AgfaPhoto APX400 @ 1600

I like AgfaPhoto APX400 rated at 800. My data suggests we can push it a little further—I shot a roll at 1600, and feel like maybe we’re hitting the limits for pushing.

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AgfaPhoto APX400 @ 1600

I’ve been having some fun with AgfaPhoto APX400. My last experiments demonstrated to me that I can shoot it at 800 without adjusting the development times. But if you’re not a regular here, then you won’t know that I have a thing for pushing film.

I had one roll left, and I thought I’d try pushing to 1600. The results aren’t bad!

However, as you’ll see, there are a lot of weird spots on the film that I haven’t encountered before. I don’t know if this is a problem with my development, or defective film. If you have ideas what these spots are, let me know in the comments! (There are also some very obvious water marks from the film drying badly, but those are different.)

Anyway, I’m going to leave off my opinion until the end. Let’s start with some sample photos from the roll.

Sample Photos

I think maybe my camera’s meter is off. Also, notice the marks on the head just to the right of the subject. The hell is that!?

Technical Details

I used my new testing technique to produce the charts below. Film was exposed for Zone V, and developed in Adox XT-3, dilution 1+1, for 11'45" (at 22,1º because it’s nearly summer here in Lisboa) with intermittent agitation (+1 development from the Massive Dev Chart times).

ISO 400
ISO 800 (nominal speed for this processing)
ISO 1600
ISO 3200
ISO 6400

As you can see, contrast is pretty high. (In my new digital film evaluation system, anything with a 𝛾 ≅ 1.0 is normal contrast, and anything above that is high contrast, and anything below is low contrast.) And at EI 1600, we have essentially lost all shadow detail in Zone I—all to be expected!

The contrast is evenly placed around Zone V, which means that unlike for example Kodak Double-X, it maintains good highlight detail, and really seems to enjoy brightly lit outdoor scenes.

Conclusion

I’m not in love with this film. All the images were shot on auto mode with my Pentax ME Super, and I am finding maybe I have some doubts about the metering. Many shots were slightly under-exposed, and there is essentially no latitude for metering mistakes here. But that’s not the film’s fault.

There is a softness to the images that I am not overly fond of. I will level with you—I do not know what makes a film sharper or softer. But there were a lot of soft frames. I didn’t share them all, because some of them are undoubtedly missed focus or too-slow shutter speeds. The brightly-lit scenes may be encountering diffraction effects from the tight aperture. But my hit rate for in-focus images is lower than I’m used to. Maybe 1600 speed is just not for me—too fast for Lisboan summers, and too slow for Lisboan metro stations. This might also not be the film’s fault.

APX400 seems to lack an anti-halation layer, or has only a weak one, which might be a major strength of this film. Bright lights glow in a very pleasing way, as you can see in some of the shots above. I rather like the effect.

So overall, for a more budget film, I’m pretty happy with how well APX400 is pushing. But I’m not certain I would shoot it again. Ilford HP5+ shines at 1600, even 3200 (and can be taken to 6400), where I think APX400 is really hitting a wall at 1600. The tonality and level of detail on the APX400 just feels off when I compare the images above to those taken from pushed HP5+. So my feelings on this film are somewhat mixed. And I find this surprising given how much I enjoyed shooting it at 800. Clearly, I have more thorough testing of HP5+ to do before I can settle my opinions.

You can see how AgfaPhoto APX400 compares against other films I have tested on my Film Evaluations page.


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