New And Old Film Emulsions

0 Replies, 34901 Views

I have seen on this board talk about Efke, and ados films as being 'OLD

What's the difference between the old and new film s and their emulsions!!


this is a "dangerous" question you posted here <img src='<#EMO_DIR#>/rolleyes.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':angry:' />

We have seen many posts on this and people sem to be either on the one or on the other side.

There are some people out in the forums who will tell you that everyone shooting an old style emulsion is a stupid fool because technology advances and all modern films are better than old films like modern cars are better than old cars. I think that many old cars look beter than modern cars and that the same applies to some films (this really isn?t intended to be a scientific statement <img src='<#EMO_DIR#>/wink.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' /> ).

Those people will also tell you that if the resolution @ a contrast of 1:1000 of lines per milimeter is higher it automatically must be a sharper, better and finer grained film.

As we all know the parameter for grain is RMS granularity and not lines per milimeter and sharpness is also a different story.

These people will not listen to this and keep on repeating modern=good; old style=bad and lines per milimeter is the absolute criteria.

So be prepared I am expecting these posts right below this one.....

The difference which no one can deny is that photos taken with an old style emulsion look differently than those taken with a more modern emulsion.

For many people this is already enough. They like the look of an older emulsion and the "natural" grain (as opposed to T or delta grain) and thus prefer these films.

The real difference is probably the question what was on the engineers mind when he made this film.

As for the old style emulsions like our efke/ADOX films the mixture of the emulsion came from roll and sheetfilm technology. As grain was not an issue on these large format films the top aim of the emulsionist was to make a film with wide exposure latitude, good shaddow detail differentiation, excellent grey scales and natural conversion from colours into grey.

Coming from this they also tried to make the films sharper as more people started to use 35mm leica cameras in the 40ies and 50ies.

The most advanced product of this category is the efke/ADOX film first introduced in the early 50ies of the 20th century.

It is based on old emulsion technologies incorporating high silver content, coated in only one layer (single layer) and with not a higher speed than 100.

The slow speed films were sold to people looking for fine grain making highly enlarged prints, the "high speed" films like the 100 for sports photography and people shooting moved objects (back then 100 was considered high speed).

The films are very sharp (single layer) and have superb grey tonalities and an excellent expansion and exposure latitude (comparing 25 with 25, 50 with 50 and 100 with 100 etc.- don?t compare 25 with 400 as higer speed films always have a better exposure latitude than slow speed films).

But with 35mm becoming more and more popular film factories had to focus more and more on this clientel.

Large format and 120 became a side market and thus all modern films are first of all 35mm films which are also produced on roll and sheetfilm bases.

The main diference is that these films are first of all higher in speed and relatively finer in grain because the small 35mm format needs fine grained material.

All other photographic properties of the films were more or less neglected and "fell" somewhere. Most important was fine grain and more than 100 ASA speed.

In order to achieve this the films were given a second or even third layer (Delta 3200 has even four layers!), pre exposed capsulated silver grains of different sizes and in the 80ies even tabular crystals (Tmax and Delta) all mixed in hetero dispersed emulsion layers of different types.

And in fact these films are very fine grained and achieve up to EV 1600. The 400 Delta can even be as fine grained as the efke 100.

So if you really need 400 ASA or more and don?t like grain and want to enlarge your prints to over 8x10 " these films might be the perfect choice for you.

Disadvantages on the other side (slightly exagurated to make clear what the differences are): Pictures are not really sharp because the tabular crystals are placed one on top of the other and blurr light from one into the other also the second layer blurs on the coating edge from one to the other layer, shaddow detail is hardly existent and the tonality is relatively flat.

So if you are more into tonality and want your images to be sharp and crisp you might want to try one of the old style emulsions and use R09, FX 39 or neofin blue (developers which go for sharpness and in return let the grain "fall" where ever it "falls" thus working totally different than modern fine grain developers and fine grain films).

If you feel the grain is too large go down in speed or go up in filmformat.

In case you shoot large format the choice is easy. Here are old style emulsions always much better than modern ones.

Somthing to be considered as well is that old technology material is easier to produce. We can make very small production runs in our partner factory on a profitable basis. High tech films like Delta or Tmax need to be produced in large quantites. So with the b/w market becoming less of a professional and more of an artist market these old style films films might be even more "modern" than newer ones ones because they could be the only ones available in the coming years.

Sort of "Back to the roots" like.

Modern films are also highly stabilized. With such a film you get very repeating results (on the other side you loose space for taking influence by changing the developer or trying alternative processes). The films are hardened and the emulsion sticks very well to the film base. Old emulsion techniques do not allow the film to be hardened as much. Thus you need to be more carefull in processing it. But this is not a problem it is just something you need to consider while working in the lab.

Cheers from Berlin,

Thanx for your answer! What does an OLD type film print look like?

And with regards a past thread on the demise of B&W Etc.,it is sad to see that ILFORD are selling up in the UK,there's no buyer as yet!


you need to see the difference. Obviously the difference is in the negative and not on the print so only parameters that are affected by film behaviour can be seen (e.g. not the tone of the paper etc. sometimes people mix this and think a sepia toned picture must have been taken on an old style film ;-)

Usually what you can see is that the shaddows have rhicher details and the oveall tonal range expands more thus making the images more like the reality. You can see better if surfaces have been wet or dry and all the textures become more alive.

