Kodak Black & White Printing Paper, Films and Chemistry - by Michael Talbert

Apart from the following notes relating to early Kodak black & white products, Michael Talbert has also provided a considerable amount of historical information on the early Kodak & Agfa colour printing processes. Some early Agfa black & white paper packaging (plus others) can be seen here. My thanks to Jack Milne in Australia for directing me to this site.


  1. Kodak’s Black & White printing papers, grading and nomenclature, pre & post 1947.
  2. Velox Contact Printing paper
    Velox Developer
    Kodak D-163 Developer
    More Kodak Black and White Developer Chemicals

  3. Bromide & Bromesko Enlarging paper
    Bromide Royal
  4. Royal Bromesko Enlarging paper
  1. Kodak Fine Grain Positive Film (as manufactured in the UK from the mid-1930s)
    Positive Film: History, Use & Chronology

  2. Plus-X sheet film
    Professional Plus-X and Tri-X roll films (packs of 10)
    Super-XX and Panatomic-X sheet films
    Verichrome (Pan & Ortho), Plus-X and Tri-X roll films

Kodak Black & White printing paper, pre & post 1947

In the early 1970s Michael Talbert had worked as a black and white/colour printer/general studio assistant for a photographer who had used Kodak bromide papers since around the time of the 1947 paper codes changeover. He had a bookcase full of old Kodak paper boxes in which he stored his negatives, some of which had both codes printed on the labels. That’s what got him interested in the old codes for paper, and he decided to find out more.

Kodak VELOX paper was a very slow printing paper, producing a blue-black image, suitable for contact printing only, where the negative is placed in contact with the paper to produce a print of the same size. Kodak discontinued the manufacture of Velox paper in 1968. By way of example of its coding names, before & after 1947: Velox WVL 3 S = White Velvet Lustre, Hard, Single weight. Pre 1947: V V 3 = Velox Velvet Vigorous, single weight.

Kodak BROMIDE, BROMESKO and ROYAL BROMESKO papers were fast enlarging papers, suitable for use with any type of black and white enlarger. They could also be used for contact printing.
Bromide paper gave a neutral black image.

Bromesko produced a warm-black image. Its first mention is in the British Journal Of Photography Almanac for 1938, within the Kodak Adverts. About 1940 it was available in 6 surfaces, and by 1947, when Kodak changed their coding system (see below), it was available in Glossy, Velvet, Matt, Rough Lustre, and Fine Lustre. Later there was a Cream base, coded CFL 3D; a brownish red colour base, like a sepia toned print. The paper was also made on White and Ivory (a yellowish white) bases.
Both Bromide and Bromesko papers were replaced by other enlarging papers, some with resin-coated bases, by 1982.
Christophe Dorney emailed (March 2015) to let me know that in the UK (and now EU) the Bromesko trademark was file registered, by Kodak, on 11th June 1936 (serial no. 572853).

Kodesko is another paper Michael Talbert has found reference to. It was a warm toned paper manufactured by Kodak in the 1930s, before Bromesko. It was unusual in that it had a parchment-like quality and was semi-translucent. The 1933 Kodak Professional Catalogue states that prints could be mounted onto a light coloured backing paper. When the print was held over a light, it “glowed”, taking on the tones of the backing paper. Maybe that is where the name Bromesko originated.

Royal Bromesko paper was introduced in 1962 and discontinued in the late 1970s. It was an enlarging paper giving a warmer image tone by direct development in Kodak D-163 developer than Bromesko paper processed in the same developer. For maximum warmth, Kodak “Royal Bromesko” developer produced an almost brown and white image on Royal Bromesko paper. It had a slightly lower printing speed than Kodak Bromide or Bromesko papers. It could be handled under a Wratten Safelight filter Series OB.

VELOX, BROMIDE and BROMESKO; Naming & Grading

Prior to 1947, Kodak’s grading system and paper nomenclature were a complete muddle !
The grades for Velox and Bromide were different. The naming system and grades for Bromesko were different to that of Velox and Bromide. And at that time smaller packets of paper were sold by weight, not quantity.
12 sheets of quarter plate was roughly the same as 7 sheets of half plate. Larger sizes and boxes were sold in dozens and half-dozens.

By way of example of coding names, before & after 1947: Bromesko CFL 2 D = Cream Fine Lustre, Normal, Double weight. Pre-1947: 46 Z = Cream Lustre, Medium, Double weight.
Bromide WSM 1 S = White Smooth Matt, Soft, Single weight. Pre-1947: BBS 1 = Crayon Black, Soft, Single weight (BBS 1 = Bromide Black Smooth, 1 = soft grade). White Smooth Matt was a completely smooth dead matt paper and Crayon Black was the nearest pre-1947 equivalent surface.

NIKKO is an early trade name for Kodak Glossy Bromide paper (in the U.K). It is uncertain when the name Nikko dates from, but it is listed under Bromide papers in a Kodak 1923 catalogue. It is believed the name is pre-WW1, if not earlier. For example; Nikko BG2 = Bromide Glossy Grade 2 (medium) single weight.

Contrast Grades for Kodak Bromide papers, early 1940s (as far as Michael Talbert can establish) were:
Soft = Grade 1
Medium = Grade 2
Contrast = Grade 4
Extra Contrast = Grade 5. This Grade 5 was used for negatives which were very soft, or grossly underexposed.
Grade 3 = “Vigorous”, was only made in “Velox” paper at that time and Kodak Bromesko paper had a different grading system.

Contrast Grades after 1947. Kodak changed their coding system relating to paper grades, types of paper surfaces, for Bromide, Bromesko, and Velox papers in 1947. Nikko BG2 then became Bromide WSG 2S = White, Smooth ,Glossy, 2 (Normal Grade), Singleweight. The new coding system for Bromide, Bromesko and Velox papers stated Tint, Texture, Surface, Contrast Grade No. and Weight, in that order.

Extra Soft = Grade 0; Only made in Velox Paper at this time.
Soft = Grade 1
Normal = Grade 2
Hard = Grade 3
Extra Hard = Grade 4; Only made in Velox and Bromide paper at this time.
Much later these grades were joined by an “Ultra Hard” Grade 5 and a “Special” Grade. Special Grade had a contrast between “Soft” and “Normal” and was made in glossy paper only. The code for Bromide Glossy paper was WSG 1SpecialS or WSG 1SpecialD (single weight and double weight, respectively).

In 1948-9 paper packing quantities were standardized to 10s, 25s, 50s and 100s (rather than by weight or in dozens or half-dozens of sheets) and Kodak changed their system so that all surfaces and grades matched for Bromesko, Bromide and Velox papers. The coding system was e.g. Bromide, White Velvet Lustre, Normal Double Weight, WVL 2D. The pre-1947 code was BV 2Z, Bromide Velvet Medium Double Weight (the letter Z was used to indicate Double Weight).


Introduced in 1962 (discontinued in the late 1970s) with “Smooth Lustre” and “Fine Pearl” surfaces with a choice of a white or ivory base in double weight only

Types of Royal Bromesko Paper from 1962.
In the UK, Kodak Royal Bromesko Paper was introduced in 1962 as a printing paper similar to Bromesko but having a warmer (browner) image tone with a slightly lower printing speed.

In July 1962, the paper was initially sold as a “Special Order” item, and the minimum order accepted was for 1000 square feet in area of any one contrast grade and size.
White Smooth Lustre (WSL) and Ivory Smooth Lustre (ISL) papers were available in double weight only in Soft (1), Normal (2), and Hard (3) contrast grades.

