View Full Version : Ready to switch film from Tmax100 to?????

David G. Gagnon
29-Sep-2003, 20:34
This is one of those open-ended questions, which is hopefully going to be answered in a way to help guide me to my next film.

I am ready to switch from T-Max 100 and go with one of the Ilford films, mainly because from what I've been reading here and a few other places, Ilford seems to more traditional- oriented, and hope fully will be around a long time.

I started out in 4x5 Tmax 100, using a Jobo sheet film tank and inversion agitation. I had a condenser enlarger, then went to a diffusion colorhead. I am now doing Tmax 100 8x10 in trays (still using TmaxRS), using an Aristo V54 cold light head, and using different lenses on the cameras than when I made my first film tests at the very beginning. I have made all these changes, all affecting my working E.I. Now Kodak has thrown one more monkey wrench in the mix by changing the emulsion. So I'm back at square one, starting all over with film tests. One more thing I will mention is that awful magenta stain that takes forever to wash off the film! I'd like to be rid of that challenge!

I'm wanting to stay with a slower film, so I'm looking at FP4 Plus or Delta 100. Does one of these films have that anti-halation backing like the Tmax does? Does it wash out easier ?(I hope!) Do both of these films respond well to N+ and N- development?

I'm also open to suggestions as to which developer to use with the film you would recommend. I have used only Kodak developers in the past, and know nothing about the ease of use or longevity of other developers once they are mixed at a working dilution, replenishment, etc. There are things I'm going to miss about the tMax RS---ease of mixing, long shelf life, and definite replenishment directions.

So........I'm open to suggestions. The film and developer I'd like to use needs to continue to be around for a good long time, so get out your crystal balls! The developer needs to be relatively safe (tray development)and long lasting, and something I can buy and just add water. I've thought about mixing my own using raw chemicals, but I need consistency in results if I'm to move forward in trying to perfect my craft, so I'd rather not do that. I know, I know, the zone system is not perfect, but I need to get a lot closer than I've been in the past.

Thanks in advance for all your enlightening answers!


Erik Asgeirsson
29-Sep-2003, 21:37
I use and like FP4+. I haven't found any problems washing off the backing so far with sheet film (seems to be trickier with roll film). I've not tried expansions, but I've had success with an extreme contraction (around 4 stops if I remember correctly) by developing in highly diluted developer with less than normal agitation. I like the general results of it in both HC-110 and D-76. You may want to try mixing HC-110 from concentrate directly to working strength if you like long shelf life and don't usually finish the stock solution before it goes bad.

Peter Witkop
29-Sep-2003, 22:57
Hi David -

I've moved almost entirely away fro Kodak stuff for pretty much the same reasons you're considering the change. I personally like Ilford FP4+ in perceptol. I've heard FP4+ works well in PMK, I'll get around to trying that myself real soon now :o) Just like _many_ other things. I also haven't had too many problems getting the purple dyes off, though it does seem to come of a bit slower than tri-x for example. FP4+ for me anyway has been relativly forgiving too, I've got a little more room for error before I blow out my highlights than I did with TMX.


William Marderness
30-Sep-2003, 02:51
I like FP-4+.

As for the developer, I recommend mixing your own chemicals. It does not lead to inconsistency. In fact, I have found the opposite. I once tried to make X-tol work, but I got inconsistent results. Each batch I mixed was different. The inconsistency problem prompted me to mix my own developer, and I have had no consistency problem since.

Doing your own mixing also protects against changes in the formula that the manufacture makes but does not tell you about. I have read that most "improvements" made to developers are designed to reduce its production cost or make it work with various qualities of water, not to improve the developer's performance. Manufactures add extra chemicals to their developers for hard water and to make all the chemicals dissolve when added to water at the same time. Mix your own chemicals in distilled water and you won't need the additives.

I now mix all my chemicals from scratch. It is easy, consistent, and I can mix up many different formulas with a few basic chemicals.

Robert A. Zeichner
30-Sep-2003, 05:21
Nothing is forever. As time marches on, the life of products seems to diminish, especially if they are of a technical nature and are destined for relatively small markets. The "new" TMX100 has been tested and compared with the old by Howard Bond and appears to require little, if any correction for reciprocity departure at speeds I would normally use and so that is what I will use when I deplete my current supply. I am currently using Ilford Ilfotec HC which is almost identical to HC-110. Results have been good for me. I used to use Delta emulsions, but found that presoak would screw up the development time. Apparently there is an incorporated wetting agent. I don't know what film will remain around the longest. If that answer was known, perhaps many people would try to standardize on that and upset the balance by creating a sudden shift. I say, everyone should use what they like and not try to exact revenge on any particular manufacturer for discontinuing our favorite film. A steady, consistent consumption rate may do more to influence manufacturers to just keep on making what we like. When they announce your favorite is on the extinction list, maybe that's the time to stock up and buy a bigger freezer. Just my thoughts.

