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Thread: Newbie needs Fil Advice

  1. #1

    Newbie needs Fil Advice

    I am currently taking my first LF photography class at the local community center. Our teacher has told us that we are all to use Tri-X 4x5 for our projects. I asked if I could use something else and he told me that there is no other film that has the lattitude, and expressive look of Tri-X. He also that the masters would Never be seen dead without Tri-X.

    At first I though he was kidding, but as the class went on he reiterated his position.

    Is this the truth? Is Tri-X the best film ever made? Is it the only film the masters used?

    In advance, thanks for your responses.



  2. #2
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002

    Newbie needs Fil Advice

    Your teacher likes Tri-X and prefers to work with a familiar film so that the students won't confuse him with unexpected results. So go with the teacher's suggestion.

    Apart from that, I sincerely hope that his mind is more open when teaching the rest of the class - he has clearly defined "master" as "someone who uses Tri-X".

    Tri-X didn't exist when Ansel Adams started out, and some of his most famous pictures were shot on Ilford film. Most European "master" photographers have used AGFA, Ilford, Perutz, ADOX, or whatever.

  3. #3
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Tucson, Arizona

    Newbie needs Fil Advice

    "Is Tri-X the best film ever made? Is it the only film the masters used?"

    Absolutely false. Tri-X is a very nice film, certainly one of the standards, but historically and currently, photographers use a wide range of films by many manufacturers. (BTW, there is Tri-X and Professional Tri-X, which are two different films.)

    Your instructor may simply be trying to keep everyone on a standard film he is familiar with, which is fine. But his statements about Tri-X are way over the edge of reality, and not a good starting point for someone trying to learn the craft and history of large format photography.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  4. #4

    Newbie needs Fil Advice

    Your teacher is a momo.
    I suggest that you drop the class and find another with someone that has half a brain.
    Jeez, WTF is wrong with these people.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 1999

    Newbie needs Fil Advice

    If you are new to large format may I suggest some of the articles in the Free Articles section of our web site

    Tri-X is fine film and you can not go wrong. At a later time you may want to try something else but for now follow his/her instructions.

    Herte are some books that might help

    Using the View Camera that i wrote a few years ago.

    User's Guide to the View Camera by Jim Stone

    Large Format Nature Photography by Jack Dykinga

    These are the three books I recommend to people getting started in large format.

    steve simmons

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    San Joaquin Valley, California

    Newbie needs Fil Advice


    Class is a learning process. Congratulations---you get to learn about Tri-X sheet film! Your instructor has a reason why he wants his/her class to be working with the materialss chosen:take advantage of it. While Tri-X is a good film and is IMHO a very predictable & forgiving film---it isn't the only game in town, just save experimenting with other emulsions for after your class. It is hard enough transitioning to LF without having to "learn" other films by jumping around from emulsion to emulsion---save that for when you're on your own and you find your favorite films are getting shot out from under you with disturbing regularity. Your teacher is comfortable with Tri-X. Lots of great photos have been taken with Tri-X. You won't be handicapped at all by using Tri-X. I know its not the cheapest film, just be grateful your instructor isn't requiring T-MAX or worse, THAT would be expen$ive!

    Enjoy the adventure!
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    Newbie needs Fil Advice

    At least the teacher is in fact requiring that FILM be used...

  8. #8

    Newbie needs Fil Advice

    Just an academic aspousing his bias in an attempt to support his fragile ego, nothing more. Before the age of the internet this was probably pretty common. These days the truth can smoke these out pretty fast.

    Many excellent films that were used over the years came and went and the list is obviously extensive. Panatomic X, Plus X, Super XX and many more. If I am not mistaken, the new Tri X is not even the same film as in years past.

    The latest T grain emulsion films like T Max 400 and 100 and Delta 100 are marvelous. Other films like Ilford FP4+ and Efke PL100 are really nice as well. Tri X is no better or worse than many others as surely there have never been any magic bullets out there in the film department.

    Botton line is that any photography teacher should always encourage the class to try different film and developer combinations and share the results with the class as this not a mathematical computation, but a personal choice. Anyone that purposefully narrows this choice to one film makes you wonder if the course is worth continuing.

    Good Luck!

  9. #9
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Tucson, Arizona

    Newbie needs Fil Advice

    I wouldn't drop the class over this; just be aware that the instructor has strong opinions that may or may not be valid. You already had some inkling he was off, as you posted the question here. But regardless, Tri-X is a fine and widely available film, and as good a choice for your first lessons as for a "master's" best work. The real test of his instructorship will be the work, interest, and discussion level generated within the class.
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jan 2001

    Newbie needs Fil Advice

    I've been photographing since 1951, and have probably used every film available since then. I have to agree with your instructor that there is no single film which will have better overall characteristics than TRI-X (although some are faster, some have finer grain, etc). As you can see from this forum there will be many people who wish to quibble about the finer points, but I'd say that your instructor basically knows of what he speaks. Good luck with your course.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

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