AgfaPhoto APX 100 Furano

AgfaPhoto APX 100 in Furano, Hokkaido

The character on the right, Hesomaru, is the mascot of Furano. The ‘face’ is drawn on his rather large belly while is head and arms are hidden under the hat. Heso means tummy button, while maru refers to its rather large round size. The name reflects Furano’s location in the geographical centre of Hokkaido.

Continuing my search for available and acceptable films in Japan in place of the very expensive FP4 I decided to give AgfaPhoto APX 100 a try. I traveled to Furano, a city with a declining population now just over 20,000. Migration to the bigger cities is now threatening Furano with the closure of its railway line, likely to lead to even greater migration, increasing pressure on the capital city and increasing the use of cars in the countryside with all the associated problems of city crowding, cost and pollution. When I arrived it happened to be the “heso matsuri” (tummy button festival). The festival seemed more subdued than I remember it years ago perhaps reflecting the weather. The day was overcast, generally flat cloudy bright lighting so unfortunately not the best for photography. I had brought my M3, 50mm Zeiss Planar lens, and I metered incident light with a Sekonic meter.

AgfaPhoto APX 100 Furano
Hawaiian dancers and crowd

Not quite sure why Hawaiian dancers, but the local TV and newspaper turned up to record the event.

AgfaPhoto APX 100 Furano
Street decorations, crowd and media

Most of the audience is teenagers or middle aged couples with young children, I don’t really fit in here! So I set off to try the film on subject matter more to my liking. Film was stand developed in Rodinal, scanned as a generic film on an Epson GT-X900 using VueScan software without any automatic adjustments. The first two images (above) are straight scans, and the two following have slightly modified contrast curves.

AgfaPhoto APX 100 Furano
Furano shrine, side of main building
AgfaPhoto APX 100 Furano
Every town needs one
AgfaPhoto APX 100 Furano
Narrow road with izakaya
AgfaPhoto APX 100 Furano
Back door, and a rare moment of sunshine

Torisei is the new home for a fried chicken restaurant, having moved from a tiny old characterful building. Not my choice of meat, on the rare occasion when I choose meat but they also have salads, and the all important chips – French fries for non-English speakers ;-), But there’s an overwhelming reason why I go there. When I first went more than 10 years ago I noticed there were several rather unexciting wines offered alongside the unexciting chicken. I asked if there was a wine list – expecting that of course there was not. To my surprise the owner brought a hand written price list each item showing the years when its best to drink and two prices, his purchase price and what he thought he might sell for – he hadn’t really yet decided to sell regularly. You still need to ask for the list, now printed, with just one price. Castro era rum? We got it. Rare malts? A long list. Fine red Burgundies, left and right bank first growth Bordeaux – four pages. World wines, many. Recommended.

AgfaPhoto APX 100 Furano
Torisei (see text)

There’s a range of other restaurants including sushi, and izakaya offering a wider range of foods, although modern Japanese are predominantly meat eaters. Yamadori is also a yakiyori (grilled chicken, and other meat) restaurant in a repurposed traditional stone warehouse.

AgfaPhoto APX 100 Furano
Grilled meat testaurant

Finally an ornamental lantern in a traditional garden.

AgfaPhoto APX 100 Furano

The film is fine grained and I’m impressed by the contrast, detail and image rendition in the mid tones in particular – I’d be happy to use it for my type of subject matter. I struggled to recover any information on a photo of a shed interior – though more detail can be extracted in the train image at the loss of realism. Highlights were less impressive I thought, but I’ll happily avoid those anyway. The film I bought says “Made in UK” on the box (presumably by Ilford); it loads onto plastic reels easily and dries flat. Exposed at box speed with 60m semi-stand development in Rodinal 100:1 makes AgfaPhoto APX 100 a perfectly acceptable film for my purposes.

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13 thoughts on “AgfaPhoto APX 100 in Furano, Hokkaido”

  1. Uli Buechsenschuetz

    Thanks for this interesting post. I have come across some unverified suggestions that the Agfa APX 100 and 400 are the same as the Kentmere 100 and 400.
    Maybe someone has more in-depth knowledge to confirm that?

  2. Geoff, I shot a couple of rolls of Agfa APX in, uh… must have been the nineties, when it was readily available and cheaper than Kodak. Nowadays a bit harder to find here, in Finland. I vaguely rebember being quite satisfied with the results.

    I liked your shots, especially the Furano shrine and the locomotive. Great detail and nice tones. That Torisei restaurant is also interesting. The building looks more like dry cleaners, that a well stocked restaurant. Shouldn´t jugde by the cover, I guess.

    1. Thanks Jukka. The APX is a different film from the one you used in the past, better or worse I don’t know but likely slightly different.
      I actually went to the “dry cleaners” for a family party a few days ago. We were treated to a glass of champagne, a plate of unusual cheeses, as well as a 2001 Bordeaux – all free. We bought an excellent 08 Brunello, and had the usual fried chicken and Japanese salads. Quite a combination!

  3. I just shot a roll of Agfa APX 100 that I purchased while on vacation in France (it’s available via mail order but not commonly stocked in stores where I live). I was very pleased with the results. I shot it at box speed in a Leitz Minolta CL, metered with the onboard meter. I really liked the results, and I plan to add more of this film to the growing stock in my film fridge.

    One of my next projects will be to take another roll of APX and shoot it with an Agfa Selectonic SLR and an Agfa (Pentax K mount) lens, for an Agfa-Agfa-Agfa combo.

    1. Daniel Castelli

      Yea! Another Leitz-Minolta user. Sweet cameras. I don’t like the on-board meter, so I use a shoe-mounted Voigtlander MC II meter. The camera is my EDC.

  4. Geoff, nice images, they really do justice to the events and places depicted. Agfa APX 100 ( and its predecessors in the 90s) is one of my choices of bw film when travelling. I never used Kentmere, but I do remember some conversation on the subject, and the rumours were those you have mentioned. True or not, no idea.

    Very good and predictable results with this film in either Rodinal or D76/ID11, and the film dries flat and scans beautifully. I usually buy in bulk rolls of 30.5 meters and reload, and that is true for almost all the film types I use these days. I am not necessarily looking for cheap, but to consistency, as it happened that a film bought today will be gone the next.

    Again, thank you, and nice to see your work again.

    Best regards,

    1. Julian, thanks for your comments. I agree consistency from one year to the next, decade to the next, is nice to have. Even FP4 has evolved. I miss grainy but accurate colour film as manufacturers ‘improved’ their product. Let’s hope Ilford, and FOMA, will stick with the products they have.

  5. This is a lovely and charming collection and another good read. Where you live is heaven for urban film photographers. I had dismissed Agfa APX (fairly new to film and still learning) but I am going to go back and give it another try

  6. I found this a pleasant and informative article to read and I enjoyed the images, as they really helped provide a feel for the place. The assessment of the AgfaPhoto APX100 was useful and I’ll probably look out for it as a result.

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