Tim Curry
30-Sep-2003, 06:48
If you plan on enlarging the 8X10, I would recommend PMK pyro with FP4+. Both are readily available and easy to get to know. Since you will be starting over anyway and have to do film tests for printing, this combination will allow changes in development which you will be seeing anyway as you do your film tests. There is ample data out there for this combination, which will allow you to test rapidly and get what you need to start printing.

If you want to get a bit more daring, try J&C 200 with ABC pyro. It would give a bit more speed and plenty of "wiggle room" for expanded development when you need it. Mixing chemistry is not as bad as you might think. The tools are basic and it is a good way to get to know what is actually happening inside the film. It sounds like you're heading down that road anyway. That way you won't be forced to march in lock step with any one manufacturer or product.

MIke Sherck
30-Sep-2003, 07:02
It seems that every time Kodak makes an announcement related to their film business I get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach and wonder again whether I'm doomed to go the way of the dinosaurs, sinking into the muck as the last box of film is exposed. I have this mental image of gasoline being poured into the gas tank of a flying car, my final contribution to the mortal world some million years hence. :)

On the other hand, take a look at Ilford's web site. Specifically, look at their press releases. 14 announcements this year and all of them digital. Not a word about film, paper, chemistry... Look at their home page and what do you see? An announcement for a Photoshop event. Look at their list of products: what's at the top of the list? Digital products. Look at the "about us" page. "... world leader in the digital imaging arena ..." and not one word about film or photographic papers. The sole mention of "traditional" products is in the context of what Ilford has been, not what they are or will be.

From their web site, I'd say that Ilford is even more committed to digital technology than Kodak is. The question on my mind is, where did this myth about Ilford's supposed "committment" to traditional photographic materials come from? Has anyone from Ilford committed to continue producing black and white materials into the future?

The sole difference between Kodak and Ilford, as far as I can see, is that Kodak is telling me where they intend to go. With Ilford I have to guess, and my guess is that when it makes economic sense to do so they'll drop unprofitable products in a heartbeat, without even the courtesy of advanced warning (unlike Kodak.)

Personally, I intend to continue to use the products I like, specifically T-Max 100 and Tri-x, as long as they are available or until something better comes along, or until their manufacturer does something so completely reprehensible that I switch in disgust. Ilford makes fine products, don't get me wrong, but I can't see any reason to switch to them just because Kodak is honest enough to tell me that they're steering the company in a new direction.

Oh, on the magenta stain and Tmax films. It's been said often but I'll repeat it again: Tmax wants fresh, strong fixer. Much of the magenta comes out in the developer, the rest is supposed to come out in the fix. If you still have magenta stain in the wash, your fixer is probably at fault. I also process my T-Max 100 in trays in TMax RS and I don't have this problem. Mix it up fresh and dump it after use. Good luck!


James Driscoll
30-Sep-2003, 07:34
The question on my mind is, where did this myth about Ilford's supposed "committment" to traditional photographic materials come from?

EXACTLY!!! Why does everyone here....seem to think Ilford is this small 5 man operation that will continue to offer B&W products forever???

Ilford is a big company....not as big as Kodak, but still a big company. When was the last time Ilford introduced a new product???(with the exception on RC paper) It was 1998.....Delta 3200, and not of much use to a large format shooter.

Another thing that bugs me....is that LF shooters don't seem to take into account how small of a market sheet film is. In this day and age of the bottom line that is even more true.

Switiching over to Ilford isn't going to make it sheet film stay around any longer. Kodak has invested so much money into their new coating plant for B&W film that they have to keep making it, in order to satisy the bean counters.

If anything, color sheet film is what is going to get the axe first. The market for color sheet film is mainly pros, and pros are the ones switiching to digital- not fine art or hobby photographers.

Ctein wrote an article a few years ago about the future disappearence of film. His opinion (and I tend to agree with it) is that when the film market really drops out in the USA and Western Europe, that the big film companies are going to probably sell all of there technology and equipment to smaller developing countries and that film will continue to be manufactured.

