Testing and evaluating CatLabs "X Film 320 Pro (2022 version)

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None taken! Different environment plus this film works so much better in Tmax. Really fine grain at iso 200. Still very contrasty and works better overexposed if you want shadow detail.
Light piping is a real issue, but I think this film is a good value at $6.99/roll and the correct developer!

Yes, I agree. Grain is very fine, indeed. I came across a review on the Web where the person found the film to have really coarse grain, almost like the Fomapan 400. I thought that was interesting.

I wonder why light piping is problematic. The Rollei Superpan does not seem to have it in my experience. Perhaps it's the new polyester base and how it's coated with the anti light piping dye? It would be nice to hear from an emulsion expert on this.

The CatLABS film is definitely different from the Rollei Superpan 200, at least in terms of the base. The Rollei base looks and feels like a more conventional PET base, whereas the CatLABS film feels thinner and flimsier. My caliper is not accurate enough to measure the difference in thickness reliably.
 
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Nice job on these Huss.

I should mention that I did not see any light piping problems with my first roll but I will keep an eye out for it as I continue to work with the film I have.

May I ask how far, roughly, you wind at the start of the roll? I found I needed to move past frame 1 on my Minolta SRT101. But I guess everybody winds their film on slightly differently, right?
 

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Nice job on these Huss.

I should mention that I did not see any light piping problems with my first roll but I will keep an eye out for it as I continue to work with the film I have.

Thanks! As aparat mentioned you would only see it with a camera that does not advance a lot of the film before the first shot when loaded. Either way, I saw it on all five of my rolls.
 
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Here's a quick picture of the difference in curling / flatness between the CatLABS X FILM 320 Pro and Rollei Superpan 200. The difference is pretty clear. I just finished processing twenty films and will run the analysis soon, comparing the two.
film_strips.jpg
 

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I didn't suffer any light piping in my 120 roll but I was careful to load and unload in dim light.

I must say the film was easy to handle, dried totally flat and my scanner liked it. I can only imagine it is also easy to print, might try printing a couple of the negs next month.
 

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difference in curling / flatness between the CatLABS X FILM 320 Pro and Rollei Superpan 200

That will be entirely due to the age of the Superpan 200 - which is likely nowhere near as fresh as the CatLabs.

I have had lightpiping in Superpan. Don't load the film in sunlight.
 
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That will be entirely due to the age of the Superpan 200 - which is likely nowhere near as fresh as the CatLabs.

I have had lightpiping in Superpan. Don't load the film in sunlight.
Yes, I have thought of that. I suppose it's possible that the film will curl more after it's spent a few years rolled up inside a canister. I tried measuring base thickness but my caliper is only accurate down to 0.01 of a millimeter, so it's not accurate enough for this purpose. All the edge markings, except the branding, are identical, they line up perfectly when you sandwich the two films together and put them on a light table.
 

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May I ask how far, roughly, you wind at the start of the roll? I found I needed to move past frame 1 on my Minolta SRT101. But I guess everybody winds their film on slightly differently, right?

35mm; attach the leader, advance once, close the back, then advance two frames; usually takes me to frame 0.

I just loaded a roll of 120 into my Pentax 645. I attach the film leader, advance to the arrow or mark on the paper, and then the camera advances the film from there. Obviously with the manual load roll film cameras I advance to the first number on the backing.

I rarely load 35mm or 120 in bright sunlight choosing to get into some shade if possible.

I will sometimes get major light piping from Adox CMS 20 on the first two or three frames. I didn't see that at all with this first roll of the Catlabs film but I have only used one roll. That could change tomorrow. :D
 

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yeah, I made sure to always load in shade etc. I am sure I wouldn't see light piping if I used my F6, because that camera wastes so much film loading! Everytime I get a roll back, I can see that it could easily have shot two more exposures at the beginning of the film.
Ultimately it isn't a big deal, as I would just adjust my technique and be happy with 36 exp on the 36exp roll, instead of trying to get 38 out of it!
 
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@Pioneer Thanks for the info! I think the Adox film is probably using a similar polyester base and a similar anti-light-piping layer, though we were assured on this forum that Adox films are made in a completely different factory than the Rollei (or CatLABS) films.

