Sharp 35mm film with buttload of latitude
Do you like sharpness? Or exposure latitude? Me too — which is why I though I’d write this short abomination of a review, in order to share my recent results with Adox Silvermax 100. You see, this is indeed a very sharp film with rather superior tonality. At least I was very pleasantly surprised with the results.
While doing some film swaps last summer, I received couple of rolls of Silvermax 100 from a friend. I shot one roll back then, but then I sort of forgot about it. Six months later (yesterday) I stumbled upon it on my freezer. I had no memory what I took pictures of. Curiosity arose.
Surprisingly good results with Silvermax developer
I also happened to receive 20ml of Silvermax developer. It is my understanding that using it will enable you to unleash the maximum tonal potential of the film, that is provided by the film’s extra high silver content. I used 11min development time on a 1+29 dilution (10ml Silvermax developer + 290ml water).
Initially I wasn’t too excited to try the film out, but I have to say, I really like the results! The promised increase in tonality is clearly noticeable and the film seems to hold up to over exposure very well. I took some pictures of our dogs (apparently) on a bright summer day. Metering for a dark subject, that is backlit, would render solid white backgrounds on a crappy film or a digital sensor. There’s some overblownage only in couple of my sample photos. But other than that, Silvermax seems to hold impressive amount of tones. When combined with a very sharp image quality, the results are really pleasing.
Organic and natural look
It’s worth to mention, that the images seems to have a very organic and natural look. I really like the grain structure, which is perfectly balanced. The film is a bit grainy for a slow film, but that’s only a good thing. Compared to some other well known 100 speed films, I think Silvermax looks perhaps a bit more filmy. I’m a huge fan of Kodak T-max 100 and Ilford Delta 100, but they look sometimes almost too modern.
I found Silvermax 100 to have moderate amount of contrast. The negative scans looked really good straight from the scanner, but perhaps a bit flat. I did some minor curve adjustments, which was easy, because the negs contained such a huge amount of tonal information. I basically just darkened some of the shadow areas. Midtones were consistently perfect, clearly this film’s strength. On few images I darkened the highlights ever so slightly, just to bring out more tonality from the areas that appeared to look almost over blown, but in reality had much tonality in them.
I wish I’d remember which camera I shot these images with. It was either Olympus OM-4 with Zuiko 50mm f1.8 (or f1.4) — or then Leica M6 with Zeiss Planar 50mm f2 ZM T*.
As a conclusion, I’d give this films two thumbs up. If I happen so stumble upon it again, I’ll definitely acquire more of it. At the moment the film isn’t available in any of my local film shops, which is a total bummer. Because these couple of rolls came to me via trade, I have no idea just how expensive Silvermax typically is, but If it’s at a reasonable price point, I think it offers very good value in the form of beautiful and unique image quality.
Edit: It was brought to my attention that the film is available from my neck of the woods after all (since couple of days ago before I published this article) from Kamerastore.com. 10 roll bundle (including developer and fixer) costs 75€, which actually is a pretty decent price point. 7,50€/roll is about the same as any good black and white film. I reckon the manufacturer really wishes us to use their dedicated developer, since they’ve bundled it together with the actual film. Makes sense, because… as far as I understand, with any other developer, you won’t be getting the full benefit of the film’s high silver content, which is behind it’s tonal capabilities.