Film Photography

Shooting Agfa APX 100, original emulsion

If you buy an Agfa film today, Agfa doesn’t make it. The company got out of the consumer market in 2004.

They licensed their brand to other manufacturers, which use some of the old Agfa film names even though the emulsions are different. It’s confusing. One such film is Agfa APX 100, a black-and-white negative film. Photographers who’ve shot both tend to agree: the new APX 100 is adequate, but the original Deutsche APX 100 was wonderful and special.

And so I was greatly pleased when three rolls of the original emulsion, expired in July of 1998 but always stored cold, were gifted to me. It didn’t take me long to drop a roll into my Pentax ME and take both on a walk in Downtown Indianapolis. That’s the Indiana Statehouse there at the end of Market Street. I made this photograph standing on the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at the city’s center.

Market St. toward the Statehouse

I confess that I’ve already shared the best photos from this day with you in a series of posts a couple weeks ago; see them here. But there was hardly a bad image on this roll. This film captured rich blacks without ever washing out whites. It absorbed strong reflected sunlight, returning good definition and detail.

At Court St.

My 50mm f/1.4 SMC Pentax-M lens was attached as I walked around Monument Circle. Above is Meridian Street looking north towards the Circle; below is Circle Tower.

Circle Tower

I had an objective: to make my way over to Roberts Camera and buy a 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A lens I knew they had in their used inventory. I mounted the lens to my camera before I exited the building. One of the first shots I made was of Leon’s, a tailor shop just down the street from Roberts. Leon’s made the suit I got married in.

Leon's

I walked away from Roberts and Leon’s down St. Clair Street enjoying my new lens’s wide view. Had I been three seconds faster, the walking fellow would have been in a much more interesting spot on the frame below.

Pennsylvania

Here’s the same building in the whole. Leon’s is behind it, and Roberts is barely in the photo behind Leon’s.

Brick building

Spinning around about 90 degrees I made this photo of Central Library, with my car in the foreground. The Scottish Rite Cathedral lurks at left. One day I’ll make a subject of that stunning building.

Library

Central Library is at the north end of the American Legion Mall; the Indiana War Memorial stands at it south end. I scaled its steps to make some photos, including this one of the Minton-Capehart Federal Building. The flag is at half staff because on the day I made these photos, a Boone County deputy killed while on duty was laid to rest. That’s the county to the northwest of Indianapolis.

From the Indiana War Memorial

From the War Memorial, here’s the view of the American Legion Mall, with Central Library at its other end.

From the Indiana War Memorial

I adore the War Memorial as a place to make photographs. I’ve been here many times and always seem to find something new to see.

Indiana War Memorial

Growing tired, I made my way home. I stopped in the neighborhood at 56th and Illinois Streets to finish the roll.

Restaurant

I love the surrounding neighborhood. Margaret and I wouldn’t mind living there. But the homes sell fast, which has driven prices high. We could probably afford the payment, but at our age we’d be making it until we are 80. It makes us sad, but we have to say no thanks.

Illinois St.

And oh, look, I’ve told you more about my walk than I did about Agfa APX 100. It’s because I have no criticism to offer. Letting the Pentax ME control every exposure on this bright, sunny day, APX 100 managed the light that fell onto it with great balance between shadows and highlights. APX 100 is a lovely black-and-white film and it’s a shame it is no longer being made.

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18 thoughts on “Shooting Agfa APX 100, original emulsion

  1. Too bad about Agfa APX… I have 4 rolls of the new stuff around, not bad but well, far from the right stuff.

    I always wonder at the american cities, at how open and wide and spacious they seem (well, perhaps not NY but you understand what I mean). Completely different from our european cities, at least the older ones that seem much narrower, sometimes cramped but also cosier. Must be the age I guess… Not mine but the cities’.

    Thanks for the great visit!

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    • Frank, I often wonder this about the US too – why is everything bigger and wider? From the streets to the cars to the, well, everything!

      Jim, as I understand it all the recent/current Agfa is in fact all AgfaPhoto, and all of it is rebranded stock from other companies. None is the same as the original Agfa emulsions. For example the AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 is rebranded Fuji C200. I don’t think AgfaPhoto make any emulsions themselves, it’s all rebranded stock already in production by others.

      Though it’s called AgfaPhoto, not Agfa, obviously they’re using the original name and film stock types to their advantage, and even on the packaging cleverly print the Agfa part of the name in black and the Photo in grey so it’s less visible and people just call it “Agfa”.

      As with many old names in film, the history seems pretty complex – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AgfaPhoto

      Liked by 1 person

      • See my response to Frank on how we have so much open space in our cities. And yes, it’s really AgfaPhoto now. But nobody actually says that. We all still call it Agfa.

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    • Bottom lines: (a) we have the room and (b) most of our cities are not all that old really and tended to be deliberately designed.

      The farther west you go the bigger/wider things tend to be. When I visit friends in the Northeast, I marvel at how tight everything is. And at how the streets go every which way, because they followed old cow paths. Out here in Indiana, most counties laid out their roads on one-mile grids. Cities tended to create grids as well. In Indianapolis, on the Northside, the streets are numbered. Ten blocks is always about a mile, so if you are at 56th St. and want to get to 96th St. due north, that’s about four miles.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Makes sense. Over here they go any which way and up and down besides. You got named ‘streets’ no larger than 3ft – that’s true!

        Luxembourg city is about 30 blocks square by your measuring…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. When I bought some AGFAPhoto film a few years back, the lady selling it insisted it was AGFA original, even though I pointed out the Lupus Imaging brand, AND the “made in Japan” marking. What can you do? I at least try to keep the distinction by not mentioning the rebranding as much as what the film actually is, but it is still amazing how even the camera stores have no idea what they’re selling.

    Now on this subject and correct me if I’m wrong, but Rollei RPX 25/100/400 are the old AGFA formulations and are being made by AGFA-Gevaert based in Belgium. Since you’ve shot the old original stuff now I’d love to get you to compare/contrast with the Rollei films!

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  3. TBM3FAN says:

    Back around 2005 I started to buy expired film on Ebay simply because it was cheaper. Wasn’t thinking anything about the films being discontinued. Fortunately that enabled to build quite a stash of Plus-X and bricks of Agfa 50/100/400 in 35mm and 120. Since I first used the films in the early 70’s they have always resonated with me which is why I bothered to acquire the rolls.

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