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Sunday, April 5

Adox CMS 20 and mainstream developers

Since the demise of Kodak Technical Pan, Adox has led the way with the finest-grained, sharpest film on the market in the shape of CMS 20. The negatives it produces are nothing short of staggering. I came across the pic above - actually a black and white slide from the film -  on the Adox website and was blown away by the beauty of the tones in the Porsche Speedster.

With quality like this, is there really any need for larger formats, aside from technical concerns such as lens movements? The only fly in the ointment is that, just like Technical Pan, it's a tricky film to handle and to achieve consistent results with.

Adox produces a dedicated developer, Adotech, to help this process along. When you get everything right, the results are superb but I know from my own experience (that's one of my good ones above) that it can be an inexact science.

Perhaps that's more a reflection on me rather than the materials but there are a lot of photographers who've tried CMS 20 and come to the same conclusion. Perhaps some of us just aren't prepared to put in the time and effort to extract the best from the film.

Some photographers have wondered if there might be a way to tame the inherently high contrast of these document-type films using more mainstream developers but I'm not aware that anyone has cracked it yet.

However, reader Scotty Elmslie of Jacksonville in the US is trying to home in on just that - and I'll post his efforts so far this coming week. He's not there yet but he's heading in the right direction.

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morris1800 said...

hi Bruce the best result I have had with this film outside of the Adox Adotech II developer is perceptol 1-10 stand dev 60 mins 1 inversion at 30 mins. I was going to try this at 1-12 dilution . Look forward to any advice on a possible alternative dev workflow for this film.

John Carter said...

I certainly haven't been able to receive consistent results. But I am using BlueFire Police. As they haven't had their developer for sale I've been using HC-110 (1:125)and do get tones but only with 5 or less stops in the scene. In bright sun it is very difficult. I also have to rate it a 12.

Years ago (1970), I use H&E film with H&E developer. At that time I was able to get good results. The H&E develop formula is on the NET, but I don't want to mix it. Another thing I've noticed with my two experiences with tech type films is that editing programs have made it easy to control these films contrast.

Hernan Zenteno said...

For contrast control I used several times divided developer prepared with a common label. In my case I have several boxes of old Microphen by Ilford. I don't know if still they sell it with two bags, the developers and the restrainer and preservative components separate. So I used to dissolve only the developers in a very concentrated solution, 1 liter instead 2,5 and I add enough sodium sulphite to preserve the solution. For the second bath I use Borax diluted, two tea spoons for 1 ltr. I throw it after use, the other can last several months. The idea is use the first bath as a mild developer of low activity and the second bath as catalyst that is exhausted when all the negative is developed. The problem could be that the grain will no looks the same that with a dedicated developer but at this sensibility I doubt any wide change because we are talking of very tiny grains so I suppose acutance could be done with almost any developer. Or no?

Regular Rod said...

OBSIDIAN AQUA 1:500, 12 minutes semi-stand @ 20 deg. C at box speed of 20 ISO is where I started but although the high key tones were delightful the shadows were not as textured as I'd hoped for. Next time I will develop the same way but will expose at much slower ISO and see what the results are. I stopped experimenting with CMS 20 because Rollei RPX 25 came out and it proved to be very good and easy to work with...


David Cliffe said...

The clarity of your images appears almost 'digital'!! I see that First Call are selling 6x 35mm (and 120) films & Adotech developer for £30 - at this price seems to be good to true. I have made my order. I just hope we get a sunny spring/ summer.

I would also like to say how much I enjoy your blog. As someone who has recently returned to film and started to develop and print I find many of the features useful and informative.