CatLab 80, 120 format

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by Bill Bowes, Sep 14, 2020.

  1. Hello everyone. Lately I have noticed that my "source" of 120 film for the last 5 years or so has not been replenishing their 400 asa material stock and their 35mm materials (100 & 400) pricing is now edging within 10% of the Kentmere 35mm materials. Those who have followed some of my writing know I "believe" the entire line of this company is Re-badged Kentmere material, with the advantage of the 120 films being also the same emulsions as the 35mm.
    To keep ahead of a "possible" loss of these 120 films, I have started to re-evaluate a few brands that are available. I have and use the major players now and then, but this "quest" will be in keeping with my basic penny pinching nature. . . $$$$$$$ !
    First up is CatLabs 80. A roll was purchased from one of the Big Box companies and delivered the other day. Straight into my Agfa Isolette 3 on Saturday night and ready for my sunday Farmers Market in Kailua, about 10 miles away. After the Market (food first), less than half an hour of wandering about the town, the roll was exposed.
    Data: CatLab 80 @ 80asa on my Weston 853 meter. Development: 3ml of Hypercat in a 450ml Nikor SS tank. 13 minute development and processing. DI water misting of negs when hung to dry.
    Scan: Epson V600
    Notes: I found the black backing paper to be sturdy and put on the plastic reel so that nothing was bulging over the ends.
    Removing the seal was EZ with the film having a pull tab (Big Brands could take notice on this bit !)
    Film went onto take up spool with EZ.
    Large white numbers on black paper are very EZ to see thru the red window of the Isolette.
    End of Roll: resealing tab is best set when the paper trailer is folded all the way back so paper triangle tucks under the backing paper.
    Developing: Film is on a thin plastic substrate, very similar to Rollei 80s. A bit "wonky" when trying to feed the Nikor reel.
    Film dries quickly, without excessive curl or cupping. I scan with emulsion down, and had no trouble setting the Better Scanning ANR glass onto the negative. No light piping on the rebate edge was noted.
    Here is one that I used a G filter on. + 1.5 f compensation.
    Grain is very good with my Hypercat (pyro staining) developer. The shadow values are thin on the negatives, so this film will be rated at 50 asa the next roll and developing time dropped to 12 minutes. Aloha, Bill

    2k20-072-010 ces13 bc bm.jpg
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
  2. Just a heads up....I use a 3 minute pre-soak with all my films, and this one has a fantastic Blue rinse water ! All exposures were with the 10 sec timer, either hand held or on a monopod. The Isolette has the Apotar 85mm lens.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
  3. Excellent write up Bill, the tone and the near panning effect on that photo is excellent.

    I always wondered who produced this film, is it the same as Rollei 80? I just ordered some Holga 400 from BH which is supposed to be re-badged Foma, so will see if it's exactly the same as the

    It is sad that Aristas are going for almost 5$ a roll these days, I remember buying 40 rolls from Freestyle in 2007 for 1.30$ a roll.
  4. Thanks for the write-up, Bill. I've been looking at the reviews of CatLab 80 for some time, and your views pretty much confirm what I'd come to believe. Certainly the grain structure is very smooth and the tonality seems excellent, as your fine sample confirms. My only misgivings are in regard to shooting MF with a film with a ISO rating of 50. While it's quite possible on a sunny day with something like a Rolleiflex or an Isolette, trying to manage a Pentax 67 with a 150mm lens and achieve DOF without camera shake really does require something a little faster. Which is why I use 400 ISO film rated at 320 or 200 for Pyro development. However, I may get a few rolls of the CatLab 80, just for the sake of experimentation.

