Good old Tri-X
So, after a few years of shooting with mostly TMax 400 and Acros, loving both films dearly, especially in replenished Xtol developer.
Enter a Leica camera that I was lucky enough to acquire last summer. Using it for a while it seemed to demand more texture in my prints. So I ordered 20 rolls of Tri-X to see if I could still use the stuff appropriately. Some processed in PMK Pyro, some in Rodinal, and the rest in my seasoned Xtol.
I haven't had much of a chance to print lately, but got two sessions in in the last couple of weeks, and it dawned upon me - all I need is Tri-X, and I don't even need any fancy developers. The extra little bit of grain I get compared to TMY is welcome, and it looks fantastic. Granted, I've started testing HP5+ also, in case Kodak really stops making Tri-X, but that's more survival strategy than anything.
So, to those Tri-X lovers out there, what is it about the film that gives it its mythical status and reputation? What is it about it that just makes you love it and never want to switch from it?
I'm not trying to achieve anything with this thread. I'm merely curious, because I can't really explain my fascination, only notice it in the prints.
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh
It's good, that's what. Always has been and still is. HCB used a lot of it, if I recall correctly. I couldn't agree with you more, except that Plus-X is good too. I do sometimes lament not having Panatomic-X anymore....
By denying the facts, any paradox can be sustained--Galileo
Weelll...I like it's versatility. I keep Diafine on hand as my favorite for pushing Tri-X to 1250 or so. I used to get a really usable 1600 out of it but can't seem to now. I don't know if the re-formulations of the film might be the reason for that. But I get a good 1250 in most light, more like 1000 under mainly tungsten, or I can shoot it at as slow as 200 with gentle development in conventional developers and get really good grain, not TMY good but plenty good enough, or shoot at box speed with slightly fuller development. In 6x6 the grain is fine enough for really superb 11x11s on 11x14 paper, or even cropped 11x14s, and not objectionable for most subjects at 16x20. That's the same magnification as an 8x10 from 35mm of course, and those look great, and 11x14s can be good.
I've seen pushed HP5 that looks pretty good, but not as good as what I get with Tri-X and Diafine and I get a good 2/3s stop more usable speed out of Tri-X. With other developers at box speed and below I could use Tri-X or HP5 with no problem.
I use other films (mainly FP4+ and an occasional roll of Pan F+) but I could get by fine with just Tri-X and TMZ in 35mm and Tri-X and Delta 3200 in 120.
Oddly enough I gravitate to TMY-2 in 4x5. I can't fully explain why I seem to prefer old tech films in rolls and new stuff in sheets.
One of the best black and white emulsions ever made. Other films may do x, y, and z well but TX is very well rounded and reliable.
Ilford films are also very high quality and dependable - great stuff. So no knock on them. That being said I'm sure even Simon Galley would have something good to say about Tri-X.
It's a film who's stamp has more than been made.
Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.
Same with me, I just keep coming back to it, always looks right. I also agree that it responds so well to many different developers, each good for it's own reasons. I have pretty much settled on Pyrocat for Tri-X, but D76 is great, as is Rodinal if you like your grain nice and crispy.
FP4+ is great also for the exact same reasons, and I'm sure that HP5+ would also be good, although I haven't tried a lot of it....maybe will have to in the future.
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Choosing any film is a very personal thing and it's also about getting an aesthetically pleasing result for me rather than just looking for ultimate sharpness and resolution.
Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson
Personally, I get what I like with Ilford HP5 Plus, but Tri-X remains deservedly popular and long may it continue to be manufactured.
I think Mike Johnston has described it well in his article about obtaining the 'look' he likes.
I don't know why anyone uses the T grain films. You might as well shoot digital! I like my grain. It is what makes photography photography. I can't personally say the same about Tri-x though. I have really bad luck with Kodak products. Always have. It is just one of those things with no explanation. Neopan 400 and Fomapan 400 are my favorites now. I do understand what you mean though Thomas. I shoot the occasional Acros and it is just too clean for me. Everyone has their own thing. There isn't much more of a real experience than a good fast film in a Leica though. I am right with you on that one.
He already has, here on APUG!
Originally Posted by clayne
Personally I reckon that a lot of the 'bond' between photographer and film comes from the amount of time, dedication, frustration, money, more time and even more time that is required to really master them.
After years of striving to get it right - and learning to love your results - somebody changes something - or takes something away.
If you've grown up on TrI-X and then you try HP5+, it just isn't right.
Personally, it is the other way around for me. I was weaned on HP5 (before the plus) and FP4.
About two years ago I was given a big box of Tri-X as a present (unwanted near the best before date stock). I chucked some in my SLR and used it just like HP5+. My first few rolls were a total disaster! Overexposed and overdeveloped... It seems to respond very differently to extended development that HP5+. Not better or worse, just different.
I had to do a few tests to get my EI sorted and adjust my development regime a bit until I started to get good results. It wasn't hard - it is only what we should do with any new film. And Tri-X is a great film, obviously.
For me I was using FREE FILM so this was no hardship. I can imaging that after decades of using "X" - if forced to use "Y" then this could cause a bit of resentment - but I think you can do mostly anything with any equivalent film from another manufacturer, it just takes a bit of testing and relearning. Or maybe a lot of testing and relearning
I tried TMax-400 for a while and found it too flat and fussy for real world stuff, though I did switch to it for copy jobs because of its lack of personality. That was the digital look, pre-digital, I now realize. But Tri-X simply looks like film should.
I just love how it renders skin tones...