Remember....Vacuum tubes and phono cartridges are still being made!!! Yes there are less companies commited to making them....but high quality is still there. How many of you dumped turntables for CD??? Just like a lot of people are going to dump film for digital, there is still going to be a strong market segment that doesn't and will keep it alive. Of course we won't have 25 different emulsions to choose from.

If you want to walk down the road of "supporting" companies that make film, support the smaller companies like Bergger, Efke, and Foma. Yes they may make "old style" films right now, but that is because there is a demand and Kodak, Ilford, Agfa, and Fuji don't meet that demand. In a few years if the big film companies stop making "modern" films, there will still be a demand and the odds are that one of these smaller companies will step up and start making the material.

If you want to switch, because you like another film by all means do so. If you are switching because you feel "the company doesn't support B&W or LF anymore" your shooting yourself in the foot. TAKE ADVANTAGE of all the wonderful material we still have at our fingertips in 2003.

tim atherton
30-Sep-2003, 08:56
As I recall last year Ilford said publicly that they could not say hand on heart that they would produce a new black and white product (but did not rule it out entirley). A year ago they also said they were, at that time, still committed to producing ULF sheet film (obviously as well as "regular sized" sheet film - but this was at the ULF Conference).

Now as we have seen much has changed in a year with the very rapid growth of digital. But Ilford has had no problem in the past answering direct questions such as these when asked. (in one they were asked in an article, the other at a panel disussion). Most likely they would give as direct answers today were they asked. I'm guessing no one has asked the right person.

(actually, at the same conference kodak said they were also committed to film - going on about the new coating plant. But if you read their recent rleases, that stance hasn't changed. They have so far only made public comment about development of consumer film products - all the rest is specualtion)

Rob Gertler
30-Sep-2003, 09:41
David- About a year ago I finally gave up on Kodak and made the switch. After trying various film/ developer combinations I choose Fuji Acros Neopan 100 developed in FX-1 developer (D-76 was almost as good). There are several great things about this film/developer (compared to TMAX100): 1) grain is as good if not finer; 2)edge sharpness at high enlargement is greatly superior; 3) Fuji Acros is available is ready-loads (a very big advantage for weight reduction, convenience and dust avoidance); 4) the same emulsion is available in 120 size for use with a rollfilm holder; 5)reciprocity failure is rarely a problem; 6)zone system adjustments in development time are easy. I am curious about what others think about this film. Rob Gertler

David Beal
30-Sep-2003, 09:48
Back to David's original question: I use Delta 100, shot at ISO 80 and developed in Ilford DDX because I think it gives the best fit under my working conditions; since I do much more MF than LF, I can't justify the expense for reproduceable temperature and agitation controls that TMX requires. Delta 100 is more "forgiving" and I like the results.

But I also use "old" Tri-X for landscapes, in Rodinal 1:100.

On a tangential point, do you want a T grain film, or would FP4 be better? You might want to try it.

Best wishes.

/s/ David David Beal Memories Preserved Photography, LLC www.memoriespreservedphoto.com

paul owen
30-Sep-2003, 11:36
I've just "discovered" Delta 100, after being a devout FP4 Plus user. I am VERY pleased with the negs I get and use both DiXactol or FX39 as a developer. I rate the film at 100 asa and find that I get plenty of detail in the shadows whilst preserving subtle mid tones.

Michael J. Kravit
1-Oct-2003, 20:24
It's funny, the more things change the more they stay the same. I remember back in the late 60's and earky 70's we would sit around in the High School cafeteria talking about which film/developer combo to use. We were 16 years old and just getting into Microdol-X. Tri-X, Plus-X, and Panatomic-X in D-23 as I recall.

Now after many many years, it is refreshing to see the debate still rages.

Delta 100, TMX, Acros 100 are all fine emulsions. The differences are not a pronunced as some might think. D-76, Hc-110, Rodinal, PMK, DiXactol, PyroCat HD, DDX, etc. All excellent developers.

Food for thought....after a long and rewarding career, Arnold Newman still processes his Tri-X in D-76. His images adorn the walls of many of the most prominent dipolmatic halls, galleries, museums, and homes.

Is there really that much difference in the final product? Ain't it grand......generation after generation, we test, print, shoot....test print shoot always looking for that magical combination that will make our images glow, give us dmax, or the irredescent shadow detail.

Tri-X and D-76.....gotta really give him credit.