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  1. #1

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    35mm TMax400 Olympus OM1-n, no midrange tones!

    Hi all,

    I have run 2x TMax400 though my Olympus OM1 with the Zuiko 50mm 1.8. I self dev. The 1st roll I used Ilfosol-3 and the 2nd roll I used Xtol. I scan my negs.

    The pics all seem to have massive contrast, so black blacks, bright highlights and lights. But the midtones appear to have little variation. The bulk of what I like to shoot is portraits so I was hoping for subtle changes in midtone to emphasize skin tone. What I appear to get is flat grey here. I have attached some of the best ones. Am I expecting too much? I have trawled though flickr galleries on TMax400 and this looks like a trend to me. I have some Tri X400 coming to see if that helps me.

    Any thoughts ideas?

    Thanks

    Paul

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    Speed Graphic, Pentax 67, Mamiya RZ67, Mamiya 645 1000s, Nikon F5, Nikon Fm2

  2. #2

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ID:	55004those look pretty good to me. If you want something kinder to mid-tones i would avoid faster film, go to something slower like pan f or fp4, but the best I ever got using a rolleiflex was with Ilford XP2 -- that stuff is amazing with a tonal range that ansel adams would envy. This was shot on 35mm xp2 with a leica cl in chicago i think with my 25mm canon lens.

  3. #3

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    The tonality of any film is determined by its characteristic curve (H&D curve). Traditionally Tri-X has been used by professional photographers for portraits. You don't say whether your observations are based on actual silver prints or from scans. Unless you use a quality scanner correctly you will see many types of artifacts that are not in the negatives.

    A film manufacturer like Kodak optimizes their films toward their developers. I would suggest that you try Tri-X in either HC-110 or D-76. You don't want to use slow films since they emphasise every blemish of the subject. They also tend to be contrasty which again does not flatter.
    Last edited by Gerald C Koch; 08-06-2012 at 10:19 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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  4. #4

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    Thanks guys, I have some TriX400 coming, maybe I will see if I can find something slower too. Will keep you all updated.
    Speed Graphic, Pentax 67, Mamiya RZ67, Mamiya 645 1000s, Nikon F5, Nikon Fm2

  5. #5

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    My impression of Tmax400 is that it IS a contrasty film. For portraits, I under develop it by about 15% per timing chart. If you want a gentler look, you might want to try Tri-X. I'm not sure if it's my faulty memory or what, but comparing to films I used to get 30 years ago, even Tri-X seems little contrastier these days; yet conventional film rather than T-grain film will look little softer.

    Looking at the catch light and the intensity of it, it looks like you had a strong point source light coming from her left. If that is the case, your contrast issue is coming more from lighting technique than film.

    Lastly, it is little harder to judge tonality via scanned image. If you have a capability to produce wet prints, you might want to try that first before start tweaking stuff.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  6. #6
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    Stop in the tracks! The final contrast of a negative is determined by exposure and development technique. Sure, the film and the developer will matter, but if you're not getting enough midtone separation with that film and those developers, you are actually DOING something wrong. Sorry, but it's not a problem with your materials.
    Go back to the drawing board and re-think this. Add more exposure when you shoot the film, and develop the film with much gentler agitation, like 10s every three minutes. Use Xtol diluted 1:1 or 1:2 and practice. The extra exposure will raise the deepest shadows, and the gentle agitation will mellow your highlights, all while providing more of a focus on your midtones.
    I will tell you that shooting TMax 400 for a few years, and Tri-X for many years prior to that, with proper technique you should be able to achieve almost identical tonality between the two. Technique, technique, technique. Work with it until you have the results you want. This is true for any film.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

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  7. #7
    MDR
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    Check the contrast setting on your scanner, faster speed film usually have flatter contrast not more contrast. Also the blown highlights look like a problem with the scanner to me. Do you use a dedicated film scanner or a flatbed scanner with backlight unit. The later, even the Epson V series, isn't the best choice for 35mm film. The midtone separation of Tmax 400 is usually quiet good imho

    Good Luck
    Dominik

  8. #8
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    FWIW, my impression of TMax 400 is good. It has great tonality when exposed at box speed and developed properly (properly, of course, is subjective — there are many "proper" ways to do it —*depending on developer, your desired look and, like Thomas said, your technique.) I have had great results with it stand developed in Rodinal 1:100 for one hour.

    As ever, pushed film is more prone to contrast and my experience has been that Tmax 400 is especially prone to more contrast when pushed, at least when compared to Tri-X ...

    Whilst opining, I'll add this: if you want to eek out detail in the shadows by overexposing to some degree, you'll want to adjust development accordingly. Or stand develop.

  9. #9
    Rick A's Avatar
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    I agree with Thomas. I must add also to print not scan your negatives. Printing allows you to control contrast along with proper processing. You should expose film and develope with a specific contrast in mind and then be able to print at the desired grade. If you are still too contrasty, go to a lower grade, if too flat raise up a grade.
    Rick A
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    BTW: the big kid in my avatar is my hero, my son, who proudly serves us in the Navy. "SALUTE"

  10. #10

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    Here's my suggestion.

    It's little different from "buy one film and stick with it" advise. While there aren't THAT much difference between films, there are differences both in how it will react to light and how it will react to developing chemicals. My suggestion, based on my own experience is to buy two films, say Tmax 400 and Tri-X 400 and use enough of them each. At one point, you will find either you don't see enough difference between them, or you'll develop a liking to one or the other. Then pick THAT.

    It's not that films aren't flexible and you could just about do anything you want if you know how - but that takes skill you'll develop over the years. Everybody has to start somewhere and enjoy the result as well. You might find, one will be more to your liking than the other and gets you the result easier than the other.

    That's what happened to me. Strangely enough though, I went back to the one I didn't like for a while as my skills developed further.

    I would suggest, NOT trying any more than 2 or 3 films. It will get awfully confusing and counter productive if you do. You didn't ask this question but I settled on D-76. Seems to get me the result I want - consistently.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

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