Opinions and comments on Verichrome Pan?

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When I got my first box camera in 1957 I always used Verichrome Pan in 620 and it worked remarkably well. A number of portraitists swear by it. Kodak needed a film that was foolproof, so they gave it two emulsions. I'd like to hear comments about the film and collect favorite developers, developing times and exposure indices. Anybody out there still use it?

-- Ed Buffaloe (edbuffaloe@unblinkingeye.com), June 09, 2000


I love it. There are always a few rolls in with my Rollei. I use HC- 110 1:31 (mixed from the thick syrup, not stock solution) at about 8 minutes. It's pretty much a bullet proof film, but I didn't know it was a dual emulsion. I thought that was Plus X.

-- Tony Brent (ajbrent@mich.com), June 09, 2000.


Stephen Anchell and Bill Troop, in The Film Developing Cookbook, speak highly of Kodak VP. Unfortunately, it is only available in 120 format.

I've used it with D76(1+1), PMK, HC110 (dil. B), and Xtol (in varying dilutions). Quite frankly, I do not have enough experience with this film/developers to give any definite or worthwhile firsthand opinions. My favorite 125 speed B&W film, and the one I prefer to use in all formats, is FP4+.

At any rate, here's a brief quote from Anchell/Troop:

"For landscapes, still lifes and portraits, we strongly recommend Kodak Verichrome Pan. Its beautiful, long-scale gradation is in the tradition of of the old thick emulsion films. Once popular, this double coated film is now hard to find in the US.....It easily pushes to EI 200....Kodak Plus X, a film with the same speed as VP, is available in a variety of sizes, but is inferior to VP. Plus X is grainier, less sharp, and has more constricted gradation than VP."

I've followed the times/temps/dilutions listed in the Anchell/Troop book with success.

Hope this helps a bit, Sergio.

-- Sergio Ortega (s.ortega@worldnet.att.net), June 09, 2000.

I took my sister's wedding portrait on VP120. That was almost 30 years ago. I hadn't any idea that the Zone System existed, and most of what I did was hit-or-miss. Mostly misses. But on these shots I followed the rules. I metered close up. Used that exposure. Developed in HC110, and gave the "extra contrast" that the dial in the Master Darkroom Dataguide provided.

Now I know that I placed the whites on zone V, expanded the development, and got an incredible negative. I'd be proud of it today.

All those lovely delicate whites printed with great separation. No shadow values to get lost with the slight under exposure.

The one shot that had the perfect expression had a flaw in the emulsion. An oval mat took care of that.

Yes, I like VP. I wish they made it in 35mm & sheets. It still has the finest grain of any normal emusion, bested only by Tech Pan. It's the most resilient film around and a nice H&D curve.

-- Charlie Strack (charlie_strack@sti.com), June 09, 2000.

Ed, funny you should mention that film since I just tried it for the first time a few weeks ago after a recommendation in Photo Techniques magazine. Their advice, if I remember correctly, was to expose generously, use a yellow filter, and D76.

The negatives look fine, but I haven't printed them yet, as my darkroom is still being rearranged. I'll gladly post any results

-- bill noll (bill@neoview.com), June 10, 2000.

I have never used Verichrome Pan with the exception of having developed a roll that was in an old camera that was purchased at an austion and given me. But there seems to be a pretty intense interest in this film lately on the various lists and groups that I watch. What I am wondering, though, is what the H&D curve would look like with a double emulsioned film. As I understand it, one emulsion layer is faster than the other. That would mean that the H&D curve would be the sum of the other two curves and would contain bumps in the straight line protion of the curve where the toe of the slow emulsion begins to be exposed and again where the shoulder of the faster emulsion layer comes into play. If severe enough, that behavior could lead to compression of the mid tones in these areas similar to blocking up of highlights or shadows. Has anyone here done any sensitometry on this film with enough resolution in the exposure steps and if so do you see bumps in the curve? I expect that Kodak wold have fine tuned the two emulsion characteristics so that loss of mid-tone separation would be negligable or the film wouldn't have been any kind of success, but can we see these effects on a curve? Just curious.

-- Fritz M. Brown (brownf@idhw.state.id.us), June 12, 2000.

