Old cars on 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.

Get more of my photography in your inbox or reader! Click here to subscribe.


Comments

28 responses to “Old cars on Kodak Plus-X Pan”

  1. Mike Avatar

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      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.

  2. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks John. Maybe before I shoot the remaining two rolls I should finally buy my own processing equipment and find out how forgiving Plus-X is.

      1. bodegabayf2 Avatar

        Jim…I think you should. It’s big fun and very satisfying.

  3. Alex Luyckx Avatar
    Alex Luyckx

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

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Sheet film! That’s something I’ve never tried. Link back here as you shoot your Plus-X sheets if you post them online somewhere.

      1. Alex Luyckx Avatar
        Alex Luyckx

        Here’s a personal favourite example of mine: https://www.flickr.com/photos/axle81401/13940121579/

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          No wonder it’s a favorite – it’s a marvelous photo.

  4. Christopher Smith Avatar
    Christopher Smith

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Christopher! The F2 is a fine machine and I’m doing the best and most enjoyable work of my short photographic “career” with it.

  5. pesoto74 Avatar

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I know what you mean. Yeah, the house shot really shows what this lens/film combo can do, which is to render well a lot of detail.

  6. dehk Avatar

    Always love Plus X.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I wish I’d shot more before it went out of production.

      1. dehk Avatar

        I got couple rolls of that stuff stashed in my freezer.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          I’ve got 2 more in the fridge.

          1. dehk Avatar

            Problem is, I don’t want to use any of it..

        2. Jim Grey Avatar

          Love it but don’t want to use it? Afraid to not have any left?

          1. dehk Avatar

            The idea is more less to save them for a special occasion. However, nothing seemed to be special enough for them. Same thing for my Neopan 400 in 120.

            1. Jim Grey Avatar

              I get it. But just shoot them. Make the occasion special enough by making some great images.

              1. dehk Avatar

                I’ll save them for now, last time I busted out a roll of 135 plus X it was pretty boring in my opinion. Maybe I will save them up for little ones senior portrait one day :D

  7. H.O Avatar

    Nice house.
    PX was one of my favorite film.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks! I’d shoot more if it were still made.

      1. Ron B Avatar
        Ron B

        Found some PXP 120 hiding{exp1991?}
        Question is, what ISO do I shoot it at?, got about 10 rolls of it and want to try it out before I throw it away.

        Thanks
        Ron B

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          PX is ISO 125. Some people say that you increase exposure by a stop for every decade film is expired. But I’ve also read that the slower films like PX degrade more slowly. If it were my film, I’d just shoot it at box speed.

  8. Dakota Thomas Avatar

    Awesome work, Jim! I love the PX125 film stock. I shot a few rolls of it and fell in love. It’s incredibly fine grain and deep contrast shows up most black and white films still available today.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes, it’s too bad Plus-X didn’t survive the great film shakeout. Given T-Max 100 exists, it seems unlikely Kodak would resurrect this stock.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: