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Thread: T-Max 400, HP-5, Tri-X comparison?

  1. #1

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    T-Max 400, HP-5, Tri-X comparison?

    Hi all, I did some shooting this past week with my favorite film, T-Max 100, but there were a few instances where an extra stop or two would have been nice. I am interested in hearing from anyone who has used all three of the films (T-Max 400, Tri-X (320) or Ilford HP-5), or at least two of them. I would like your opinions on which you prefer and why. I probably can't go wrong with any one of them, but I'd be interested in some input. T-Max 400 would be easy as I would not have to change developers (T-Max RS) and have extra chemical storage. Alternately I could use T-Max RS on the others, but there may be better developer choices for the other films. Thanks for the help. Regards, Rob Rielly

  2. #2
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    Re: T-Max 400, HP-5, Tri-X comparison?

    IMO TXP is a special-purpose film, whereas TMY is the ultimate general-purpose film. TXP has an upswept curve which is the opposite of what I would prefer if I can't have a straight curve. It can make landscapes look somewhat dramatic and old-school depending on your tastes.

    I used to use HP5 and liked it ok, it was the closest thing to tri-x 400 in sheets. If you have some grudge against t-grain films (some do), then there's your general-purpose film.
    Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer. Art is everything else we do.
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    Re: T-Max 400, HP-5, Tri-X comparison?

    Xtol is a better developer choice for Tmax across the board. Assuming you are shooting LF, you could just go to Tmax-400 (TMY-2) for everything - a number of us have and find no problems. If you like the 100, TMY-2 is just the same with faster speed, better toe on the bottom end, and only very slightly increased grain, at least in Xtol.

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    Re: T-Max 400, HP-5, Tri-X comparison?

    There's no bad choice. HP5 tests at ISO 200 for me, whereas the Kodak films test at rated speed. I like as much speed as I can get for the flexibility.

    I use Kodak in 4x5 and 5x7, HP5 in 8x10 solely because of their 25-sheet boxes. A recent email from Kodak told me to go find a rep and "build a business case" for larger boxes of Kodak 8x10. In my spare time...
    Bruce Barlow
    author of "Finely Focused" and "Exercises in Photographic Composition"
    www.brucewbarlow.com

  5. #5

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    Re: T-Max 400, HP-5, Tri-X comparison?

    If the grain and sharpness are the most important for you, then the vote for TMAX 400 is very clear. Here are the number of line pairs that the three films and your known TMAX 100 can resolve at high contrast targets:

    TMX 100 = 200 lp/mm
    TMY 400 = 200 lp/mm
    HP5 = 100 lp/mm
    TRI-X= 100 lp/mm

    HP5 and TRI-X are also much grainier. I estimate you could enlarge a TMY negative at least 30-40 % more (linear) before it looks as grainy as the HP5 or TRI-X print.

    From this technical point of view there is no question. Despite of that the hardest task is to check out the greyscale of the three. There are differences in tonality and the only way to find out would be, to shoot some identic scenes with all of them and to compare thereafter. If that is too much effort for you than start with the TMAX 400 and see if you "like" the pictures. If yes, everything is fine, if no, go to the TRI-X...

    Best regards,
    Andreas

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    Re: T-Max 400, HP-5, Tri-X comparison?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Barlow View Post
    There's no bad choice. HP5 tests at ISO 200 for me, whereas the Kodak films test at rated speed. I like as much speed as I can get for the flexibility.

    I use Kodak in 4x5 and 5x7, HP5 in 8x10 solely because of their 25-sheet boxes. A recent email from Kodak told me to go find a rep and "build a business case" for larger boxes of Kodak 8x10. In my spare time...
    Well I firmly believe that if anyone could "build a business case" for 25 sheet boxes Mr. Barlow is the man. Bruce, Bruce he's our man, if Bruce can't do it, no one can!!!

    It never hurts to have a cheerleader

    Now back to the OP. If your intent is to contact print on silver chloride papers, TMY is your film.

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    Re: T-Max 400, HP-5, Tri-X comparison?

    Well, the case is underway elsewhere.

    Help us all and chime in your support.
    Bruce Barlow
    author of "Finely Focused" and "Exercises in Photographic Composition"
    www.brucewbarlow.com

  8. #8

    Re: T-Max 400, HP-5, Tri-X comparison?

    Quote Originally Posted by A49 View Post
    snipped......

    Here are the number of line pairs that the three films and your known TMAX 100 can resolve at high contrast targets:

    TMX 100 = 200 lp/mm
    TMY 400 = 200 lp/mm
    HP5 = 100 lp/mm
    TRI-X= 100 lp/mm

    snipped...

    Andreas
    Can you show data to support these numbers?
    Did you test them yourself or are you quoting someone else's work?

