Kodak

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Dylan M, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. Dylan M

    Dylan M Member

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    Hello

    I want to change my film brand over from Ilford to Kodak manly for cost reasons. but I am a bit stunk when it come to chose between these to films,T-Max 400 or Tri-X 400. I know that the T-Max 400 has the finest grain and sharpest but as good tonal rang as the Tri-X 400. and Tri-X 400 is more forgiving then T-Max 400.

    Its that the only differentness between these to films?

    Thanks
    Dylan Matusevics
     
  2. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Tri-X is not more forgiving than TMax.

    Tri-X is more forgiving than TMax in developing, because it reacts to changes in processing less rapidly.
    TMax is more forgiving than Tri-X in exposure, because it is able to record a much longer brightness range.

    Both films are extremely good, and while you will get slightly grainier results with Tri-X, resulting in more texture in the prints, the differences are not that great.
    To be honest, I have prints made with Tri-X 400 and TMax 400 where it's hard for me to tell them apart unless I know beforehand what the film was.

    Either one will be fantastic. TMax 400 for smoother tonal transitions and finer grain, Tri-X for more texture and grain.
     
  3. MDR

    MDR Member

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    Buy a pack of each and choose the one whose results you like better.
    Tmax 400 is imho often smoother whereas tri-x is classic gritty reporter style film. Tmax has more resolution less grain and offers beautiful tonality a little different than Tri-X Tmax is smooth Tri-x is gritty and seems to have more snap. But as I've said in the first sentence try them out yourself choosing a film can be a highly personal thing.

    Good Luck

    Dominik
     
  4. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Please write to Simon Galley, who is on APUG and represents Ilford, and tell him what the cost issue is.

    Also please mention what film you have been using, then people can give you better advice on how to find something similar, at lower cost.
     
  5. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

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    Dylan,
    Welcome to APUG. There are quite a few differences. A lot depends on how the film is exposed, processed and printed. Pick a film and make some pictures.
     
  6. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    To a first approximation, Tri-X=HP5, the late Plus-X=FP4, TMax=Delta. There are real differences, of course, but those are the basic correspondences between Kodak and Ilford films. (In particular, there seem to be a lot more people who are passionately in love with the TMax films than the Delta ones. I've never shot much of either so I don't know how much this reflects major technical differences, though.)

    -NT
     
  7. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    I have found Tri-X to be a more friendly film to shoot, develop and print. It's my main film for black and white and it is very rare that I wish I had another film in a given situation. It is truly one of the best films of all time.
     
  8. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    If Simon Galley doesn't know of this cost issue then I fear for Ilford as well as Kodak. Not much future for any company that doesn't know its markets and prices . There was a long thread on the difference in Ilford U.S. prices compared to its UK prices. Most US APUGers sympathised with us in the U.K. and I thank you for that but I am sure Ilford knows the cost issues.

    Based on my price tracking I'd say that if anything the difference in film prices between Kodak and Ilford has probably narrowed in recent months but TMax is still a bit cheaper. Seems incredible that a U.S company can send film to the U.K. cheaper than a UK based company can offer.

    pentaxuser
     
  9. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    Dylan, tell us what your subjects are. I find Tri-x works better for the subjects I enjoy shooting. For me tonality trumps fine grain and resolution.
     
  10. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    I would suggest buying 2-3 rolls each of tri-X and Tmax and shooting them in situations you normally would, and process it with the same chemicals you are accustomed to. See which one you like the most as everyone has their own opinion, and this has been discussed on the web since forever.

    Do you usually shoot hp5 or delta? As people have posted earlier they are similar to tri-X and Tmax respectively. Though I think kodak proclaims its Tmax as the finest grained film for 100 and 400 in the world.

    In the past I have shot a good amount of TriX its great stuff but I have switched to Tmax films for its grain qualities and ease of pushing.
     
  11. Alan Klein

    Alan Klein Member

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    Brian: I looked at your gallery and the photos are really very nice. Can you select one of yours that really show the kind of tones you like?

    I'm sure others posting here are very nice too. I just haven't had a chance to look at them all. Alan.
     
  12. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    Alan, sure! I'll post two. The first one I shot recently on Tri-x with a Holga. I shoot mostly in soft light. Tri-x really shines in this type of lighting. Smooth tones and nice shadow contrast. And the highlights just glow. I'm sure you could get a look very similar to this with TMY-2 but wit a much straighter line of information, which to me just looks flatter most of the time.

