Kodak X-Ray Film as a Large Format Negative Medium

April 05, 2016  •  7 Comments

We have a wide variety of options to realize our creative vision today as large format photographers.  I've used and tried a number of X-Ray films over the years and my favorite is Kodak Ektascan B/RA.  

Kodak Ektascan B/RA Film Overview

This is a medium speed, single coated, tabular grain, orthochromatic medical x-ray film for photography of cathode-ray (CRT) tubes. It is coated on a blue, 7-mil blue-tinted polyester support with a dyed pelloid backing which affords anti-halation protection. The film orientation is that the emulsion side is up when the notch is at the right-hand side of the top edge of the film.  I acquire mine through Z&Z Medical in the United States.

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Why Try This Film?

At the time of this article, I can purchase 100 sheets of 8x10 film for $80 USD making this medium very cost effective method to test and explore.  

Since this film is single-sided as opposed to having emulsion on both sides like other x-ray films, I am able to develop the films in my Jobo expert drums. I rate this film at ISO 100 and develop it with Rodinal at 1:100 for 6 minutes at 20C in my Jobo 8x10 expert drum.  You can play with the development time to increase or decrease the contrast.  In most cases, you will want to be reducing the contrast and shorten the development time.  I did a lot of testing to arrive at my development time.  The film is on a thick base, making it very easy to handle and process.  This film produces incredibly sharp images.  I like to use my older Pictorialist soft focus lenses with this film for a classic look.  

If you want to develop this film in trays, you are able to do that by inspection under red safelight conditions.  The same applies when you load your film holders too.  It makes handling and processing very easy.   

I should note that my workflow is completely analog, meaning that I create darkroom prints from the negatives as opposed to scanning them and making a digital output.  You may find that you want or need to use a different development process if you intention is to scan the negatives.  

These negatives are good options for large format photographers that want to contact print and then explore options such as Lith printing, and a wide variety of historic processes like Salt, Pt/Pd, Van Dyke's, and so on.  

I have found the reciprocity failure to track with T-Max 100 making it very easy to use, especially if you have experienced with T-Max 100.  My reciprocity chart is listed below:

Metered Exposure-> Corrected Exposure : 1s->1s - 2s->2s - 4s->5s - 8s->10s -15s->21s- 30s->49s
60s->1:47 - 80s->2:30 -100s->3:29 -120s->4:39 -160s->6:45 - 200s->9:30 -240s->12:50

When trying this film, it is important to remember it is an orthochromatic emulsion. I like the 19th-century classic ortho look where the reds are dark and blues are very light.  Based on your creative vision and style of photography, I encourage you to test several different development times to manage the contrast.  I plan on testing this film with Pyro HD in the future to explore the impacts on tonal range and contrast.  

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Tim Layton Fine Art
Hi Renata, thanks for the question. Yes, I have developed several batches of Kodak Ektascan B/RA X-Ray film with Pyro HD in my Jobo with excellent results. I tested Pyro HD and Rodinal for these negatives to create my platinum prints. I will write an article up soon and discuss the details. Thanks.
Renata Młynarczyk(non-registered)
Tim, did you already try Pyro HD? What results?
bruce major(non-registered)
stand develop 1-1001hout
Bruce Major(non-registered)
i used this film with stand developing 1 to 100 for 1 hour looks great
Tim Scott(non-registered)

This is indeed a great option for a LF workflow. Personally I have found the sensitivity to vary based on the time of day (colour of light) from 60ish (indoor strobes) to 125 (direct noon sunlight with no cloud cover. My processing times pretty much mirror yours.

Thanks for doing this article. If enough people use and buy this film perhaps it will stay around for a long time to come.

Tim Scott
www.ScottPhoto.co (not .com)
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