Eastman Kodak 5222 Double-X with a Contax RTS II

By Ibraar Hussain

I’ve been shooting Film for a relatively long time but I’m quite cautious when shooting it, I have my comfort zone where I have my preferred Film and stick to it – reluctant to try anything else or explore.

My go-to Colour was Kodak Ektachrome e100vs and when that was discontinued (I still have two precious rolls in the freezer for that next exotic trip abroad where I’ll shoot it carefully) I was bewildered and grudgingly had to use the various Fujichromes until Kodak released the regular Ektachrome, which though not perfect almost had the ‘look’ I like.

But with B&W there has always been a lot of choice and prices used to be quite low and very affordable.

To cut a long story short I eventually settled on the Rollei Retro 80s and 400s – I have been very happy with the results and the price isn’t sky high as on Kodak, Fuji and Ilford (I formerly loved shooting Fuji Acros 100, Ilford FP4+ and Agfa APX 400 – but when prices started to rise I started using Agfafoto APX and then once upon a time about 12 or so years ago shot a roll of Rollei Retro 80s and used that (and the 400s) exclusively ever since.

Now Retro 80s is a tricky film to shoot – highlights can easily blow out and there’s a lot of contrast – but get it right and the results are lovely! What it lacks though is nice delicate tonality (400s obviously has more but still not perfect) so I’ve ever been put off from shooting various scenes to assess Film as I lacked experience with other films and also lacked the time and inclination to experiment. Experimentation with Film stocks to me seems like a massive waste of time and effort – I cannot afford to waste Film and am not one to set up test subjects and then spend time with it all – yes, it’s a lack of patience and/or laziness, but I like photography as I enjoy it and only photograph something I want to and which gives me pleasure (hence I couldn’t ever be a paid wedding or event photographer as I’d get bored and impatient), anyway I was happy with the Rollei films so didn’t think much of it.

I’d go through phases of B&W shooting, sometimes I’d shoot a couple of rolls when the day or circumstance allowed it, or when I had a nice old vintage camera to try out and then nothing for a year or four or more.

Recently upon purchasing the Durst Automatica I have had the B&W bug and have been really itching to go out and shoot. I also wanted to shoot more stuff with my Contax RTS II and the odd selection of lenses I have – I don’t own a single Carl Zeiss lens for it!

I have the Yashica ML 50mm f2 (which I chose for it’s very compact size and the swirly soviet style out of focus areas) I really like this lens a lot (it’s my favourite standard lens of any make or type) – it has so much unique character and some M42 lenses which I also use on my two Minoltas – The Helios 44-2, Pentacon 135mm f2.8 and the Auto Chinon 35mm f2.8. I’d like to get a wide angle (likely a Yashica ML) and a short tele 85mm Jupiter 9 at some point. Opening aperture to focus and stopping down to meter on the M42 lenses is annoying but even with the shortcomings I’m pretty happy with the lenses I have. I generally look for lots of character, soft interesting contrast and OOF areas and such rather than razor sharpness. I prefer the Yashica 50mm f2 to the Carl Zeiss 45mm Tessar I used to have when I last owned (then sold) the Contax RTS II about 10 or 12 years ago. It’s only slightly larger, as well built but so much more interesting – though I must say I miss the 45mm focal length which I prefer to 50mm and the Zeiss Tessar snub-nose looks damn cool! I bought this Contax last summer.

Anyway, browsing Nik & Trick’s website a fortnight ago while on the look out for some Ferrania P30 to try and some Rollei Retro 80s to buy, I came across Eastman Kodak Double-XX 5222. Now I must admit, I’d never heard of this film before, I’ve tended to avoid new and alternative Films such as Motion picture stock and simply stuck to what I know. I liked the look of the description and after looking at some Movie stills from Memento and some others, also some photographs on Flickr for a few minutes, I took a punt and bought two rolls! I also took another punt and bought their Bellini Liquid Diafine DF2 Duo-Step. (I had been watching a fantastic Youtube channel by a gentleman called Martin Henson in a few videos he sings the praises of Diafine and I really liked what I heard, so I was quite inspired to try some out for myself.

