I wrote last week that I'd emailed Mirko Boeddecker of Adox to see if there were 120 supplies of CHS 100 II to be had anywhere. I remembered Adox saying that they would be producing the new film in a wide range of sizes from 35mm to 5x4 and possibly bigger but, despite searching the usual UK and German websites, there was no sign of CHS 100 II in roll film.
Mirko's maybe a busy guy and doesn't keep up with email very well but it was a week ago that I emailed him and I've heard nothing back so I can only assume that there is no 120 to be had out there in the great wide world of analogue.
In fact, reader Stefan Eisele more or less confirmed this (thanks again, Stefan) by providing a translation of something on the Adox website which said that the company was planning to produce CHS in roll film and were halfway there but need some extra work/changes in production to be done first.
Adox said that selling roll-film at standard market prices provided very little, if any, margin and they had to focus on areas where they can earn money to subsidise these types of projects. No date for the 120 film was given but it seems to be dependent on how the business is doing.
Stefan has also emailed Mirko suggesting that a Kickstarter project might be the way to fund 120 production of CHS 100 II - something I'd certainly support.
So there we go. What has become my favourite film isn't yet available in 120 and there's no date for its introduction. This is a major bummer as I'm quite besotted, photographically speaking, and can't wait to try it out in the big Rollei SL66 or a TLR. I reckon it will be spectacular if developed in HRX.
Now and again, we stumble upon a film/dev combination that just hits the sweet spot and CHS/HRX does it for me. I've been trying for a while to get something that does a good, consistent job, isn't prone to bullet-proof highlights if you overdevelop slightly and doesn't block up the highlights through over-exposure of, say, a bright sky or window light in an interior shot. You can achieve most of this by using a compensating or two-bath developer but they tend to flatten the middle tones somewhat - some more than others - leading to a muddy look. I gave this route up when I started photographing a lot in dull weather.
In the absence of 120, I've been using up some of my dwindling 35mm stock of CHS 100 II. I'm down to just a couple of rolls now. The pics on this post were just some I took to finish a roll last week. They show the same silky, silvery tones I've come to expect. Again, these are film scans as my darkroom is too messy for printing at the moment.
The first two (above) are near a part of the Angus countryside known as Lumley Den. It's on the road to the village of Glamis wherein lies the fancy-looking castle that was the Queen Mother's birth place. As a wee aside, my old pal, Ken, and I did the tourist thing of the castle 30 years ago. Ken had been reading a book about ghosts and monsters or something and had found a story about previous occupants of Glamis Castle locking away a hideously-deformed child in a secret room.
|From the Glamis Castle website|
Anyway, we were being shown around the drawing room in the company of Japanese and American tourists when the frightfully snooty tour guide asked if anyone had any questions. Up piped Ken in a loud voice, "Aye, tell us about the beast of Glamis!" The guide shot him a withering look and urged everyone to move on to the next room even though I could see the tourists would much rather have stayed to hear what Ken had to say than the drivel the guide was spouting!
Back to Lumley Den and the two pics. There was a light mist or some low lying clouds over the hills and, since I can't resist a bit of atmosphere, I got the OM2 out with the 50mm f2 macro for the first one and the 24mm Zuiko for the other. It was a test of how well the CHS/HRX combination would handle dull day shots and it did quite well.
The pic above, I have to admit, is purely a bokeh test shot. The 50mm f2 Zuiko macro makes a great partner for the film and developer and I just fancied seeing what it would look like at f2. It's a bit like Garry Winogrand's well-known quote, "I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed". Do we ever really need more justification that that? I think the bokeh of the Zuiko is quite special. When I did my wee lens test back in April, it's bokeh was really the only thing that set it apart from some cheaper but just as sharp 50mm lenses.
The shot above is of an old paper manufacturing plant in Guardbridge, Fife, (about three miles north-west of St Andrews) that made the small town famous for being very smelly. I couldn't tell you how often I've passed it and thought, "that makes a nice composition" but without ever stopping the car and taking a photograph. Well, this time I did. I don't think the light was at its best but I like the image anyway. The sweep of the River Eden leads nicely to the mill which, itself, is an interesting jumble of buildings punctuated by the exclamation mark of the chimney. It was taken using the Zuiko macro as well.
I'm enjoying the CHS/HRX 35mm experience so much that I sometimes wonder if I should just concentrate on the small format and forget everything else. My natural inclination is towards 35mm and I think the photographs I take with it are "better" in terms of content than with bigger sizes even if the quality isn't as good.
This is a bad admission but, for me, the difference between 35mm and larger (read more awkward to use) gear is probably similar to that facing the 35mm and digital shooter. Often the sheer convenience and speed of digital will lure a photographer away from 35mm and I feel 35mm has a tendency to do that for me when it comes to larger formats. With 35mm I'm always ready to shoot but with 120 and 5x4 I really have to be in the mood. The small format is lighter, quicker to set up, easier to focus and, I suppose, cheaper as well in terms of cameras, lenses and film.
If I decide to stick to prints of not greater than maybe 8x12 (actual image size) then is there much to be gained from a larger negative?