Life is not always as simple as - "I like TRI-X." It is "I like TRI-X in PMK for 4x5 Format. - In 120 or 35mm, I do not like TRI-X in PMK." So here is what my choice films like - ..... You know you should talk to your films on a regular basis to get to know what they like.
4x5 Tri-x - PMK - asa200 Sharpness and nice looking grain - good range - very tolerant to large contrast spans. A preferance
4x5 FP4 - PMK - ASA80 Sharpness and smoother richer tones - very large enlargements and good contrast span
120 or 35mm TRI-X Microdol X (100g Sod Sulfite, 5g Metol, 30g Salt, 1L water) ASA200 Very sharp - nice looking grain structure - very fine grain. Also good in split D23 with more sharpness and more grain. Not good in PMK or DiXactol unless the print size is 11 x 14 or less. D-76 is good with less sharpness than the rest.
120 or 35mm HP5 at 1600asa in D76 N+2 contrast, comparatively smooth grain structure and very enlargable. The only film I like to push and enlarge much. Not as sharp as TRI X but the smudgy looking grain will give a smooth appearance when enlarged.
120 FP4 DiXactol at asa80 - Smooth tonality, very sharp grain - very tolerant of highlight separation - very good to 11x14 and sometimes more. A preferance
FP4 or HP5 35mm at advertised film speed - Split D23 - good trade of sharpness and grain - very forgiving - good enlargability
This is what I have come up with so far as favorites. FWIW
Ah, one of my favorite topics because it's like exchanging recipes for chicken enchiladas!
All my work is in 35mm and 120 so the "recipes" apply to either...
Tri-X at EI 1200-1250 in Diafine has quickly become one of my favorites for candid, casual photography. With an SLR having a maximum shutter speed of 1/2000 or 1/4000 this combo is even useful for reasonably selective DOF in bright daylight. Unique tonal qualities unlike anything else.
Also, Tri-X at various EIs in many other soups: HC-110 or ID-11/D-76 below the nominal speed for fine grain and excellent tonality; Rodinal at or slightly above 400 for a classic grainy look; Rodinal at around EI 100 for nighttime photography and stand processing in very dilute developer.
FP4+ at EI 250 in Diafine for nighttime photography when I want finer grain than Tri-X is capable of.
FP4+ at EI 64 in ID-11, 1:1. Fine grain, good apparent sharpness, lovely tonality. Excellent for portraiture, landscapes, fine art work of all kinds.
TMY at EI 1000-1600 in straight Microphen for available dark handheld photography, especially live theatre. Finer grain and more normal contrast characteristics than Tri-X in Diafine.
Delta 3200 at EI 1600 in Diafine. Lovely tonality. Better shadow detail than TMY or Tri-X at this speed. Chunky grain limits enlargements to around 8x10, tho'. I get finer grain from TMY in Microphen at this speed.
APX 100 at or near the nominal speed in Ilfosol-S. Beautiful tonality and apparent sharpness. The mid to upper tones can do wonderful things with certain textures like bones, tree bark, etc. This is one I'd choose for portraiture.
TMX at or near its nominal speed in ID-11, 1:1 for architecture. Because this subject matter has definite lines I'm not concerned with the alleged lack of apparent sharpness (it's actually a very high resolution film but somewhat lacking in acutance in some developers including ID-11). But because my architectural photography often includes large expanses of sky I want grainless sky. This combo delivers that. However due to the rather odd tonal qualities I wouldn't choose this film for portraiture.
And a "new favorite," Efke R100 in Tetenal Neofin Blau. Lovely film, very much like APX 100 in tonality. I'll probably try it in other developers and reserve the Neofin for TMX or Pan F+ to evaluate the effect of an acutance developer on those films.
Diafine sounds like good stuff- it seems a lot like split D23 with something in it to bump up the film speed - I wonder what is in it???
Diafine: phenidone/hidroquinone/sulfite/metabissulfite in bath A; sodium metaborate (Kodalk) or borax (not sure which one)/sulfite in bath B.
My film/dev combos (only 35mm):
- 125 PX in a Xtol like dev 1+2 for normal work - fine grain, sharp, good tone, higlight control. I really liked this combo.
- 400TX in Diafine like dev for available darkness. Same reasons Lex stated above.
Have used HC-110 in many ways and FX-37 with PX. The above is better.
Did not like TMX.
TX, TXP, and TXT in PMK up to 4x5" for enlargement, in ABC larger than 4x5" for contact printing, covers most of my B&W these days. When I want more speed, I use Acufine.
I like Delta 400 in Perceptol, but don't use it much, because it doesn't come in sheet sizes. Also not bad in D-76 for more speed.
TMX in D-76 (1+1), when I want more of the T-Max look or really fine grain.
35mm TriX in Fotospeed FD30 1 to 9 for 6 mins at 20c gives me crisp sharp grain and, a big bonus for me, a relatively short development time.
35mm Delta 3200 rated from 1000 ISO to 25000 ISO in Rodinal 1 to 25 from 9mins to 15 mins produces lots of sharp grain that I love but the downer is long development times when rated at 25000 ISO.
120 and 4 x 5 FP4 in ID11 9 mins 1 to 1 for my fine grain work.
Here are my choices from the past and present:
35mm and 120 Tri X in Microdol X
35mm and 120 Plus X in Microdol X
Large format TMax 100 in D76 1:1
I haven't done too much comparing since returning to the darkroom recently (Takes a real commitment of time and materials to effectively test film/developer combos) so I'm using my old, established favorite of Tri-X in FG-7 diluted 1:15 in a 9% sodium sulfite solution. I've always been very happy with this combo.
Recently, I've been experimenting with Efke 50 and 100 in D-76 and although I haven't fully nailed down a solid speed/dev. time, I'm really impressed so far. It reminds me of, many years ago, discovering Seagull paper after using the Kodak papers of the time.
tri x - tmax 100+400
processed in ansco 130 1:4-5ish ( depending on age of developer) about 6-7 mins ( DBI so i don't really know for sure)
i used to love xtol because it refused to block highlights, but the "olde 130" gives me the long scale, contrast, sharpness &c and refuses to block my highlights too -
- can't argue with that :)
I have only used Ansco 130 as a print developer. Gave very nice results, have never thought to use it as a film developer though.