Efke 400 Update

Hexar RF, ZM Biogon 35, Efke 400 @ 250, Tmax Dev
Hexar RF, XM Biogon 35, Efke 400 @ 250, Tmax Dev

Efke 400 Pulled to 250

In my continuing investigations of Efke 400, I shot a couple of rolls at 250 and developed them in Tmax Developer diluted 1+5 at 70 degrees for 5 minutes with 10 seconds agitation every minute. This seems about right for the film speed, but I was kind of surprised to see very little difference in either grain or tonality from shooting at the box speed. There’s nothing wrong with Efke 400 rated at 250, but at least in Tmax Developer, there doesn’t seem to be anything gained from the loss of speed.

Hexar RF, ZM Biogon 35, Efke 400 @ 250, Tmax Dev
Hexar RF, ZM Biogon 35, Efke 400 @ 250, Tmax Dev

Ekfe 400 Grain Pecularities

One of the things I’ve noticed about Efke 400 is the interesting grain structure. It isn’t that Efke 400 is particularly grainy, but the structure of the grain is kind of unique. Notice in both of the posted pictures that the evident grain isn’t limited to little white speckly bits. There’s some black in there too. HP5, which has a similar amount of grain, shows its grain mostly as little white bits. I’m not sure what that means, but after only a few rolls, I feel like I can already distinguish an Efke shot from something shot on another film quite easily, something which isn’t entirely possible with other 400 speed films. This would seem to make Efke a good choice for someone wanting a unique look.

Unrelated Optical Note

I didn’t expect the shot of the spiderweb to amount to much, but the Biogon’s excellent flare control allowed it to capture a really difficult subject. I’m always impressed by this lens.

Some Notes on Efke 400

Efke 400 Example 2, Hexar RF, ZM Biogon 35, Efke 400,Tmax Dev
Kate in the Rain, Hexar RF, ZM Biogon 35, Efke 400, Tmax Dev

I’ve been wanting to try Efke 400 for a while now, and I’ve recently struck on trying new films as a way to avoid buying new lenses, so I added a half dozen rolls to my last B&H order. I’ve only developed two of the rolls, but initial results seem really interesting. This film has got some character to it. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Despite some rather dire warnings in the marketing copy from various resellers, the film doesn’t seem particularly fragile. I processed and sleaved Efke according to my normal procedures, and I didn’t notice anything untoward. The negatives don’t seem to scratch particularly easily, so that’s a bonus.
  • This film doesn’t appear to be HP5, although it produces similar results. I guess a previous version of Efke 400 was rebadged HP5. This doesn’t seem to be the case any more. I can’t comment on the internet rumor that it’s a new version of APX that didn’t make it to market.
  • Although shadow detail seem fairly average, highlights roll off nicely with this film. This makes it easy to scan. It would probably also make it a good choice for beginners.
  • While this isn’t a fine grained film, the grain pattern seems really even, much more so than the slightly clumpy grain found in some Tgrain films. I’d be curious to see how this film looks in an acutance developer.
  • This stuff is cheap. $3 for 36 exposure roll is a bargain these days.
  • The packaging is kind of hoot. Very retro chic. And the cassette ends pop off really easy; you might even be able to reload these cassettes if you really wanted to.

Developing Efke 400

The film box only gives times for D76 and ID11, and Digital Truth doesn’t give any times for Efke 400. HP5 times are supposed to be a good starting point, but no one has published times for HP5 in Tmax Dev @ 75 degrees, so I just made an educated guess. Tmax Dev 1+5 (my standard control-the-highlights dilution), 75 degrees for 6 minutes with 10 seconds rotational agitation every minute seems to do the trick. Looking back at times published for HP5, 6 minutes seems a little long for 75 degrees, but that’s what I wrote down. I’ll go with my notes, for now, but use your own judgment for off box times

Other than coming up with a time for your favorite developer, there’s nothing special to developing Efke 400. Digital Truth and Freestyle both suggest using water as a stop, which I do for all films anyway. A hardening fixer is also suggested, but Ilford Rapid Fix seemed to work fine. Treating the “wet emulsion with extreme care” is always a good idea. Just don’t drop it on the bathroom floor. As an added bonus, it seems like this film sheets water and dries more evenly than many films.

Efke 400 Samples

Efke 400 Example 1, Hexar RF, 50 Hex, Efke 400,Tmax Dev

Efke 400 Example 2, Hexar RF, 50 Hex, Efke 400,Tmax Dev

Efke 400 Example 3, Hexar RF, 50 Hex, Efke 400,Tmax Dev

Conclusions and a Recommendation

Efke 400 seems to have a number of things going for it without any glaring faults to drag it down. It gives a look similar to TriX and HP5, although it is perhaps a bit more old-fashioned feeling in the look of its grain and the way it renders highlights. If that’s the look you are going for, check it out. Its low price also recommends it. This would be a great first B&W film for someone wanting to try their hand at developing their own. Those warnings about delicate emulsions might be just the thing to force a beginner to develop good technique. There’s enough here to like for a more experienced B&W shooter as well. Well worth checking out.

HP5 @ 200 + Ilfosol S

Hexar RF, ZM Biogon 35, HP5@200, Ilfosol S
Hexar RF, ZM Biogon 35, HP5@200, Ilfosol S
Hexar RF, ZM Biogon 35, HP5@200, Ilfosol S
Hexar RF, ZM Biogon 35, HP5@200, Ilfosol S

HP5 @ 200 in Ilfosol S for 5.5 minutes at 68 degrees looks something like Efke 400 with slightly better shadow detail. These took a bit more PS work to get here than HP5@200 in Tmax. The contrast was higher and the shadows fell apart easier. Hmm, interesting, but perhaps not a winning combination.

“to regulate a pleasant form of living”

Hexar RF, ZM Biogon 35, HP5, Diafine

Harry Callahan, writing in a grant application after World War II, asked for money in order to “photograph . . .to regulate a pleasant form of living.” This seems to me to be the best reason to pursue any craft. Whether it be photography, writing or beer brewing, the regular rhythm of craft, the slow, steady build up of skills and self-confidence, does indeed regulate life. It evens out the low points by providing successes to look forward to or back on. And, if pursued with any degree of honesty, every craft regularly knocks you back to earth when hubris has taken you too high.

Hexar RF, ZM Biogon 35, Efke 400@200, Tmax Dev

I wonder if the new Luminous Landscape Endowment would buy me an M8 to help me “regulate a pleasant form of living?” A boy can dream . . .

Hexar RF, ZM Biogon 35, HP5, Diafine

If this was Colin’s blog, I’d file this under Words Not Lose.

Traitor to Big Yellow (03860027)

Hexar RF, ZM Biogon 35, Efke 400 @ 250, Tmax Dev

Hexar RF, ZM Biogon 35, Efke 400 @ 250, Tmax Dev

Apparently I’m using a lot Ilford products these days, the Tmax developer aside. Note to Ilford; please lower the price of DDX. My puritanical side would get a kick out of running an Ilford process from film to print, but Tmax developer is still a couple of bucks cheaper.