White Fine Pearl (WFP) and Ivory Fine Pearl (IFP) surfaces additionally became obtainable during 1962 to ’63, and the paper was no longer sold as “Special Order”. Sizes and quantities were listed in the UK Kodak Professional Catalogue for 1963 in the Bromesko paper section, from 3½ x 4½ inches to 16 x 20 inches, 10, 25 and 100 sheet packs, in the three contrast graded noted above in Double Weight base.

By way of a coding example: Ivory Fine Pearl, Normal, Double Weight, would be coded: IFP 2D.

Fine Pearl was a new surface in 1962. It had a matt surface with an extremely fine grain. Kodak recommended this surface as a good choice if much retouching had to be done to the print, as in portraits.

Ivory Smooth Lustre surface (ISL) was initially introduced in the late 1950s as a Bromesko paper. In 1959 it was for sale in mainly continental sizes.
By 1961 it was for sale in as many as 5 contrast grades, from Grade 1=Soft, to Grade 5=Ultra Hard, in certain sizes, along with a White Smooth Lustre paper, WSL. Smooth Lustre surface was free from any base texture and had a surface with slightly less shine than an unglazed glossy print. Fine detail reproduced very well.

Another surface listed under “Bromesko” paper in the early 1960s was White Fine Low Lustre. The author believes this surface was very similar or identical to Fine Pearl. Both surfaces are listed for sale in the “Kodak Professional Catalogue” for July 1964, Low Lustre as a Bromesko paper, Fine Pearl as a Royal Bromesko paper. A list of Kodak black and white printing papers dated October 1965, however, does not mention the Low Lustre paper.

Royal Bromesko surfaces added in 1965.
White Smooth Glossy, coded WSG; White Fine Lustre, coded WFL.
Available in Grade 1, Soft; Grade 2, Normal and Grade 3, Hard. White Smooth Glossy, was also available in Grade 4, Extra Hard.
All in Double Weight base only.
By way of a coding example: White Smooth Glossy, Extra Hard, Double Weight. Would be code: WSG 4D

By 1969 the Smooth Glossy and Fine Lustre surfaces had been discontinued along with the Ivory Smooth Lustre surface. A year or so later the Ivory Fine Pearl surface was no longer made leaving White Fine Pearl, WFP and White Smooth Lustre, WSL in Soft, Normal and Hard grades. Manufacture of Royal Bromesko paper was discontinued in the late 1970s.

The author purchased a box of Royal Bromesko paper, 6½"x8½", 100 sheets, in White Smooth Lustre surface, Grade 3, in 1968. (WSL 3D). The difference in image tone between Royal Bromesko and Bromesko papers was very noticeable, even when processed in the standard Kodak paper developer, D-163. The author found, when comparing prints for contrast and density, that the visual contrast decreased on Royal Bromesko because of the colour of the image compared to a similar print made from the same negative on Kodak Bromide paper. The blacks of the print turned brown-black and mid tones a light brown. He found Royal Bromesko paper difficult to use, and many people preferred a “good black” as reproduced on a Bromide print to a rather insipid brown black on a Royal Bromesko print.

Kodak Royal Bromesko Developer was obtainable in liquid form, to be diluted one part developer to nine parts water, to make a working solution for use with Royal Bromesko paper. Also, in powder form, Kodak “Warm Tone Developer” was available in the 1960s, the stock solution to be diluted one part developer to one part water for a medium warmth of tone.

Warm tones on Ilford “Clorona” paper were popular in the 1930s. The Ilford Manual for 1935 gives two print developers, ID-23 and ID-24, suitable for producing warm-black to sepia to red tones on Clorona paper. The Ilford Manual stated that Clorona paper required a negative of “Fair contrast” when brown-sepia to red tones were desired. As the tone of the print changed from brown-black to sepia, and finally to red, the visual contrast decreased, so that a negative of fairly high contrast usually gave the best results. This is exactly what the author found when using Royal Bromesko paper.

Velox Paper

Kodak VELOX paper was a very slow 'Development' printing paper, producing a blue-black image, suitable for contact printing only, where the negative is placed in contact with the paper to produce a print of the same size. The negative to be printed was placed on top of the emulsion side of the paper and in contact with it. Special contact printing frames were made which held the negative and paper in close contact under a piece of glass. The exposure was made by holding the printing frame up to a bright tungsten light, or daylight, for a few seconds. The paper was then developed, fixed and washed to produce a contact print with a slightly bluish black image.

Velox Paper was first manufactured by Dr. L. H. Baekeland in 1894. It was a slow, silver chloride paper which could be handled before exposure even under weak electric light or yellow gaslight. In a photographic darkroom it could be handled under a bright yellow safelight. It later became known as “Gaslight” or “Contact “ paper. In 1899 George Eastman of the Kodak company bought the Velox process from Dr.Baekeland, and started to manufacture Velox paper in the U.S.A.

Prior to 'Development' paper, contact printing was carried out using paper that darkened naturally when left exposed to daylight. Originally known as 'Albumen' printing paper, it became commonly known as Printing Out Paper or P.O.P
P.O.P was coated with Albumen, which was mixed with ammonium chloride and silver nitrate. It was manufactured from approximately the 1850s until the appearance of the “Development“ papers (e.g. Velox) in the 1890s. A description of Albumen paper was first published in 1850 by Louis-Desire Blanquart-Everard.

The paper was exposed to daylight via a glass negative plate, the two being held in close contact within a contact printing frame, as already described above. Upper-most within the wooden contacting printing frame would be the frame's glass and beneath that was placed the glass negative plate. A sheet of Albumen paper, emulsion side in contact with the glass plate, came at the bottom of the frame and finally the wooden back of the printing frame was attached to hold the paper and negative plate firmly in contact under spring pressure. In the middle of the wooden back would be a hinge, so that part of the back could be opened to look at the image appearing on the P.O.P. without disturbing or releasing the pressure on the other part. Thus, if the image was still too light, the lifted half of the back could be hinged down again and the exposure continued without any risk of having disturbed the registration between the paper and the negative.

Unlike 'development' Contact paper, which was exposed only briefly to bright tungsten light or daylight, the printing frame with P.O.P was placed on a window sill facing the sun, or in strong daylight, for a significant length of time. Every quarter of an hour, or less in bright sunlight, the back of the frame was opened to check on the density of the image on the Albumen paper. When the print was judged to have the correct density, the paper was removed from the frame and placed in a bath of plain “Hypo” ("Fixing") solution. "Hypo" is an old fashioned term for Sodium Thiosulphate (Na2S2O3), originally known as sodium hyposulphate. In this bath of “Hypo” the silver that had not been exposed to daylight and therefore had not turned grey or black during the exposure, were chemically converted into soluble silver salts that could be washed out of the paper (hence, "fixing" the image). During this "Fixing” process, the print usually became lighter in tone and so most pictures were exposed until slightly too dark, before being taken out of the printing frame and being placed in the Hypo.

After the paper was washed for half an hour to an hour, most prints were then toned in “Sepia Toner”, which gave a rich brown colour to the image and also made the image even more permanent. Sometimes the toning process was done before fixing. Contact Printing with Velox paper was much faster, more reliable, and the extra toning procedure was not required.

