kodak Portra 160NC film Portraits
Favourite Film Stock?
It is difficult for me to chose one film stock as a clear winner as conditions were different each day and each model has a certain look. As mentioned in a recent blog post, I think 120 Fomapan 100 Classic offers excellent value for money (being the cheapest film I used). I have just stocked up on 120 Kodak Tri-X 400 for the winter months and again I think it is an excellent film. One of my favourites. Kodak T-Max 400 was also a very strong performer and to be honest no film resulted in a sub-standard image. The expired Kodak Portra 160NC worked fine despite being out of date, without a foil wrapper and with an unknown storage history. In these photos I preferred the Kodak Portra 400 to the Portra 160 but that might just be the lighting. All in all I was happy with all the films chosen for the trip and the Hasselblad medium format film camera made everything look great!
Do you have a favourite film stock? It would be great to hear your thoughts!
Big thanks to all the girls again – Agnieszka, Irmina, Natalia, Marta, Marta, Teresa, Weronika (as included here). With the help of these amazing models and my new Hasselblad 501C film camera I think I may have produced some of my best work to date. I travelled to Poland with less cameras and a clear goal which was to take fewer but hopefully higher standard photos. The Hasselblad medium format camera seems to have helped me step up a gear with the quality of images I am now able to capture.
Favourite model? I’m not sure I am allowed to have a favourite but if you think one girls stands out above the others let me know and I will feed it back to them. I’m sure they would be thrilled to hear!
As always I cannot wait to get back to Poland. My model photography trips overseas tend to be my highlights throughout the year. Before I return to Poland I am heading out to New York City to teach 1-2-1 model photography for a week. It will be my first visit to NYC and only my second visit to the US so you can imagine how excited I am! Coming soon! 🙂
I hope you enjoyed these images as much I did. I think my most photogenic blog post so far! 🙂
Medium Format Film Camera – Matthew Osborne Photography
I recently bought myself a Mamiya 645 Super medium format film camera. When I wrote the last post “Contax 645 vs Mamiya 645” (link below) the camera had not yet arrived. Now I have had chance to run a roll of film through it what do I think?
My first observation is the 645 format is in horizontal orientation in the camera rather than vertical. As a portrait photographer I tend to shoot in the portrait orientation. For anyone used to a digital camera such as a DSLR you might think so what? Well I bought this particular camera as I wanted a waist level viewfinder (“WLF”). To focus you look down at the top of the camera and it will show a horizontal image on the glass. To take a portrait photo I have to hold the camera on it’s side and it is not quite as easy to compose when working quickly. You don’t have this problem with say my Rolleiflex SL66E or a Hasselblad as they are 6×6 format. I don’t have the issue with the Mamiya RZ67 either as it has a rotating film back. That said the WLF makes the camera smaller and lighter than with a prism view finder so I am happy to compromise.
The modular design of the Mamiya 645 Super means I can remove and replace the film back. For wedding photography it is good practice to have multiple film backs, for both speed and efficiency but also so you can load perhaps one film back with colour film and one with black and white. For that reason I bought myself a spare 120 film back.
The Mamiya 645 Super comes with a Mamiya Sekor 80mm f2.8 lens as standard. It is small and lightweight but the reason I bought the camera was to make use of the fast Mamiya Sekor C 80mm f1.9 lens. I have this lens as it came on my Mamiya 645 1000S (link below) so the first task was to transfer it onto the M645 Super camera.
I bought the camera to use for analogue wedding photography as I can get 15 photos per roll and the 80mm f1.9 lens lets me photograph in low light conditions. I now plan to use it alongside my Leica M3s and other cameras for film photography weddings.
My first chance to use the Mamiya 645 Super was in my Coventry studio for model photography with friend and model Roisin. Above is an iPhone photo of my first 645 Mamiya negatives drip drying above the bath. Below are a few samples of the resulting photos once the negatives had been scanned.