Fast forward to last week and my stuff arrived! I then the following rainy miserable day decided to go out for a walk with my son to the ruins of a 14th Century Church close by (which I had photographed nicely on some Fomapan Creative 200 Film with my RTS II a week previously) and through the fields and woods to the banks of the Colne Estuary near my home. The rain kept starting and stopping – typical April showers in this English Spring. The clouds were interesting though, with chases of sun and wonderful reflections on water and wet paths. I took my Contax RTS II, the Yashica ML 50mm f2, the Auto Chinon 35mm f2.8 and Pentacon 135mm f2.8  and I set the ISO to 400 (box speed is 200). I had my usual Deep Yellow filters attached.

The rolls of Double-X have only 30 exposures so I had to be very careful not to waste any shots. I shot using the internal meter in Aperture priority and used exposure lock often when exposing.

Returning home I decided to develop using my usual Rollei Supergrain developer. I must say I was very happy with the results.

I have always loved Don McCullin’s dark moody landscape photographs, with ominous clouds and shafts of light with his wonderful use of water and I have been touched by his photos, I often find myself trying something similar though of course in my own way and according to my minds eye and that day there was some very beautiful evening light on the water and on the pathways.

Eastman Kodak 5222 Double-X developed in Rollei Supergrain

 

Near Arlesford, Colne Estuary, Essex
Near Arlesford, Colne Estuary, Essex
Near Arlesford, Colne Estuary, Essex
Near Arlesford, Colne Estuary, Essex
Near Arlesford, Colne Estuary, Essex
Near Arlesford, Colne Estuary, Essex
Near Arlesford, Colne Estuary, Essex
Near Arlesford, Colne Estuary, Essex

The next day we went out again, this time with Mrs Ibbs and Mother-in-Law with us. Same route, different light and lovely weather! This time when I got home I decided to give the Bellini Diafine DF2 Duo-Step a go, I had never used this before but in for a penny in for a pound as they say and I just developed the Film 3+3 minutes at whatever temperature the (cold) water came out of the tap as.

I again, very pleased with the results, the negatives contained a lot of detail. Martin Henson says on his video that Diafine gives a very detailed yet flattish negative making it ideal for scanning as you can then easily manipulate the TIFF file in Adobe Light Room to get the finished article you’re after. To be honest the negative was similar on the light table to that developed in Rollei Supergrain but it has more delicate and smother finer tonality – whereas the Rollei Supergrain developed negatives have more contrast. regardless, I’m now a convert to this Film stock – it’s wonderful!

The Bellini Duo Stop aka Diafine is superb. It’s now my go to developer and suits the Kodak Eastman Double-X Film perfectly. It’s like shooting Digital – you can switch ISO on the fly throughout the roll of Film – lowish or dim light? 400, sun comes out and it brightens up? 100 – whatever you want! Then Develop the Film and every shot is perfect! What a perfect combination – the Film has everything I’d want with a B&W Film and the Developer just goes with it.

Eastman Kodak 5222 Double-X developed in Bellini Liquid Diafine DF2 Duo-Step

Near Arlesford, Colne Estuary, Essex
Girl on a Swing
Around Arlesford, Colne Estuary Essex.
Around Arlesford, Colne Estuary Essex.
Ivy
Ruins of C14th St Peter Church, Alresford
Hollow old Oak Around Arlesford, Colne Estuary Essex.
Around Arlesford, Colne Estuary Essex.
At Alresford Creek, Essex.
Near Alresford , Essex.

All Photographs. Contax RTS II Yashica ML 50mm f2 Chinon Auto 35mm f2.8. Pentacon 135mm f2.8 Tiffen/B+W Deep Yellow Filters. Eastman Kodak 5222 Double-XX. Scanned using Epson Scan on Epson 4990.

