Black and White Photography · expired film · Kodak Film

Expired Film: Kodak Panatomic-X

My good friend Mike Eckman sent me a roll of expired Kodak Panatomic-X black and white film to shoot, with a small warning that I was going to hate him for it because I would love this film and would not be able to find anymore to shoot with. Knowing this, I held on to the roll for quite some time waiting for the right subject to use it on.

Developing Kodak Panatomic-X

Panatomic-X ad 1937
Panatomic-X ad 1937

Originally released in 1933 as sheet film, Kodak Panatomic-X film has been reformulated several times since its original release, so my roll wouldn’t be the same as the first. Like Kodak’s t-grain films, such as T-Max 100, it is extremely fine grain for sharpness.

My roll expired in 1982, but Mike told me that it held up so well that I wouldn’t need to compensate the ISO at all, not even in processing. It is an ASA 32 film, but I shot it at ISO 25 because that is what my camera had available.

I processed the roll according to Mike’s direction in Kodak HC110 B (1+31) and when I pulled the roll out of the tank, I was amazed by the negatives. The only other time I’m ever really excited about my negatives is when I process a roll of Ilford HP5 in a fresh batch of D76. I couldn’t believe 40 year old film could hold up this well.

Expired Film on the Water

Finally, the day came. It was a beautiful day in Florida with temperatures finally down in the 60s. Kelsey and I went down by the water to walk around and take photos.

The tonal range of this film is amazing in my opinion. It replicated the gradient in the clear blue sky nicely in tones of gray.

I shot a roll of Kodak TX 400 last winter when I did my Pentax 67 article and below you can see the same scene compared in the two film stocks. Both were developed the same way.

Pentax 67 Kodak TX 400
Pentax 67 Kodak TX 400

You can see the TX 400 roll (above) has a bit more contrast and sharpness than the Panatomic-X (below), but keep in mind the picture above is a 400 speed film so it’s not a 1 to 1 comparison.

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Pentax 67 Kodak TX 400
Pentax 67 Kodak TX 400

However, you can see when comparing the foliage in these two shots, the films are very similar, and I wish I could compare it to a roll of TX 100. This is not a comparison article though. I just wanted to show the similarities that I found.

Kodak Panatomic-X
Kodak Panatomic-X
Kodak Panatomic-X
Kodak Panatomic-X

Final Thoughts

Mike was right, I love this film and I’m so frustrated that I can’t buy more of it. It can be found on Ebay for $30 or more a roll, which is a bit too much for me.

However, if my results make you want to give it a try, I highly recommend it. It’s a beautiful film. Mike, if you have any more rolls you want to send to your greatest friend Aly, feel free lol.

Mike Eckmans article

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Until next time, stay motivated and keep shooting.



To Buy a Roll of Kodak Panatomic-X on Ebay

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16 thoughts on “Expired Film: Kodak Panatomic-X

  1. Thanks for the review of this film. And what a surprise to find the german ad in your article 😉
    Greetings from Germany

  2. Nice article and images. At iso 32, grain is certainly not going to be an issue. Out of curiosity – unless I missed it – what camera did you use? You mentioned the Pentax 67 and the film you used in comparison of the same shot – but I also think that your lens can also determine the quality of the image. And, I can see why you like this film – makes me wonder about other <100 iso films.

  3. Great article and video! Your findings are exactly what I like about it. This film has infinite shades of gray. I honestly do not care for high contrast film. A lot of medium to slow boutique films are made from copy films which were designed to copy text, so they really only need to see black and white. I don’t like it when my images can have blown out whites and muddy blacks in the same frame.

    Panatomic X reminds me of what black and white images used to look like years ago and the fact that it never seems to age, makes it even better!

    You can find rolls for less than $30 a pop, you just have to be persistent and keep looking! Glad you liked it, and keep up the good work! 🙂

  4. Looks like Shots of Stuart, Florida, including the new bridge over the St. Lucie River. –Terry

  5. Yup! Good ol’ Pan-X. When we needed photos with subtle details and rich gradients back in the day, there was just no substitute. Like fine wine, there are just some things that are best when you let them develop slowly.

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