Other hand: if you keep shooting the same film format: more grain.

You need to test this for yourself. As I said before for some people a modern film is the best choice and for others not.

Everyone has to make up his mind and the best way is to simply try a roll and then stick to it or not.

Ilford: They announced yesterday that all b&w products will be stopped.

This does not surprise me as the situation was devastating over the past years.

These huge factories were living on third world export markets of countires which were sofar behind that b&w actually still was a mass market product.

With these countries moving rapidly towards digital the big plants will have to be shut down.

These markets only I expect to be over 20x bigger than the whole worlds artists photographers demand together.

I saw a nice thread on where people asked agfa to start selling APX sheetfilm again. 100 photographers or so signed it of the total of 2500 APUG members.

Nice try but far away from reality.


(Dieser Beitrag wurde zuletzt bearbeitet: 26-08-2004, 10:52 AM von Mirko Boeddecker.)

Where did you see the announcement that Ilford were stopping B&W Stuff!


you really need to see the difference. The proof is in the pudding. To make a valid comparsion between different films you have to expose them for their real speed and develope them to the right contrast. Overdevelopment and underexposure is the easiest way to ruin any film.

As an aside with respect to one film being better than the other there is hardly a film more controversal than Kodaks TMAX 400. Use it outdoors, soup it in a higher concentration of HC110 and you'll hate it too. At least I did. But use it indoors for portraits, developed in XTOL 1+1 or lowly D76 1+1 and you will ask yourself what this talk about plasticy midtones is about. Look here: [url=""][/url]. Or use it with a staining/tanning developer like PMK, Moersch Tanol or Pyrocat-HD and TMY - to my own surprise - shines even under outdoor conditions. Its more a matter of "how" than of "what" which makes me optimistics that we may still do fine in the not too far future when our choices of materials get more and more limited.

There is one difference, though, between "old" and "new" that hasn't been mentioned yet: spectral sensitivity. The sensitivity of most "old" emulsions ends earlier towards the red end of the spectrum and no kind of filtering will compensate for that. Such films inevitably look different and you may or may not like this kind of difference.

BTW. Mirko: can you name the source for the statement that Ilford has decided to shut down production of B&W products? I have yet to decide what to put on my next order!


(Dieser Beitrag wurde zuletzt bearbeitet: 27-08-2004, 07:59 AM von skahde.)
Niall, Stefan,

some things are for sure and some aren?t with respect to Ilford.

For sure is:

1) Ilford separated their digital from their analogue business

2) The analogue section went bankrupt on Friday last week.

Not for sure is if the b/w production will really stop.

Even though this was communicated by Ilford employees I think the last decision will be made by the new managment and one week is too short to make a definite decision on such an important aspect.

We will see what happens. If they are able to lay off workers under bankrupcy protection without social plans they might be able to continue.

If they have to pay off the workers with social plans that will be it for Ilford.

It is like this in our semi-socialistic european democracys. In time adaption of companies to new market situations is by law impossible.

A market reduction of 25% per year will force any labour intensive company located in europe into bankrupcy- even though technically it could survive because it is impossible to reduce costs at the same speed. You have to keep paying excess staff until they retire or you have to pay them 1,5 years of wages to compensate them. Where to take this from if you are already struggeling to survive ?

No bank will give you a credit for paying off excess staff as it makes no economical sense.

On the day where your debt to your employes and suppliers exeeds your capital you have to declare bankrupcy.

So this is more of a technical thing than really the end.

I suppose Ilford saw this bankrupcy as their last chance.

We wish them all the best. Hopefully some jobs and parts of the factory can survive.

We saw this coming so we have stocked HP5 and FP4 raw material for 35mm and 120 for at least a two years supply.

So in case there will be some months without deliveries we can constantly supply film.

Unfortunately things developed much faster than we thought so it will take us a few weeks as well to have the first ready made films available.

(Dieser Beitrag wurde zuletzt bearbeitet: 26-08-2004, 07:41 PM von Mirko Boeddecker.)
I understand the economics of your argument!

But, what your really saying is they have all but said,they are shutting

down the B&W!

Right! No one actually said it!

Hi Mirko,

Ilford is "under administration". That's completely different from bankruptcy. It corresponds to German "Verwaltungsvorstand", meaning that a venture capital group tries to get the most out of its investment and has decided about "take it or leave it".

So, I do not see any need for panics. They'll be re-structured, some people get fired, but we will be able to buy Ilford stuff for the next some years. Hopefully.

Otherways: Foma is on market, Agfa will stay on market, Efke (ooh, don't they stop my favourite R50?) will stay on market. Even those Maco or Lucky stuff will be sold tomorrow, too. Nevertheless, I won't buy it.

Do you have any information regarding this so-called german firm producing this announced Rollei R3? Actually, I have some difficulties in believing Ilford-based emulsions being produced in Germany.

Best regards,


who said that R3 uses "Ilford-bases" emulsions?


Benutzer, die gerade dieses Thema anschauen: 1 Gast/Gäste

Theme Selector