tri-x history (and d76 history)

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by pierods, Apr 3, 2008.

  1. pierods

    pierods Member

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    Hi,

    I was reading about Jean-Loup Sieff's bio, and it appears that he used tri-x developed in d76.

    At some point (1975) Kodak changed the formula of d76 so he and a bunch of other photographers had to start making their own developers, according to the old d76's formula.

    Then a friend pointed out to me that tri-x has also changed somewhere in 2004.

    my (many) questions:

    - how different is the new tri-x from the old one: maybe it just does more but the overall look of the pictures os the same, or not?
    - can hp5 emulate the old one or maybe a rollei or maybe something else?
    - how really different is the old d76 from the new one (this one is for old timers really) ?
    - and even re-making the old d76, will it have the same effect on either new tri-x, or the equivalent of the old one...


    thanks

    piero
     
  2. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    The differences between the old and new Tri-X films are subtle.

    I recently (2 years ago) developed a roll of 1981 Plus-X with a modern roll (which also changed). I used the same time in the same developer. Results were good with both rolls. (The old roll was well stored I suspect.)

    As for D-76, the difference is agents that make D-76 mix more easily in varying water quality. Also, metol will not easily dissolve unless dissolved first. Ilford solves this problem in ID-11 (which is the closest commercial developer available to original D-76) by having the powder in two packages. Kodak solves it through chemical additives.

    Both are good. I mix my D-76 from scratch, but when I bought it, I bought Ilford's ID-11 in preference because it is sold in Canada in metric measurements, and Kodak sells D-76 here in US quart and gallon packages.
     
  3. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    D-76 has been D-76 since the 1920s. There was no change. Kodak has changed Tri-X many times, generally improving it in subtle ways. It should be noted that for the past many years there have been two, quite different Tri-X films. The first is what is now known as 400TX, available in rolls and 35 mm. This film has a straight-line curve. The other film was called Tri-X Professional and is now known as 320-Tri-X. This film has a pronounced toe, and is recommended for controlled lighting conditions. The earliest record I have for a film called Kodak Tri-X comes from the late 1940s. That was a sheet film with a speed of ASA 160 (old system, near 400 in the current system). In the mid-1950s a new Tri-X became available in 35mm and rolls. It had an ANSI speed of 400 (current system) and was pretty grainy. It could be pushed reliably to 800. This is the precursor of the current 400TX, and had many of the same characteristics. Kodak has made changes to this film about every two or three years. Grain has been reduced until now it is very fine, and there have been subtle improvements to latitude and gradations.
     
  4. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Tri-X was changed to remove a number of heavy metal ingredients that were harmful to the environment. The heavy metals were replaced by organic compunds that served the same purpose. Actually, one of the chemicals removed was an organo-metallic ingredient.

    D-76 is D-76 but with a different packaging method used to allow a single package mix. Sequestrant is also added to prevent scum and cloudiness.

    My scratch mixes and the prepackaged version react identically towards all of the films I have tested them with.

    PE
     
  5. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    The new 400TX looks very similar to the old TX, maybe a little smoother and finer grained. I don't have any experience with TXP versus the new 320-Tri-X. My experience is that HP5+ is that it is quite different from any of the Kodak Tri-X films, although it is very roughly similar to the Tri-X of about 10 - 15 years ago. (Not really the same look at all, but that is the closest, IMO) HP5+ is a fine film, and it is very consistent from batch to batch and format to format, but it is different from Tri-X. Although D-76 has not changed, the films may respond differently as they change. Considerable manipulation is possible with D-76, and small changes in technique can result in considerable changes to the look of the negatives.
     
  6. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    It is generally accepted, looking back, as "truth" that good ol/ ASA 200 Tri-X "made" black and white 35 mm reportage photography. IIRC, it came out in 35mm in 1954.

    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA
     
  7. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I think you have hit on something very important here.

    Ages ago, we developed our film in a different manner, and of course modern films are very different than they were back then. This changes the whole flavor of photography.

    PE
     
  8. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    I was an Aeronautical Research Engineer for NACA at Langley Research Center when that happened. We had a project that required some special photographic recording that our Photo branch couldn't do: not because they didn't know how, but because their 8x10 view cameras`were not right for the job, and someone had to be on call 24-7. It was just about the time when ANSCO SuperHypan came out rated at 250. That was the first film faster than Super XX I ever used. Very soon after, all films doubled in speed because the "safety factor" was dropped in the change from ASA to ISO, and Tri-X came out while we worked weird shifts while breaking up an airplane. The branch head told us it would be a confidential research project, so "don't tell anybody anything they can't read in Aviation Week." We had to read Aviation Week to find out what we were doing. Those were the days!
     
  9. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    I remember that the films I used in the '50s were thicker, probably cellulose based, and the emulsions were thicker as well. I think you could use a strip of 35 for a clock spring. Put 'em in envelopes and the envelopes would curl.
     
  10. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Gainer writes: Very soon after, all films doubled in speed because the "safety factor" was dropped in the change from ASA to ISO
    *****
    Hi Gainer,

    I would have bet money that the "great ASA shift" came before the ISO standard was introduced. Do you remember the ASA "degree" ratings and all that other folderal?

    BTW, did people really use the expression 24/7 waaay back then? I don't remember it. Just like nowadays everyone says "tarmac" but that word came into American useage during the days of the live coverage of jetliner highjacking standoffs. Before that, it was always just plain ol' "asphalt." Remember? BTW, I think Tri-X is STILL an EI 200 emulsion!! (vbg)

    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA
     
  11. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

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    Ryuji Suzuki has some info about D-76 history and some variations at:

    http://silvergrain.org/wiki/D-76

    If you're really fascinated, Richard Knoppow wrote a long post in pure-silver about the early days of developing movie film in D-76 and variants. I might be able to find a copy if anyone is interested. Apparently the optical sound track was very sensitive to developer characteristics, and inaccuracies caused sound distortion.
     
