In October of 2018, the film world mourned the loss of a beloved film stock as Fujifilm discontinued Acros 100. It was one of my favorite black and white films to shoot, and perhaps my favorite of the slow speed, fine grain film stocks.
And so, like most of the film world, I was also thrilled when I learned a new version of the same film would be released under the name Acros II.
Naturally, I was eager to try the new film and compare it to the original Acros to see how it held up. Earlier this year, I was able to pick up a few rolls at my local film shop, and finally got around to shooting a roll a couple of weeks ago. Here are my thoughts!
I would have loved to shoot a roll of the original Acros alongside Acros II, as it would have given a more accurate comparison. But as I don’t have any rolls of the original, the next best thing was to try to replicate a photo I had taken already with the original Acros with the same camera, lens, settings, conditions, etc.
I had a shot in mind of a waterfall I took a couple of years ago, not too far from my home. So on a day where the conditions were similar, I went out to the spot with my Hasselblad and a roll of Acros II.
The original Acros had a very low reciprocity failure, meaning there was very little adjustment needed to exposure times for long exposures. I didn’t have the data on Acros II, but used the same exposure times I would have for the original Acros, and the reciprocity failure seems to be very similar.
The compositions differ slightly, and you can see the changes the years have brought in the rock formations surrounding the falls. But overall, I think there’s enough there to make a good comparison.
I couldn’t find a lot of information available for developing Acros II, so I decided to use the same processing times I used for the original Acros and hope for the best.
I used Kodak HC-110 (dilution B at 1+31) developer for 5:30 minutes at 20 degrees Celsius, 1 minute stop bath and a 5 minute fix.
Hopefully, more development information will be coming soon, but in the meantime I’ll probably just stick to using times for the original Acros as I was happy with how the negatives came out in this case.
Overall, the differences between the two shots are pretty indistinguishable to my eye.
The original Fuji Acros was known for its fine grain, its sharpness, and its punchy contrast, and I think Acros II checks all of these boxes.
Acros II demonstrates a slightly higher contrast, again almost indistinguishable, but the computer data from the scan showed slightly darker shadows and brighter highlights. This would be consistent with Fujifilm’s description of the film in its press release.
A closer look at the image shows a very similar grain structure (if you can call such fine grain, grain at all!). Both films are incredibly sharp, and, if anything between the two shots, it appears that Acros II might be slightly sharper.
While it is great to have Acros back again, there is one major downside: the price.
Unlike its predecessor, which was one of the cheapest film stocks on the shelf, Acros II is not cheap. At roughly $12 USD a roll (for 120 film), Acros II is almost twice as much as comparable films like Delta 100 from Ilford and T-Max 100 from Kodak.
I suppose this makes sense when you consider demand and the cost of resourcing raw materials, and, of course, buying film to support the industry is extremely important. However, the price of Acros II is definitely an obstacle for me and will probably limit the number of rolls I buy in the future.
Based on this comparison, I’d say Acros II is a worthy replacement for someone who was a die-hard fan of the original. It has managed to replicate the characteristics the original was known and loved for, and may have even improved in its sharpness.
Obviously this comparison was limited in its method, and so isn’t meant to be the whole truth. But take the photos for what they’re worth, along with a few others from the same roll for reference (all photos are straight scans without digital edits).
Even if you don’t find it to be a perfect replica of the original, Acros II still holds up as a beautifully sharp and contrasty black and white film.