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Monday, June 23

Adox CHS: The love affair continues, film, analogue, analog, darkroom, silver gelatin, adox, chs 100 ii, spur, hrx, 120, 35mm, 5x4, 4x5, developer, the online darkroom, olympus, om, om2, zuiko

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., film, analogue, analog, darkroom, silver gelatin, adox, chs 100 ii, spur, hrx, 120, 35mm, 5x4, 4x5, developer, the online darkroom, olympus, om, om2, zuiko

My favourite pairing produces negatives that have a certain look - long tonality and well-controlled highlights but without any apparent flattening of mid tones. For a film photographer, there's surely no more satisfying sight than holding a sheet of negs up to the light and seeing 36 frames that I don't think I could improve upon in terms of film and development - and that doesn't happen all that often!

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., film, analogue, analog, darkroom, silver gelatin, adox, chs 100 ii, spur, hrx, 120, 35mm, 5x4, 4x5, developer, the online darkroom, olympus, om, om2, zuiko

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., film, analogue, analog, darkroom, silver gelatin, adox, chs 100 ii, spur, hrx, 120, 35mm, 5x4, 4x5, developer, the online darkroom, olympus, om, om2, zuiko

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?


Herman Sheephouse said...

Some more good ones Bruce!
As for the lure of a more portable format - I sort of agree, though if I had to standardise on anything it would be MF. LF is a struggle at times, albeit an enjoyable one when it goes right.

Stallberger said...

ADOX make a good Job with their Films. I'm a Fan of the old CHS 100, tried the Silvermax and CMS 20 II and was very excited. The next will be the new CHS 100 II.
The old CHS, especially the 120, was a really impressive Film. I hope the new will come as 120 Film fast.

Trond BĂ„shus said...

Posted just yesterday on APUG about the availablity of CHS II in 120:

Jan Moren said...

I really prefer 120 - and for the convenience. Shooting 10 frames per roll just fits my pace far better than having to fill 36 frames before I can finally develop it. And the large area means I can use a contrasty developer such as R09 without worrying that the grain will become excessive.

But mostly I find there is something indefinably different about 120. The images have a "quiet" or still quality to them that just can't seem to reproduce in smaller formats, whether digital or film. Greater dynamic range, perhaps; or possibly 90mm on 120 still projects out-of-focus areas differently than 50mm does in 35mm? I don't know. I do know the difference is palpable, even obvious, and even in small online scans.

Joe Iannandrea said...

Like Phil I've been gravitating more to MF as a standard, but I can't lug an RB67 everywhere and like to be prepared for the unexected even on a quick shopping run. To this end I picked up an old Russian (actually Ukranian) folder with a surprisingly nice lens. It's easier to tuck away in coat pocket or backpack than any of my Nikons.

Matt Fattori said...

Hi Bruce, I'm also a great admirer of Adox CHS films! I've noticed people bemoaning the price of CHS 100 ii at Freestyle and would suggest going directly to the source at the Fotoimpex English online store. The last time I checked they still had CHS 100 available in 120 from old stock. I've ordered to Canada before and it hasn't been much pricier than shipping from the States(a lamentable necessity when you are Canadian). Once you process you order(to North America) you will also see the VAT(value added tax) disappear and that the price is less than you thought. I recently ordered some sheets of CHS 100 ii in 16x20 to cut down to various smaller sizes and discovered that it worked out to be cheaper by a fair margin than if I had got in on the Ilford ULF run, and it's available much more frequently. I think Mirko and the Adox team are doing us a great service.

Hernan Zenteno said...

I love the CHS 50 of Adox with Rodinal. Include I have an package of 30 meters of outdated last 2012 in the refrigerator. The problem is for me is a bit slow for a casual use. Would love to have some clear base similar film in 400 ASA flavor. I would love to proof the CHS 100 II But equal, get some from here, Buenos Aires, is almost impossible except if one carried it from Germany or some Europe place.
Your pics in the post have excellent tones. I wonder how good is the new soup you are using, the only think that I don't like of it is that appears slow down your film sensitivity. As always, many thanks for share your experiments.

Danny Bronson said...

Adox is giving us some great quality products. Silvermax together with Silvermax developer is steadily becoming one of my favorite films. So I would love to see it offered in roll film format.

Richard said...

Maybe this has been discussed but what do you find to be the big differences in 120 of the CHS 100 II and the CHS 100 ART? I bought a load of the 100 ART when Efke was announced to be going away and have it locked away guarded by my henchmen in a freezer about 1/2 mile down in an underground fallout shelter/film vault in my backyard.

Bruce Robbins said...

Hi Richard,

I can't say too much about the old CHS. I used a few rolls but didn't think it was anything special. The new film seems more refined to me and is a higher quality material as far as I can tell. How much of that is down to Spur HRX I'm not sure as I think I was using Barry Thornton's two-bath at the time so it's difficult to make a direct comparison.

John Carter said...

I'm with Jan, and I think it is the greater dynamic range. When I shoot my Pentax 6x7, I always know I will get a good shot. Or maybe I'm just sloppy with 35mm. Anyway I like 120. 35mm maybe for me just to easy to use.

steve said...


Would it be possible for you to sell Adox film as well as spur developer? It would be convenient for us to buy from one source.

Loganius said...

Hi Bruce,

Any way I could get you to post your developing time for the CHS 100 II/HRX-3 combo? I don't see anything in SPUR's official lit and the digital truth numbers seem odd, given that every other emulsion requires some overexposure, but DT gives us a time based on ISO 100.



Bruce Robbins said...

Don't think I can be of much help, Logan. I don't have a time for CHS II in HRX-3 - Spur, as you said, didn't seem to publish one. However, the film should be rated at 100 ISO for use with the latest version of HRX so maybe the DT time is accurate. I can only suggest you snip a bit off a film and do a test.

Anonymous said...

The CHS II 120 is now available.

Bruce Robbins said...

Thanks for that, Jens.