OK, I've "thunk" a little harder on this. I was in error when I said that the sum of the two curves would lead to a curve with regions that would block up mid tones. After drawing a few curves and adding them together on paper, the curve would actually have regions, in what would have been the straight line portion, that have a steeper slope instead of a flatter slope. The curve would still be more complex than a simple sigmoid curve and would have up to seven regions of different slope characteristics. I'm still wondering whether anyone has measured the d/log(e) with enough resolution in the exposure to detect these variations from the ideal. If I had a densitometer I would do it myself, but...

-- Fritz M. Brown (brownf@idhw.state.id.us), June 12, 2000.

After buying the Anchell/Troop book, I also decided to give VP another try. I've been experiementing with PMK lately, and have developed a couple of VP rolls in it. On the up side, I can tell you the film stains incredibly well, and it seems to have finer grain than FP4+, which I normally use. On the down side, I've had a few negatives that seem to have waaay too much contrast. I'm still testing, but overall I think I'm going to like the film a lot.

-- Brian Hinther (BrianH@sd314.k12.id.us), June 12, 2000.

I shot a test roll of VP at EI 64 and developed in PMK for 8 minutes at 80 degrees. I noticed that the film has a dye in it the color of pinacryptol green, which is a desensitizing agent. The stain is a wonderful green, which may be because of the dye. These negatives appear overexposed and overdeveloped. I will try an EI of 125 next, and probably reduce development by a minute. I'm leaving soon for Utah and Arizona and was thinking I might try VP out there. I'll also be shooting HP-5+ (EI 200), T-Max 400 (EI 400), and Delta 3200 (EI 800). If anyone else has tried VP in PMK, I would like to know your EI and development times.

-- Ed Buffaloe (edbuffaloe@unblinkingeye.com), June 13, 2000.

I remember using this film in 110 rolls as a kid when I set up my first darkroom. There's a technical sheet with characteristic curves at:

http://www.kodak.com/cluster/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/f 7/f7.shtml

Interestingly, it's available not only in 120 rolls but also in 8"x5' rolls for the old Kodak Cirkut large-format panorama camera. I suppose one could buy a roll and cut it into sheets, but the base might be too thin to avoid flatness problems.

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), June 13, 2000.

The curves show a long toe and at the higher developing times a very slight shoulder (D-76 & HC-110). For years the only 127 B&W film Kodak made was Verichrome Pan, and also 126 cartridges. Kodak's description says the film is similar to Plus X, but without retouching surfaces.

-- Ed Buffaloe (edbuffaloe@unblinkingeye.com), June 14, 2000.

Ed, FWIW for PMK I expose it at EI 100 and develop for 7.5 minutes at 70 degrees. Based on a couple of zone tests, that gives a nice ten zone range with proper exposure for zone 1

-- John Lehman (ffjal@uaf.edu), June 14, 2000.

Yikes! I must buy a bunch of Verichrome Pan! kodak don't sell VP here in Sweden so I have to buy from the US.

-- Patric (jenspatric@mail.bip.net), June 15, 2000.

I also fell for the seduction of VP120 after reading of it in The Film Developing Cookbook. It seems similar to Tri-X in tonality with much finer grain. Souped in XTOL 1:2 it may separate low tones and render skin tones a little darker. I use a #8 Yellow filter must of the time. I noticed a old post in Medium Format that Kodak called VP120 a ortho film 50 years ago and either changed the emulsion or marketing and now call it a pan film. It replaced FP-4 in my bag.

-- Richard Jepsen (rjepsen@mmcable.com), July 02, 2000.

I believe Verichrome was Kodak's standard "amateur" orthochromatic b/w film (following their earlier standard "NC" - "non-curling" - film) available in nearly every format from the twenties through the late forties or early fifties. It was replaced by Verichrome Pan, yes, an earlier form of the current panchromatic emulsion, in the early fifties. It was always Kodak's easiest-to-find film for nearly any rollfilm camera.

Personally, I used to shoot it in 828 and 127 (and developed other folks' 126 and 110) and some of those old shots were pretty good. But I haven't used it in 120... at least on a 6x6 negative, good old TX is plenty fine-grain enough for my purposes.

-- Michael Goldfarb (mgoldfar@mobius.com), July 02, 2000.

I have arrived at an exposure index of 125 for VP and a development time of 6 minutes at 80 degrees F. in PMK. I believe you could develop in PMK+ and get an effective EI of 150 to 180, but I haven't tried it yet.

-- Ed Buffaloe (edbuffaloe@unblinkingeye.com), July 04, 2000.

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