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Push Efke or Pull Plus-X?

Michael Batchelor , Oct 23, 2008; 11:29 a.m.

OK gang,

I'm on a tear here. I've got a couple of old junk cameras functional again, and I'm trying to play with them. Note, I'm not talking about fine art photography here. I'm talking about making it easy to go out and fart around with friends. Snapshot moments if you will.

Both seem to have a shutter speed of about 1/25 (not measured, but sounds right), and one is f/16 while the other is f/11. (Wow, not a lot of adjustment there; like, none, get over it Mikey!) So I need pretty slow film for anything outdoors. I've already run a few rolls of "proper" speed through them in various light conditions, and they work fine and my exposures are good using these assumptions for shutter and f-stop.

What I want to do is carry one type of film, and just push or pull the development based on the light. (Hey, I have a pen, and I can write it down.) So I'll really need to be able to process for anything from about ISO 25 to 400. Remember I'm talking snapshots here, not fine art.

I'll obviously have to do my own testing, but if someone has been down this trail before any recommendations are welcome if you can save me traveling down a useless pathway.

What seems to be the best two choices for me are either good old Plus-X or Efke 25. Plus-X is said to push and pull relatively well, but I haven't seen much about pulling it that far. Anyone pulled it down to 25? Is it OK, or is it so flat it's a waste of time? I have seen results of pushing to 400, and that's fine for snapshots for me.

Obviously the Efke 25 is right for the low end, and people say it pushes pretty well, but pushing 5 stops seems like an awful lot. (I've read the warning not to pull Efke, so I won't even go there.) Has anyone tried this? Can you push Efke25 to 400 and still use it? Or is it blown out of the water by then? I haven't ever used Efke 25, so I have no experience with it. I have used PanF+, and that's pretty high contrast if you push it too hard. Does the Efke respond like PanF, or more controlled?

Is there something better out there that I should consider?

Thanks for any hints.

Michael

Responses

Lex Jenkins , Oct 23, 2008; 11:44 a.m.

When I started toting an Agfa Isolette as my fun camera I faced a similar dilemma: Which film for all 'round use? The camera is limited to shutter speeds of 1/25, 1/50, 1/100 and 1/200 second; and apertures of f/4.5-f/32. And I figured EV 5-15 would be a reasonable range for this camera.

Originally I intended to use a film speed appropriate to that camera's era, which would be well under 400. After piddling around with various medium film speeds (APX 100, FP4+), I settled on plain vanilla Tri-X. Usually I rate it at 200 and develop appropriately in HC-110. No problems with blocked up highlights even in sunlight. And on the rare occasions when I've been forced to shoot at night, I'll just guesstimate as for EI 1200 and soup in Diafine.

If you're going for that classic look, avoid pushing. I have hundreds of old family photos dating back to the Civil War and covering every major era in between. None of 'em ever looked "pushed", i.e., contrasty without shadow detail, grainy, etc. There's something about those simple lenses, possibly in part the lack of sophisticated multicoating, that works well with moderate speed film that is generously exposed rather than underexposed and pushed.

Unfortunately the other key element was the contact printing paper typically used for prints from that broad category of snapshot cameras lumped under the "medium format" heading. It's not readily available now and we have to make do with faster paper intended for enlargements.

Andrew Kaiser , Oct 23, 2008; 12:16 p.m.

sounds to me like you have a choices similar to what a Holga user would do with just a different shutter speed.

My advice would be to giveFoma 100 a try as it handles bad exposures REALLY well. I use it in my Holga all the time and always get something at least printable.

I haven't had the best luck pushing or pulling Efke films. It's a very lovely film, but not the most versatile when it comes to pushing and pulling, especially pulling. Plus-X is not a bad choice at all given what you have to work with.

Michael Batchelor , Oct 23, 2008; 12:29 p.m.

Lex wrote:"There's something about those simple lenses"

You mean that one lonely little piece of glass that's been waiting 50 years for me to show up and love it again? Perhaps, in another metaphysical plane, it really is working it's little heart out to please.

MB

Radford Neal , Oct 25, 2008; 12:48 p.m.

How about taking along a collection of ND filters?

Michael Batchelor , Oct 25, 2008; 01:40 p.m.

>How about taking along a collection of ND filters?

Seems like a lot of trouble for a dollar camera from a thrift store. If I'm going to carry a gear bag I'll take one of my Contax bodies. (As they mutter under their breath about me, "Seems like he's already been to a lot of trouble for a one dollar camera.")

MB

Mike Gammill , Oct 25, 2008; 11:00 p.m.

Plus-X or FP4+. Whichever film you like best. Versatile. Both can be pulled or pushed. I usually rate my Plus-X anywhere from E.I. 100 to 200 depending upon lighting. I add 30 seconds to the HC110-B time when I rate it at 200. If you want less speed than 100-125 try Rodinal. Check the archives. You will find numerous posts about Rodinal. Also the Massive Development Chart has some times for different developers. http://www.digitaltruth.com/devchart.html For example, the chart suggests an E.I. 64 for Rodinal 1:100 for 10 minutes. There are several XTOL times as well for slower E.I.'s. Remember, Plus-X is a relatively fast film. Even back in the 1950's Plus-X was often exposed at E.I.'s as high as 320 to 400. YMMV.

Tim Gray , Oct 29, 2008; 08:00 a.m.

I would pull Plus-X. Faster films usually have more latitude than slower films so I would think pulled Plus-X would look better than a pushed slower film.

Neal Currie , Oct 29, 2008; 10:12 p.m.

Agree with pulling Plus-X. My normal process with Plus-X is to pull it.

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