Super XX film

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by wally_hess|1, Jun 16, 2003.

  1. Can anyone describe the characteristics of super XX film ? I know it
    has been long discontinued, but J&C carries their J&C classic 200
    which they describe as having a "look similar to Super XX" film.
    What does that mean ?

  2. 1) Very long 'straight line' in its characteristic curve. That meant long density range negs can be made that hold highlight seperation, very useful for alt-process people who need contrasty negatives.
    2) Characteristic curves the same for red, green, and blue. This was critical for those making color-separation negatives, especially dye-transfer printers. (S-XX was discontinued at about the same time Kodak dropped the dye-transfer process, circa 1991).
    3) Very grainy, as befitting a 'high-speed' film invented in the 1940's.
  3. I believe that Classic 200 is repackaged FomaPan 200 which I've used for some time. I love it. Kodak won't let Foma import THAT film, so it looks like J&C found a way around it. They are to be commended for giving us another choice of reasonably priced film.
  4. "Kodak won't let Foma import THAT film, so it looks like J&C
    found a way around it"

    please expound...?
  5. Not Foma but Forte
  6. Kodak "won't let" people import foma? Forte? what...
  7. I believe it goes like this. Forte, not Foma, lost a trademark-infringement suit to Kodak a couple of years ago. Something about Forte using a yellow box or a trademarked product name. It had nothing to do with the *contents* of said box. Foma, whoever they are, may be using J&C as a way into the US market without using lots of resources- but that's only a guess- and I have no idea if their film is like Super-XX or not.
  8. This bit of misinformation about the supposed equivalence of BPF200, or Fortepan200 or J&C 200 keeps getting repeated over and over again and is in my opinion about as true as most urban legends. I have tested (using the BTZS approach) both BPF200 and Fortepan200, and I believe them to be the same film. At the very least, they behave identically when processed identically. They are most decidedly not like the old SuperXX, which was capable of delivering a very wide range of contrast (gamma), by some accounts from N-4 to N+3. In non-staining developers, both Fortepan200 and BPF200 reach gamma infinity relatively soon (at Gamma ~ 0.75), and would make poor alt-process films in conventional developers because of their inherently low (and limited) contrast. However, they can be processed in staining developers such as ABC pyro, rollo pyro, or pyrocatHD, and perform quite well for alt-process work due the actinic (UV) blocking characteristics of the stain. While they are definitely NOT the old SuperXX, it is gratifying to have these films available, since it appears that the great Yellow Father is not terribly interested in ultra-large format film manufacturing, if their minimum order size is any indication.
  9. The Foma/Kodak issue, as I understand it, was about Fomapan T200, which has nothing to do with Fortepan 200 and is only produced in 35mm and 120. I believe the legal problem had to do with the "T" or perhaps that T200 is actually a T-grain emulsion, but I've used it and it looks nothing like any T-grain film made by Kodak or like Super-XX, which is not to say that it isn't an interesting film.

    Claims are often made about various films being a replacement for Super-XX, but I doubt anything being made today really has that kind of density range.
  10. Well, I've done some more research, so I must withdraw my conclusions regarding the origin of the J&C Classic film. Put another way, as some politicans say, "my prior statement is now inoperative".

    I have previously bought FomaPan T 200 directly from FotoImpex Berlin[before they partnered with J&C]. J&C was offering all FomaPan films but the T200. FotoImpex told me the problem with Kodak was the reason I couldn't find it anywhere over here. I naturally put 2 & 2 together and apparently got 6!

    FotoImpex still lists FomaPan T200 - however, it must be leftover stock, because Foma Bohemia Ltd. no longer lists FomaPan T 200 as an available product - only the Foma Creativ 200 that was once available alongside their T200.

    I'm disappointed because I liked the T200 product because it had lots of silver in it. Haven't tried Creativ.
  11. It was my understanding that the Creativ 200 is the T200 repackaged without the T designation. I have tried it and it's nice film though I can't personally compare it to the T200 since I don't have any.

    With regards to JandC 200 I also can't compare to Super XX since I don't have access to any of that either. However I do know that it's the same as Bergger 200, having done side by side comparisons, at a lot cheaper price.

