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Thread: Tri-X vs. T-Max

  1. #31

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    Anchell refers to what georg16nik is saying in the most recent edition of The Darkroom Cookbook. He's got a page about Tri-X vs TMax. His conclusion is that Tri-X is still superior to TMax, but that it is inferior to previous incarnations of Tri-X due to tabular (ie money saving according to Anchell) technologies having made their way into the more conventional emulsions.

    I heard an interview with him once in which he was REALLY dumping on TMax. I can't remember the exact words but he was saying outright he thought it was junk.

  2. #32
    Harry Lime's Avatar
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    As many people have already stated, they both have their strengths and weaknesses (for a lack of a better word.)

    If you want fine grain and 400 asa shoot TMY-2.
    If you want a more forgiving film, shoot Tri-X

    It's traditional vs modern in the looks department.

    The statement regarding poor tonality makes no sense to me. If anything I would say that especially in 135 format TMY-2 has better tonality, due to the much finer grain.

    Personally I prefer the spectral response of Tri-X, but the fine grain of TMY-2 is very impressive, as is the smooth tonality in 135.

    I hope they are both around for a very long time to come.

  3. #33
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    With the current formulations of the two films I don't waste my time even checking to see which I have loaded in the camera. I buy what ever is available (t-max or tri-x) and use them together. I even stopped marking the cassettes as to which film was loaded in them because I process them together for the same time in t-max developer. I can't pick out prints made from one or the other. This is different than 20 years ago.

  4. #34

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    At least in 35mm double-x 5222 is more like Tri-X than the current Tri-X.

  5. #35

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    These are all very different animals in terms of grain, edge acutance, curve shape, speed. Comparing
    apples with oranges with apricots. Pick your own favorite flavor. Even TMY400 has a very different
    look and potential range of applications from TMX100. I remember way back when my wife took a
    photo class and the teacher kept ranting at how lousy TMax was. Then one day she borrowed my
    6x7 and took and printed a few shots in my darkroom. The instructor raved at how wonderful they
    were. But then when he asked what film she had used and she reluctantly answered, TMax, he turned red-faced and quickly changed the subject. If you like vanilla ice cream, eat that; if you
    prefer chocolate, fine too; can't make up your mind - purchase neopolitan and leave the rest of us
    alone!

  6. #36

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    people like what they like, and don't like what they don't like for whatever reasons they have
    all films, no matter the film, takes getting used to,
    and learning how to shoot it, and process it to get negatives to come out the way you like them.
    i don't really think there are any bad films, just bad ways to shoot and process them.

    like eddie, i shot tmx films when they came out i wasn't using 4x5, just 35mm and 120 ...
    and i didn't really notice much difference between them and what i had been using before,
    and i still can't really tell the difference between tmy or tmx and plus x or tri x ..
    micro grain, micro contrast &c, really doesn't do much for me, so i don't notice it ...

    ymmv
    im empty, good luck

  7. #37
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    I disagree that Tri-X is "more forgiving" unless you specifically mean "more forgiving of bad darkroom technique".

    Tri-X is LESS forgiving in the camera that TMAX. TMAX has such a long, straight scale, and good shadow speed, that it's more forgiving of exposure errors than Tri-X. I specifically choose TMAX for cameras with no exposure controls, like Brownies and toy cameras.
    f/22 and be there.

  8. #38
    Harry Lime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BetterSense View Post
    I disagree that Tri-X is "more forgiving" unless you specifically mean "more forgiving of bad darkroom technique".

    Tri-X is LESS forgiving in the camera that TMAX. TMAX has such a long, straight scale, and good shadow speed, that it's more forgiving of exposure errors than Tri-X. I specifically choose TMAX for cameras with no exposure controls, like Brownies and toy cameras.
    I don't know, I have shot hundreds of rolls of TMY-2 and who knows how many rolls of Tri-X in all sorts of conditions and my developing technique is far from sloppy.
    I hear your technical justification for your claim, but I find the highlights to be more delicate with TMY and care has to be given in the development process not to blow them. I use Barry Thornton's 2-bath, which obviously goes a long way in solving that problem and is extremely repeatable from roll to roll.

    I agree that TMY-2 is better than Tri-X for shooting in low light, due to the straight toe. The tighter grain also gives TMY-2 an edge when pushing to 1250 or 1600.
    Last edited by Harry Lime; 12-17-2012 at 11:32 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  9. #39
    Roger Cole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jp498 View Post
    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.
    I would howl, and I certainly don't consider myself particularly sloppy in the darkroom. In fact, I shoot TMY-2 in 4x5, but Tri-X in medium format and, on the occasions I shoot 35mm black and white, 35mm. This may seem backwards - the grain is more important in the smaller formats after all, and the statements here are claiming TMY is more forgiving of exposure. But while I can understand the sensitometry behind such a statement as it's almost impossible to block up TMY highlights short of deliberate and gross overexposure, it simply doesn't fit my experience. For whatever reasons, when I'm working slowly and methodically with the 4x5 and a spot meter, I can make TMY-2 do what I want. When I'm shooting faster with a hand held averaging Luna Pro (very rarely in incident mode) or with the AE prims on my 645 Pro or the internal meters of my 35mm cameras, I have considerably better success with Tri-X. This is aside from the facts that I like what Tri-X does in Diafine when I need to push it better than I like any pushing developer for TMY-2, and the fact that for some of my 35mm work the Tri-X grain adds something and for medium format it's pretty much invisible at my usual print sizes regardless.

