Panatomic-X, A Look Back

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by tomhildreth, Jul 24, 2005.

  1. As a person whose primary effort has been amateur photography of transportation subjects, I followed the general trend of many in this field who converted from MF for black and white to Kodak 5060 Panatomic-X in 35mm. This ASA 32 film offered very fine grain required for detailed full-frame shots of aircraft, locomotives and related subjects. I believe Kodak referred to this as an extremely fine grain film. Of course I often had this film in my camera when other subjects were available, and while recently looking at some of my negatives from the mid-1970s, I was surprised to see how well this film worked on dull days. I was occasionally able to take action shots with it as well, as you will see. I did not always have an appropriate B&W filter on the lens, and as can be expected, a featureless sky was the cost. A photographer looking for fine grain B&W films today has a surprising number of choices. At ISO 50, Ilford Pan-F is still available, and although the wonderful Agfa 25 is gone, I see considerable talk of Efke in ISO 25. My compromise has been to use TMAX-100 and Delta 100, and I have been quite satisfied with both for my application. Here are a few samples of a bygone film that in my opinion, really had no equal.
  2. The Aldrich Mills water wheel
  3. Aldrich Mills water wheel
  4. Some guys summer home, way back when
  5. Big river
  6. Tom , I shot with Panatomic-X and developed in Microdol-X 1 to 3. I made some prints up and took them around the Lab.People could not tell them from 120 film and even 4x5. I have a half a dozen rolls of Agfa 25 in the freezer that are kept for special photographs. I too miss the slow, fine grained films, of the past.
  7. Pastoral view
  8. Into the Hoosac range
  9. Though I didn't use it too many times when it was actually out (I just started doing photography), I have since bought some rolls on the auction site and have used it quite a few times these past couple years. The film has held up quite well considering its age. Even the non cold stored bulk roll is fine. I find Pan X looks very similar to Pan F. Efke 25 looks to me more contrasty yet. I haven't used to many rolls of APX 25 to compare, though I do have some. It would be interesting to shoot all 4 rolls of this stuff, scan them, and compare results. I like Pan X.
  10. Thought you might like to see what I was able to do with this film. It was available in 120, and though I used a couple of rolls of it the subjects were boring and I never attempted to make a large print from the negatives. There was an Aero Panatomic-X in ASA 40, though I never used that version.
  11. Microdol-X was my developer of choice. I think all of these shots I developed myself in that soup, standard dilution. I should add that I used Microdol-X 1:3 to good effect on Plus-X and Tri-X a few times. I don't develop my own B&W any more. Is Microdol-X still available?
  12. I have used a few rolls of this in 120. Here below is one example from 120 6x7. To me the thing about Pan X that stands out the most are its mid tones. It has a lot of grey in the shots. I'm not saying it lacks contrast as it certainly doesn't. I have some shots that are nothing but blacks and whites with little grey.
  13. When did they stop making it? My Kodak 1994 book only lists the Aero version at ISO 40. Speaking of the latter, I'm wondering if large format photographers used it, or was the aero stuff marketed to industrial or government users?
  14. The castle shot is only about 50% of the negative, so there is some grain in the sky.
  15. Here's another shot from 120. This one was cropped from full frame. About 1/4 of pic was used. The contrast on this shot was toned down to show more greys.
  16. From what I understand 1987 was the last year Panatomic X was produced, which coinsides when TMax 100 was released. Tmax 100 replaced Pan X since the 2 films both were rated 200 lines per. The last date on Pan X films I've seen is 1991 which works out to the 1987 production date. As for the Aero film, I've read its been discontinued not long ago as in a couple years ago. I could be wrong on this one though as some places I go do mention its been discontinued. The Aero film has a different look and is more red sensitive. It is supposed to be high silver though which dates it to older technology.
  17. Scott Pickering: "Attachment: PanX.jpg"

    Is that an April Fool's joke or something?
  18. Tom , Last time I went to a photo store they still had Microdol,although in the film world,where layoffs and chapter 13 is a daily occurance ,I can't say for sure that they still make it. I have quite a supply of it dry.
  19. I found some of this in a small local outfit. :p I'm joking of course. That attachment photo was just something I whipped together to show what it would look like today.
  20. Panatomic-X was one of my favorite films. My best results were with Edwal FG-7 1:15 with plain water. I rated the film at 64 and got negatives which were just right. Most of the FX I shot was in 35mm size but I did use some in 120. These rolls were used in TLR cameras and in a Koni-Omega. Now I have a Bronica ETR outfit and I will eventually thaw out some of my long frozen FXP 120. I have limited experience with Delta 100 and I have never liked using TMX. My experience with Fuji ACROS has been good. I develop it in Fuji Microfine and the results are excellent. The 35mm stock makes 8X10 prints which look like they were done with medium format film. I still think Panatomic-X had a certain quality which isn't exactly duplicated by any other film.
  21. I have just been given a collection of old photographic material which included a few 100 ft rolls of Panatomic X, the ASA 40 variety which has an exp. date of 1965. I'm rolling it and plan to try it over the next few weeks, rating it at half speed and souping it in D76 1/1 to start, though If I get any image at all, I'll try a variety of developers, since the cache I received also included lots of unopened cans of chemicals. The pamphlet included in the unopened box of film indicates that ASA 40 PanX is the same film as the older 25 speed, that just the rating had changed due a recalibration of the standard. Any comments?
  22. Actually newer Pan X is 32, not 40. So the old speed should be 16. I have a roll from 1940 here, but it does not list the speed on the box.
  23. OOPS,

    Sorry, You're right about ASA 25 being incorrect. Spaced out there. The insert from 1965 does, however, rate the film at ASA40, not 32.
  24. Re You're right about ASA 25 being incorrect

    Panatomic-x came out before there was even an asa system; in the 1930's. Panatomic after WW2 has been lited in the Kodak literature as asa 25; 32 and 40; depending on what era you choose. In some Kodak books; panatomic-x was asa 25. asa 32 is the most common number afteay the mid 1960's. the formal asa definitions changed about 1959 to 1960 for B&W; thus at one time asa 40 was used.
  25. Back in the 80s I had access to some wonderful photo lab tools to test films. Pan-X in 120 and 35mm both came out to be 64 ASA if you tested them for .08 to .10 above the base fog for Zone I film density no matter what you developed the film in.

