I’m a gullible man. I got lured into Rollei RPX-25 and the promise of the super-fine grain on this low ISO film. The box speed of ISO 25 is straight from the 19th century! I have loaded the film into an appropriately ancient Fujica Super Six from ca. 1954 AD, which I lovingly named Babcia. It means Granny in my most favourite of all the languages, Polish.
The sun was perfect for a low ISO film like that. The company was great – with Paweł, Ksia, kids and Sandrine on a canal boat somewhere around London. The shooting went fine, and the weekend flew by. I came back home and rushed into the bathroom the next day, I just couldn’t wait to see this wonder!
From then on everything went downhill.
Loading the film on the reel
After 5 minutes of trying and failing I was swearing like Captain Yellowbeard. It’s so flimsy! The film base is really thin and fragile. So thin that it just slips through these little metal balls in the spool, without catching any grip. As I rotated the spool, the normally automatic Paterson reel just refused to be automatic on this one. The film just wouldn’t move onto the reel, period. In the end I gently forced the film onto the reel, pushing it centimeter by centimeter and hoping that it didn’t jump off the grooves and it won’t stick to itself while in developer. I think one of those steel reels would come handy with this film!
Developing the film
I usually pre-soak the film before pouring in the developer. So I did with this film. When I poured out the water… wooow, that’s some black goo! I washed it again and again, and eventually after few times more the goo has thinned out. It didn’t look good. I was seriously afraid that maybe I have just washed off all my precious super-fine grain photos down the sink.
The film came out quite contrasty. Very contrasty, I’d say…
Scanning the film
Yep, another problem. The film seems to be manufactured just a milimeter or two too narrow for the Canon 9000F Mark II 120mm scanning bracket. There’s not enough width for it to rest where it belongs, it just slips through. I ended up fixing it with a bit of cello tape on both ends. Brilliant 😉
The Fine Grain
So, fine grain, right? Here it comes.
It’s sand and grain and rocks and boulders all over the place, and the contrast hurts eyes!!!
Well, in a way it’s lovely and artsy and stuff, but … come on! This looks like an asphalt surface of a worn-off Polish country road in the early nineties, not like a fine grain film!
The only explanations I have are:
- either the prolonged pre-soaking which this delicate film just does not like
- or the choice of developer was wrong. It was ADOX FX-39, which I have only used once before and it gave me a lot of grain as well, which I then conveniently blamed on the notorious grainy-ness of Fomapan 400.
All in all, I absolutely love this disaster and I will definitely get back to this awesome, quirky and mental film! Next time I will test the above theories – no pre-soaking and a gentle developer such as my favourite Ilford DDX. Can’t wait!
Maybe someone else has experienced something similar? Please let me know 🙂
(c) Tomasz Waraksa, Dublin, 2019