Besides the big 3-ish (Kodak, Fujifilm and Ilford), I rarely know neither where, nor how, other branded films are made. Based in Massachusetts, CatLABS is a film shop that also have their line of film, in this case, the X film. X is named after the famous Kodak Panatomic X, which was itself replaced by Tmax 100 (still widely available). Panatomic X, last released in the mid-80s, was a line of everyday black and white film. Even though it wasn’t a professional grade film, people loved it because it has such a great latitude and able to expose all kinds of gray. Ever since it was discontinued, people have been looking for replacement, and CatLabs X 80 film was an attempt to reproduce that magic.
CatLABS X film worked great even in an overcast day, as you can see here. No issues capturing the shadow details on the rocks, but this was an “easy shot” – almost everything was illuminated equally.
I quite like this scene, except the trees and branches in front distrubed an otherwise awesome composition, looking far into the gorge at Rooster Rock State Park. I think everything showed up pretty evenly here, again, in an overcast shot. Note: I initially thought X stands for X-rays, but nope. X-rays sensitive film could be cool though, but not sure how much X-rays are there in the environment.
I shot a second roll when we went to Bainbridge Island, this is at the popular The Bloedel Reserve. (worth visiting, very nice sculpted garden) Love this shot, the Makina shows up the lovely bokeh.
Here, you can see it is not wise to use a 80 ISO film in the shade. I was hoping the wide latitude was capable of picking up some shadows in the shade, but no luck.
I aimed this shot for quite some time, with the goal of capturing the reflection of the pond. It looked much better in real life, as the reflection did not reflect as much light (or at least the film was unable to capture that). The sky also blew out any shadow details in the shade.
I’m not a fan of this film. I have never shot Panatomic-X, so I don’t know how similar this is to that. It is kind of similar to Kodak Tmax, which is a predecessor of Panatomic-X. But I don’t like either film, so I voided my own opinion. None of these shots were severely over or underexposed, but they also looked rather flat. I plan to shoot more BW film this winter (2021-2022), and might circle back down the road. In the mean time, I have plenty of BW films to play around.
CatLABS CLXF80120 Overview
CatLABS X Film 80 is a traditional, silver-rich slow-speed black and white negative film characterized by its classic appearance, very fine grain structure, and broad tonal range. Its high silver content lends a uniquely classic look with a moderate contrast profile to suit working in daylight conditions. Its versatility makes it especially suitable for overexposure at up to EI 50 as well as extreme underexposure to EI 800 by push development for working in low-light conditions.