Despite the arrival into the market of many types of Bromide, Contact, and Chloro-bromide "development" papers, P.O.P remained on the market until the mid 1950s. One of the last was Kodak “Solio”, a glossy single weight paper which gave tones from purple to red. The paper could also be “gold toned”, in a bath of gold-sulphocyanide, and then fixed in a plain Hypo bath (Ref: “Kodak Papers”, booklet, 1949).


This very early packet of Velox paper is likely to have been manufactured by either “The Nepera Chemical Company” or by “Eastman Kodak Company” of Rochester, New York.

The Nepera Chemical Company was established by Leo Baekeland and Leonardi Jacobi in 1893 in Nepera Park, Yonkers, New York, for manufacturing Velox Paper. Velox Paper was one of the first photographic papers to require a chemical solution, (developer), to produce an image on the paper.

In 1899, Leo Baekeland met George Eastman, founder of the “Kodak” company, who paid him $1M for the Velox paper process. From then on, the Eastman Kodak Company, and later, Kodak Limited London, manufactured Velox Paper.

In the case of this packet, it is difficult to ascertain as to whether the paper was manufactured by the Nepera Chemical Company or the Eastman Kodak Company as both names appear on the packet. It may have been produced at the Nepera Chemical Company a few months after the Eastman Kodak takeover, possibly around 1899 to 1900.

The paper could be handled and worked in a yellow light, similar to the colour given by 'Towns Gas' burnt in gas mantles i.e. the “Gaslight” of the time. At that time, early 1900s, there was no Safe light filter made specially for Velox paper, though by the 1920s Kodak were producing a “Wratten Series 00, a clear yellow, for slow lantern plates and gaslight papers”. (Ref: Kodak Professional Catalogue, 1923.)

There were no Contrast Grades, such as Hard, Normal, Soft etc., although the “Glossy Velox” sealing label states “Enameled for contrasty effects”.

The green sealing label also states on the underside that “You should use no other developers that those described in the enclosed directions.” It also warns the user about lack of Bromide in the developer and oxidized developer giving greenish or brownish blacks in the print.


This second packet of Velox Paper is likely to be of later manufacture. It clearly states that it is now being made by Kodak in London, which tells us it is very probable that by this time Kodak had set up a production line for Velox paper in the U.K. It is strange that the ”Nepera Chemical“ Company’s trade mark is still being stamped on the packet ! The price was 1s.3d, (=6 newpence) for 18 sheets. By 1923, the price had been held, but the paper was now sold in packets of 17 sheets for 1s (1 shilling=5 newpence).

Although the sealing label is missing, the packet contains paper of a “Velvet” surface, termed in those days as “Art”, or “Semi-Matt”. There is no back printing on the paper.

On the left hand side of the label on both packets it states “500 times quicker than Albumen”, signifying how much shorter an exposure to light this 'development' paper required compared to the former Printing Out Paper (5seconds x 500 = 40minutes !)

Kodak made a Safelight filter specially for Velox paper, the Wratten Series OO. It was bright yellow, so much too bright for Kodak Bromide papers. Kodak Bromide papers were about 100 times faster than Velox paper and, although Bromide paper could be used for contact printing, Velox paper was useless for making enlargements (the exposure to enlarger illumination would have being too long). However, in the 1950s, certain types of Velox paper were manufactured specifically for making En-prints using enlarging equipment, such as “Projection Velox paper”, but the speed of the paper never matched Bromide paper.

Kodak Limited, London were still making Velox paper for contact printing in small sizes until the late 1960s. It was finally discontinued in 1968.


Four packets of Velox paper dating from the 1920s.
By the early 1920s Velox paper was being sold in two contrast grades. Taken from Velox paper instruction sheet, dated 1922.

  1. VIGOROUS - for use with negatives of weak contrast.
    Paper types: Art (vigorous) semi-matt surface; Carbon (vigorous) smooth matt surface; Glossy (vigorous).
  2. SOFT :- for use with negatives of average or strong contrast.
    Paper types: Art (soft) semi matt surface; Carbon (soft) smooth matt surface; Glossy (soft).

In the early 1920s a “Special” grade was available for Normal or Contrasty negatives. In 1923 it was sold as “Special Portrait”, a smooth matt surface.
There was also a paper at that time known as “Royal Velox”. This had a Cream coloured base (almost sepia), and a smooth surface, possibly close to a semi-matt, and was only available in double weight thickness.
(Reference: Kodak Professional Photographic Apparatus and Materials Catalogue, 1923)

The 1933 equivalent catalogue no longer lists “Special Portrait” or “Royal Velox” papers.


By 1926 an additional grade of “MEDIUM” was available and a Velox paper instruction sheet for 1926 suggests the medium grade was recommended for negatives of average contrast. “SOFT” grade paper was now recommended for negatives of strong contrast. In 1926, MEDIUM grade was available in Art and Glossy surfaces.

Alongside are shown three packets of Velox paper dating from the 1920s showing the “new” Medium grade in Glossy and also the back labels of the Semi-Matt surface paper; one of Medium grade (for "average negatives") and one in Vigorous grade (for "flat negatives").


By the 1930s, codes for the various surfaces and grade numbers had appeared.
The oldest packet in this picture is VG-2 = Velox Glossy, (grade) 2. This packet dates from the 1930s.

VG-3 dates from the late 1930s or possibly the 1940s. VG-1 dates from the 1940s.

VG-1 = Soft contrast.
VG-2 = Medium contrast.
VG-3 = Vigorous contrast.

They are all single weight paper. The double weight code would be e.g. VG-2Z = Velox Glossy, (grade) 2, double weight.

Another grade is listed in the 1933 Kodak Professional Photographic Apparatus and Materials catalogue. Known as “Contrast”, this grade was recommended “for very flat, lifeless negatives”.
It was available in Art, Glossy and Carbon surfaces and a code e.g. for the Glossy paper would have been VG-4.

In 1933, 17 sheets of Velox single weight paper , as the two packets in the picture, would have cost one shilling (5p).
The VG-1 box of 144 sheets of 3½ x 2½ inch paper, would have cost 4 shillings and 5 pence (approximately 22p).
The exact equivalent paper to this box, but in a later style yellow packet, is shown at the bottom of this Velox section, coded Velox WSG 1S.

Velox Developer

In the picture above there is a small packet of “Velox” developer which contains two components – a blue packet and a white packet. To make up the developer the instructions state to shake the contents of the blue packet into 4 ounces of cold water. When dissolved, add the contents of the white packet.
Additional instructions state: “For soft or special Velox, dissolve as described above but use 8 ounces of water. Use at 65°F.”

A “Velox” paper instruction sheet from 1922, which was enclosed in every packet of paper, suggests the use of Velox developer, either by making up the formula from raw chemicals, or by obtaining the Kodak “made–up” chemicals. The Kodak 1923 catalogue lists Velox developer in liquid or powder form.

“Velox Concentrated Developer” is priced at 5 shillings (25p) per gallon for the liquid form, and a packet to make up 1 gallon from powder is the same price. A ½ gallon size to be made up from powder was 2 shillings and 9 pence (14p).

Both the liquid developer and the powder developer when made up, had to be further diluted with two to four times their volume to make the working developer solution. It is odd that three instruction sheets for Velox paper, dating from the 1920s and 1930s, give no times of development for Velox paper.