I had a minute to start analyzing the CatLABS X FILM 320 Pro vs. Rollei Superpan 200 data, and I can start by showing a basic curve family for each film. I ran the entire five-curve test twice for each film. I exposed both films for exactly the same amount of exposure and processed them together in the same tank. Since I put both film strips on a single reel, I switched their order around in the second test. I developed in D76 1+1 at 20C in a rotary processor, used followed by the Kodak Indicator Stop bath, Kodak Fixer, Kodak Hypo Clearing Agent, Ilford wash method. I skipped Photo-Flo this time because these films dry very quickly and resist water drying spots (to some degree). I then measured all 21 densities for each strip and averaged the density values over the two trials. The plots below are made from those mean values. I already mentioned that the Rollei film curls more, both before and after processing, and it ends up having about 0.01 less B+F density than the CatLABS film across the trials. Having said that, my densitometer is accurate only down to 0.01, so this may not be a significant difference.

For now, I am not going to comment further. I need to wait until I've finished running all the numbers.

CatLABS_X_FILM_320_Pro_Family_Intro.png Rollei_Superpan_200_Pro_Family_Intro.png
 
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I have a couple of plots to share.

This is a comparison of the estimated ISO curves of the CatLABS X FILM 320 Pro (blue) and the Rollei Superpan 200 (red). These ISO curves are curves that comply with the ISO film speed standard, i.e., they have the Average Gradient, Ḡ, of around 0.62. This plot is meant to show the relative difference in film speed between the two films. The Rollei Superpan 200 is a bit faster in this test (by less than 1/4 of a stop).

catlabs_rollei_iso_curves.png

And this is a plot of curves that represent the means of the five curves for each film (aggregate means), Rollei Superpan 200 (red) and CatLABS X FILM 320 Pro (blue). This plot is meant to roughly compare the "character" or "look" of these two films. One could characterize the films as having long toes, with limited tonal separation in the shadows, "punchy" mid-tones, and some compression in the highlights. I think this is very consistent with the photographs we've been seeing on this thread, including those by @Huss,@Pioneer , @Oldwino , to name just a few of the recent ones. I am sorry if I left anyone out.

catlabs_rollei_mean_curves.png

So how do those two curves help us determine whether the two films are similar? Well, statistically, there is not sufficient evidence to determine that the two films are different, but, please, keep in mind, that we are dealing with a very small sample size, so this statement needs to be taken with a grain of salt. However, So far, it is clear that both films share a lot of their DNA:
  • they have very similar film speed, though, in my tests, the Rollei is a bit faster, both films being fresh in date
  • they respond to development in Kodak D-76 very similarly
  • they have very similar B+F density
  • they have very similar overall character, look, and feel
  • they are coated on very similar polyester base, though Rollei curls more (it's been suggested that maybe it's because it's been rolled up in canister for much longer)
  • they release a very similar-looking dye during processing (I only tested the 35mm variant)
  • they dry very quickly and resist water drying spots, compared to conventional films by Kodak, Ilford, and Foma
  • they are priced very similarly (at Freestyle, Rollei Superpan 200 is currently priced at $7.99, and the CatLABS X FILM 320 Pro at $6.99)
  • they are packaged very similarly, though, the CatLABS film canister has electrical tape blocking the DX code
  • each film has its own branding on along the edge of the film
There's more analysis coming, so stay tuned.
 
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BrianShaw

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This is a comparison of the estimated ISO curves of the CatLABS X FILM 320 Pro
Have you compared your ISO curve of CatLABS with the AGFA AVIOPHOT spec sheet curves, and how did it compare? If you did I seem to have missed it in the richness of content in this thread.

If that would be un unreasonable comparison, please let me know so I don't erroneously ask again. :smile:

 
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Thank you, @BrianShaw , for posting the Aviphot data! It's actually a fascinating read. I hope I am not violating copyright by posting these images.

The first image is a curve family for Aviphot 200. The curves look very similar to those we saw in this thread. They have the characteristic s-shape, but they seem to have been given about a 1/2 stop more exposure and they were developed to a very high contrast in Gevatone 66 (never heard of it before). Perhaps they have been processed in a way that's required for aerial imaging, but unrealistic for general-purpose photography.
Aviphot_200_curves.png

This plot of the Average Gradient confirms the high contrast.
Avephot_G.png

And, finally, the film's spectral response. I haven't been able to do this kind of test - still working on creating a suitable setup - but I think it confirms what we have been seeing in this thread, namely, extended and increased sensitivity towards the red end of the spectrum, and a significant dip in green. I am reminded of a very early comment by @MattKing in the original thread . Perhaps we should have listened :smile:

Aviphot_200_spectral.png
 

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Perhaps we should have listened :smile:

I did. Once he pointed that out, and I realized how dark blues were on my first roll at 200...

But I appreciate all your testing anyway! A lot of fun things to learn reading through the thread.
 