    The second is a recent shot of a detail of a shed. Shot in very bright sunlight. The highlight measured EV 17 on my spot meter, that doesn't happen too often! It was actually shot on FP4 but most would agree Tri-x and FP4 are very very similar traditional type emulsions. The wood tones to the left are just wonderful. Again, TMY-2 may be similar, particularly offering more highlight contrast, BUT again and I know it's been said over and over, films like Tri-x and FP4 just have a look to them that is very pleasing to my eye. Tonality is wonderful. I've shot plenty of TMY-2 and have made some nice photos with it but ultimately gave up on it. Most of the time the tonality to me looks like a digital image desaturated in photoshop.

    One final note: To really see the differences between these films one really needs to be able to make prints in the darkroom. A scanner can do whatever it wants with the films contrast and tonality.
     

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  13. Naples

    Naples Member

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    I actually switched from T-Max 400 to Tri-X 400. I have my B&W film developed and printed by pro shops, and for some reason the Tri-X 400 always comes back with better looking negatives and sharper prints. Yes, sharper prints.

    I know, I know, Kodak assures us that T-Max has finer grain, and under a microscope or whatever the grain in T-Max is smaller. But to my human eye, my Tri-X prints generally appear sharper, the T-Max prints generally more "hazy" or "clouded".
     
  14. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Most likely what you are seeing is the additional accutance that Tri-X offers as a result of having larger and more visible grain. In addition, there may be more contrast in your Tri-X negatives than your T-Max negatives.

    Subjectively, accutance has the greatest effect on perceived sharpness, followed by (micro) contrast, and finally followed by resolution.

    If you increase the size of your enlargements to the point where grain becomes obtrusive in the Tri-X prints, you may find that the T-Max prints start to appear (relatively) sharper.

    As T-Max highlight latitude is so extensive, and because it has such fine grain, you may find that you can offset much of the accutance/apparent sharpness advantage of Tri-X by developing the T-Max to a slightly lower contrast and then printing it with slightly higher contrast paper/filters.
     
  15. Naples

    Naples Member

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    Thanks, Matt.

    So, are you saying that, all things equal, at least in 135 format Tri-X will typically print sharper than T-Max, or at least be perceived as sharper than Tri-X?

    If this is true, why does Kodak trumpet T-Max as being sharper? Because the "sharpness" Kodak is talking about is under the microscope? Isn't that a bit like saying a Toyota is better than a Ferrari because it has gold pistons? :confused:
     
  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I'm talking about perceived sharpness, which is what you have to work with when you are comparing prints from labs.

    If you have the advantage of doing your own prints, there are steps that you can take to improve the perception of sharpness for the T-Max negatives. Those steps are possible because the resolution is as high as it is, and the grain is as small as it is.

    Primarily, those steps include adjusting the paper surface (glossy appears sharper than semi-matte), magnification (you can print larger), adjusting the printing contrast, and adjusting the light source in your enlarger. A condensor or point source enlarger will bump up the observable accutance in your image, and greatly increase the appearance of sharpness from your T-Max negatives. It will also accentuate grain, which is much more likely to be a problem for Tri-X than for T-Max.
     
  17. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    People often perceive grainier prints/negatives as sharper because the grain appears more defined, even if resolution is lower. There are a lot of illusions involved in the perception of sharpness. Subject matter, contrast, graininess, and the degree of enlargement are all critical variables.

    As for tonality, it should be noted most modern films, from the more "traditional" types like Tri-X, to flat grain emulsions like TMax films, are more similar than they are different. The differences in their inherent characteristic curves and spectral sensitivities are relatively minor. Ultimately whether you choose HP5, Delta 100, TMY-2, Tri-X or FP4 will have little to do with the tonality in your prints. Print tonality is really dependent on:

    -How you expose and develop the film
    -The size of the film
    -The degree of enlargement
    -*Printing skill*

    In general when it comes to tonality people place too much importance on the choice of film, not enough importance on exposure/development, and nowhere near enough importance on printing. The films themselves are all quite flexible.
     
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  18. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Very well spoken, Michael. I just had a conversation with another photographer friend, and was nicely reminded that the magic really happens at the printing stage. Everything we do up until the printing stage is prep work.

    Exposure, filter choice, composition, framing, gesture, film processing, etc - it all leads up to the printing, and that's when it's time to bring out the fancy dancing, to be creative, in order to make those prints that we're proud of. To get the tonality *just right* in the print, for maximum visual impact, to accentuate those elements of the picture that are important, to support the composition and what it is we want to show the viewer, whomever they are...