“How to make good pictures”, a Kodak book published in 1927, suggests 25 to 30 seconds for Medium and Vigorous grades of Velox paper, and 40 to 50 seconds for Soft and Special grades of Velox paper.

In 1969 the author developed Kodak Bromide paper in Velox powder developer. The developer gave the Bromide prints a slightly colder tone, tending towards a bluish black compared with a normal recommended Bromide paper developer, such as (in those days), Kodak D-163 developer (see below). The instruction sheet, dated 1961, from the tin of Velox developer that the author used, suggested 1 minute development time for Bromide papers at 68°F, and 40 to 90 seconds for Velox paper at the same temperature. The developer was made up as a stock solution to be diluted 1 : 1 with water to make a working solution..

The Kodak formula for D-158 is almost identical to the packaged version of Velox developer.

As far as Michael Talbert can ascertain, Velox developer was manufactured by Kodak (in the U.K.) up to 1969. A Kodak Professional and Graphic Arts catalogue for November 1969 lists “Kodak Velox Developer Powder” to make 80 fluid ounces at 5 shillings (25p). The developer is not listed in a Kodak (U.K.) Products price list for September 1970.


Kodak D-163 Developer
Kodak D-163 was originally known as “Kodak Special Developer”, made up to a formula very similar to the Kodak D-157 developer preparation. Then, in the late 1930's, the developer was made up to a new Kodak formula known as D-163, and at that time the bottles and tins of developer were labeled as “Kodak Special Developer, Formula D-163.” By the 1950's the words “Special“ and “Formula” were dropped and the developer simply became known as “Kodak D-163 Developer“.

The developer was originally for use as a general purpose developer for films, glass plates, Bromide and Velox papers, and available in powder or liquid form. In later years it became the standard developer for Kodak Bromide, Velox, Bromesko and Royal Bromesko printing papers. It gave a neutral black to Kodak Bromide and Velox papers, a warm black to Bromesko paper and a pronounced warm black to Royal Bromesko paper.

The dilution for all Kodak papers, to make a working solution, was normally one part concentrated developer to three parts water.
The concentrated developer was either made up from a powder or was purchased as bottled liquid concentrated developer. The development time varied between the printing papers, but was in the range of one to three minutes at 68°F. For faster development with Kodak Bromide papers, the developer could be diluted one part developer to one part water.

D-163 could also be used for the rapid development of roll and sheet films, at three to four minutes at 68°F. The author recalls one or two students at the Art College he attended in the 1960s, developing certain high speed Kodak roll films in D-163 i.e. Tri-X Pan and Royal X Pan, for well over the recommended time, claiming fantastically high ASA (ISO) speeds as for use in “available light “ photography. Unfortunately, the author never having had the experience of “uprating” film speed by this development technique, cannot vouch for these claims.

Kodak D-163 developer was replaced by the American Eastman Kodak “Dektol” in 1985, sold in liquid and powder form. Dektol had been on sale in America for many years and from 1985 was recommended for processing most UK Kodak black and white printing papers, and the developer became listed in the UK Kodak catalogues.

More Kodak Black and White Developer Chemicals

From left to right:

A D-76 film developer packet dating from the 1970s.
A D-76 film developer tin dating from the 1940s to 1950s.
Kodak “Special” developer bottle and carton dating from the 1930s.
“Dektol” liquid developer dating from the early 1990s.

D-76 developer for developing black and white negative films was invented by J.G.Capstaff of the Eastman Kodak company in 1926. It was one of the first film developers to give the finest grain the film was capable of without affecting the speed of the film being developed. There were at least ten variants of the formula, the most well known being D-76b and D-76d.

A formula for D-76 dating from 1937.


2.5 grams 

5 grams 
Sodium Sulphite (crystalline) 

200 grams 
Borax (Sodium Tetraborate) 

2 grams 
Water to make 

1000 ccs (1 litre) 

The developer was listed as “D-76 Elon–Hydroquinone–Borax” developer in the UK “Kodak Professional and Industrial” catalogue for 1940. “Elon” was the Kodak trade name for Metol. A packet of D-76 supplied as powder chemical components to make 20 fluid ounces of developer would have cost 2 shillings (10p) in 1940.

The packet illustrated above made 600ccs and cost 23p in 1973, including VAT.

Kodak “Special” developer.
This bottle of Kodak “Special” was made up to the Kodak formula D-163 which replaced the earlier D-157 formula in the 1930s. A description of D-163 developer is given above, on this page.

The directions on the bottle label:

For Films and Plates: Use one part of solution and three parts of water.
For Bromide Papers: Use one part of solution and three parts of water and develop for 2 minutes at 65°F.
For Velox and other Gaslight Papers: Use one part of solution and one part of water and develop for 30–40 seconds at 65°F.

The bottle and the cardboard container it was packaged in date from the mid-1930s. The liquid Kodak “Special” developer is listed for sale in the Kodak UK catalogue “Professional Photographic Apparatus and Materials” for 1923 but only as a 1 gallon size. The equivalent catalogue for 1933 does not list any “Special” developer as liquid solution. In those early catalogues, the developer would have been made up to the D-157 formula.

As far as is known, an 8oz bottle of “Special” would have cost 1 shilling and 3 old pence (1s/3d) in 1940, just more than 6p.

Dektol developer.
Dektol instructions on the back of the bottle:

Dilute 1+9 (1 of the concentrate plus 9 of water) and develop 1½ - 2 minutes at 68°F.
Polyprint RC paper 1½ - 3 minutes at 68°F.
1 litre will develop 30 sheets of A4 sized paper.

Dektol was an American Eastman Kodak developer principally for developing black and white printing papers. As far as is known, it was introduced in the USA only, sometime in the late 1940s, as an improved version of the Eastman Kodak packaged D-72 developer.

An Eastman Kodak photographic catalogue for 1950 states the (then new) Dektol developer had four advantages over the old D-72.

1.    20% greater print capacity.
2.    50% better keeping properties.
3.    Greater clarity in the partially used developer solution, practically no sludge, or discolouration.
4.    An almost constant development rate that doesn't slow down with age.

Dektol was available from its introduction as a powder developer (developer solution made up from powder components) in the USA and was not sold in the UK until 1985 when Dektol replaced the well known D-163 developer. An additional liquid version was introduced at the same time (as the illustration above). Dektol developer made up from powder components was further diluted 1 + 2 with water to make a working solution.

In a “Silverprint” (a professional photographic dealer, based at Valentine Place, London, SE1 in 1997) catalogue for 1997–1998, Kodak D-163 liquid developer is listed in two quantities for sale alongside Dektol. A Kodak UK Products catalogue for 1999 gives only Dektol and Polymax developers for print processing. It is thought that the Silverprint people may have been making their own D-163 developer to the Kodak formula and offering it for sale. It is thought by some that D-163 developer produced a slightly warmer “tone” rendering in the print i.e. a slightly brownish colour to the “blacks”, compared to Dektol. Hence, both developers had their adherents and both were (1997-1998) listed for sale.

Apart from the choice of developer, much of the tone colour in a black and white print depended on the type of paper, the base colour, and the development time.


Packets of VV-3 Velox Velvet (Grade) 3 Vigorous and VG-3 Velox Glossy (Grade) 3 Vigorous.

The left hand packet of VV-3 dates from the 1940s, with “Kodak” printed in red. The right hand packet is slightly older and gives a good example of the paper being sold by weight, hence resulting in the odd quantity of 17 sheets in the packet !

