I recently bought a bulk film loader at a yard sale that had some old Kodak Tri-X film in it. There was no way to determine how old it was, so I’ve been loading short rolls and experimenting with reducing the ASA/ISO to compensate for the reduced sensitivity. I typically bracket 3 shots at ASA 50, 100, & 200 instead of the box speed of ASA 400. The rule of thumb for expired black-and-white film is reduce ASA by one stop per decade. After shooting 2 rolls so far, I’m thinking ASA 80 for this roll is going to work best.
The next challenge is developing. I developed the first roll in Ilford ID-11 (D-76 equivalent) with a 1+1 dilution to fully develop the shadows. I used my chemicals at around 72 F, based on room temperature. The result was lots of fogging which reduced contrast and pretty much made all the shots murky.
For this roll, I added some potassium bromide to reduce fogging. It helped a little, but it was still tough to bring out the negatives. One thing that I’ve experienced a lot with expired black-and-white film is that processing and handling errors are exaggerated more. The scanner has to dig deep to see the faded images, therefore revealing more dust, scratches, water marks, and fingerprints.
Then, my friend Dane gave me a roll of long-expired Verichrome Pan his girlfriend’s father found. I hadn’t heard of it before and at first thought it was color film. After doing the Google, I discovered it was a consumer black-and-white film similar to Plus-X. Consumer films usually have a longer shelf life than pro films at the expense of grain and contrast. There was increased hope there would be useable pictures on the roll. Next, I found an interesting article that professed to use Kodak HC-110 developer at a lower temperature and increased developing time to reduce fog. I tried its suggestion, and the roll turned out wonderful. Everything I read prior to this suggested to NOT increase developing time because that INCREASES fog. I think the key is the anti-fog properties of HC-110 when the temperature is lowered.
My next Tri-X roll will be developed this way. I’ll switch from ID-11 to HC-110. More grain, but hey, more images.