  12. pierods

    pierods Member

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    I am interested!
     
  13. pierods

    pierods Member

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    So the gist of it is that if I buy a roll of 400 tri-x today, I will be able to get the same results as a photographer would in the early 70s, with some darkroom tweaks, right?
     
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  15. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    ******
    Yes, and I am not sure it would take much "tweaking."
    For sure,(based upon my experience) a Tr-X neg from Rodinal appeared somewhat different from one developed in sulfited Rodinal; or Tri-X in Microdol; from a neg done in D23; but my advice is to look for other aspects of Sief's images in your attempts to emulate his "style." Once you have taught yourself how to achieve that "look," then you can develop a style of your own and acquire your own visual voice. Have fun.

    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA
     
  16. GeorgesGiralt

    GeorgesGiralt Member

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    Hi !
    I've read, in a book written by Mr Eaton IIRC, that D76 has changed many times because the original formula gained activity upon storage.
    This phenomenon was weird and nobody known why. So they first changed the accelerator many times until the chemistry of hydroquinone copound where better known and this lead to the 50's formula. After that time, they changed components to reduce costs, and then to get the "one can" working.
    So maybe D76 is D76 since the 20's, but it has evolved a lot ....
     
  17. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I would have to temper your enthusiasm again with the comment that although D-76 is the same, the film has changed considerably. New addenda and new hardener just for starters, as I mentioned earlier.

    PE
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2008
  18. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Eaton is correct and the same thing happens with Dektol. Activity goes up then down just as he documents. D-76 did the same in the very early days. They both still do but at reduced rates and the changes were such that the developer retained its original properties. As you say, this was done in the 50s and since then the formula has been stable except for the change from Calgon due to the fact that Calgon changed their formula.

    PE
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2008
  19. pierods

    pierods Member

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    Could you elaborate on how the film has changed?

    What I'm trying to achieve is the same look as tri-x from the early '70s.

    So if we are talking about incremental improvements, ok, but if we're talking about a totally different look, then I would like to know what film approaches that look.

    thanks

    piero
     
  20. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Well, Piero, I posted it earlier in this thread. The old film had an organo metallic salt in it (among several) and this was replaced. The old emulsion was a single polydisperse emulsion that was noodle washed, but the new emulsion IIRC is a blend of more monodisperse emulsions that are UF washed. The film is coated with a new hardener instead of formaldehyde + muchochloric acid hardener. Due to improvements in sulfur+gold finishes and supersensitiziation, the new film is finer grained for the same speed, and due to the use of acutance dyes in the emulsion it is sharper.

    So, to duplicate that film, you would have to virtually make it yourself or search for an ISO 200 - 400 film from 3rd tier manufacturers that suit your criteria. Neither Kodak, Fuji nor Ilford make films precisely as they did back in the 70s or earlier due mostly to pollution (environmental) concerns and advances in technology.

    You are asking to buy a car from the 1920s today, and even if they reproduced the look, there would be differences as some components are just not available!

    PE
     
  21. pierods

    pierods Member

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    Actually I'm just asking to buy a car that looks like the '20s.

    Anyhow thanks for the detailed specifications (I liked the noodle-washed part, I'm from Italy), and I'm sure today's film, having improved so much, can be scanned and photoshopped into compliance with the old film.
     
  22. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Well, I just posted in the Vericolor thread a fact I forgot. The new films contain an Iridium salt for much better reciprocity failure characteristics and have much lower sensitivity to solarization. This salt is used at such a low concentration level in the emulsion that it can be ignored for the purposes of pollution. It is also rather harmless compared to the previous mercury and cadmium salts.

    PE
     
  23. Harry Lime

    Harry Lime Member

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    Pretty darn close.

    I have some Tri-X negs that date from the late 1950's or very early 60's. If you compare scans from the vintage negs to modern Tri-X the look is very similar.

    The new version is finer grained, that's for certain, but the shape and character of the grain is very much the same. The overall fingerprint is very, very similar. The vintage negs are a lot thicker and a slightly different shade of gray. I believe the old negs were processed with a developer that dissolved grain and the contrast is a little lower so, it's not an exact comparison, but close.
     
  24. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    PE, if you were to write a book or article or whatever called something like "Photo Engineering yesterday and today and probably tomorrow" (Everything I knew, know and can guess), print it out and get it bound down at kinko or release it on line for a small fee, I would be interested in it.
    Dennis
     
  25. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Dennis;

    Some of this was being posted as the Photo Engineering threads in Emulsion Making and Coating. Every time I start it kind of falters due to lack of interest. This is such specialized work that few are interested. So, someday the details will be gone, and just the basic formulas will be around such as I have posted or intend to include in the book. The actual details of the stuff you ask are so "way out there" that only a couple of people are interested.

    When I started at EK, they gave us course after course in photochemistry, emulsion chemistry, system engineering and etc. to get to be good design engineers, and to give us a history of all of this stuff. The parts on B&W films were given in discussions with Dick Henn (Inventor of many of the developers and designer of some of the films) and Grant Haist who wrote his great 2 volume book. I've talked to and known Dick, Bill Lee (now both deceaased), Grant and many others who would be far better qualitifed to discuss things here but those still living chose to ignore APUG or merely lurk.

    Thanks though.

    PE
     
  26. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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