”Velvet” had a slight surface texture with a very slight gloss finish. The “vigorous” grade was for printing with soft, low contrast negatives.

The “Velox” coding system before 1947 is believed to have been similar to the Kodak Bromide paper codes.

By 1947, VV-3 became known as “Velox, White, Velvet, Lustre, 3 (hard grade) single weight”. Code: WVL 3 S
VG-3 became known as ”Velox, White, Smooth, Glossy, 3 (hard grade) single weight”. Code: WSG 3 S.

It is not known if the “Vigorous” Grade (pre-1947) was the same as the contrast of the new “Hard” Grade (post-1947).

By way of example of its coding names, before & after 1947: Velox WVL 3 S = White Velvet Lustre, Hard, Single weight. Pre 1947: V V 3 = Velox Velvet Vigorous, single weight.

The “Velvet” surface lasted until the early 1970s, and was then replaced by “White, Semi-Matt“. Code: WSemi-M.
White, Semi-Matt was available in Bromide, Bromesko and, at that time, the new Veribrom resin coated black and white papers. The two surfaces were not identical.

Velox WVL (Velvet), was replaced by “White, Smooth, Lustre, (WSL), in the late 1950s. “Smooth Lustre” surface was devoid of any texture and had a shiny appearance, much like an unglazed glossy print. The surface was very similar, but not identical to, the later Kodak “N” surface, mainly used for colour printing papers and known as “Lustre”.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, Velox paper was also available in certain small continental sizes in “Cream Smooth Glossy (CSG), singleweight,” in as many as five contrast grades ranging from “Extra Soft”, (Grade 0) to “Ultra Hard”, (Grade 5). Oddly enough, the paper was not sold in Grade 4, “Extra Hard”.

WSL and CSG lasted, as best Michael knows, until 1963. Then only the “White, Smooth, Glossy“ surface remained until the manufacture of Velox paper ceased in 1968.

For a time after 1947, most Kodak Bromide, Bromesko, and Velox papers carried labels with both the new codes and the old codes relating to the various surfaces. The picture alongside shows a Velox label of this type.

Velox WSG 1.S = white smooth glossy (Grade) 1, Single Weight
Previously known as Velox Glossy SW Soft = VG 1.


Four boxes of Velox paper dating from the mid 1950s, showing four contrast grades from “Soft”, Grade 1, for high contrast negatives, to “Extra Hard”, Grade 4, for very soft negatives. The author used the Grade 4 paper, and remembers it gave acceptable prints from negatives which were so soft they were considered “unprintable”!

The small Grade 4 box (at the top of the stack of boxes, left) may be extremely rare, as the Kodak catalogue for 1956 shows no Grade 4, only 1,2 and 3 and the 1959 and 1960 professional catalogues show just grades 0,1,2,3 and 5.

Bromide and Bromesko

Kodak Bromide Paper packets, BRW4-Z and BG-5
The Kodak packet with “Kodak” printed in black (left hand side image) dates from approximately the mid-1930s.
BRW4-Z = Bromide Royal White, (Contrast Grade) 4, (Double Weight) Z.

The exact date when this particular type of paper was first manufactured is uncertain, however the Kodak Professional catalogue for 1923 lists the paper as “White, Royal, (rapid)”. The description is: “a thick rough surface paper suitable for broad effects in black and white.” It is not clear from the description in the catalogue if the paper was available in different grades of contrast at that time.

Kodak Bromide Paper BG-5
This illustration is the back of the image shown above.
BG-5 = Bromide Glossy, (Grade) 5 = Extra contrast.

The packet illustrated is believed to date from the early 1940s. At that time, Kodak Glossy paper was known as “Nikko”. Glossy paper could be glazed on glass or metal, to give an almost “mirror like” surface.

In 1947, Nikko BG-5 became Bromide Paper, White Smooth Glossy, Extra Hard, Single Weight.
New code: WSG 4S.

Three labels from packets of Kodak Bromide paper dating from the late 1940s.

The top label, BG-2, is Bromide Glossy (2), Medium contrast, single weight, known after 1947 as WSG 2S. (White Smooth Glossy, Normal, single weight).

The middle label, BV-2, is Bromide Velvet (2), Medium contrast, single weight, known after 1947 as WVL 2S. (White Velvet Lustre, Normal, single weight).

This label has been altered from a label denoting “Double weight” paper, as the “Z” and “Double weight” has been crossed out. This is typical of paper manufactured during the “change over” period of labeling and quantities. The quantity rate for photographic paper was changed from multiples of dozens to multiples of 10s during the late 1940s and on the front of this packet “6” has been crossed out with “10” printed alongside.

The bottom label, BBS-2, is Bromide Black Smooth, (2), Medium contrast, single weight, known after 1947 as WSM 2S, (White Smooth Matt, Normal, single weight).

Below (scroll down six images) is a photograph of a later label, post 1947, of this surface in Soft grade, WSM 1S.

As best Michael Talbert understands, Kodak “Crayon Black” Bromide paper was introduced in 1940 in Smooth, Natural, and Rough surfaces.

The British Journal of Photography Almanac for 1941 describes the smooth surface as “An excellent material for medium sized prints which are to be handled a good deal”.

Pre-1940, the paper was known as “Platino Matt Smooth”. In 1947, the name of the paper was changed to “White Smooth Matt”, and was available on a single or double weight base in three contrast grades. Bromide White Smooth Matt and Bromide White Velvet Lustre were replaced by a new surface, “White Semi-Matt”, (WSemiM), in 1971.


Kodak Bromide Paper BRTF2-Z
Kodak Bromide paper BRTF2-Z. Bromide Royal Tinted Fine (grain), (grade) 2 (medium), Z (double weight).

This paper is likely to date from 1947 until the early 1950s.

After 1947, most Kodak printing papers were packed in quantities of 10, 25, 50, and 100 sheets in boxes or packets. Before this time, small sizes of paper were graded by weight and larger sizes were packed in multiples of a dozen.


The paper has an extremely fine grain matt surface with a yellow base. Medium grade was for printing with normal contrast negatives.

The image alongside is the front of the BRTF-2Z packet shown above.

The original packaging quantity and size have been over-printed.

The packet was originally intended to hold 6 sheets of 11½" x 8½" paper at the pre-1947 quantity of ½ dozen (i.e 6) sheets. It was then changed at some point to a different size, 10" x 8", with the new 10 sheet quantity rating.

This particular type of Bromide paper was sold in the late 1940s in boxes and packets printed with the red and black vertical line design. The sealing label and paper variety code were never changed to the new coding system (see picture, below, of Bromide box coded BRSWF2-Z.)


Bromide Royal
Before 1940
the range of Bromide Royal paper consisted of a range of four variants:
Bromide Royal White,
Bromide Royal White Fine Grain
Bromide Royal Tinted
Bromide Royal Tinted Fine Grain.
“Tinted” was equivalent to a “Cream” base colour, a slightly yellow red, approaching the colour of a sepia toned print.

After 1940 (Taken from the British Journal Photographic Almanac, 1941).
Bromide Royal White became Bromide Royal Ivory White
Bromide Royal White Fine Grain became Bromide Royal Ivory White Fine Grain.
Two new papers were known as:
Bromide Royal Snow White
Bromide Royal Snow White Fine Grain.
There was no change to the Tinted Royal paper.

