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  1. #1

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    Tmax, Tri-X and the Darkroom Cookbook

    I bought a copy of The Darkroom Cookbook by Steve Anchell and came across a few new (to me) tidbits of information as to the history of Kodak T grained films.
    According to the author during the development of the new tabular grained films Kodak developed a less expensive way to manufacture the new T grain films using dyes.
    Being that this new process had the added benefit of producing less grain in addition to being cheaper to produce, new versions of Tri-x and Plus-x were then brought to the market.

    In the opinion of the author Plus-x emerged as a better product than the original with Tri-x suffering a loss of its original character and quality that it was known for.

    Plus-x is now no more but, if Anchell is correct than basically Tri-x is no more as well and all discussions of using Tri-x and d76 for that 'characteristic Tri-x / d76 grain'
    are somewhat nebulous.

    So what are we all talking about here in 2014 when we are seeking the characteristic 'Tri-x / d76' look ? For those of us that never have used 'original' Tri-x what are
    we talking about ? It would seem that what I thought was the classic Tri-x character images that I have made are apparently something else and that classic look is
    lost here in the modern age of black and white film development.

  2. #2
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Does Anchell give some sort of actual objective and comparative numbers and/or data like graphs to back his claim up?

    I have used both versions of the film, and can tell that the newer version of Tri-X is less grainy, appears a wee bit less sharp, and has a slightly straighter tone curve, but it's not like all of a sudden Tri-X is some kind of TMax Junior or something.

    You can change how your prints look by altering how you expose and process the film. Learn how to do that and learn how to get what you want from today's version, and then you don't have to worry about what yesterday's version did.

    I guess what I'm saying is that don't worry about stuff like that. The old Tri-X isn't coming back anyway. The film is a small part of what our final results are going to look like; it is mostly down to us, our skill, our effort, and our hard work in the darkroom to obtain the results we desire. This involves how to expose and process film such that it does the most good with your particular paper and paper developer, and whatever treatment you give the prints in addition to developing the paper, such as toning.
    "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

  3. #3
    georg16nik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bascom49 View Post
    ...
    So what are we all talking about here in 2014 when we are seeking the characteristic 'Tri-x / d76' look ? For those of us that never have used 'original' Tri-x what are we talking about ? It would seem that what I thought was the classic Tri-x character images that I have made are apparently something else and that classic look is lost here in the modern age of black and white film development.
    Its still 'Tri-x / d76' look, but a 2014 one, perhaps Tri-x v.9?
    Film manufacturers just pray not to get caught
    Its still sorta ISO 400 film. Tri-x “something”
    Regards,
    Georg

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    I do agree to all points. However, there are scads of comparisons and references to the classic Tri-x / d76 characteristic look.
    So, what is the 'look' ? To your point does it even matter ? Probably not. Which is my point as well.

  5. #5
    baachitraka's Avatar
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    ...may be we are talking about the perfect marriage in modern times.

    err...its not Tri-X / D-76 rather Tri-X / Rodinal(1+25)
    OM-1n: Do I need to own a Leica?
    Rolleicord Va: Humble.
    Holga 120GFN: Amazingly simple yet it produces outstanding negatives to print.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by bascom49 View Post
    So what are we all talking about here in 2014 when we are seeking the characteristic 'Tri-x / d76' look ? For those of us that never have used 'original' Tri-x what are
    we talking about ?
    We are talking about something that doesn't quite exist anymore, so when you read things now about a Tri-X/D-76 look, you're mostly reading things by people seeing what they want to see.

    Regarding the technology, current Tri-X is not 1950s Tri-X. But so what? Was the old film "better"? Depends on who you ask. Anchell says tabular grained films are inferior to conventional films, and in particular he hates Kodak's TMax films. However he presents no evidence to support his views. So be careful what you read. Tabular grain technology does make the films different, but "better"/"worse" is all a matter of individual opinion (and those opinions are rarely based on anything sound).

    The Darkroom Cookbook is a good source for formulas. The rest of it is, well, not as good.

  7. #7
    georg16nik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bascom49 View Post
    I do agree to all points. However, there are scads of comparisons and references to the classic Tri-x / d76 characteristic look.
    So, what is the 'look' ? To your point does it even matter ? Probably not. Which is my point as well.
    Well, film manufacturers might sometimes adjust the current films according to materials and natural resources batch variations and you might add the cycles in naturally occurring background radiation, film storage on the distribution / customers end etc;
    Regards,
    Georg

  8. #8
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bascom49 View Post
    I do agree to all points. However, there are scads of comparisons and references to the classic Tri-x / d76 characteristic look.
    So, what is the 'look' ? To your point does it even matter ? Probably not. Which is my point as well.
    I think discussing the 'look' of certain films a little bit dangerous. That's what I think. We work with our materials until we get what we want. There is, in my opinion, not a specific 'look' based on just what film and film developer we use. I think that whole concept is a bit of a misconception.

    It truly is down to what we actually do with the materials that creates the 'look'. That's what's weird to me. It's like all these people who think that just because you shoot Tri-X, overexpose two or three stops, develop in Rodinal, and then print on hard grade paper your prints will magically look like Ralph Gibson's prints. It just doesn't work that way.

    So, treated the same way all the way through the process, there is probably some difference between old and new Tri-X. But we would be doing ourselves a huge disservice to treat our materials that way. We manipulate them to get what we want. We manipulate them maybe even a lot. And how we manipulate the materials will make a far bigger difference than changes to the formulation of the film ever will.
    "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

  9. #9

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    And why I was reading Anchell's book to begin with:

    For no reason in particular I shoot a lot of Tmax 100 and 400 and develop in Xtol. Not sure why, it just happened that way. Things look good to me.
    So, as I considered shooting with a different film and trying something new I thought I would try to figure out what does what and why in the hopes of creating new images
    that have a different look than what I have so far and develop a bit of understanding along the way.
    I am sure that those of you that are more skillful and advanced than I
    can visualize a certain look or character and know how to achieve that look with chosen materials and techniques.
    I hope to one day have that skill as well.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by bascom49 View Post
    I am sure that those of you that are more skillful and advanced than I
    can visualize a certain look or character and know how to achieve that look with chosen materials and techniques.
    I hope to one day have that skill as well.
    Most people think they can do this, but they can't. In the end what counts most is adequate exposure to record all the information you want, and then it comes down to printing. The best craftsmen I can think of all use different materials (one of them more or less uses whatever film he can get his hands on) and it doesn't matter one bit.

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