Jono Shields

Experimenting with Double-X


For my birthday my amazing fiance got me the gift of a bulk roller and a 100ft roll of Kodak Double-X 5222.

I have wanted to get into bulk rolling for a couple of reasons..

  • Film of any length with minimal waste. Short rolls to experiment with new gear or developing.
  • Getting intimate with a single emulsion, learning the ins and outs and how to make the most of it.

This is my experience and my first 6 rolls.

Roll 1 and 2

First roll was shot at box speed of 200 ISO and developed in Ilfotec LC29 (1:19) for 6.5min.

Negatives from my first roll of Double-X

They came out quite dense and my Plustek 7100 had some trouble scanning them. You can see the scan lines are very noticeable in the below photo.

A scan of a girl on a beach, kind of grainy with strong vertical scan lines in the image

My second roll was shot under the same conditions and came out pretty similarly.

Roll 3

After getting these results I had a look online and found that a lot of people mentioned that Double-X likes to be under-exposed. Even by as much as a whole stop or two.

To test this I did a short roll, but now metering for different ISOs from 64 to 1600.

Negatives from my first roll of Double-X

The scans below are exposed as follows..

64 ISO

Highly over-exposed photo of my bedroom

200 ISO

Slightly over-exposed photo of my bedroom

400 ISO

Ever so slightly over-exposed photo of my bedroom

800 ISO

Ever so slightly under-exposed photo of my bedroom

Using this as a guideline I decided to shoot my next few rolls in the 400-500 ISO range.

Roll 4 and 5

They came out much better than the last batch.

Negatives mostly properly exposed

Some were still a touch overexposed, but getting pretty darn happy with the results. And considering the price of buying this in bulk to most other black and white films, it is probably something I will stick with.

I absolutely love this photo.

Girl in bathtub

All of this did make me realise something though. What if I just have the development times wrong and I am unintentionally pushing my film?

Kodak Double-X 5222 is already a kind of unusual film and LC29 definitely isn't the most common developer. There were hardly any options on Massive Dev Chart for this combo.

Film Developer ISO Time
Kodak Double-X (5222) Ilfotec LC29 250 6.5

So I looked up some other popular films with this developer and compared them to another developer...

Film Developer ISO Time
Kodak TMax 100 Ilfotec LC29 100 6.5
Kodak TMax 100 D76 100 7.5
Ilford HP5+ Ilfotec LC29 400 6.5
Ilford HP5+ D76 400 7.5
Kodak Double-X (5222) Ilfotec LC29 200 6.5
Kodak Double-X (5222) D76 200 7

Note : I am only listing 1:19 dilutions of LC29, stock dilutions of D76 and everything is at 20C.

It looks like other emulsions have a bigger step down in time when moving from D76 to LC29. So the next experiment will be taking photos at 200ISO and developing them for a shorter amount of time.

Note : I should really invest in a thermometer

Roll 6

This was shot at 200ISO and developed in LC29 for 5.5mins. The aim was to try to reduce grain and ideally make better use of the latitude by shooting at the film's native speed.

Negative sheet. It is getting hard to tell the difference now

I am not sure whether or not I have necessarily achieved that here. But either way I have grown a lot more comfortable using Double-X and more confident pushing it.

Street corner

Sloped street, front on view of a run down house

Older Mercedes car sitting in the sun

It has been a really good experience and I am only just getting started with my 100ft roll. Something like 20x 24exp rolls left to shoot.

Thanks for reading!

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