Film Photography

Shooting Adox HR-50

Whitestown

I suppose idle curiosity made me choose Adox HR-50 when the good folks at Analogue Wonderland offered me yet another roll of film to try. HR-50 is a specialty film aimed at landscape and streetscape photography, which is right up my alley. It’s also a relatively new film, as ADOX introduced it in 2018.

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Analogue Wonderland sent me this film in exchange for this mention. Buy Adox HR-50 from them here. Or choose from one of the 200 other films they keep in stock every day!

But then I put off shooting it for several months. As I read about it around the Internet, I got the sense that this film performs best in Adox’s HR-DEV developer. The Massive Dev Chart doesn’t even list times for most popular developers for this film. So how would my usual labs process it?

Fortunately, I was learning how to develop my own film. I figured that after I started getting repeatable results, I’d give this film a go. I bought the smallest bottle of HR-DEV to go with it. All of my preconditions met, I loaded the roll into my Olympus OM-1, mounted a 50mm f/1.8 F.Zuiko lens, and took it on photo walks over the next several weeks.

Church doors

Given the film’s slow speed I looked for bright days to shoot it. Even on lightly colored subjects like this sandstone church, HR-50 returned rich, even tones.

Whitestown UMC

I brought the HR-50 out on lunchtime walks through my neighborhood, as well. It kept doing a great job of capturing a good range of tones. I am especially pleased with its rich blacks.

Flowering tree in the front yard

HR-50 even does a good job rendering the sky without using a filter.

Stone column

I made a few photos where the sun was not behind or to the side of the camera. In those cases, the photos came out a little dark and lacking a little shadow detail. I don’t know whether that’s the OM-1’s metering or some characteristic of the HR-50.

Retention pond

Even when the sun reflected off a surface, the HR-50 refused to blow out.

No outlet

Despite this film’s stated use for streetscapes and landscapes, I moved in close for a few photos. HR-50 kept giving me the same solid range of tones and imperceptible grain.

Posies

I developed this film in HR-DEV diluted 1+49 per Adox’s time and temperature instructions. I scanned them using VueScan and my Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II. These might just be the best results I’ve ever gotten from my home development and scanning. Nothing like using a film’s recommended developer to remove risk.

Ash leaves

Interestingly, Adox does not recommend using Rodinal, my favorite developer, with this film. It also does not recommend D-76, which makes sending this film out to a lab for processing a challenge as so many of them use D-76 or one of its clones.

I like this film. I’ll use it again. Especially since I have so much HR-DEV developer left!

Like what you see? Buy some Adox HR-50 for yourself at Analogue Wonderland here.

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16 thoughts on “Shooting Adox HR-50

  1. Nigel Kell says:

    Cool! Nice pictures. I haven’t tried this yet; looks excellent! Though the thought of another “special developer”…. Fortunately, though, the silvermax developer gives a dilution for HR-50. Guess they are closely related.

    • Fortunately the small bottle of HR-DEV wasn’t too expensive. I have another roll of HR-50 and until the HR-DEV is gone will keep buying more. This is a nice film!

  2. P says:

    Very nice photos, Jim. Isn’t it nice when everything just works the first try? My favorites from this roll are all the “Schwinn Parts” shots. What vintage is your bike?

    Out of curiosity, did you have any difficulties loading the film onto the developing reel? I always seem to have the worst time with polyester-base films. I think maybe in the future I need to use my plastic tank and reel with PET films. The slight bowing that’s required to load stainless reels isn’t an issue for acetate, but with PET it just causes grief.

    • I have a post of the Schwinn coming up on Friday! It’s a 1986 Schwinn Collegiate I bought on Craigslist for $60. I put about $100 into it having it mechanically restored. It’s a nice bike.

      I use plastic reels and the HR-50 went right onto them. I have a steel reel/tank but I’ve not tried it yet.

      • P says:

        Great! I look forward to Friday’s post. I’m a big fan of old Schwinn bicycles. It’s a real shame they tanked and effectively sold out to Wal-Mart 15-20 years ago, or so.

        Well that settles it. I need to start using my plastic tank for polyester film stocks. I had a creeping suspicion the ratcheting reels would handle them a lot better. Thanks!

  3. Edwin Peter Paar says:

    Now you know what some of us had to do before the Massive Dev Chart was available.

  4. That is some nice film! You got really good results with it, and I expect you’ll probably shoot some more.
    Shall I be the old film photographer who mentions the slow speed (ISO 50) is responsible for the great quality? People who only shoot Tri-X (or equivalent) don’t know what they’re missing!

    • I have one more roll here yet to shoot! Of course its slow speed is key to its quality. Unfortunately, ISO 50 films clamor for plenty of light. I don’t always have it to give!

    • P says:

      Marc, you’re certainly right about slow film stocks. I have no objection to grain at all and I thoroughly enjoy TRI-X and HP5 PLUS, but there is something truly special about ASA 80 and under emulsions. Ilford Pan F PLUS is incredible. It’s probably my favorite of the ultra fine grain stocks since it’s still a traditional cubic grain structure. It’s just gotten too expensive, sadly. Kentmere 100 shot at 50 and pulled a stop in development is also beautiful, with incredible, creamy tonality and virtually zero visible grain at normal print sizes. For those looking for such an aesthetic that don’t want to spend a lot, I highly recommend giving it a try. I think FP4 PLUS is probably the best all-around film there is, however.

        • P says:

          Yep, you do need to shoot more FP4 PLUS. ;)

          Like Pan F PLUS (and most films), it’s gotten a bit too expensive for me, but thankfully I still have a small supply in my film stash.

          FP4 PLUS has fine enough grain that it never gets in the way, unlike that of TRI-X and HP5 PLUS, but enough that there’s no mistaking it’s film (whereas TMX and others can actually look digital). It’s super flexible and can easily be pushed to 200-250 without sacrificing much, or it can be pulled to 50-80, no problem. It works just as well for architecture as it does for portraits. You just really can’t go wrong with it. I think it’s better suited to everyday photography than any 400 speed film, which I feel are all way too fast in most well lit situations. I’m not a huge fan of being forced to shoot at f/11-22 all the time. I prefer f/4-8.

        • Wait … what? You can push FP4+ to 200-250? Well that’s a game changer. The trouble I have with ISO 100-ish films is that in the winter months when the light is poor here 100 is too slow and I end up with f/2 at 1/60 and the like. If I can push it to 200, well, that’s a game changer.

        • P says:

          Haha, yes, due to its very wide latitude and generally forgiving nature, FP4 PLUS can easily be pushed and pulled to suit one’s needs. Ilford, in their official datasheet, is kind enough to provide developing times for a whole array of developers when it’s been exposed at EI 200, including Rodinal (13 minutes, 1+25, 20C) and HC-110 (12 minutes, dilution B, 20C). Here’s a link to the datasheet.

          https://www.ilfordphoto.com/amfile/file/download/file/1919/product/686/

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