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First of all, it seems likely that the CatLABS X FILM 320 Pro is based on the Aviphot 200 emulsion. It doesn't seem to be exactly the same film, as the edge markings and the polyester base itself appear to be unique to the CatLABS film. Still, it has very similar emulsion characteristics, i.e., how the film responds to exposure and development. Therefore, one should be able to conclude that both Rollei Superpan 200 and CatLABS X FILM 320 Pro are aerial films, or, at the very least, closely based on an aerial film.

The issue of film speed keeps coming up in the other thread. I want to address that. If you read the Aviphot 200 documentation from Agfa, you will notice that they list the film speed as "AFS/ISO," which is a designation specific to aerial films, and not pictorial films (general-purpose films, such as KODAK 400TX). The procedure and formulae for determining Aerial Films Speed (AFS) are quite different from those of pictorial ISO speed film. According to my calculations (based on the ANSI Standard PH 2.34), the CatLABS X FILM 320 Pro and Rollei Superpan 200 have the AFS of around 150, which is very close to its AFS "box speed" of 200. whereas the pictorial ISO speed is around ISO 50-80 for those two films.

I also want to share the detailed analysis of the Rollei Superpan 200.

rolleiSu[erpan200_absolute_summary.png
 

Anon Ymous

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First of all, it seems likely that the CatLABS X FILM 320 Pro is based on the Aviphot 200 emulsion. It doesn't seem to be exactly the same film, as the edge markings and the polyester base itself appear to be unique to the CatLABS film...

You can't conclude anything from the edge markings, because the raw material supplied by Agfa doesn't have any. Those who convert it apply them.

But anyway, keep up the good work!
 

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I finally received some Rollei Superpan 200 for comparison. I haven't run the test yet, but, upon visual inspection, I agree with @Don Heisz that the two films appear very, very similar. If I had to testify under oath, I'd say that the Rollei might curl just a tiny, tiny bit more. I tried to capture the emulsion side of the two films with my phone. I apologize for the poor quality of this image, but here it is.

View attachment 322098

Concerning the flatness:
I would not put much into that tiny difference. Honestly, I think we can even completely ignore that, because there are quite a lot of "environmental factors" that influence flatness much more like e.g. humidity, how long a film has been spooled up before, normal batch-to-batch variations of the same film type etc.

Over the years I have experienced flatness differences with several films, so differences of even the same film type!
Have had that with Aviphot Pan 80 and 200, Tri-X, Fomapan 100 and certain Lomography films for example.

Your time consuming test work here is very much appreciated by me.
As I've been a regular Agfa Aviphot Pan 200 user since 2006.
And your results so far (and also the results of all others who have posted here) look exactly like the results I've got over the years from Agfa Aviphot Pan 200.
 

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The CatLABS film is definitely different from the Rollei Superpan 200, at least in terms of the base. The Rollei base looks and feels like a more conventional PET base, whereas the CatLABS film feels thinner and flimsier. My caliper is not accurate enough to measure the difference in thickness reliably.

Would make sense to measure the real film thickness: Agfa Aviphot Pan 200 is offered by Agfa both on a 0.1 millimeter thick film base, and also on a thinner 0.06 millimeter thick film base.
Silberra as one of the several Agfa Aviphot Pan 200 rebranders e.g. is offering both versions, the normal one and the thinner one.
 

Film-Niko

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This is a comparison of the estimated ISO curves of the CatLABS X FILM 320 Pro (blue) and the Rollei Superpan 200 (red). These ISO curves are curves that comply with the ISO film speed standard, i.e., they have the Average Gradient, Ḡ, of around 0.62. This plot is meant to show the relative difference in film speed between the two films. The Rollei Superpan 200 is a bit faster in this test (by less than 1/4 of a stop).

Less than 1/4 stop difference in film speed means in all practical terms film speed is identical.
I am convinced that a film manufacturer is satiesfied when the film batches of different coating runs are in a range of less than 1/4 stop difference.
We should not forget that camera manufacturers generally accept a tolerance of their shutters of 1/3 stop. Same is valid for exposure meters.
 
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Less than 1/4 stop difference in film speed means in all practical terms film speed is identical.
I am convinced that a film manufacturer is satiesfied when the film batches of different coating runs are in a range of less than 1/4 stop difference.
We should not forget that camera manufacturers generally accept a tolerance of their shutters of 1/3 stop. Same is valid for exposure meters.

That would be my interpretation too. I would use the same exposure for these two films when taking pictures in normal daylight conditions.
 

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Yes, tmax developer by my lab w no input from me.
Also no filter. I love the way this film captures clouds against blue sky even if they are very wispy, with no need to use a yellow or red filter.

That does seem to be the calling card of this film. The skies are great. Thanks for sharing your images!
 
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