Old cars, Photography

Shooting Kodak Plus-X Pan

Long ago, Kodak’s three main black-and-white films were Verichrome Pan, Plus-X Pan, and Tri-X Pan. Only Tri-X Pan is still made, albeit improved over its original 1940 formulation. Kodak discontinued Verichrome Pan in the 1990s, and Plus-X Pan in 2011.

The thing I liked best about Plus-X was its rich, deep blacks. I didn’t shoot very much of it before Kodak discontinued it, but when I saw others’ work with it, the blacks always impressed me. I recently felt inspired to shoot some Plus-X in my Nikon F2AS, so I bought some on eBay that had always been refrigerated.

This is my home. I think I used my 35-70mm Zoom-Nikkor lens.

My humble home

As you can see, Plus-X is a contrasty, low-grain film. My irises were blooming, so I photographed one of the purple-and-white flowers.

Iris

I photographed the iris using my 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor, and kept it on the camera to get close to the ants that always cover my peonies before they bloom.

The ants go in, the ants go out

I took the Nikon and my 50mm f/2 lens to the Mecum auction last month. It rained much of the day.

Old cars under an awning

Plus-X is rated at ISO 125, which limits its usefulness in challenging light. The gray day really called for faster film. I had to keep my lens at or near wide open and it made the range of sharp focus teeny tiny. (Indeed, I brought some faster T-Max 400, too, and shot it when I used up the roll of Plus-X. But those photos are for another blog post.) Here’s the tailfin from a 1960 Cadillac, with an early second-generation Chevy Camaro behind it.

1960 Cadillac

A 1975 Pontiac LeMans captured my attention because it had just 3,000 miles on it. I wrote about this car for Curbside Classic, an old-car blog; read it here.

1975 Pontiac Lemans

This photo of the LeMans’s tail light really pleases me.

1975 Pontiac Lemans

I’m very happy with the results I got from this roll of Plus-X. I have two more rolls in the fridge, waiting their turn.


I shot some expired Verichrome Pan on Route 66 last year. See the photos here.

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26 thoughts on “Shooting Kodak Plus-X Pan

  1. You got some impressive results from that combination of film and camera. Those deep blacks really do add graphic impact. The challenge in the slower, fine-grained films is always to keep the highlights under control without losing shadow detail. The old guys used variable contrast papers and filters to do the job. These days the shadow/highlight tool in Photoshop is likely to come into play for me.

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    • I used the shadow/highlight tool on the image of the cars under the tarp to blunt the bright sky and help the tent tops come out more, so clearly I’m seeing just what you describe in some of these images. I think I like quick software tweaking better than I would have liked filters and papers.

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  2. bodegabayf2 says:

    Always one of my favorite films. And one of the best for home processing–very forgiving in development. Plus-X was the film I learned on back in the 70s. These are fine PX shots Jim.

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  3. Alex Luyckx says:

    Awesome article! Plus-X is a fav of mine also, especially in 4×5, thankfully I still have just over 50 sheets left.

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  4. Christopher Smith says:

    Nice photos Jim seems like it was a good film with nice tonal range although I have never used it, I have always used Ilford films for B&W. I have some kodak books from the 1940’s that extol the virtues of Plus-X. I like the work your doing with you Nikon F2AS. Mabe I’ll have a look on ebay and give it ago.

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  5. Plus-X and the F2 look like a good combo. I like the range of tones and the detail in the photo of your house. That can be a hard subject for some B&W films.

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