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About The Author

By Ibraar Hussain
Casual snap shooter formerly from London My Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/ibraar
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Comments

Kary Schumpert on Eastman Kodak 5222 Double-X with a Contax RTS II

Comment posted: 17/09/2023

These are some beautiful photos, looks like a lovely film stock! I enjoy how you talk about getting to know a film, like we get to know a friend, or even a camera. I am tempted to see if I can find this film and try it out soon! Thank you for your article and images!
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Tom Deveron on Eastman Kodak 5222 Double-X with a Contax RTS II

Comment posted: 09/07/2023

Very nice atmospheric shots! Do you do your own film developing at home? I've had a Nikon F4s for a while now and been wanting to get some decent images. I recently was given a Minolta Dimage Elite 5400 scanner. I'm a bit of a beginner (again) to film. What would you recommend in the way of film stocks for b w landscapes? And are the pro-labs ok for developing? Any recommendations for a decent one?
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Ibraar Hussain replied:

Comment posted: 09/07/2023

Thanks man. That’s a very nice scanner! For landscapes you’ll want a slow film with nice tonality - the Kodak double X is very Good - check out this guys channel https://youtube.com/@martinhensonphotography I’d develop at home - quite easy. Just get the AP 35mm tank developing set and the Bellini Duo Step I mentioned here. Dev and scan using your scanner! I wouldn’t bother with pro labs for BW but for color you’ll be spoilt for choice.

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Dave Powell on Eastman Kodak 5222 Double-X with a Contax RTS II

Comment posted: 14/06/2023

Hi Again Ibraar, Very lovely work, my friend. I especially love the mood of the Ivy Ruins and the Hollow Old Oak. Definitely cinematic! I had just acquired some of my own 5222 Double-X, and this makes me eager to load some. Great Work! Dave
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Ibraar Hussain replied:

Comment posted: 14/06/2023

thank you Dave! Those two are my favourites as well - I really like the way the lens film dev combo has rendered the ivy - i could almost touch it

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Alexander Seidler on Eastman Kodak 5222 Double-X with a Contax RTS II

Comment posted: 14/06/2023

beautiful !
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Ibraar Hussain replied:

Comment posted: 14/06/2023

Thank you !!

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Lewis on Eastman Kodak 5222 Double-X with a Contax RTS II

Comment posted: 14/06/2023

These are amazing photos!!! You're incredibly talented
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Ibraar Hussain replied:

Comment posted: 14/06/2023

Thank you kindly my friend !

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David Hill on Eastman Kodak 5222 Double-X with a Contax RTS II

Comment posted: 13/06/2023

Ibrahim, for someone who professes to dislike experimentation with film stocks you’ve certainly gone all-in :). And well done, too, if I may say. Your results of X5222 with Diafine are stunning. You understand, I think, that you’re not really ‘changing film speed mid roll’ by moving between 100 and 400. You’re simply under- and over-exposing by 1 stop, and taking advantage of the compensating developer to even out the development. Your dark and moody results with the first roll and a standard developer, while delightful for that subject matter, show the difference; consistently underexposed, they show that by resulting in light negs and dark prints. Diafine would have compensated and developed the lighter parts of the negative more completely, and brought more detail out of those shadows. I used Diafine 50 years ago in my high school lab without really understanding what it was for. Today I enjoy using Rodinal in semi-stand development for its long life, ease of use, and compensating effect, but results are often grainy. I think it’s time I took another look at Diafine :). Thanks for opening my eyes.
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Ibraar Hussain replied:

Comment posted: 13/06/2023

Thank you David and thanks for explaining compensation development - I didn’t know what that meant before! Nik and Trick sell it as Bellini Duo Step https://ntphotoworks.com/product/bellini-duo-step-diafine-film-developer/ I hope you do give it a try! Thanks again! I shot a roll of Rollei Retro 80s and dev’s in with Diafine - what pleasing results! With no burnt out highlights at all! Perfect I must say. I did try a roll of Ferrania P30 - I had one decent shot out of the whole roll - awful for me, no shadow detail at all - and inky blacks the only good thing. others might have a different experience.