    But if Kodak were to cancel Tri-X I'd, a) switch to HP5+ and b) probably quit using the rest of the Kodak materials I currently use in the darkroom. It would be something between a silly protest and a fit of pique but I'd do it anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Lime View Post
    As many people have already stated, they both have their strengths and weaknesses (for a lack of a better word.)

    If you want fine grain and 400 asa shoot TMY-2.
    If you want a more forgiving film, shoot Tri-X

    It's traditional vs modern in the looks department.

    The statement regarding poor tonality makes no sense to me. If anything I would say that especially in 135 format TMY-2 has better tonality, due to the much finer grain.

    Personally I prefer the spectral response of Tri-X, but the fine grain of TMY-2 is very impressive, as is the smooth tonality in 135.

    I hope they are both around for a very long time to come.
    TMY has smoother tonality for that reason. That's not always better. Still, like most people here, provided the negative is well exposed and developed I seriously doubt I could tell a print from a medium format Tri-X negative from one made from an equally good TMY-2 negative, at least in print sizes up to 11x14 or so. If I look very close any my 11x14s cropped from 6x6 negatives I can see the beginnings of visible grain in Tri-X but I have to put my very nearsighted excellent close up vision about 4" from the print under good light. That way, yeah, I could probably tell the difference, especially if there were areas of upper zone densities and smooth tonalities, say an originally bright sky burned down to zone VI-VII. But from even far enough away to be in focus with my progressive lens glasses, I seriously doubt it.

    But I agree about being more forgiving, though the reasons mystify me a little. I agree that TMY-2 is much more sensitive to development variations. I use a Jobo with temperature control and a Gra Lab timer and the same thermometer so I'm not too worried about that and don't have problems with TMY-2. But I get a higher percentage of good negatives when working fairly quickly in MF and 35mm with Tri-X, whatever the reasons.

    Not a huge difference, granted. I'm not saying I can't shoot MF TMY-2 successfully. But I prefer Tri-X.

    Quote Originally Posted by BetterSense View Post
    I disagree that Tri-X is "more forgiving" unless you specifically mean "more forgiving of bad darkroom technique".

    Tri-X is LESS forgiving in the camera that TMAX. TMAX has such a long, straight scale, and good shadow speed, that it's more forgiving of exposure errors than Tri-X. I specifically choose TMAX for cameras with no exposure controls, like Brownies and toy cameras.
    See above - it should be that way, but that isn't my experience.

    If I wanted a 400 speed film for cameras like Brownies I'd shoot XP-2 super. Nothing resists harm from even gross over exposure like C-41.

  10. #40
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    I think we agree with each other; we are just using different words

    I find the highlights to be more delicate with TMY and care has to be given in the development process not to blow them.
    TMY must be one of the most blown-highlight-resistant films ever, so I do not agree with this statement. I think what you mean is that TMY will let you KEEP your highlights, even if they stretch beyond the range of some printing papers. I do not consider this a drawback; it is a feature--it is why TMY is so forgiving of exposure errors. Imagine that the 'highlights' were not highlights but instead the mid-tones of an image that you accidentally overexposed 3 stops. Due to TMY's long tonal range, they will print with perfect contrast, and the 'new' highlights at +3 stops from THAT will STILL look normal! This is nearly an ideal negative material; Ansel Adams would approve wholeheartedly.

    However what this means is that if you shoot a scene with high brightness range, and then attempt to print the lower tones with a mid-tone contrast that seems 'right', the highlights may be off the range of the paper--because they **ARE** off the range of the paper--but they are STILL THERE. That is not blown highlights. All you have to do is massage your paper or burn the highlights in. And thank the Great Yellow Father that even though the lighting was harsh glaring and you set the film speed wrong and guessed the exposure wrong and thought you were holding your Olympus so you turned the shutter speed ring instead of the aperture ring, that all the information is still there.

    If you are faced with a high-brightness-range negative, and you then naively reduce print contrast to bring the highlights onto the paper, your mid-tones may now look too muddy and 'wrong'. This is bad printing and lighting, not a bad negative material. If you say "well I can't control the lighting; I do street photography" well then, isn't that even more reason not to throw away detail?

    I know what people are saying when they say traditional films are forgiving. Some "traditional" films with a distinct shoulder will compress highlights so that IF you expose the film so that the midtones you WANT fall on the steep part of the film curve, and you print them with contrast that appears 'right', the highlights are automatically compressed to fit on the paper...for that ONE paper and developer, for negatives exposed JUST that way, for scenes with THAT subject-brightness range. Some people call this forgiving.

    But Tri-X is not one of those "traditional" films anyway. Honestly, it also has a long straight-line curve and fine grain. The only thing that distinguishes it from TMY is that it has a bit more grain, a bit more toe, and not as much DMAX.

    TMY is simply the best B&W emulsion available for ALL formats. I shoot half-frame, 35mm, medium format, and 4x5. My exposure meters all broke and I could never remember them anyway. I expose TMY 'generously' and develop it for the Kodak recommended times. It has never let me down. It's like a racing engine that will just keep making power to 15,000rpm and ask for more. It's THAT kind of forgiving.
    Last edited by BetterSense; 12-17-2012 at 10:12 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    f/22 and be there.

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