Just one roll: Agfa-Gevaert 5.61

Mike Eckman of mikeeckman.com sent me a couple rolls of film a couple years ago, and one of them was this hand-spooled roll of Agfa Gevaert 5.61. This long-discontinued black-and-white film was used to make prints of movies. As such, it was a positive film. There’s precious little additional info about it on the Internet!

Mike told me it is an ISO 4 film with good latitude — as long as I shot it anywhere in the low single or double digits on my camera’s ISO dial, I’d get good exposures. He said that if I developed it in HC-110, Dilution B, for 6½ minutes, I’d get good negatives.

I shot this roll in my Nikon N90s with the 50mm f/1.8 AF-D Nikkor lens attached. I trust this camera to get it right when I’m shooting something unusual.


I got nice results from this film. Dark colors are really dark. Grain is imperceptible and sharpness is good. Contrast is managed and there’s a good range of tones.


I shot this ash tree in the shade, which led to a mighty dark image. I boosted shadows in Photoshop and got this good, crunchy texture in the tree’s bark.

Ash tree

On the other hand, chrome turns out very silvery on this film.

Honda grille

When light reflects heavily off a bright surface, this film tended to glow. I wonder if it doesn’t have an anti-halation layer.


Check out how the light reflects off the chrome bumper of that SUV. Also, unfortunately a lot of the frames on this roll suffered from a light leak. I sure hope that’s due to the hand-rolled nature of the film and not a fault of my N90s.

Our street

I shot these handheld – the sun was so bright that even at ISO 4 I got fast enough shutter speeds.

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6 responses to “Just one roll: Agfa-Gevaert 5.61”

  1. jimh Avatar

    Looks like you lose a bit of film speed with HC-110. Try it with Acufine, which isn’t made any more, but you can get the Photograpers’ Formulary version.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I develop 1-2 rolls a month so I try to keep my developer stocks down to just a couple that have long shelf lives. Hence HC-110!

  2. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    I’ve never been much of a street photographer, always mostly in the studio or bringing lights on location, but I have to say, this is a good example about how the speed of film (or even the ASA dial on digital), is always highly skewed to more and more speed and sensitivity! Most of the film shot by me rarely exceeded ASA 125, and now in retirement, trying to find a “walk around” film is frustrating. Tri-X is virtually unusable outdoors without carrying neutral density filters (or a 2 stop green), and you can’t see to focus with an SLR, it’s better with a twin lens or rangefinder if your stuff having to do this. Love slow speed film. Even on an overcast day, Panatomic-X was still useable at a decent shutter speed and f/stop…

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I admit to liking ISO 400 films in the winter because then I’m ready no matter what. But you are right, ISO 125 films are more versatile than most current film photographers give them credit for.

  3. Darts and Letters Avatar
    Darts and Letters

    Wow, ISO 4! I think I’d have a lot of trouble shooting with such slow speed film, I’d definitely end up shooting everything wide open. The pictures you took don’t look too bad, though.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I thought it would be impossible, but I was surprised how often I got f/5.6 at 1/30 sec. – eminently hand-holdable.

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