Adox CMS 20: Extreme Shadow


Unknown low ISO film + unpredictable Lomo camera = an experiment!

While browsing online, I spotted a few very low ASA films, such as Rollei Ortho 25 and Adox CHS 25. The one that was cheapest was Adox CMS 20, in a 120mm size. I placed my order, and promptly had to wait 4 weeks for it to arrive from Germany.

Once it did arrive, it sat in my fridge for a few months until my BelAir arrived; I didn’t want to trust such a low ISO film to a Holga. Once Calrton the Belair arrived, I set him to ISO 50, and went shooting on a bright Sydney Day.

Before I get to the results, a word about Adox CMS 20, as I don’t see much of it shot on Lomography.

If you hear it from Adox themselves, CMS 20 is “the highest resolving film in the world!” and an “orthopanchromatic & monodisperse ultrahigh resolving document film with a silver halide recording material with an anti-halation layer between base and film base” that boasts “800 lines per millimetre!”

I didn’t know what any of that meant.

After snooping around some developer forums, I saw people swapping horror stories of their developing Adox in anything but Adotech (now discontinued). Apparantly the latitude of the film was so finicky that the type of water used in developing (distilled vs. tap, calcium content in your area) can potentially affect the results. Some recommended shooting it at ISO 12 or 6. Gulp.

So I loaded up Carlton the Belair with his Square mask and went shooting. I have no idea what the lab used to develop these (the lab tech’s response was “Where do you GET this crazy stuff?”) but I had them pull it one stop.

Around Newtown:

Credits: lokified

Out my office window:

Credits: lokified

And a cloudy sunset as I headed home in magic hour:

Credits: lokified

I think my favourite shot of the roll is this one, of some people playing on the swings:

Credits: lokified

Look, I don’t see these shots winning me any awards, but it was certainly a learning experience. I reckon if I see any Adox on a shelf, I’ll give it a go, though I’ll shoot it at 20.

written by lokified on 2013-06-29 #gear #review #low #20 #blackandwhite #iso #adox #cms


  1. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    Here's the best, widest selection of B&W films and chemistry. I don't what their international shipping charges are like, but here's price on Adox CMS20 II… and chemistry… Enjoy!! @lokified

  2. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    BTW... I've never tried Adox CMS20II, but have seen enormously enlarged examples at Freestyle Photo shop, and it seems to work exactly as advertised. The shop is about 25mi from where I live, in Hollywood. I've bought a light meter and films there. The place supplies art classes all over for decades.

  3. alex34
    alex34 ·

    This is a great film, but you look as if you've severely abused it. These results don't do it justice. The Belair or most other ordinary Lomo camera is about the worst thing you can use with film like this, which has very fine tolerances. Next time I would recommend using a decent light meter (exposing at 8 or 12 is about right) with a good quality TLR or SLR.

  4. carsten-schmitt
    carsten-schmitt ·

    Yes, sorry to say that but this film is quite frankly it is not for someone (or a lab) who don't know what they are doing.
    It is the equivalent of a high charged racing car when you might have wanted a VW beetle. There is a dedicated developer for it which is of course still being produced! Thus I can only hope that people not only read this "review" and get turned off by it but rather put it in a decent camera that can actually use the film's potential.

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