T-Max films - any alternatives?
Just wondering if there are any alternatives that provide the same tonality and acutance as t-max films.
Films that are just as good or better - not opinion, but based on actual research and experience please.
Tonality is more a matter of taste than a spectrum from good to bad, and acutance depends on the developer as much as the film.
I used to use TMX as my main film and eventually decided that I liked the tonality of traditional films like Tri-X and FP4+ and Efke 100 better, and that if I wanted finer grain, the solution was to shoot a bigger format. A big difference between T-Max films and other films, I learned, was spectral sensitivity. T-Max is much more linear, which produces a very nice looking spectral sensitivity graph, but the tonality looks more like B&W video, which isn't so much to my taste. That said, TMX is very sharp and is great at handling scenes with a wide brightness range and has excellent reciprocity characteristics. I've never cared for TMY, but the new version looks better than the previous version, from the samples I've seen.
Fuji Acros is at least as good as T-MAX 100. It has a lower RMS for grain and higher resolution. Delta 100 is good, but a bit below the other two in performance iMO, but it is still very good. As David notes, acutance depends at least as much on the developer and method of development as the film.
Originally Posted by PhotoBob
I don't believe there is a better ASA film than T-MAX 400. Delta 400 would come close, but it may not be available in sheet film now.
My comments are based on experience and testing, but bear in mind there is always some opinion involved!!
Last edited by sanking; 04-25-2008 at 02:02 PM. Click to view previous post history.
The nature of photography is that these are subjective questions.
Originally Posted by PhotoBob
We can tell you that a film has greater resolution than another film, but acutance and tonality are highly subjective. It is impossible to answer this question without inserting opinion.
Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.
Favourite film: do I need to pick only one?
I agree that ACROS is at least as good as TMX. I do not agree that the old TMY ws the best 400 speed film. In the developers I used, the current version of Tri-X had better grain than the old TMY. I have some of the new TMY but I haven't had the chance to use it yet. Acutance is a funny term. When 35mm film was still considerd a miniature format various techniques were employed to make it look sharper and finer grained. One of these was acutance. My understanding of acutance is a heightened appearance of sharpness where lighter and darker tones meet. Developers which are good at showing this effect also typically cause grain to be more apparent. Some people like to use Rodinal with TMX to exaggerate the effect. I like the opposite strategy. I develop ACROS in Fuji Microfine. The edges still look sharp but they are much less grainy. If you shoot the same film in 120 size you will get finer grain and better sharpness than any 35mm combination. I also agree that tonality is very subjective. Most people I know think that the traditional films have better tonality than the newer high tech films.
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Folks like to make a big deal out of this for some reason. Truth is, films from the big three producers will be remarkably similar rather than glaringly different. All of them are better than good in terms of grain, sharpness, and most importantly, quality control. There is not one substantially "better" than the other. So it comes down to an aesthetic choice, and that is something only you can decide.
Uh oh, Sandy, you dared to express a view of superiority of X versus Y! Now there shall be war
Actually I agree that acros is outstanding. I've been using it in 4x5 QL form and, man oh man...
Another option would be Delta 100. The deltas and acros have a feel quite similar to the tmaxes and there can be fair arguments of superiority of one versus the others. But they are all too smooth and bite-less for my own taste!
APX100 is as good as Tmax100 but unfortunately not available in 120 or LF any more.
I've finally made a switch to Delta100 only because I can get Ilford B&W materials a little more easily when I'm travelling abroad.
Alternative to T-MAX
Try Ilford's HP5+ developed in Rodinal
Acros claims an RMS granularity of 7, TMX is 8. There is at least one post I've run across that says Fuji sort of stretched the ratings, using a not readily available developer and rounding down. So, let's say that for all practical purposes, the objective, machine determined granularity is the same. Doesn't mean our eyes can't prefer one grain structure over another, but let's start with objective testing.
The measured, objective, acutance of both films is the same, 200 lpm at 1000:1 contrast. A high solvent developer will reduce that sharpness. Hmmm, maybe "sharpness" should be the word.
Said acutance measurement is "straight", my term. There is also a subjective acutance when the dark/light interface has a reversal of tone. Here, developers can make a difference.
How important said sharpness/acutance is combined with the ability of the optics, I have no idea. I think lpm ratings are glassless, not sure.