  9. #9
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: T-Max 400, HP-5, Tri-X comparison?

    Quote Originally Posted by artflic View Post
    Hi all, I did some shooting this past week with my favorite film, T-Max 100, but there were a few instances where an extra stop or two would have been nice. I am interested in hearing from anyone who has used all three of the films (T-Max 400, Tri-X (320) or Ilford HP-5), or at least two of them. I would like your opinions on which you prefer and why.
    I've used both Tri-X and TMY-2 in 5x4. Used both HC-110 and XTOL with Tri-X, and only XTOL with TMY-2. At this point TMY-2 is my only B&W film.

    I did the work to determine my personal EI and "N" development time for each combination. I got as close to an apples-to-apples comparison as I could (considering I don't run or work in a lab, and have very limited equipment).

    My work with developers and Tri-X led me to conclude that under about 15x enlargement it's difficult to see the effects of the developers -- in prints. You can see subtle difference with a suitable loupe on a light table. But not where it counts -- in a print, unless you make really big enlargements. And few of us in LF go that large.

    What I found comparing films, both using the same developer and processing technique (rotary, Jobo, 3010 tank, 25 rpm reversing, 20C, XTOL 1:3) was that TMY-2 is a considerably better film than Tri-X -- for my purposes, which is almost completely landscape. TMY-2 is considerably less grainy (not that that matters with LF), and considerably sharper (which you won't really see unless your camera/tripod technique is exemplary).

    Again, at "real world" enlargement levels, the improved graininess and sharpness aren't major factors. But I found that tonality and reciprocity characteristics really are major factors. TMY-2 renders the tones in the landscape much better for me. I find that everything shows up as the shade of gray I thought it should -- and with Tri-X I found that difficult to control. TMY-2's sensitivity to the spectrum is better -- more linear, to my visual system.

    In 5x4 you wouldn't think that reciprocity characteristics matter much. Yet, they do. I found that the same scene made with both films showed significantly more shadow detail with TMY-2. For example, a photograph of rocks in a mountain stream. The shadows under the rocks, placed on Zone III. The level of shadow detail from the TMY-2 negative was usually considerably better. It took me a while to understand, but with a 1/4 second exposure, those shadows where entering reciprocity failure with Tri-X, but weren't even close with TMY-2. And it makes a visible difference.

    It took me a while to convince myself that what I was seeing wasn't just that I had screwed up my personal EI tests. When I figured it out I could test for it and show it happening over and over. Very repeatable. Clearly reciprocity failure.

    What that really means, to me and the way I work anyway, is that if I'm shooting at less than 1/8, my shadow detail is at risk with Tri-X. And with TMY-2 I never even consider it. With TMY-2 I don't see any reciprocity problems at all out to 8 seconds. I haven't tested any farther.

    So, if your game is graininess or sharpness, probably any of the films in your list will be fine. But for tonality and certainly for reciprocity characteristics, I'll take TMY-2 every time.

    Does this help you? Not really. You know that you're going to have to do your own testing to find out what you personally should do, yes? But maybe this will point you more or less in the right direction. IDK.

    Bruce Watson

  10. #10

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    Re: T-Max 400, HP-5, Tri-X comparison?

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Ambrose View Post
    Can you show data to support these numbers?
    Did you test them yourself or are you quoting someone else's work?
    I took them from a chart in a German forum. The author is highly reliable and some of these numbers I have read already at different places. The numbers also make sense from experiences I have with some of these films. I think they come from technical data published by the producers or from tests in magazines.

    The important thing about them is that they are for high contrast targets. For pictoral photography you can assume that only the half to two thirds of this resolution is possible, which is due to the usually lower contrast you have between different areas in nomal pictures. The limited lens resoultion will also reduce the achievable resolution and the developer also can play a big role. If you then shoot without tripod you can think about achieving maximum 40 lines per millimeter (http://www.zeiss.com/c12567a8003b58b...25697700548cd6), although this naturally depends on your shutter speed (With my Nikon D80, 10 MP, half frame camera and a 50 mm lens I will loose maximum sharpness / resolution if I go beneath 1/250 second handheld.).

    Why I said all this? Just to say, that the film is only one, not unimportant factor in achieving high resolution. The numbers are only a rough guide to what you can expect from the different films. You can read them as: The smallest things "modern" T-grained Tmax 400 will record under "perfect" conditions (where resolution is not considerably reduced by other factors) are half as big (linear) as the ones that the older, conventional grained films will record. That is the result of the Tmax´s finer grain and of effects during development. In real life you will see the difference if you enlarge your negatives at least about 3 to 4 times linear.

    Best,
    Andreas

    P.S.: Sorry for telling these things to a professional photographer, but I wrote them for the other, maybe less experienced readers of this thread too.

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