Tri-X vs. T-Max

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by AndreasT, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. AndreasT

    AndreasT Member

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    Now I do not want to start a discussion of beliefs and maybe this has been covered already. I was just reading some stuff from Steve Anchell where he claims Tri-X is better than T-max. That is how I understand it unless I missed something.
    He wrote if I am allowed to quote
    "The reason is that the thin, flat grains of silver literally do not
    have the depth of rounded pebble shape grains which enable them to record microscopic
    variations in contrast. In other words, the flatter the grain the less capable it is of recording
    micro-contrast."
    Now I am sure that the new Tri-X is more similar to T-Max than the original Tri-X.
    I would just like to hear a few viewpoints of others regarding this.
     
  2. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    I like Anchell, but he might be hard pressed to convince John Sexton of that claim; I think it boils down to what the photographer can do with the film in his process. I started out with TMX with my move to 4x5 and have recently made a switch to TXP, so far, for myself, I like what I have been able to do with TXP better. My troubles with TMX are purely on me, IMO.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 16, 2012
  3. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    The negative writings regarding tabular films are unfortunate parts of the Anchell and Anchell/Troop books. I generally like Anchell otherwise.

    If you like the look of the image structure of Tri-X, use it. If you want finer grain, use TMax. But do not discount the tabular films on the basis on tonality and "fine highlight detail". The TMax and Delta films can deliver every bit as much tonality and subtle highlight detail as Tri-X. It is about how you use them, and how you print.

    CPorter is right. Sexton's prints proved to me the anti-tabular thing was nonsense.
     
  4. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I don't know a better word to describe this except "BS".

    I'm not saying he's wrong, that would be dignifying. He's so wrong he's not even wrong.
     
  5. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Like us, each film has a personality of sorts.

    Sometimes we get along well with one but not another, both human and film.

    The reasons we give for not getting along aren't always rational or even based in reality.

    I can say that I have used both films and both were, just fine thank you.
     
  6. damonff

    damonff Member

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    Tri-X is my enemy. Some love it. I have shot many films, and have used many developers. I have had great success. My failures always end up on Tri-X. I have few shots with Tri-X that I love. Many will disagree. I prefer TMAX 400.
     
  7. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    What they said. Tri-X is a great film, as is T-Max. Try them both and figure out which you like the most.
     
  8. psychfunk

    psychfunk Member

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    I've just seen the results from my first ever roll of TMAX 400 (old one), processed in HC-110. I like it, but IMO it's nothing special. The grain neither adds character to the image nor annoys me or gets in the way. The apparent tonal range is excellent though.

    I'm happy enough with it that I can use it up - a friend gave me around 15 expired rolls. I'm afraid I'm not experienced with Tri-X, but I hear it's close to HP5+, and I love that too.

    Also, a thing that I found useful: when I was looking up the Kodak sheets for the development times, I saw that for HC-110 (B), it's recommended to expose TMAX 400 (TMY 5053) at EI320 rather than at 400. Just thought I'd point that out in case you're a HC-110 fan :smile:
     
  9. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    I sort of remember when T-Max was first introduced (early 80's?). I was in school, and a bunch of us photo majors gave it a whirl. Initially (at least in 4x5) most of us had a hard time working with it. Our results were inconsistent, at least with the developers we were using. Since then, though, I've found it to be a fine film, and am still pissed off they discontinued it in Readyloads.

    In truth, sometimes I think "old-timers" will naturally have a bias towards earlier films (at least at first). They learned on them, became proficient with them, and developed an expectation of what a print should look like. When a new film doesn't deliver the same look, it's natural for them (and I include myself based on my early experience) to think it's not as good.
     
  10. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Subscriber

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    I've done of my very best work on Tmax 100 and Tmax 400. I like Tri-X too. I've honestly never found a film that I could not get gorgeous tonality from once I experimented enough with it. I agree with the poster who said Anchell's books are marred by his silly bias against these great films.
     
  11. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    Keep in mind as well when T-max was introduced many people tried it and tested it and didn't like it forever and ever closed book. In my experience those who already had a a closer tolerance method and style of negative work seem to have a more favorable view of it. Those workers who had 'looser tolerances' got more variation on the results. My first few rolls were not very good, and it did take me a bit to really understand and work with the film. In those days I was shooting for a newpaper and they switched from Tri-X to T-max so you could imagine there was a bit of grumbling from the old timers. The best advice I got was from John Sexton, who advised to shoot at box speed and try to nail the best exposure and process D-76 1:1 with not too much agitation. I had more consistent negs after I learned T-max like that, and when I started switching developers I had a better feel for the film.
     
