Back in October 2017, I was blessed to take part in one of Dan K’s generous giveaways over on Twitter. It consisted of a gift certificate to Camera Film Photo and shipping, and I picked up a bunch of black & white film that I hadn’t tried before, including 5 rolls of Rollei RPX 100 in a Japan Camera Hunter Half Case.
I shot the first three rolls rather quickly, but sat on the last two for a few months, and by April 2018, I was all out. Will I buy more? I don’t know. Maybe. It’s a nice enough film, with pleasant grain, good tonal separation and nice contrast, but it’s a bit expensive, almost double the price of Fomapan 200 and a third more than FP4+, both of which I prefer. Still, it’s a nice enough film, and I’m glad I tried it.
Ok. So I shot 5 rolls of RPX 100 over 5 months in 4 cameras of roughly 3 subjects/themes and developed in 2 different developers, so let’s make this a 3 part review.
1. Rebuilding the Veggie Patch
I did some major renovations on the vegetable patches earlier this spring. It was some good, honest work, but I can already see that it’ll need doing again next spring. Alhamdulillah. I don’t remember if I planned it or not, but I shot the height of the patches’ decline last fall and their renovation this spring with Rollei RPX 100. I used 3 different cameras and two different developers,
So last fall, we had Rollei RPX in the Ricoh 500 ME, developed in Ilfotec HC, 1:15 for 4.5 minutes. The results are sharp, contrasty, and really, just lovely to my eye.
Then, in the spring, I shot the rebuild with the Sprocket Rocket and (broken) Cosina CX-2, and developed with Rodinal 1:25 for 9 minutes.
Now, the meter on the Cosina was (and at time of writing, is) broken, so it was metering for some ludicrously long shutter speeds (like 3 stops over, at least). And if you’re familiar with the Sprocket Rocket, you know it has a plastic lens, the shutter’s fixed at 1/100th, and the Normal/Bulb switch has a tendency to slip back and forth without warning, so there are loads of things that probably went wrong with these two rolls. I know I had to torture the scans to get even these poor results, which probably contributes to the softness and low contrast.
So let’s continue on with the poor results before we get to the stuff I like…
Founders Plaza is like Six Flags for plane watchers… Hana, Samie, and I spent about a half hour there in March, and I finished off my last two rolls of RXP 100.
To be honest, I wish I had them back…
Oh well. It’s not the film’s fault, and while I’d like to blame Rodinal, I expect it’s more to do with the tools than anything else.
Intermission: the Canon Sure Shot 115u
In late October, I put one roll through the Canon Sure Shot 115u… If you click through, you can see a few shots from a party I went to in the fall, and here are a few more. I developed this roll in Ilfotec HC 1:31 for 7 minutes.
Those 90’s and 00’s compacts had great, sharp, slooooow, lenses on them, and mostly decent flashes. Good times.
3. Out the Window
Really, I got the best results from the Ricoh 500 ME and Ilfotec HC 1:15 for 4.5 minutes and accidentally pushed to 160 and developed in HC 1:31 for 7.5 minutes.
First, 1:15 and 4.5.
And now “pushed” to 160 (really, I just forgot to set the ISO) and so developed for an extra 30 seconds. (HC 1:31 time should be 7 minutes; these got 7.5).
I think the weaker developer and longer time pulled the contrast back a little bit, but other than that, I don’t see huge variation between these, and I think the grain, sharpness, contrast, and tonal variation are really quite good.
So. Rollei RPX 100… I’m pleased with the results I got from two rolls I shot in the Ricoh ME, and I’m not unhappy with the results I got from the Sure Shot, but if I could get back the rolls I wasted in the Sprocket Rocket and broken Cosina, believe me I would. I’m not sure if the developer really has anything to do with it, but if I shoot this film again, InshaAllah I’ll run it through Ilfotec HC again.
Overall, I’d give it 3.8 stars, and if I spot a sale somewhere, I might buy some again, though at $7/roll, my money would be better spent on 2 rolls of Fomapan Creative 200, or one roll of Ilford FP4+ and a coffee.
In the US, Rollei RPX 100 is available from Freestyle and the NYC discounters, and in Europe you can get it from Maco direct. If you haven’t shot it yet, you should give it a try. You might like it. I do, even if I don’t buy any more of it.
One last thing. Rollei doesn’t manufacture this film. The brand is owned by Maco, and they don’t manufacture film either. So this RPX 100 is a repackaging of something. Early speculation pointed to Kentmere 100. I’m not too sure about that.
Take these two pictures, for example. On the left, some Kentmere 100, shot from the Hilton Hotel in downtown Springfield, IL and developed in D76; the other shot from the office and developed in Ilfotec HC.
And here are some 100% crops from same.
Now it could be that the thicker glass in the Hilton had something to do with it, and the difference in developers likely had something to do with it, but these don’t look like the same films to me. The grain is different, the tonal variation is different, the clip to white is different.
Of course, my scanning is also different, so that could be it too, and it could be that RPX 100 was Kentmere 100 at some point in the past, and has since been changed. But that’s all just a guess.
One thing I do know is that the Maco Data Sheet for RPX 100 has some Agfa branding on it, and so I suspect RPX 100 has some kind of corollary in Agfa’s line of surveillance films, much like JCH Street Pan and Street Candy 400.
But, of course, it doesn’t matter who made the film. And it doesn’t much matter what cameras or developers you use either. Those things may play a small role, but what matters is why you took the picture in the first place (the concept) and what you do with it later (the output), and I feel like I’m failing on both counts these days, Alhamdulillah.