Why all the dislike for tabular-type films?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Arcturus, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. Arcturus

    Arcturus Member

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    A quick jaunt around various internet forums (excluding this one) seems to turn up all sorts of hate toward tabular-type films, with a particular dislike of anything Tmax. I turned up posts that said it looks "sterile" "clinical" and "digital" and it requires special developers and is as difficult to develop as reversal film. Also, it gets scratched easily, the highlights are "delicate" and get "blown out" easily unless you meter very carefully. They have no latitude and behave very much like a digital image. One poster said Tmax films "make me sick". Posts like this kept me from trying any tabular films for years, but once I did I didn't run into any of the problems that I read about. Does anyone know where all this craziness is coming from? I have not encountered any of these issues ever. I processed a bunch of TMY-2 with a thermometer I didn't know was broken, the temp was way higher than 20/68 and the negatives were perfectly printable and the highlights were just fine. I've run it through beat up old antiques with dubious shutter speed without issue either. Are these real problems with these films?
     
  2. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Kids say the darndest things.
     
  3. Zelph

    Zelph Member

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    Think TMax100 looks different from Tri-X. Negs to print from it are often thinner than the older films and some judge the negative rather than the final print.
    TMx 100 used to(still does?) has a UV blocking layer that makes it generally unsuitable for alt processes that rely on UV exposure.

    Take any film or film/developer combination you want and some won't like it for whatever reason while others will find it works well for them.
     
  4. JLP

    JLP Subscriber

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    Indeed they do.

    Welcome to the world of great film. TMY is one of the most versatile film ever made, you can make it look like anything you want when you learn to use it under different lighting conditions with different developers.
    Spend some time with the TMY and it will reward you. I have less experience with TMX why I don't include that in my praise.
     
  5. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    I have never for the life of me understood what the differences are between TMax and "regular" films. So given that, I just shoot regular film.

    One thing I'm not clear on is whether or not Acros is a Tabular type film. Some say yes, some say no. I do shoot a lot of Acros so there you go.
     
  6. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Inactive

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    Acros is tabular....

    It's mostly old dogs who don't like new things... Ignore them and find your own way
     
  7. chip j

    chip j Member

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    Perhaps they have a " Medium Format" feel to them that some don't like?
     
  8. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Inactive

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    You're saying my TMY-2 4x5 sheet film and Delta100 4x5 sheet film and Acros100 4x5 sheet film have a "medium format" feel?.... :munch:
     
  9. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    It may be that people who like the more idiosyncratic things about older films (like large grain) are most likely to be disappointed by the extraordinary qualities of T-Max and the Delta films and Acros.

    In B & W I shoot Plus-X and T-Max 400. I like the differences, and I'll miss Plus-X when I've used up what I already have, but I'm more likely to transition to T-Max 100 than FP4+.

    Not that FP4+ isn't great film.
     
  10. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    Well, since Verichrome Pan, Plus-X, Panatomic, and the others are all gone, that leaves Tri-X. At least as far as I know. And Tr-X has a distinctive grain, whether in D-76, or Microdol. Some people like the grain of TX and D-76. Though I'm basically a Microdol man, TX and D-76 makes for a marriage suited for those who like good grain. The latitude of the film is stupendous, and no other film can do what TX does.
    It took me a long time to "accept" T-max, though it's been around 30 years. But considering the alternative of digital killing film entirely, it has become tolerable to me to the point I'm glad it's out there. It really is some fine stuff, if you can put up with its stubborn fixing qualities. Seems like it's always hungry for fresh fixer and can't get enough of it.
     
  11. piu58

    piu58 Member

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    There exist differences between print made from classical and tabular films
    1) Tabular films have a longer HD curve, with nearly no shoulder. That means highlight will come to a higher density and will not be compressed in the same degree as with conventional films. High density form small negative formats can nearly not brought on the paper, which lead to blocked highlights. The shoulder f conventional films reduces the contrast in highlights but the densities are not exceptional high, so you have at least some structure in this image areas
    2) Tabular films have a smaller grain. (Fine but visible) grain helps for seeing sharpness. I had problems with Rolle Retro 80s which is fine grained too. Processed in some developers the prints came out looking "sterile" or "digital". I switched to another developer and the problem is gone. This happens more with medium to large format negatives.
     
  12. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Inactive

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    The new formulation of Tri-X (called 400TX to distinguish the difference) is actually a hybrid of "traditional" and tabular grain... So... It's not even really "traditional" anymore...
     
  13. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    The end of the 1980's was the end of human history. Now we live in the aftertimes when you have to eat your mush and like it.
     
