8x10 on the Cheap, Fuji HR-T X-Ray Film

About a year ago, I discovered that you can buy a box of 100 8x10 Medical X-Ray film sheets for $35 a box. Compare that to 10 sheets of Kodak Tri-X for $76 and it looks like an amazing deal. Sure, it took some research and testing to discover how to shoot and develop green sensitive x-ray film, but for 35 cents a sheet I think I can afford to experiment. And really isn't that one of the fun things about photography and art? Get your hands wet, take a chance, do something without knowing the result beforehand.

Single Peony on 8x10 Fuji HR-T X-Ray Film (CLICK for larger version on Flickr)

Single Peony on 8x10 Fuji HR-T X-Ray Film (CLICK for larger version on Flickr)

Trio of Peonies, 8x10 Fuji HR-T X-Ray Film

Trio of Peonies, 8x10 Fuji HR-T X-Ray Film

Peonies on 8x10 Fuji HR-T X-Ray Film (CLICK for Larger Version on Flickr)

Peonies on 8x10 Fuji HR-T X-Ray Film (CLICK for Larger Version on Flickr)

Both of these images were shot on 8x10 Fuji HR-T Green Sensitive X-Ray film and tray developed in Rodinal 1:100 for six minutes. The x-ray film is very prone to scratches. Like if you look at it funny, you will get a big scratch right where you would least want it. To combat this, I line the bottom of my trays with smooth glass and always handle the negatives with extra care. 

It's definitely more work and worry, but again to shoot 8x10 at 35 cents a sheet is worth it. I see very little difference between x-ray film and traditional films. The negatives are bit less sharp perhaps, but not enough for me to worry about. 

Just as I was scanning these images, the reoccuring why shoot film articles and threads were getting heated up again, as in "DSLRs have long ago surpassed any film ever made for resolution." and "Why shoot film when a D800 gives you 36MP?" 

Below is a screen shot of a cropped scan of an 8x10 x-ray negative. My computer was groaning trying to save the *cropped* 120MB JPEG image; so I was in the midst of reducing the image, when reminded just how much resolution film can have. 

Cropped scan at 18,088x22,610px

Cropped scan at 18,088x22,610px

A Nikon D800 can give you an astonishing 36MP image at an 7360x4912px size. That's a major advance in digital photography.  

But, if I scan an 8x10 negative at a very modest 2400dpi, I get a file that's 24,000x19,200px size. The D800 has just been bested by more than 3 times.

I'm actually being kind by scanning at 2400dpi. Usually I scan at 3600dpi and sometimes at 4800dpi. So, let's just stick to 3600dpi not to be a total ass. If I'm scanning at 3600dpi with an 8x10 negative, I now have an image that's 36,000x28,800px tall. At this point the D800 is closer to a cell phone-sized sensor than film.

As photographers, we should use what gets the job done best. Sometimes that's a cell phone camera, sometimes it's a DSLR or mirrorless camera, but sometimes you have to pull out the big boys and have some fun. We're lucky that film is still a very viable choice.