Michael Talbert comments: "What a mix up of Bromide papers! No wonder Kodak wanted to introduce a new coding system for their Bromide papers in 1947!"

Bromide Royal Paper from 1947.    

“Smooth Lustre”, “Fine Lustre” and “Rough Lustre” surfaces were manufactured from 1947 in White, Ivory and Cream base tints, on a double weight base, in three contrast grades, Soft, Normal and Hard, in a range known as “Bromide Royal” paper, see top label left (Ivory, Rough Lustre, Soft, Double Weight); IRL 1.D.

All other surfaces, base tints, and weights were known as “Kodak Bromide”,

As far as is known, by 1952 the word “Royal” had gone from the label and the “Rough Lustre” surface was included in Kodak’s “Bromesko” range of papers only, as with the middle label; WRL 3.D.

From 1952, all surfaces, base tints and weights of Bromide paper were labeled “Kodak Bromide”, see bottom label, WFL 1.D.

Packets and boxes of “Bromide Royal” paper with the post 1947 coding are now extremely rare.

Below is shown the rear label of the Bromide Royal IRL 1.D, advising that the paper was for “hard” contrast negatives.


Picture of Bromesko IFL3D and Bromide IFL2D
The Bromesko box (left hand side) dates from 1947 to possibly 1953. The yellow background for “IFL3D” (IFL = Ivory Fine Lustre) was changed to purple in the early 1950s.

The brown/grey boxes were gradually replaced by yellow boxes (right hand side image) during the 1950s.

The red and black vertical line design dates from 1947, although the same design was already being printed onto American Eastman Kodak black and white photographic paper boxes prior to 1947. The vertical line design lasted until the end of the 1950s. The wording was changed underneath “Open in Photographic Darkroom” on the later packaging dating from the late 1950s.

The Bromide IFL2D box dates from approximately 1953 to 1958. Michael believes 1953 was the year that Kodak London introduced the yellow packaging for their black and white printing papers. The red and black vertical line design was changed to two offset rectangles, “Kodak” and “Photographic Paper”, in 1959 (see picture below).

In the 1950s and 1960s, Kodak Bromide paper was generally made with a white base. The “Fine Lustre” surface was the only surface in the Bromide range made with an Ivory tinted base. By 1969, the Ivory tinted paper was no longer sold in the Bromide range of papers, although Kodak continued to make Bromesko Ivory Fine Lustre paper until the mid 1970s.

A Kodak advertisement on the inside front cover of Amateur Photographer magazine
for 21st January 1953.

Picture of Bromesko WSG3S and Bromide BRSWF2Z
The Bromesko 10 sheet packet (left hand side) dates from 1947 and is unusual in that the printing is only in black. It may pre-date the red and black printing, such as on the Bromesko IFL 3D box in the photograph above.

The Kodak Bromide paper 100 sheet box has a sealing label which was in use prior to 1947, although the box dates from 1947 onwards. In that year Kodak London introduced a new coding system for their Bromide, Bromesko and Velox papers stating Tint, Texture, Surface, Contrast Grade No. and Weight, in that order.

In the Bromide range of printing papers at least 10 different surfaces and tints were labeled with the new codes. Another two, not included in the 10, were to keep their old codes and the boxes and packets were sealed with the previous pre-1947 labels – such as shown on this box.

BRSWF 2Z – translates as Bromide, Royal, Snow, White, Fine (grain), 2 (grade), Z (Double Weight).
The other surface which was never labeled with a new code was:
BRTF 2Z, being Bromide, Royal, Tinted, Fine (grain), 2 (grade). Z (Double Weight). Michael believes that these two varieties of Bromide paper were short-lived. Neither are mentioned in a 1951 list of Bromide papers.

In July 1953, Harringay Photographic Supplies, surplus photo material dealers, had a half page 'spread' in “Amateur Photographer” magazine offering for sale “Kodak Royal Bromide“ papers in both the above surfaces. Four paper sheet sizes, plus rolls, were listed at vastly reduced prices. It is likely that the paper would have been out of date by 1953.


Picture of sealing labels of various Bromide and Bromesko papers.
For a time after 1947, most Kodak Bromide and Bromesko papers carried labels with both the new codes and the old codes relating to the various surfaces. This picture shows three of these labels.

The Bromide box at the top states the new code as WSM1S – White Smooth Matt, 1 (grade) S (Single Weight). The label shows that, pre 1947, it was known as - Bromide Crayon Black, Soft, Single Weight. The old code gives it as BBS 1 - Bromide Black Smooth 1 (grade).

The “Smooth” is added to differentiate this particular surface between “Crayon Black Natural” and “Crayon Black Rough”, two surfaces of Bromide paper sold pre-1947.

The Bromesko papers prior to 1947 were coded by numbers.

44 was Glossy Medium Grade; 64 was Glossy Contrast Grade. If the paper had been “soft”, (Grade 1 ), the code would have been 24. The first number denoted the Grade, and the second number denoted the surface/tint. The “Z” denoted Double Weight.

Pre-1947, Bromesko Cream Lustre, Soft, Double Weight had the code 27 Z
After 1947, the same paper was known as Bromesko Cream Fine Lustre, Soft, Double Weight: CFL 1 D.


Three boxes of Kodak paper dating from 1959 to the early 1960s.

The middle box with the early type of sealing label dates from 1959 to approximately 1961. The Postcard boxes of Bromesko paper (left and right hand sides) with the new design of sealing label date from 1961 to 1965.

The left hand box contained Bromesko paper with a “Cream” paper base colour. Cream Fine Lustre, Normal, Doubleweight.

“Cream” was of a reddish brown colour, and gave a very warm toned print with a brown black. “Cream” based paper was most suitable for portraits and summer landscapes. Kodak (U.K.) discontinued making Cream base paper in 1967.

Royal Bromesko

Boxes and Packet of Royal Bromesko paper

Left: WSL 3D. This was the box which I purchased in 1968, described above. The label is typical of the type used from about 1965 to 1971.

At back: WSL 2D. This packet dates from 1962 to ’63. and is very likely to be the first type of labeling for Royal Bromesko paper.

Front: WFP 3D. This box dates from the mid 1970s. 24x30.5 cms was approximately 9½x12inches. By the mid-1970s, the 9½x12inch size was replaced by the well known 10x12inch size of printing paper.


Back labels of above Boxes and Packet

It is interesting to note that the oldest label, WSL 2D, gives no information on the Kodak developers recommended for use with the paper, unlike the equivalent labels on Kodak Bromide, Bromesko, and Velox packets at that time. The developers to be used with the papers were normally printed between the safelight to be used and the surface translated into French.

This type of label lasted until about 1965.

Kodak Fine Grain Positive Film (as manufactured in the UK from the mid 1930s)

Fine Grain Positive film was intended for making positive black and white transparencies from 35 mm negatives. It was blue sensitive (sensitive to blue and white light only) and was approximately the same speed as a Kodak black and white printing paper. The film could be handled in a darkroom under the same lighting conditions as black and white printing papers i.e. Kodak safelight filters OA, OC and the earlier OB filter. A red safelight, such as Kodak 1A, could also be used for increased safety. When processed, the film base appeared completely clear, as there was no anti-halation backing or base tint.

35mm negatives were usually contact printed onto this film, and the length of exposure was similar to contact exposure onto a Kodak enlarging paper.

