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Wednesday, October 19

Adox CMS 20

 The "world's sharpest film" still captures plenty of tones 

Adox makes some high and mighty claims for this ultra sharp, ultra fine-grained film but I don't they're guilty of over-egging the pudding. I've run a couple of rolls through my Hexar AF and a Nikon F90X and made some initial scans today to see what it's like.

I have to say that it looks very promising to me. I scanned these on an old Epson 3200 Photo machine which has seen better days but they don't look too bad at all. The negs scanned with plenty of detail in the highlights and shadows and needed hardly any tweaking in Photoshop. As usual with my scanner, it has exaggerated the grain a bit. I've had a quick look at a the films under the enlarger and the grain is practically invisible through my Paterson magnifier.

A 100% crop - pretty impressive stuff.

CMS 20, as you might have guessed, has a box speed of 20 ISO. A lot of photographers think its slow speed must make a tripod vital but that's not necessarily true. On a bright but cloudy day, you can still shoot at f2 and a shutter speed of about 1/500th, easily fast enough for hand holding. With the Hexar's top speed of 1/250th, I can't use f2 in full sun without over-exposing. In fact, if you want to shoot at fast apertures then a really slow film is the way to go - as long as you're not taking pics of your mates in the pub!

I'd be quite happy using CMS 20 all the time in the Hexar - it would certainly get the best out of the cracking 35mm f2 Hexanon lens and I love shooting wide open when the bokeh is nice. Adox has this to say about it, "No other film is sharper, no other film is more finegrained, no other film resolves more lines per mm (up to 800 l /mm). The film achieves grain free enlargements of up to 2.5 meters diagonally. This equals...about 500 Megapixels." Wow! That's assuming development in Adotech. If developed in low contrast developers then it should be rated at somewhere between 6-12 ISO although presumably it's inherent qualities shouldn't suffer too much.

I made this image a little darker in Photoshop so that the 
handrails stood out but there was plenty of information in 
the shadows had I wanted to go mining for it.

As is usually the case with slow films, they can get quite contrasty if over-exposed or over-developed - and almost impossible to print if both errors are made - so metering must be accurate and development monitored carefully. A few of my negs were rendered just about useless through over-exposure alone.

Konica's 21mm f4 lens on a 1970's T3 was 
used for this CMS 20 exposure.

I'd like to use my usual two-bath to develop CMS 20 but I'd need to cut back on the metol to make it softer working. So far, I haven't found anyone who's used a two-bath other than Diafine (which seems to work well, btw) for this film so I might be breaking new ground - or, alternatively, ruining a perfectly good roll of film... Hopefully, we'll see how this film enlarges later in the week.


Anonymous said...

the adox looks realy punchy, the chrome shines!

Anonymous said...


It could be interesting you:

Best wishes


morris 1800 said...

Hi Bruce Just tried out the adox cms20 in 120 format. Very impressed. First call are doing a deal 6 rolls including adotech II developer to develop the 6 rolls for 30GBP.Scanned well and very punchy.


The 120 CMS20 looks good stuff. I keep meaning to try it but it's quite expensive compared to Fomapan 100 in Rodinal. I might get a roll or two with my next film order and give it a go. Thanks for the link to your Flickr stuff.

morris 1800 said...

I like to try different films while they are available.( trying tri-x in hc110 at the moment) I have yet to try any of the fomopan although with silverprint doing fomopan 100 at 20 GBp for 50 sheets of 5x4 I certainly will be !

Joe said...

Those look wonderful! I'm inspired to try some of my own :)