Kodak Plus-X 125 was a fine grained, sharp, black & white that Kodak discontinued back in 2011. It was the last of the low speed, traditional grain black & white Kodak stocks. If you want slow, black & white Kodak film now, T-Max is all you get (or you can go with some hand-rolled expired or movie film from the FPP, or try your luck at ebay).
It’s really a shame: I love this film, despite its horrid curl, and despise T-Max. Maybe Kodak will bring it back one day.
I won’t hold my breath.
I picked up 3 or 4 rolls of expired Kodak Plus-X 125 from McKinney Camera (inside Goodies, on the square) in 2016. I was there to check out the store and pick up a couple of rolls of 120 to send off to my Secret Emulsive Santa
victim recipient, and just spotted the Plus-X tucked into the back corner of a narrow shelf. I gifted one or two rolls, and kept two for myself.
They languished in the fridge until last week. I needed a roll to test the Agfa Optima Sensor 535 and felt some desire to shoot something I’d been hoarding for awhile. Film, after all, is meant to be shot, not sit around in the refrigerator or freezer forever. I need to remember that and just shoot the stuff rather than keeping it around for some future “project” or whatever.
I stuck an orange filter on the front of the Afga for grins and got to shooting. Given that I shot most of the roll at night or on overcast days, I’m not sure how much effect the filter had, maybe some extra definition in some plants, but probably not much.
I exposed the film at EI80 and developed in Ilfotec HC 1+31 for 5 minutes, with 4 gentle inversions every minute. I think that was just about right. Highlights are suitably restrained and shadows are acceptably detailed; blacks are deep and mesmerizing, the mids are clean, with great clarity, and the highs are not at all harsh. The grain is smooth, without looking too plasticy (like TMax: yuck), but the film curled something awful after development. I pressed it under heavy photobooks for 2 days before scanning, but the film still rolled up into a ball. It’s now cut, sleeved, and reverse-rolled into a shipping tube.
Overall, I’d give it a solid 4.1 stars, and only really knock it for the horrendous curl.
My random photos throughout the work week and on the WorldWide Photo Walk don’t really do the film justice, but even with my mediocre photography, the film shines. I’m really looking forward to enjoying that last roll, hopefully on a good subject… maybe the State Fair, if I make it this year.
If you stumble across some of this film, send it to me! Or, if you’re not feeling that generous, buy it and shoot it! It’s great stuff.
And Kodak Alaris, if you’re reading, maybe bring this back, give us another option, see if you can take a bit of market share from Ilford, whose FP4+ is the only real contender, and after one roll, I’d take this over FP4 any day. (Sorry, Ilford, your FP4+ is great, wonderful film, and I love it, but this film is beautiful!)