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  15. momus

    momus Subscriber

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    I don't particularly like T-Max or Acros. Has nothing to do w/ the tabular thing though, I just prefer Tri-X. I have to agree, they both do look a bit digital, meaning flat to me, and the blacks....I've seen better. But that's just my personal preferences. I recently saw some Across that was developed in something that I cannot remember.... D76 maybe?, and it looked fine. But I'm very happy w/ Tri-X, it does exactly what I want it to do, and have no reason to revisit the films that I tried before settling on it.
     
  16. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I enjoy using T-max film like the new 400.

    Jeff
     
  17. thegman

    thegman Member

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    It's the internet, where bullsh*t comes as standard.
     
  18. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

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    Well you name Kodak films but there are both traditional and tabular Ilford films, and (very) traditional Foma films. The Ilford ones are superb, and the Foma ones aren't bad - for 1965 or so. And that isn't entirely a criticism as I do shoot some Foma for fun.

    Anyway, I agree with the other folks, there is nothing at all wrong with tabular grain films. I do tend to gravitate toward conventional grain films for 35mm and medium format, because they are more forgiving in development (but less in exposure) and with roll film I give an entire roll the same development. I shoot TMY-2 in 4x5 because it's very responsive to development changes for contraction and expansion. But I could (and have) happily shoot TMY in 120 or, say, HP5+ in 4x5.

    The differences aren't nearly as big as people make them out to be, and I don't think the film makes a photo anyway.
     
  19. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

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    +1000.

    I'd be willing to bet I could make 11x14s from 120 Tri-X and TMY-2 negatives and the tabular haters wouldn't be able to tell the difference between. "Would be willing" that is if I weren't too lazy to bother trying to prove something to others I've already convinced myself of so therefore I'm not going to bother. :D

    There's a learning curve to any new film or film/developer combo and they ARE different, but not as much in the curve as people think. Today's "traditional" films have almost no shoulder either for practical purposes (exception - Pan F+.) Mostly the tabular films are just finer grained and more responsive to changes and differences in development.

    Try a couple of rolls of each type in each speed you need, pick one or two films to stay with and get on with taking and printing photos.
     
  20. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    I prefer non-T grain film.
    Reasons given in other posts. It's a preference not a "dislike" or "hate", more like a clear aesthetic choice. This print looks better than that to me.
     
  21. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Subscriber

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    I shoot Delta 100 (tabular) almost exclusively for landscapes and find the long flat HD curve a real benefit since you can record detail over a 10-stop exposure range without compression. Of course to print this you have to use dodging and burning to translate this to the exposure range of the paper. However that is preferable IMO to the compressed tonality in the highlights and shadows when using film with a pronounced "S" curve. Of course this is a matter of personal taste and YMMV.
     
  22. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    I suspect people have been complaining about "this new-fangled stuff" since dryplates were introduced, and possibly earlier.

    The mention of Foma being nicely "old" was interesting, and I'd agree happily. In comparison with the 100 and 400 products, try the Fomapan 200 at EI125 and that looks fairly different to their other two films. It is their idea of a new style emulsion, stopped once through availability of ingredients, then reformulated and reintroduced.
     
  23. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    Because a lot of people are full of BS, and they also rely on bad information, which worsens the BS.
     
  24. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    Maybe if you like a lot of grain, 35mm tabular-grain films will disappoint you. If you like the curve shape of 320 Tri-X, you'll have a hard time finding that in another film, tabular or not.

    If you hate grain, then tabular-grain films are going to please you.

    And, yes, every film is a bit different, both in processing and "look" with the same work-flow. And, if you are used to one thing, you won't want to figure out how to accomplish the same thing with different materials if you don't have to.

    For me, disappearing films and papers is an inconvenience, since I have to start over, test, and figure out how to use the available materials to get what I want out of them. I'd rather stay with the tried and true; but that's not the film's fault. As Roger says, you can figure out a way to get what you want with most materials.

    That said, tabular-grain films are a bit less forgiving of sloppy exposure and processing that many of the more "conventional" products (even the newer, tweaked ones). Sloppy workers are going to have troubles with them by comparison and, since this group is often the most vocal and lazy, will bad-mouth the film and blame it rather than clean up their act.

    I think this latter comprises the bulk of the vilification of tabular grain films.

    FWIW I shoot 320 Tri-X and TMY in sheet film along with an occasional TXM and get along with all of them just fine.

    Best,

    Doremus
     
  25. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    peoples likes what they likes and are used to.
    people just spew what they heard read or dreamt not what they experienced for themselves.

    this is the interweb, isn't it >
     
  26. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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