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!
I did a shoot with Stacey recently in my home studio in Coventry UK. I decided to shoot my Leica M6 35mm film camera up against the medium format 6×6 Hasselblad 501C film camera. To give the Leica M6 rangefinder a fighting chance I loaded it with the super fine Ilford Pan F 50 film and attached the super sharp Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens. I did do a few wider shots with the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii lens which is also nice and sharp. The Hasselblad was already loaded with Kodak Tri-X 400 but for some reason I thought it had Fomapan 100 film is so shot the roll of Tri-X 400@100 and developed accordingly Both rolls of film were developed in Xtol developer. Click any photo for more details.
Here is a sample of the film scans:
Hasselblad 501C + 120 Fomapan 100 Medium Format Film
Leica M6 + 35mm Ilford Pan F 50 Film
I was also using my digital Leica M8 for the shoot and it still impresses me as to how film like the Leica CCD sensor appears. Here are a few examples.
Leica M8 Digital Camera
Leica vs Hasselblad – Results
I think the Leica M6 was at the top of it’s game and thanks to the choice of Ilford Pan F 50 film. I actually preferred the Leica M6 photos on the whole to that of the Hasselblad. That is quite an achievement as the Hasselblad has done nothing but impress me since my purchase. The real test will be using the Hasselblad 501C + Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm f4 CF lens + 120 Ilford Pan F 50 film for sharp lens and super fine grain film. That said, it’s great to remind myself of how good the little 35mm Leica film cameras can be.
Big thanks to Stacey for putting up with my usual array of quirky cameras pointing at her! 🙂
In December 2015 I took my Hasselblad 501C medium format film camera to teach a 1-2-1 model photography workshop for a week in New York. I took two Hasselblad lenses; a Zeiss Sonnar 150mm f4 CF lens and a Zeiss Distagon 60mm f3.5 CF lens. I took all photos on 120 Kodak Tri-X 400 film which was then developed at home in Xtol and scanned with an Epson v800 flatbed scanner.
Here is a selection of 6×6 Hasselblad portraits from the models we worked with on the first of two photography workshop weeks in New York. Click any photos for more details about the model, lens and developing.
I have used and still use many different film cameras and digital cameras and I think my 500 Series Hasselblad is the best of the best. I enjoy using the Hasselblad and I love how it makes and ordinary scene look really special with minimal effort. Some of my film photos may look perhaps over edited but in reality all I do is adjust contrast, sharpness and remove dust specks to the majority. The Hasselblad does the rest.
I do like the small size and convenience of Leica cameras (as seen on the second NYC workshop) but when I revisit Hasselblad portrait photos I think the extra effort involved is more than repaid by higher image quality. By this I mean the weight and bulk of the Hasselblad camera (and if I use a monopod too) is worth the effort as I get higher resolution images from the medium format film and Zeiss lens combination. Medium format gives me sharper sharp areas and softer soft areas next to each other all in the same photo. With 35mm I can have soft or sharp, not both in the same image. The Hasselblad XPan 35mm rangefinder camera bridges the gap with resolution to match a 6×7 panoramic 120 film image yet shot on 35mm film. An awesome combination that you will see much more of!
Colour film Hasselblad portrait photos still to come from NYC plus all those photos with the Leica M3, M6, M8 and XPan on the second trip.
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! 🙂
For anyone who has followed my work for a while will know, for black and white film photography I normally use Kodak T-Max 100, especially for 35mm film. I have tried various black and white films and will continue to experiment but I am finding I am now completely hooked on Kodak Tri-X 400 film. The modern T grain T-Max films have very little visible grain so can look a little too much like my Leica M9 black and white JPEGs which have a slight filmic look despite being digital. I was an easy convert to medium format 120 Tri-X as grain is less apparent with the larger negative size. For 35mm Tri-X I was a little worried the the classic grain structure might result in too much visible grain for my film wedding photography and portraiture. I shot a roll of 35mm Tri-X when I was out in Florida covering a wedding and was pleasantly surprised. Samples below.
What do I like about Tri-X and what is it that made me convert?
Broad lattitude – I can (and do) shoot Tri-X at anything from ISo 200 (-1 stop) to ISO 1600 (+2 stops). It can do it all and will even go to ISo 3200 and beyond (not yet tried this but others have with success). This means that for available light photography it is perfect for my needs.
Contrasty – Other than the grain structure, the biggest difference I notice when comparing Tri-X to T-Max is the beautifully contrasty mid tones. The deep shadows are rich blacks, the highlights retain their detail and the mid tones are what makes it for me.
Price – I am now starting to use quite a lot of film, both 35mm film in my Leica cameras (M3 and M2) and 120 Tri-X in my medium format Mamiya 645 Super, Rolleiflex SL66E and in my 6×7 Horseman 120 roll film back for my 4×5 large format cameras. I need a film that I enjoy using yet is also affordable. 120 Kodak Tri-X 400 5 packs can be bought in the UK for £20 a box if you shop around. £4 a roll is competitive at today’s film prices. Calumet are currently offering 120 Tri-X 400 for £20 a box and free postage so I stocked up!
Calumet UK, Film – http://www.calphoto.co.uk/category/film-darkroom/film/
Developing – I develop my own black and white film at home and favour the R09 Rodinal stand developing / semi-stand developing method. I am still fine tuning my times and temperatures to develop Tri-X at box speed but also pulled 1 stop to ISO 200 and pushed 1 stop or 2 stops to ISO 800 and ISO 1600. Depending on the lighting conditions I shot in I can then adjust my times accordingly.