    Both JandC 200 and Efke 100 have become my favorite large format films. When not using pyro I use Rodinal at 1:50 or 1:100.
  12. I used SuperXX to the bitter end -- which means that it was priced almost
    double TriX, and mainly bought by people doing colour separations. It was
    indeed a beautiful film. Old timers would develop in Dektol ! I had an
    experience when I had to leave the darkroom unexpectedly, so I turned off the
    water and left some 8x10 sheets of super xx and tri-x in my Kostiner washer.
    In fact I hadn't completely turned off the taps, and when I came back the
    washer was filled with scalding water. The Tri X emulsion was floating around
    like cobwebs. The Super XX had merely reticulated. Tough stuff.
  13. Geoffrey (and others with experience)--what were your preferred developers and times and EI with Super XX? I've come into about half a box of 8x10" and don't want to have to experiment too much to get it right. I'll be contact printing on Azo, so I'll want about one zone more contrast than I would use for enlarging.
  14. Super-XX; Bantam & Ektar; mid/late 1940's <BR><BR><IMG SRC=""><BR><BR>Cropped section shows a wee bit of grain....28x40mm negstive scanned with Canon 2710 FS 35mm scanner.....<BR><BR>
    <IMG SRC="">
  15. Super XX: Develop in ABC Pyro for about 10-14 minutes
    depending on what you are photographing. As is well known,
    Paula and I develop by inspection. Impossible to miss that way.
  16. David,

    At the time I used HC110 and pretty close to Kodak recommendations. Like
    M&P Smith, I look at the film -- with a big green safelight with a 7.5 watt bulb.
    Saves a lot of heartache. I'll try and scare up my PhotoLab index for times. Is
    there anything like it published nowadays, or has it been superceded by the
    web ?
  17. I don't know how long it will last, but thought I'd put in a plug for dealing with J&C. It's like the very best mom and pop photography stores used to be.
  18. Thanks, Michael and Geoffrey. I've read Michael's article on DBI, and I think I'll get a green safelight and start experimenting this method using film I'm more familiar with before trying it with the SXX.
  19. Given that Super XX is gone. What is the next best alternative?
  20. Super XX: I used a lot of it, in 4x5 (the 35mm was quite different), in the sixties. It had a long, long scale, and if you developed it in D76 or D23 you got Normal to N-2, N to N+2 with relative ease. The Tri-X of the sixties would do that, but it was tricky.

    It looked very different from Tri-X: that is, the print tonality was quite different, for both landscape or outdoor work, or for people. This was due to the color response. The easiest way to understand this: look at Ansel Adams's or Morley Baer's landscapes with filters. That is the way Super-XX responded. (This is true even though Adams generally used Agfa Isopan). Tri-X responded much more to red, so that green foliage was always dark and a little dead, and blue skies that lit right up for Super-XX just got muddy for Tri-X with the same filtration.

    The price you paid: it was grainy. If you took care to make thin negatives, you could manage it, but if you were plussing happily away, you paid quite a price. In an 8x10 from a 4x5 negative the grain could be painful in the sky. Living with this taught me to become very sensitive to how factors like f-stop and surface light helped minimize the impression of grain--but only the impression, not the microscopic reality, which was pretty grim. In the days of shooting at f45 and 64, making contacts seriously, and enlarging with cold light (and, generally, not-very-sharp enlarging lenses), the grain could be tolerated. But big enlargements--16x20 and beyond--are so much sharper and better now than they typically were 25 years ago, I doubt if any film as grainy as Super-XX was would make most large-format photographers happy.

    Super-XX had two other virtues: it was beautiful in floodlight, that is #2 floodlights; and it was almost immune to reciprocity failure. An indicated exposure as long as five seconds could be given five seconds--it was closer to 20 with Tri-X.

    Now, about Bergger 2000. People like it because the color response is different from Tri-X, and much different (and much better) than T-Max. But it is not the same as Super-XX. However, your filtered outdoor pictures will look richer with Bergger than they will with Tri-X and especially with T-Max 400.