The tins of 35mm film contained no instruction leaflets, but the instruction sheets for Kodak D-163 Developer listed Fine Grain Positive Film development times. D-163 was a general purpose black and white print developer for processing Kodak enlarging papers. For Fine Grain Positive Film, the stock solution was diluted 1 part developer with 3 parts water, and the film developed for 1½ to 2 minutes at about 68°F (20°C). Development times varied from 2½ minutes at 64°F (18°C), to 60 seconds at 75°F (24°C). Although Kodak recommended their D-163 developer, any enlarging paper developer could be used successfully with the film.

In the 1960s to 70s, the film was sold in the UK in 5 and 17 metre lengths. In the USA, the 35mm film was obtainable in 100 foot tins, and a sheet film version was available in various sizes, 4 x 5 inches to 11 x 14 inches (1972).

The author purchased a 5 metre tin of Fine Grain Positive Film in late 1966 with the intention of making some black and white transparencies from 35mm negatives. The film was processed in a Johnson Print developer, possibly “Johnson Bromide”, or “Johnson Con-Sol”. Most of the transparencies were rather soft, and due to lack of experience in those days, I never tried processing the film in a more energetic developer, such as Kodak D-11 or Kodak D-8. The author had more success when using the film to make black and white internegatives from colour transparencies, and copying black and white photographs. As the film was blue sensitive, the tonal rendering of the prints made from the internegatives was, in theory, wrong, but in practise, this made little difference to the quality of the prints.


On the right, above, is a 17 metre tin of UK manufactured 35mm Fine Grain Positive Film, dated April 1964.The box on the left hand side contains similar in sheet film format, but this was never sold in the UK.This box was made by the Eastman Kodak Company and had the same thickness of film base as the 35mm film.

Back label of the sheet film box. Versatol was an Eastman Kodak developer, not available in the UK. Dektol was an Eastman Kodak black and white paper developer, which replaced the UK made D-163 developer in 1985. D-11 was a high contrast developer, sold in the USA and the UK.

Positive Film: History, Use & Chronology

In the 1930s, Kodak was using various types of blue sensitive films to make prints from negatives taken in motion picture cameras.

A negative cine film in 35mm or 16mm format, such as Kodak Super X film, was exposed in a cine camera and then processed to yield a negative image. A positive print from the negative film was made by printing onto a blue sensitive film resulting in a positive print suitable for projection. The usual method was to make a positive print from all of the material exposed in the camera, edit this print, and then edit the original negative to match precisely to the already edited print. The edited negative was used to make as many copies of the film as needed.

A better method was to print the edited positive onto the blue sensitive positive film to make a duplicate negative. This edited duplicate negative was used to make any number of prints, printing the duplicate negative onto the positive film. Printing from a duplicate negative protected the irreplaceable original negative from damage by careless handling. Another advantage of this method was any number of duplicate negatives could be made.

First Method:
Camera original negative printed onto positive film.
This positive print is edited.
Original negative is then edited to match edited positive print.
Edited negative is used to make any number of prints.

Second method:
Camera original negative printed onto positive film (possibly Fine Grain Duplicating Positive 1365, see below).
This positive print is edited.
Edited positive print is printed back onto positive film to make an edited duplicate negative (possibly Fine Grain Duplicating Negative 1203, see below).
The duplicate negative is used to make any number of prints thus preventing damage to original negative shot in camera.

Three types of film were manufactured by Kodak in the 1930s for printing and duplicating purposes.
Fine Grain Duplicating
Positive 1365. This was blue sensitive.
Fine Grain Duplicating
Negative 1203. This was panchromatic, sensitive to all colours.
Positive Film 1301. This was for making prints from 1203 and was most likely blue sensitive.

It was likely that Fine Grain Duplicating Negative 1203 was sensitive to all colours (panchromatic), because colour filters could be used to change the tonal rendering of scenes when making duplicate negatives.

These motion picture films were intended to be sold to motion picture film processing laboratories in lengths of up to 2000 feet. They were not available for sale to the amateur photographer.

Sometime during the 1940s, Kodak Positive Film was made available to “Film Strip Producers”. Film strips were transparencies projected with a “slide” projector, only instead of individual transparencies, all the pictures were printed onto a short strip of film which could be wound through the projector to show one picture after another. They were not motion pictures of any kind. Kodak Positive Film was most likely Positive Film 1301, sold in short lengths.

Film Strip Production is described at length in an article printed in the “British Journal Photographic Almanac” for 1949, see “Film Strip Production by the Amateur Photographer”, by M.L. Haselgrove. Mr. Haselgrove mentions that “Positive stock, on the other hand, is rather like a Bromide paper emulsion, being primarily blue sensitive and so is safely handled in the light from a “bromide” safelight. The base is clear, no anti-halation dye being used, and resolving power is fairly good”.

The film described is most likely 35mm Kodak Safety Positive. This film became Kodak Fine Grain Positive Safety Film by 1954.

Kodak Fine Grain Positive Film was listed in the Kodak Professional Catalogue for February 1960, and was sold in 5 metre and 17 metre lengths in 35mm format. It was priced to sell at about two thirds of the cost of camera films of the same length, such as Plus-X or Tri-X.

In 1979, Kodak in the UK was importing Eastman Fine Grain Release Positive Film 5302. This was sold in 35mm format in 100 foot lengths and replaced the UK product viz: Fine Grain Positive Film.

The 5302 was described in the US Eastman Kodak catalogue for 1979 as a "Black and White Positive print film for general black and white release printing”.

Black and white release printing meant that the film was mainly intended for use to make positive prints from film taken in motion picture cameras. Exactly the same film was included in the black and white section of the “Kodak Professional Product Profile” catalogue of 1999.

The film was taken off the market between 2000 and 2002 as there is no mention in the equivalent Kodak catalogue for 2003.

Plus-X Sheet Film
A Kodak catalogue for films, dated January 1954, plus a May 1952 price list which came with it, lists the interesting Plus X roll film, which was only on the market for about five years – 1951 to 1956. It was replaced by Verichrome Pan in 1956. Pre-1956 Verichrome film was not Panchromatic but Orthochromatic i.e. insensitive to red light.

Kodak revamped Plus X roll film in late 1963 giving it “Professional” status as “Plus X Pan Professional Film”. You had to buy 5 or 10 rolls at a time, not sold as single rolls, 120 only. It was an excellent film, virtually grainless, enlargements were very sharp.


Plus X sheet film boxes. On the left, Plus X sheet film of 4¾ x 6½ inches, dating from 1955. Plus X sheet film was introduced in 1955 to replace Panatomic X sheet film. The box illustrated carries the first design of the Plus X sheet film labels.

The instruction sheet gives a speed of 64ASA (ISO) to daylight, or 50ASA (ISO) to tungsten light. No “Develop Before” expiry date is printed on the box.

On the right is a Plus X Pan sheet film box, 5 x 4 inch, dating from 1964, with a “Dev. Before” date of September 1966. Plus X Pan film was an improved version of the earlier Plus X film. By this time the Safety Factor of recommending that black and white films should be exposed at half their “true” speed had been abolished, and the instruction sheet states that the speed this film should be exposed at was 125ASA (ISO) for both daylight and tungsten. For some reason the new Plus X Pan film was rated at one third of a stop less, 125ASA instead of 160.

Plus X Pan; A new sheet film box label and an “Estar Base” box label.

The new labelling, “Kodak Professional Film” for sheet film boxes, was introduced at the end of 1965, as the right hand box, above.

