Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Agfa APX 25: Whisper No

Mamiya C3 / 65mm f/3.5 / Notting Hill

A while back I bought a stash of old film on eBay, mostly without the packets; among them was a roll of Agfa APX 25, an old and very slow black and white film. It was introduced in 1989. Google Books suggests that it was discontinued in 2002 or 2003, with the last rolls expiring a couple of years later, by which time Agfa itself had collapsed.

With only one roll I had no idea what to expect, and I couldn't test it in any way, but I was pleasantly surprised. My approach to odd finds like this is to just shoot it; just flick the switch. "One more body amongst foundations makes little difference. Well? What are you waiting for? Do it. DO IT."

ISO 25 equals roughly 1/30th of a second, f/4 in overcast daylight, but this isn't a huge problem with a TLR. One of the best things about slow film is that you can use wide apertures in daylight, equals narrow depth of field, which looks neat. It brings in the punters.

I stand developed it with R09 / Rodinal, but despite this the result was basically grain-free. There is grain, but it looks like a low-level blur rather than individual little spots. APX 25 sharpens well, and generally it's very Photoshoppy - low contrast, good resolution, similar to digital but with low contrast. You can add your own contrast. Shame it was discontinued. I have no idea how the previous owner stored my roll, but in general slow black and white films seem to age well.

A couple of these images have a pattern, particularly the BMW. I'm not sure if this is from the film's storage or from my scanner's dirty glass flatbed. Half and half, probably.

"... in exchange for £1,200 a month"

Seriously, the old sharknosed BMWs were wicked cool. If I ever become a multi-millionaire I will either buy an old sharknosed BMW or a Porsche 912, which I will park on the street thusly, and never use - because I would already live in London. Heathrow is at the end of the tube and the rest of the UK isn't worth visiting.

There will be cocaine hidden under the seat cover in a ziploc bag inside a second ziploc bag, and many years later I will feel slightly sad that the police never stopped me, not once. It was because I looked too boring. And that hurts.

In an age of ISO 25,600, twenty-five is distinctly retro. As far as I can tell the only remaining slow film is Ilford PAN F 50, which I can't remember ever using. I'll have to dig into my box of things to see if I have some.