    Actually, the reports on the film base, cyan anti-halation dye and the overall grain structure suggest a remarkable similarity with the latest batch of Arista EDU Ultra 100 I received, definitely not a Kentmere film and quite unlike the batch that preceded it! Because of its cheapness, I use this in the 120 roll for testing various old cameras.
  5. Your always the bearer of good news Rick ! Along with this single Catlab roll, 6 rolls of EDU Ultra where in the package. 2x each of 100, 200 & 400 material. I will put the 100 material into the Iso and test it next. Perhaps the Ultra will get me closer to the "source" of the Catlab. The EDU cartons list the Czech Republic as the origin of the film. . strange that the Catlab had zip on the origin.
    I agree with you on the speed. The above was shot at 1/50 sec on my ever present monopod, but putting the G filter on the camera had me at f 8-11. Another shot on the roll had body shake very noticeable, even using the monopod. Aloha, Bill
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
  6. I look forward to your conclusions regarding the Arista 100, Bill. For what it's worth, apparently the first batches of CatLab 80 came with Shanghai backing paper, but the suppliers claimed the film definitely wasn't Shanghai but that the paper was used only for reasons of economy and availability...
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
  7. "And Now For Something Entirely Different . . "
    Arista.EDU 100 in 120 format. Iso 3 was loaded with the EDU, Weston 853 set @ 80 (same as with the Catlab) and I went for an hour walk-about near the apartment. Subject matter was the same objects I "usually" use for either film or camera testing. . .enough weird things in my life these days.
    Development: 3.0ml Hypercat in a 450ml SS Nikor tank for 13 minute (sorta my standard time for the various pyro staining mixes in the house). DI water misting of negs prior to hanging.
    Notes: This film gives a dense, lime green rinse water after my 3 min pre-soak. The Catlab was an intense blue. This dye color has been noticed for years on various FOMA /EDU films.
    Substrate: The material is similar to samples of the Tmax films in my negative file folders. I compared the dried negs to the T and noticed that the Catlab has a very reflective finish on the non emulsion side, similar to a PET (1) soda bottle. Catlab literature mentions that their material is a PET based plastic. I could not fine literature from FOMA as to their substrate material.
    Zones: While I exposed this roll at 80asa, a visual look at the negatives and upon later editing the scanned files, I will rate further work with the EDU @ 100 asa

    Emulsion: This test leads me to believe that the EDU line has no chance of being the material in the Catlab 80 product.

    When the EDU negs are enlarged to 18x18, numerous black pin hole emulsion defects are noted. Also the entire emulsion shows an effect, which I label "cottage cheese". I have noticed this with prior Arista EDU negs as well as FOMA products over the last 4 years. This cottage cheese effect gets very pronounced as the film sits about, either in the camera or even frozen.
    These emulsion defects are what has turned me off to the EDU / FOMA products. I keep testing them, but all of these stocks are keep for testing only.
    I will expose one more roll of this EDU 100 material, but this time will revert to Pyrocat HDC for developing. A review of some 2018-2019 negs (EDU test, both 35 & 120) shows a decreased appearance of this "cottage cheese". Perhaps it is my "Cat" pyro mixes?
    The pictures here give one an idea of the good Zones that are in the film....even with "cottage cheesing". House picture was with a G filter @ +1.5f
    2k20-073-003 ces13 x bc bm-horz.jpg Aloha, Bill
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020
    LMar and cameragary like this.
  8. Here is the 18x18 (relative) 500x500 pixel sections.
  9. One must push the "correct" keys...Perhaps I am suffering from too much sun & surf ??? 2k20-072-010 ces13 bc bm pc-horz.jpg
    LMar likes this.
  10. Great stuff, Bill. It's the emulsion defects that put me off Arista 100 in the 120 roll, and I have seen some examples of the "cottage cheese" effect you describe, possibly to a greater extent with Pyrocat HD than with PMK Pyro. From the two pixel crops above, it would seem that the CatLab film has a more pronounced grain? It should be noted that Arista EDU Ultra 100 in 35mm stock is a quite different film.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020
  11. I actually think the Catlab grain "appears" smoother. The "cottage cheese" of the EDU disrupts the actual grain structure and gives the entire film a lumpy, weird sensation. If the enlargement is keep to around 10x10, all looks good. As I occasionally do 20x20's from the square negs, I am a bit critical !
    I did notice a "moderate" amount of curling from this EDU, but no cupping.
    Have you run any of the EDU 200 or 400 thru the MF cameras ? Aloha, Bill
  12. Bill Bowes said:
    Not for a while. I gave up on the 200 ISO because it was so full of pinholes and associated defects that it was unmanageable. The 400 ISO was OK, with good tonal balance and very sharp but with a more pronounced grain than my go-to Ilford HP5 Plus. Mind you, this verdict dates back to some time in 2019, and they may both be different films by now!

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