Maco has recently introduced the new film at 25 ISO that would complement, together with ISO 100 and 400 presented a couple of years ago, the RPX family, now more than ever similar in content to the historic Agfa Pan APX line. The official announcement has been followed by the spread of the early film stock, which now can be found in stores in 120 and 135 (36 exp and 100ft reel) sizes and the exchange of information has begun in the forums and discussion groups about the characteristics and possibilities of exploiting this new emulsion.
The choice of Maco to introduce the Rollei RPX 25 has certainly aroused enthusiasm, also due to the fact that the newcomer goes to cover a hole left by the end of production of the Efke 25 (though the characteristics are different) and not filled with the Rollei PAN 25, generally not very popular, and it is expected a good spread between amateur photographers.
The new RPX is a pleasant surprise from the first sight of the pack, which is particularly carefully-made and different from those typical of Rollei, much closer to the packaging of Ilford and Kodak. The expiry date (January 2018 for this first batch) is stamped on the carton and on the aluminum, while inside of the card are present information for the development of the film, very useful due to the novelty, although some have remarkable similarities with those of Agfa APX 25. The initial development times proposed by Maco are as follows (agitation or rotation, 20 ° C):
|Rollei SUPERGRAIN||1 +12||5|
|Rollei RLS||1 +4||12 (24 ° C)|
|Ilford ID-11||1 +1||8|
|Ilford PERCEPTOL||1 +1||10|
|Kodak D76||1 +1||8|
|Kodak XTol||1 +1||8|
|Paterson FX39||1 +9||8|
|Tetenal Ultrafin +||1 +4||5|
For this first contact I used Rodinal 1 +25, well-tested with the APX 25, particularly to see whether the promises of fine-grained, are met; shots were made with a camera Zenza Bronica ETRS (size 6×4, 5), while the exposure was always measured in the incident light (ambient or flash).
Without dwelling on the development stage, it is worth remembering that the media is pretty thin and when going to play the film to insert it into the spiral you have to pay attention and place it gently in order to avoid scratches; in addition, there must be a significant electrostatic component as at the time to separate the film from the backing paper some spark have been developes, even though the operation was carried out with the utmost caution. In addition, the developed support dries very quickly and seems to avoid the dust!
At the end of the development has been noticed how the emulsion is coated on a extremely transparent support like the one on which is coated, for those who have tried it, the Rollei CN200: this should facilitate scanning operations but can give help even during the traditional print process.
The drying roll seemed well developed with clear and legible writings on the edges, proof that the suggested time for the Rodinal is correct (seems obvious, but it is not always so ….); next step is verify what is the response of the scan, to be followed by the much more convincing chemical print.
The first thing that you would expect from a film of this type is that it accurately captures even minute details (providing the optical camera allows it), so the first two shots below have served for a first evaluation on this. Net of interpolations and conversions which can be performed by the scanning software , the observation of negative confirms that the detail captured in the nuances (for example in the cortex of the picture on the left) is really the top. This bodes well for getting large detailed prints even from a negative 6×4,5.
It’s important to remember, however, that this impression of detail is also helped by the contrast generated by the development in Rodinal 1 +25.
Another important element to achieve high magnifications without deterioration of quality is, as mentioned at the beginning, the fineness of the grain; in this case, the chosen developer and dilution are certainly not the best solution but, the film keeps largely the promises of the manufacturer and has a fine and extremely pleasant grain; magnification below is very illustrative of detail that you can keep:
The images were taken in ambient light, both indoors and outdoors (of course the gray, rainy day was not the best), or indoors with flash light, trying to assess roughly the exposure latitude: we tried to do some over and underexposure of the same images. In both cases, it seems that two stops adjustments are too much (certainly in overexposure), and the impression is confirmed both by scanning and direct view of the negative but, the final verdict will be asked for to the enlarger . The two images below show the difference between a correct exposure and a two-stop longer:
This imbalance does not occur if the exposure time becomes quite long, more than 10 seconds; this is probably due to the occurrence of a lack of reciprocity which, however, while the data are not yet available, we can assume that is analogous to what happened for the APX 25 (1.5 stops of variation for times longer than 10 sec), and the two images below would appear to confirm this:
The film behaviour appears to be correct when using the flash even in those cases where strong variations in brightness within the image are likely to render unreadable parts. A flash shot from the front and very close almost like in the photo on the left did not stop, in fact, the development of an extended tonal range, maintaining legible details even in the brightest parts.
The range is, however, more extensive when not using the flash, and if you take into account the correction factor of reciprocity (and you have a good tripod!), long exposures do not represent an absolute problem.
Ultimately, this first contact confirms that the Rollei RPX 25 is definitely a good news for the analogue photography community, lately a bit stressed out by the constant (or threatened) disappearance of products, and is presented as a film that can give satisfaction in a fairly large area, definitely larger than what would appear to suggest an emulsion just 25 ISO. These initial assessments need of further testing as soon as possible by chemical printing of these negatives and additional test with different developers (and also in the 135 format). Subsequent updates will be published as a continuation of these notes.