    I used ID-11 Plus 1:1 or Rodinal 1:50 depending on what subject matter it was. The old FR X-22 developer was a good solution for Pan-X as Fred Picker once noted, and sold the developer for many years.

    The Agfapan 25 stuff was really like ASA 12 - 1/2 the rated speed. It took forever to find the grain in it. In 120 size, you could do some grainless 16x20" prints of finely detailed subjects.

    Recently I tested the Bergger BPF 200 stuff in 120 and it looks like it's happy around ASA 80 with my Pentax spot meter. That's not far off from Pan-X in the old days, but the emulsions are quite different.

    Thanks for the step back in nostalgia land. It's sad what Kodak has stopped making in order to be profitable once again.
  26. Keith,
    Thank you for the detailed information.

    You wrote "It's sad what Kodak has stopped making in order to be profitable once again."

    I know very little about business, but it's obvious this is the era of companies "reinventing" themselves. I just wonder if it is working. Is Kodak profitable again? Looking at their stock value over the past year I expect they are not.

    I'm just waiting for Boeing to announce they are going to stop manufacturing aircraft and become a major coffee importer. Of course it will all be brought in fresh by air, on the airline Juan Valdez created.
  27. My favorite memory of Pan-X comes from the mid-1970s, winter, in Ohio. There was an ice storm one night. The rain/sleet/snow/etc. stopped falling, the wind stilled, the clouds cleared and the temperature fell, and everything was coated. I positioned a street light behind a big willow tree, and set my 35mm camera on a tripod. I stopped down to maybe f/11 for depth of field, latched up the mirror to avoid vibrations, and opened the shutter with a cable release. Then I went inside the house to get warm. Fifteen minutes or so later I came back out, closed the shutter, and took the camera back inside to thaw the film before I cranked it to the next frame. I got some great images that night: super contrast, crisp focus, every sparkling crystalline detail of the ice on that willow. Sure wish I could find the file with those negatives...
  28. I used to love Panatomic X and Microdol back in the first half of the 60s, when I had a simple rangefinder camera and a darkroom.

    I had a few rolls of Efke 25 around for a long time recently, with the intention to get some equipment and develop it myself. But then I decided not to bother and sold it.

    Black and white memories. All gone.

    Such is life.

    But thanks for letting me partake in your conversation and look at your nice pictures!
  29. I stumbled over this thread, because I just got something around 120 roll films of Panatomic-X, long outdated, but always deep frozen.

    I expect to use it mainly in the 6x9 back on my Sinar Norma, but probably also in my 6x6 Bronica. For development I intended to use HC-110...

    Hoping I can find the time for experiments soon I promise I will post the results...
  30. There's a new kid on the block for nostalgic photographers: Rollei ATP, which is a lot like Kodak Technical Pan. I shot a few films with it at 25 ASA, developed in Rodinal using the Digital Truth Massive Development Chart, and got fine results, not too contrasty, on a semi-sunny day. The second attempt, in moderate late sunlight, was less succcesful - the images turned out to be way too contrasty to even consider printing them. Perhaps I overdeveloped that time. But hey, resolution and fine grain a plenty to justify using the fine optics we use to pay so much money for!
  31. Rollei ATP1.1 (Advanced Technical Pan) is doing well in a low contrast document developer like Rollei Low Contrast 1+4 - 1+6. If you want to shoot it at box speed (iso 32) you need the special ATP-DC developer 1+11,5.
  32. Panatomic-X bit the dust because the formulation involved Cadmium. That was too environmentally hazardous, formulating without it would not recoup the investment (always a slow seller compared to Tri-X and Plus-X), and Kodak sincerely believes T-MAX 100 is a superior film.
  33. I'm guessing here, but perhaps that cadmium content explains Panatomic-X's distinctive smell: like a freshly-baked cake.
  34. I've had good success processing Panatomic-X in HC110 dilution B. My oldest roll was outdated in 1964 yet the results looked good.
  35. Head over to the film Photography Podcast store. They have some Panatomic X on ice just waiting. I got myself a few
    rolls. That said, I always preferred Ilford Pan F for the better contrast.
  36. Here's a shot from a roll of Panatomic-X that expired in 1964. I used a Konica Auto S for the photos.
  37. I used HC110 dilution B to develop the film for 5 minutes at 68 degrees Fahrenheit. An interesting fact about Panatomic-X from this era is its box speed was 40 rather than 32.
  38. When this film was manufactured, Kodak's HC110 didn't exist yet, but I used the time from a later roll as a starting point. Turned out that five minutes worked fine.
  39. Here's a shot from a roll that expired in 1977. Same development data.
  41. 100 foot rolls come up on eBay often enough. I believe there is one right now. Sometimes frozen, sometimes not.
    Even not frozen, it last a long time. I had a roll of FX120 last summer, ISO of about 200 in Diafine. Pictures look fine, and no noticeable fog. I believe it was use by 1974.
  42. True. The last one I saw went for 65 USD, I think. Also some professional Panatomic-X or FXP turns up from time to time. I've still got a roll of 120 FXP in my refrigerator.

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