By 1966 the emulsion for Plus X Pan film, and other sheet films, was being coated onto a polyester plastic film base. Previously, most sheet film emulsions were coated onto a non-inflammable tri-acetate base (referred to as 'safety film'). The “Estar Base” was thinner, and had excellent dimensional stability.


Kodak UK added “Professional” to their labels for Plus-X Pan sheet film with an Estar base, in 1966. The left hand box shows an American version of Plus-X Pan Professional film made by Eastman Kodak at Rochester, New York with a “Dev Before” date of November 1970. In use, the film was almost identical to the equivalent UK manufactured Plus-X (right hand box). The only difference was that all Eastman Kodak black and white sheet films were “Code Notched”, similar to colour sheet films.

The right hand box was manufactured in the UK, with a “Dev Before” date of October 1973.

On the left is the back label of a UK made Plus-X sheet film ('Estar' thick base) box dating from 1966, before the appearance of the "Professional" label; "Dev Before" date of April 1968.

The other back label is of a UK made box (4147 thick base) dating from 1971; "Dev Before" date of October 1973.

Professional Plus-X and Tri-X roll films, packs of 10  

Tri-X Pan Professional roll film, 400ASA (ISO), was introduced in the UK in 1961. It was said to have “a new emulsion which gives much quicker development and drying times and finer grain than ever”. This is likely to be a comparison with Tri-X Pan roll film which was sold at the same time in 120, 620, 127, and 828 film sizes.

Tri-X Pan Professional was available in 120 size only, in packs of 10 rolls, although a 220 size roll film became available in the late 1960s. Both sides of the film had retouchable surfaces. It was a film sold mainly to professional photographers, for portraits, weddings, industrial, and advertising photography. The Kodak instruction leaflet packed with the film gave advice on exposure when dealing with “high contrast” conditions at formal weddings in bright sunlight, viz: Use a meter setting of half the stated film speed, 200ASA (ISO), and cut development of the shortest development times given in the instruction sheet by one third. This pack of Tri-X Professional has a “Dev. Before” date of April 1972.

Plus-X Pan Professional roll film, 125ASA (ISO), was introduced in the UK in 1963 as a general purpose medium speed, extremely fine grain, film for professional photographers. It was similar to Kodak Verichrome Pan film but with shorter development times and a retouchable surface on the emulsion side of the film. It was only sold in packs of 10 size 120 roll films. This pack of Plus-X Professional has a “Dev. Before” date of January 1971.

Super-XX and Panatomic-X sheet film

Super-XX ¼ plate (3¼ x 4¼ inches) sheet film (right hand box, above) dating from the late 1940s to very early 1950s when sheet film was packed as 24 sheets to the box.

Super-XX was a fast panchromatic film rated at 100 ASA (ISO). In the late 1940s it was the fastest Kodak film available in the UK. It was suitable for press photography, studio work, action photographs, and portraits. As far as I can find out, Super XX sheet film was introduced in the UK in 1940, to replace Kodak “Super Sensitive Panchromatic” sheet film.

Panatomic-X sheet film, an extremely fine grain panchromatic film rated at 32ASA (ISO). It was suitable as a general purpose film, especially useful when the negatives had to be enlarged greatly. Panatomic-X sheet film was introduced in the UK in 1939 as an improved version of Kodak Panatomic sheet film. Panatomic-X sheet film in the UK lasted until 1955, when it was replaced by Plus-X sheet film (see above), which was double the speed. In the USA, Eastman Kodak marketed their version of Panatomic-X sheet film until the late 1960s

This box of ¼ plate film (left hand box, above) of 25 sheets to a box dates from between 1952 and 1955. Kodak in the UK started packing 25 sheets to a box in 1952 in sizes up to 20 x 24 inches. Both boxes of sheet film are difficult to date accurately because Kodak never printed “Develop Before” dates on their boxes until the late 1950s.

Verichrome, Plus-X Pan Professional and Tri-X Pan Roll Films  

On the left are two rolls of Verichrome Pan roll film, the top dated “Develop Before August 1960”, and the bottom, “Develop Before November 1964.”
Kodak Verichrome Pan film was introduced in 1955 as a panchromatic version of the previous Verichrome (orthochromatic) film. Kodak Verichrome film was sensitive to blue, green and, to a certain extent, yellow light, but was insensitive to red. Anything that was red in the picture came out black, or very dark grey in the print. But the insensitivity to red light was useful in the darkroom, as the film could be handled and developed under a relatively bright red safelight. Verichrome Pan film had to be developed in total darkness, or under a very dim, dark green, safelight.

In 1952 Verichrome film was sold in 8 roll film sizes, the largest being 122 size, which produced a negative of 3¼ x 5½ inches, 6 exposure to one roll of film. Film speed was 50ASA (ISO) to daylight but, because of its insensitivity to red light, the speed dropped to 25ASA (ISO) in artificial (tungsten) light. As far as can be ascertained, Kodak Verichrome film was first sold in some format or another, as long ago as 1930.

Verichrome Pan film had a very fine grain emulsion and was sensitive to all colours. It was a general purpose film with a very wide exposure and development latitude, making it popular for amateur photographers, author included.

The film was a replacement for, and an improvement on, Kodak Plus-X roll film, which had been sold on the UK market since 1951. From 1955, Plus-X film in roll film size was no longer made, but the film continued to be available in 35mm size in 36 exposure cassettes and tins of bulk film, suitable for re-loading cassettes. In 1963, Plus-X roll film was reinstated as Plus-X Pan Professional film in 120 size rolls. In 1955, Verichrome Pan and Plus-X 35mm film were both rated at 80ASA (ISO) until 1960, when the speed was doubled (no change to the film) to 160ASA (ISO).

A single roll box of Plus-X Pan Professional film is shown (top right) in the picture above. Plus X Pan Professional film was listed in single 120 size rolls as a “new item” in the “Kodak Buyers’ Guide Professional” in December 1984 in the UK. This film replaced the 120 size Verichrome Pan, although Verichrome Pan continued to be sold in 620 and 127 size roll films, plus the cartridge sizes, 110 and 126. By January 1986 Verichrome Pan was no longer made in the UK. In the following year Kodak T-MAX 100 Professional film became another possible replacement. In 1986 Plus-X Pan Professional film was also sold in 5 roll packs of 120 and 220 film. The illustrated roll of film has a “Develop Before” date of March 1991 and is rated at 125ASA (ISO).

A roll of Tri-X Pan film (lower right) in 120 size, dating from 1970. This film has a “Develop Before” date of August 1972. Tri-X Pan film was sold in single rolls alongside Tri-X Pan Professional 120 film. Both films were rated at 400ASA (ISO), but the 220 size roll film was imported from the USA and was rated at 320ASA (ISO). Tri-X Pan and TriX Pan Professional were both high speed general purpose films suitable for action photographs, press photography, fashion, studio portraits and “available” light photography. Both films could be “pushed” successfully in certain developers to well over1000 ASA (ISO).

Michael Talbert started making colour prints in 1969, using Kodak Ektacolor Commercial paper. He was a photographic colour printer in the 1970s, printing colour negatives mainly onto Agfacolor paper. He also had experience using about 10 types of Kodak paper, plus other makes, Gevacolor, Fuji, Paterson, Konica.

Michael now sets up and takes “Retro” fashion pictures, but prints them digitally.

This page last modified: 20th October 2017