    But you can't plus-develop it the way you could Super-XX. It just blocks up after Plus 1, at least, with D-76. It will block up less with D-76 but developing times will be 20, 24, 28 sure you want to live with that. So too does Efke 100, a 200-speed film (actually) from Croatia available in 120 (and 127!) that behaves in a similar way to Bergger. A lovely film, for landscapes and people, but don't overdevelop it.

    The people who are getting the most out of Bergger are using the staining developers: pyro and PMK. This gives the contrast without building density or grain. The Bergger is fine for more routine work too, but it just won't plus the same way in conventional developers. If plus is what you are after, look into toning the negatives with Selenium after they are processed.

    Wy did I quit using Super-XX back in the sixties, when it was easy to get? For the profound reason that Versapan and Tri-X were available in Film-Pack. Plus-X too, if you liked it. Film packs were such a boon to outdoor photographers that this outweighed image-based considerations. (Versapan was an Ansco film, long since gone.)

    No one I know makes separations with cameras anymore--the scanner killed all that. It was camera separations that kept Super-XX alive, not dye-transfer, which was a wonderful thing but always for the few (and the well-heeled, like advertising agencies, who liked to make dye transfers and then airbrush them. This was still being done into the 80's.) And having tested most of the films popular among large-format users over the last 25 years or so, I have never seen one that looked like Super-XX **across a range of plus and minus developments**. Bergger, and Efke, do look a lot like Super-XX in more normal exposure and development combinations.

    I have been windy. Glad to deal with questions, and glad to direct you to specific examples in popular books--reproductions of course, but you can see the things I am talking about.-- Brian Berry.

  21. Oops, I goofed. When I referred to 20-28 minute development times in paragraph 6, I was talking about D-23, but I entered D-76 in a typo. Sorry. Brian Berry
  22. Thanks Brian, for your lengthy and thoughtful response. I have
    been using Super XX for over 25 years and will use it for another
    40 if I live that long and I thought I knew everything there was to
    know about it, but nevertheless I found your posting quite
    instructive. Regarding grain size: I only contact print and grain is
    simply not a problem--could well be that it would be with
    enlargements, but do people really make enlargements
  23. To Michael Smith--Aah, you 11x14 guys just like to rub it in. Would you like the address of my chiropractor? I began to think about enlargements in a serious way when the weight of my 5x7 Cambo kit, topped 75 pounds...just a wuss, I guess. This in the days when I would go to work in New York via train from Connecticut...Seriously, I became a Leica shooter in the 70's, and learned to enjoy the freedom more than I enjoyed the zonograph.. (eventually I was driven to Nikon by the Leica collectors with their deep pockets). I have shot 4x5 from then til now, but (1) for money, especially when art objects were the subject: taking lots of time makes lots of sense there. And (2), when I want to get a "message from the interior", something about proceeding deliberately and studying the image while under the darkcloth favors that process, which is not one you see in textbooks every day. And oh yes, I love to shoot groups with my 4x5 for fun--see p. 37 of Szarkowski's "Ansel Adams at 100" for one of my fun groups--and I do that whenever I can persuade a group to put up with me.

    Would I use Super XX today if I had it? Yes, because for reasons I don't know how to explain, I could get the three-dimensional,light-filled quality out of it, which I don't get so easily these days, when I just plain shoot less often. That quality is what I like to see in my pictures, and it means a lot more to me than grain or even the abilty to plus or minus my way to some other planet. Films with more grain give more of it, too. Something about the quality of the edge. For a given negative, there is a size it generally wants to be to make that edge work well, and that feeling is important to me. So I generally use Rodinal these days, with FP4+ and Verichrome Pan in 120, just to get that edge that helps that impression along.

    Anyway, thank you for the kind words. I have enjoyed your pictures in view camera magazine, so I thought I would just add this little bit. Brian Berry
  24. Just ran across this thread and have this curious thought. Is the Super XX sheet film so different that we couldn't cut a sheet down and try it in a 35mm camera? Would it give us a sense of what the old roll product was like? Overly curious minds what to know!

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