Expired Film Day 2016 results: 2003 Kodak Plus-X 125 (Agfa)

Agfa Silette and Plus-X
A recent acquisition, this Agfa Silette checks out as near-flawless. The Kodak Plus-X 125 film expired in 2003, but I bet it will hold up okay and will probably expose it at ASA 80. (Daniel J. Schneider)

In tandem with the Leica, I put a roll of Kodak Plus-X 125 through an even more-recent acquisition, an Agfa Silette from a thrift store.

The Silette is a Type 1 (the first version, introduced in 1953) with a Pronto leaf shutter and three-element 45mm f/3.5 Apotar lens — the most basic option set. It has a relatively small viewfinder, and utilizes scale focusing. It seemed to function well in testing without film and I decided to just give it a go for Expired Film Day without a lot of further attention.

1950 GMC pickup spare tire
Detail of the spare tire on a 1950 GMC pickup in Lyons, Colo. All the tires were flat and the truck was on a trailer, where it appeared to have lived for decades. (Daniel J. Schneider)

I didn’t mirror all the frames, or anything, but I did repeat a few across both cameras. I rated the film at ASA 80 and developed it for 14 minutes and 30 seconds in HC-110 diluted 1:63 at 68°F.

What’s most interesting is that the film was the same as the film in the Leica, but the results were very different. Same emulsion and expiration date, rated at the same speed, developed the same way (in the same tank!), and somehow much better.

Sadly, due to technical issues involving the shutter not firing, or sticking open, and the advance behaving badly with actual film in the camera, about half of the roll was unexposed. I may not waste another roll of film on further testing of this particular camera.

The last frame on the roll has some odd spots, which appear as black blurs, on the end that was closest to the spool. I am at a loss to explain exactly what caused these spots, though I think they are most likely small areas of emulsion loss. The film may have rubbed against the tape or the spool itself. Maybe the film was jostled a lot? I’m hard pressed to think it was a development issue because the spots appear only on one half of one frame from the entire roll.

Regardless, that last frame is by far my favorite from the roll — and possibly from all of Expired Film Day 2016.

In spite of the Silette using scale focus, which I still so often fail at, all the frames that came out on the roll were surprisingly sharp. And the exposure was spot on. This was, hands down, the best roll yet from Expired Film Day.

Other Expired Film Day 2016 posts:

Ralph Castle again
Once again, it’s Ralph Castle on Mountain View and Main in Longmont. The roof of the garage is partially collapsed, and the whole place appears to be packed to the gills with junk. (Daniel J. Schneider)
Trees outside Longmont
Piles of cut trees outside of Longmont. The moody clouds and intricate twisted stumps make a nice test of the contrast. (Daniel J. Schneider)
Pizza Bar 66 in Lyons
Looking out the front window of Pizza Bar 66 in Lyons, Colo. Tasty pies and sandwiches there for the hungry wandering photographer. (Daniel J. Schneider)
1950 GMC pickup bed
Warped wood surrounds the bed of a 1950 GMC pickup in Lyons, Colo. The rear window appears to have suffered some bullet holes, or severe rock dings. (Daniel J. Schneider)
1950 GMC pickup fender and door
A detail shot of the 1950 GMC pickup fender and door, including the GMC logo badge, still shiny after more than half a century. Some kind of damage to the film appears as black spots on just this frame. (Daniel J. Schneider)
  • I love and miss Plus-X. I’d shoot it all the time if I could. I miss its smooth look and inky blacks.

    The black spots on the truck photo look like they could actually be spots on the truck itself!

    • Yeah, it’s good film. When they announced the discontinuation, I drove all over the Denver Metro area and bought every single roll I could find. I still have a couple dozen in the fridge, waiting for the right subject. I made the move to Pan F Plus seeking similar performance and have been really pleased, though. The grain is about equal in its evenness, but finer, and the blacks/contrast are pretty comparable. And much cheaper, even comparing prices when Plus-X was still available.

      You know, I wondered if they were at first, but they don’t have any perspective like I think they would. Moreover, one spans the seam at the front edge of the door, and, if you look to the far right, you can see some are over the spare tire, as well. I guess I should inspect the negative more closely, but honestly, I’m not sure I can be bothered!

      • I’ve shot Pan F Plus, but only ever in one of my old box cameras. ISO 50 b/w film seems right for that application. Maybe I should try it in 35mm.

        • I haven’t used it much in 35mm, TBH. I use 120 Pan F all the time, though. I buy it by the brick! I have used it in box cameras, too, with great results.