History of Double-X

1941 Plus-X Negative film (5231) initially introduced under the name Plus-X Panchromatic Negative film (4231).

1959 Double-X Negative film (5222) introduced.

The two films have remained comparitively unchanged since. There have been improvements throughout the long production run of these two emulsions. In the late 90’s there was a change in the emulsion hardener. In the early 2000’s both emulsions were re-engineered and production moved into a state-of-the-art coating facility at Kodak. This resulted in greater improvements in the film’s overall uniformity and batch consistency.

Between 2002 and 2005 there were several improvements in the components of the emulsions, overcoats and gel layers. In 2007 significant improvements in the support layers of Double-X and Plus-X were made using more modern antistatic technology.

About Double-X

Kodak now only make one 35mm B&W negative motion picture film:

Eastman Double-X Negative Film 5222A high speed film with an EI of 200 under tungsten lighting and 250 under daylight.
Eastman Plus-X Negative Film 5231A low speed film with an EI of 64 under tungsten light and 80 under daylight. (Discontinued April 2010) 

In the motion picture industry it is developed in Kodak D-96. The film is a little thicker than standard 35mm film but not enough to cause problems with running it through still cameras. The reason it is thicker is because it needs to be more robust to run at the speeds required by motion picture cameras. This is an advantage for the stills shooter used to handling thinner more vulnerable film as it withstands breakage and scratching.

But it is the look of Double-X that makes it that little bit special and with users exposing it at and beyond its designed exposure index and in various developers, the images it produces are beautifully rich in tones and clarity. 

Motion picture films using the Eastman B&W film stock (5222 & 5231) include: Schindler’s List (1993), Memento (2000), Kafka(1991), I’m Not There (2007).

The opening black and white scene of the James Bond film, Casino Royale (2006) was shot on Double-X. The English Cinematographer, Phil Meheux, BSC, talked about the scene, in 2006, for the magazine of the American Society of Cinematographers. YouTube have the opening sequence online, a fuller version and the extended original intoduction with the cricket match scene! This was cut in the finished film. My thanks to Robert Wilson.