  12. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I have used both. Both are great, but I lean toward T-max.

    Jeff
     
  13. MDR

    MDR Member

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    The Question is which Tmax and which Tri-X. They are both great films if you want super smooth tones with very little grain for the speed Tmax is your thing. If you want the classical look meaning more grit but in fact less dynamic range than use an older tri-x the new trix has less grain than its predecessor but is still a great film. It basically comes down to personal preference.

    Dominik
     
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  15. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    I like TriX with Rodinal. Before I used Tmax 400 in Tmax developer and Rodinal - it has much finer grain than TriX, but somehow it is not for me. Good thing is that we have both :smile:.
     
  16. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    i too would take john sexton's word for it, but keep in mind that he is experienced enough to get the best ou of any film.
     
  17. Rafal Lukawiecki

    Rafal Lukawiecki Subscriber

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    I wonder if that advice was somehow specific to your own work or, to a particular application. The general advice that I heard John Sexton give, which he also outlines in his handouts, is to do a speed test, however, he lists his own results, and he does not seem to use TMax at box speed, but at lower speeds, which are dependent on the required contrast adjustment through ZS developing time. Also, he agitates vigorously by hand, or uses a Jobo, except when aiming for extreme contrast contraction.

    And to answer OP, both films are great, with a fairly different look. TMax, to me, may be a tad more perfect, technically speaking, while TXP and HP5+ for that matter, a little more old-fashioned. I like TMax in MF and HP5+ in LF. Bear in mind, however, that I am more familiar with HP5+.
     
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  18. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    What I find about shooting at box speed and developing normally (with most any films) is that it provides high quality, is normally very forgiving of errors, and gives a great place to decide what I might like different.
     
  19. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    True that John generally down-rates his TMX (for example to 64-80 for normal development) like many of us end up doing, but each person should do their own test and figure out what works for them. It also depends on the developer and procedures.

    The nice thing about all these current films - including Tri-X - is they have long scales. So under a wide variety of conditions, giving a little more exposure to ensure you get full separations in the shadows, doesn't cost you anything in the highlights. But if you find, like Mark, that box speed gives you everything you need, it makes perfect sense to expose at box speed.

    At the end of the day the biggest differences between Tri-X and TMY-2 are in image structure (granularity, resolution etc). TMY-2 is an exceedingly fine grained film for its speed. It is actually more comparable to say Delta 100 in graininess than any other 400 speed film. Another favourable characteristic of TMY-2 is reciprocity behaviour, if that is deemed important to a particular individual.
     
  20. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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    Don't forget that for sheet film Tri-X and Tmax are very different films. Tri-x has that long toe steep highlight curve and Tmax is straighter. To me Tri-x sheet film easily produces a more dramatic look. But you don't always want that.
     
  21. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    ChuckP makes a good point we should be careful to differentiate between TXP 320 and TX.
     
  22. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    Both are top quality films that can make nice images. Tmax requires more care in developing; smaller changes produce stronger results. Needs more fixing and washing as well compared to traditional films. The upside is that it is so versatile. Someone familiar with it could emulate any look except for the grain. I've used tmy/tmy2 since it came out and have this familiarity with it. John Sexton would be a more reputable person of skill who can make the film do what he wants. It'd be a foolish business decision, but I think Kodak could discontinue tri-x and we'd be able to adapt to tmy2 because of it's versatility. But people who like grain and sloppy darkroom workers would howl.
     
  23. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    This is more of a personal thing. I've used both films alot, and my preference is for Tri-x, simply because it's very forgiving and more importantly, it's grainier. I shoot MF and prefer the grain. If I shot 35mm my preference may differ. Both are great films, but to me Tri-x has a bit more character.
     
  24. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Yep, different.

    All three films in thought here are great though. Not a slacker in the bunch.
     
  25. AndreasT

    AndreasT Member

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    Wow a lot of responce. I find the claim of Anchell very strong. For him his saying is correct I suppose.
    I have never used Tri-X. I use TMax 400 for my work in 35mm as well as 4x5. I test all of my films with step wedges and all that to see how a film is with my developer. I personally prefer the straightness of the curves which I see with "modern" films over that of "classical" films. I suppose to see "microscopic
    variations in contrast" you need a microscope in sorts.
    The general look and feel of a film of course in combination with a certain paper should fit.
    There are a lot of claims and thoughts out there, some true some only in part.
    Hopefully we with have both films and all others for a long time to keep everybody happy and the discussions going.
     
  26. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    TMY has (slightly) finer grain than TX, but I like the look of TX better. Anchell may be on to something, or maybe not. I also liked the look of TMX much more than PX, and TMX is still my favorite 100 speed class film.