F. S. Schardein & Sons Nikon F3, 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor Adox HR-50 Adox HR-DEV 1+49
Sometimes you just get the feeling that there’s an interesting photograph when you walk up on a scene. I got that feeling here.
I moved all about this little parking lot trying to find the right composition, my camera at my face. I’m sure someday I’m going to trip over something doing that. Finally I noticed the plane of the ghost-sign wall intersecting with the plane of the light streak in the pavement, and I knew I had my shot.
When I shot my Nikon F3 in January, I discovered that the light seals had failed. Actually, I discovered it when the scans came back from the processor and I saw the red streaks across my images. Isn’t that how it usually goes?
I immediately bought an F3 light-seal kit online, but it took me until August to get around to installing it. I put off things I don’t like to do. Fortunately, the kit I bought came with excellent instructions and everything I needed. It took me about a half hour to do the job, and then I had to wait a couple days for the adhesive to set.
Then I mounted my 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens and loaded my last roll of Adox HR-50 film. I took the F3 around with me on a couple walks and bike rides, and on our trip to Louisville. Here are the shots I like best.
I shot the F3 in aperture-priority mode. About a third of the photos were a half or a full stop overexposed. I was able to fix it well enough in Photoshop most of the time. I hope the meter in my F3 isn’t going wonky.
I whiffed focus on the photo above. When you look at it at full scan size it’s entirely out of focus. At blog size, it has a dreamy, tilt-shifty look that I like.
I got stronger contrast this time than I did the last time I shot this film. I was impressed with its good middle grays last time. Perhaps this film doesn’t like overexposure.
The HR-50 just doesn’t look as good this time as it did last time I shot it. While we were in Louisville, I had no choice a couple times but to leave the F3 and the HR-50 in the trunk of my hot car. That may have affected the film as well.
Downtown Louisville was still reeling from protests after the killing of Breonna Taylor when we visited. Between that and COVID-19, the streets were pretty empty.
I also took the F3 to New Augusta, which I hadn’t visited in a long time. Somewhere I have a photo of this house looking abandoned. Someone’s moved in and given it the attention it deserves.
I developed this film in Adox HR-DEV diluted to 1+49 and scanned it on my CanoScan 9000F Mark II. I’m growing more and more convinced that my scanner is the weak link in my 35mm workflow. These just need far too much unsharp masking.
It’s been fun to try Adox HR-50. I seldom reach for films this slow because they demand such good light. But under the right circumstaces, HR-50 looks very good. It’s worth finding the light that suits it.
I still have a lot of Adox HR-DEV to use up after buying a small bottle to develop a roll of its companion film, Adox HR-50. I’m developing other films in it to see how it performs. I liked Arista EDU 200 (aka Fomapan 200) in it not long ago, so this time I tried Kodak T-Max 400.
I also took this opportunity to test a second Olympus OM-2n body given to me by the same benefactor who gave me the first one, as well as the Olympus OM-4T I recently shot. This very generous fellow also gave me a whole bunch of lenses and other OM gear. He hadn’t shot his OMs in a long time and he was ready for them not to take up space in his home anymore.
I mounted a large, heavy 35-70mm f/4 S Zuiko Auto-Zoom lens. It’s probably this hefty because of its fixed f/4 aperture — if I recall correctly, variable-aperture zooms can be made much smaller and lighter. Despite the weight, I slung the OM-2n over my shoulder and took it on a long bike ride.
HR-DEV is supposed to enhance sensitivity, better differentiating light from shadow. I don’t know if I see that; this looks like normal T-Max 400 to me.
But I very much appreciated how sharp these scans were off my flatbed. They still needed a little unsharp masking in Photoshop, but far less aggressively than normal after developing this film in any of my usual developers.
I finished the roll on a few walks through the neighborhood. What I especially appreciated about these negatives was how little Photoshopping they required to look good. About half of them needed only that touch of unsharp masking.
I made these neighborhood shots on full-sun days, and I think I detect the light areas being lighter than I’m used to with this film under these conditions. Or I could be seeing things.
Just a side note: it’s crazy to me how much of the sides and backs of houses you can see on any walk through this neighborhood, and how often windows are placed haphazardly on them.
If you look at these images at full scan size, which you can do by clicking any of them to see them on Flickr, there’s detectable grain here. But at blog sizes they look smooth enough.
Bottom line, this combination works. Don’t be afraid to try it if you, like me, have some HR-DEV to use up.
Before I started developing film at home, I really liked Fomapan 200, which I usually buy from Freestyle Photo rebranded as Arista EDU 200. I shot it at box speed and the labs I used always returned scans with good contrast and dramatic dark tones. And the images always looked so smooth, with almost imperceptible grain.
But I wasn’t so thrilled with the film when I developed and scanned it myself. It just lacked the punch I was used to, with muddy middle grays and blocked up shadows. In Rodinal, sharpness was pretty good, but not in HC-110.
A couple of you mentioned in the comments that this film does better when shot at EI 125 or 160 and developed normally. So I loaded my last roll of this film into my Olympus XA2, set it to EI 125, and shot it around the neighborhood.
It would have been a better test if I had developed it in Rodinal, but I used Adox HR-DEV instead, diluted 1+35 and developed for 9:29 at 22.9° C. And so I don’t know whether it was the extra exposure or the developer that gave these results. But these are the results I was used to getting from this film when I shot it at box speed and sent it out for developing and scanning!
I used the HR-DEV because I have no idea of this developer’s shelf life and I have a lot of it left. I found a recipe for this film and developer on the Massive Dev Chart, so I went ahead and used it. I’m sure I’ll buy more of this film one day, and when I do I’ll shoot it at EI 125 and develop it in Rodinal to see if I keep getting results like these.
While I had the roll of Adox HR-50 in my Olympus OM-1, I made a series of photos of my bicycle. Some years ago I bought a 1986 Schwinn Collegiate from a Craigslist seller, had it overhauled, and have been riding it ever since. I like its springy seat and upright riding position. The bike has a few dents and the paint is chipped here and there, but it rides well.
The 50mm f/1.8 F.Zuiko lens and the Adox HR-50 came together to render my bike in ways that pleased me deeply. These photos show a rich range of tones, and the selective focus adds dimension and depth. They could be a little sharper, but I’m not sure I’ve fully dialed in my scanning and sharpening settings yet.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
HR-50 even does a good job rendering the sky without using a filter.
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.
Even when the sun reflected off a surface, the HR-50 refused to blow out.
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.
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.
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.