    The final presentation is so important, and like you Michael, I find that most (perhaps all) films will do the job perfectly every time, as long as I am up to the challenge of actually getting the most from them.
     
  19. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    While I agree with most of the points from Mike 1974 above I can definitely tell a difference from T grain versus "traditional" grain emulsions.

    ESPECIALLY if it's Tmax 100. That stuff is so clean at modest enlargement from 135 it's almost too clean for my tastes. When I say clean I guess I mean grain wise to the point of almost being too sterile. Converted digi files have a similar look.

    For awhile I didn't like it and shot PLUS X instead.
    I just scored a bunch of Acros 100 to try it. I imagine it will look similar?
     
  20. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Bruce,

    I think the advantage of something like TMax 100 and Acros comes at something like 16-20X enlargements, like 16x20" from 35mm negatives.
    For Christmas I made my father a 16x20" from a 35mm Acros negative, processed in replenished Xtol, and more than a foot from the print I simply could not see the grain. So Acros is really smooth too, and what I have found is that instead of finding acutance with the help of grain, I create it with contrast at the printing stage. It works surprisingly well, and while you may not like how you can't find grain in an 8x10" print from 35mm Acros, you may find a good alternate way of using it. Or take advantage of how 8x10" enlargements basically look like contact prints if you do it right.

    Also, Acros behaves differently in the highlights than TMX, which gives it more highlight contrast, so if you do really big contractions from very large brightness range scenes, you may find it difficult to fit all of the highlight tones onto your printing paper, so you have to be a bit careful. With that said, the same is a great advantage in low contrast shooting where you can get some really awesome highlights.
    I think within normal use, you will find Acros and TMX remarkably similar, though.

    - Thomas
     
  21. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    Thomas,
    thanks for those thoughts. I knew you had a fair amount of experience with across 100.

    I mostly shoot people with available light so skys/highlights can get troublesome at times.
    I will probably have to start popping a kiss of fill flash but I'm recently playing with some older rangefinders that aren't even sync-ed at all let alone at anything faster than around 1/50th and my Nikon F's only synch at 1/60.

    How do you guys hold onto skys in these type situations?
     
  22. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Bruce,

    I have thought about doing the same, using fill flash. But mostly for outdoor shooting during the day to avoid those pesky long shadows on the face.

    With natural light portraits I don't worry so much about blocked up highlights. As long as the tonality is right on the face, the rest can be dealt with at time of printing. I will sometimes flash locally in the enlarger, for example, using dodging/burning techniques same as if there was a negative in the light path. Split grade printing helps too.

    - Thomas
     
  23. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Acros's characteristic curve is quite similar to TMX, FP4, Delta, etc until you reach areas of high exposure (beginning around zone IX in zone system parlance). At that point most films continue their straight lines and begin to gradually shoulder around zone XII. Acros is different. The slope of its curve (local contrast) actually increases around zone IX, and retains this higher local contrast all the way to around zone XIII, where you then encounter a more abrupt shoulder.

    So while most films exhibit maximum local contrast in the mid tones, Acros exhibits maximum local contrast in areas of high exposure. Depending on the subject matter, this high highlight contrast can be favourable or unfavourable. It's not better or worse, but definitely unique when compared to its Kodak and Ilford equivalents (ie TMax 100 and Delta 100). With inherently high highlight contrast, Acros makes a very interesting match with compensating developers.

    As for those highlights being harder to bring into the print, well, yes they can be, but so what? You learn to make the most of what's in the negative using printing controls. It's worth the effort if you end up with excellent highlight detail. Sorry for harping on printing skills :smile:, but I really think that is where most people fall short, and then start changing films and chemicals for now good reason.

    With respect to graininess, Acros lies between TMax 100 and Delta 100, TMax 100 being the finest grained. The differences in graininess are really only worth considering in 35mm and medium format though. Of the three films, Delta 100 would be the one most closely resembling a more "traditional" emulsion like FP4+ in its overall look, while TMax 100 would be the most non-traditional in comparison. However keep in mind the developer can make a difference. For example, try a sharper developer such as TFX-2, or a well diluted solvent formula (D76, XTOL, etc) with TMax 100. Since it is so fine grained to begin with, you can afford the small increase in grain and sharpen it up a little.
     
  24. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    I've used both TX and TMY a quite a bit (hundreds of rolls). I prefer TX, but I'm not really sure why. They are both great films. They have different looks, but not very different. TX has slightly more grain and slightly less sharpness than TMY.