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David Hill replied:

Comment posted: 13/06/2023

How a compensating developer works is by using a high dilution/low activity developer. The chemical reaction is exhausted in the highly active highlight areas (which would normally go very dark in the negative) but can continue to develop in the lightly active shadow zones. This tends to compress the contrast range, but that’s something you can adapt in printing or digital post-process. The result is fewer blown highlights and featureless shadows. And a one-size-fits-all developing regimen. Fascinating, really.

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Ibraar Hussain replied:

Comment posted: 13/06/2023

Thanks again! I'm a bit naiive with processes and you've helped a lot to help my understanding

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Dean on Eastman Kodak 5222 Double-X with a Contax RTS II

Comment posted: 13/06/2023

Ibraar, what a fabulous story for us to read. I can see why you now have a new favourite film/developer combination, all of the images have a wonderful "feel" to them. I've now got to read it again but this time take notes. Many thanks for sharing this with us. Dean.
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Ibraar Hussain replied:

Comment posted: 13/06/2023

Thanks so much Dean!! Yes the film (with the yellow filter) has the same sort of feel regardless what lens I use - of course depending on ISO. I think the picture of the seagulls in the wooden beams was taken with the Pentacon 135mm at f8 but rated at ISO 100. The shot of the reeds was at the same ISO of 100 I think

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Ibraar Hussain on Eastman Kodak 5222 Double-X with a Contax RTS II

Comment posted: 13/06/2023

Thanks! I can’t recommend the 50 f2 ML enough It’s also dirt cheap to buy - I mean there are Yashica bodies with the lens going for under $50 and lens only for about $25. So much character and very smooth
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Ibraar Hussain on Eastman Kodak 5222 Double-X with a Contax RTS II

Comment posted: 13/06/2023

Pics 1 to 8 Yashica ML 50mm f2 9-11 Chinon Auto 35mm f2.8 12-13 Yashica ML 50 14 Chinon 35mm 15 Pentacon 135mm f2.8 16 Yashica ML 50
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Ibraar Hussain on Eastman Kodak 5222 Double-X with a Contax RTS II

Comment posted: 13/06/2023

Brief mention of the Contax RTS II I love using this camera. It’s compact yet solid as a rock - beautiful huge bright VF Metering is spot on. Ergonomics are almost spot on perfect - though I’d have preferred the exposure lock lever to be where the Contax G2 one is located. Pleasure to own and use. Looks a work of art. I wouldn’t want any other Manual Focus camera - I’ve tried lots inc the Contax Aria, ST, RTS III, Yashica FR, Rolleiflex SL35, Olympus OM of various sorts, Nikon F’s Pentax ME Super etc and this is far and away the best one in my opinion based on my preference.
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Shaun Edwards on Eastman Kodak 5222 Double-X with a Contax RTS II

Comment posted: 13/06/2023

Lovely photos. I shot some a few weeks ago but I’ve not gotten around the developing it yet! (Same old story) I’m going to have a look at diafine though as my Bellini version of HC110 is nearly out.
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Ibraar Hussain replied:

Comment posted: 13/06/2023

You’ll be pleasantly surprised Lovely film which I’m surprised Kodak themselves haven’t released

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Manu on Eastman Kodak 5222 Double-X with a Contax RTS II

Comment posted: 13/06/2023

Beautiful film stock!
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Ibraar Hussain replied:

Comment posted: 13/06/2023

It is! So very versatile - lovely tonality - good deep blacks - can be shot at 100 to 600 and possibly faster And in Duo Step dev - all on one roll!!

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