View Full Version : TMAX or the New TRI-X

12-Apr-2004, 09:35
Now that I have run out of the old tri-x, I have to adjust to either the new Tri-x which I find to be a lower contrast film or make the jump to Tmax.

I am going to try to increase my development time of the new Tri-x to compensate, but I am wondering if I should put my efforts into working with Tmax.

I would like to hear from people their experiences with Tmax, especially as compared to the new tri-x.

Reading John Sexton's article, Tmax sounds difficult. Is it worth the extra trouble compared to the new tri-x?

steve simmons
12-Apr-2004, 09:49
Here is my take on T-Max.

It is a very fussy film. Its film speed changes according to the color temp of the light and it is very reactive to any changes in developing. The people who do the best with it are people who photograph over and over again in the same light and who process their film mechanically. Without these rigid controls you will have a hard time getting consistent results from this film. The 100 is fussier than the 400 speed.

Use a film like FP4+, Tri-X, HP5+ and you will have an easier time.

steve simmons

Michael Kadillak
12-Apr-2004, 10:25
The general consensus with T Max films are broken or made with one word - JOBO. If you have such a unit then you can overcome the need for absolute temperature and agitation consistency with this film. The additional benefits are excellent reciprocity characteristics and expansion/contraction capabilities.

Steve's advice to go with alternative film choices are right on. Make it easy on yourself and you will enjoy the predictable results.


David Kaufman
12-Apr-2004, 10:34
I have used T-Max 100 for years. It is an excellent, extremely fine grain film (nothing at 100 EI is finer) with good reciprocity characteristics. If you run careful calibrations, and pay close attention to development times, you will get beautiful, predictable, consistent results and extremely smooth tonality at high degrees of enlargement. Because of its extended "straight line" highlights, it is excellent for subjects like architecure, and nature. To use it properly requires no more work than using any film stock.

12-Apr-2004, 10:34

The low contrast in the new Tri-x can be accounted for by developing the film about 15% longer. It is an easy thing to do. Like everyone else has said, tmax film is fussy. IF your process is good and tight you will be able to control it. If not, good luck.


MIke Sherck
12-Apr-2004, 14:44
I've used T-Max 100 in 4x5 for years and have not experienced the range of difficulties others have reported. I have no idea why: I process sheet film in trays, don't bother with tempering baths or pre-soaking, and I don't think my thermometer has ever been calibrated by a lab. I do work hard at keeping my darkroom processes repeatable, though: agitation, time, technique, etc. Maybe I just found something that works for me? I shoot mostly outdoors; landscapes & portraits, and some studio work under hot lights (portraits, the occasional still life,) spot metering with a Pentax V. Lighting varies all over the place.

That said, I recently switched from TMax RS developer to D-76 (stock.) The new Tmax seemed to lose some contrast in TMax RS which D-76 takes care of for me. Note that, as in Sexton's article, that's fresh D-76!

I love the film: wonderful tonal range, teeny-tiny grain, excellent acutance, friendly reciprocity and good keeping qualities.

Mike S.

L.V. Smith
12-Apr-2004, 18:20
I use both T-Max 100 and the new Tri-X. I get excellent results with both of these films when I do two things well. 1) Expose properly, 2) Develop properly. May I suggest the following: Follow Kodaks recommended exposure and development times. When you develop be as exact as possible about temperature, time, and agitation. T-Max 100 in rolls in my opinion is best developed in T-Max 1:4 using Kodak's recommended processing. Agitation should be vigorous with 5 to 7 inversions for small tanks in 5 seconds. You repeat this every 30 seconds until development time is finished. Follow the appropriate times for Tri-X and Tri-X Pan. May I suggest using the following developer that you may mix yourself for about 12 cents a roll for Tri-X films. D76H is as follows: Metol=2.5 grams, Sodium Sulfite=100.0 grams, Borax=2.0 grams in 125 degree F water or hotter for 750 ML. Mix the chemicals in that order. Add water to make 1 liter. This formula is from Grant Haist who worked for Kodak and gave this formula in the very good publication by Stephen G. Anchell entitled "The Darkroom Cookbook" 2nd edition, page 154. I use it all the time for Tri-X and Verichrome Pan and get excellent results when #'s 1 and 2 above are followed. Use it at 1:1. If you do this and don't like the results, then make a ringaround until you find exposure and development to suit what you like. First however, I strongly suggest to follow Kodak's recommendations. Shoot all film first at the recommend ASA number, and process accordingly. You may be suprised! Just ask yourself this: "Who knows more about the film, us or Kodak"? In my opinion, Kodak does!

Mike H.
13-Apr-2004, 00:09
Is there a link to Sexton's article? Or can someone refer me to the publication and date? Thanks.

13-Apr-2004, 06:43
The link you're after is here ('http://largeformatphotography.info/articles/sexton-tmax.html').


William D. Lester
13-Apr-2004, 06:51
I used to feel that TMX was an inferior film also. It has since become my standard slow/medium speed film in both 4x5 and 120. It is absolutely reliable, has good latitude and excellent gradation and sharpness. I find that developers such as PMK, Rodinal or HC110 work better than Xtol for example. Xtol for me doesn't provide good edge effects - it's too fine grained. I have trouble focusing on the grain for the size of prints I make. I rate the film around 50. After a recent trip to Venice and Florence, all of the 'wall hangers' happen to be on TMX. They look great.

L.V. Smith
13-Apr-2004, 07:45
Many people talk about "fresh D-76". Mr. Sexton mentions it in his excellent article. Mr. Grant Haist spoke of D-76 and D76H in the above mentioned book. Apparently D-76 has a change in the PH after sitting for awhile and can change your processing. His D76H, which is lacking the Hydroquione, does not change in PH, and reportablely is a more stable developer. It is also very, very cheap. As a suggestion, order the appropriate chemicals from a company that sells photographic chemicals and try it. I think you will be pleased with the results.

Mike H.
13-Apr-2004, 09:38
Ken Miller: Thanks for the link. Just printed it out and will read it this morning.

Tom Johnston
16-Apr-2004, 20:41
I have used TMAX100 since it was first brought to market. I also tried TMAX400 but I simply didn't like it. My two primary sheet films are TMAX100 and TRI-X.

I have always been a bit bewildered by all this talk of how touchy TMAX film is. (I am speaking of TMAX100 here). Contrary to all the talk about its touchiness, I have found the exact opposite to be true!

I process in trays with HC110-B. My N+1 times are nearly double my N times! You read that right! Forget about N+2! In fact, I have found TMAX100 to be incredibly NON-responsive to development times in HC110-B. In that developer, TRI-X is much more responsive than TMAX100. All my calibration testing confirmed this when I first tested the film and my results have been consistent with those test results ever since. It was really strange and I couldn't understand why this was happening especially considering all the horror stories that were floating around about how touchy it was supposed to be . Then I posted a question about what I was experiencing on a website (years ago) and received several responses. I also talked to someone at Kodak about this. I don't remember exactly what they said but it had something to do with how TMAX100 reacted in HC110 in particular. All sources confirmed that TMAX100 should not be very responsive to HC110. The explanation had something to do with the particular chemical makeup of HC110 and, if I remember correctly, it's compensating characteristics. You may be able to find a thread on this that I started - probably on photo.net, but it was years ago. I was relieved to see that other photographers had the same experience with TMAX100 in HC110-B.

In HC110-B, expanded development is very difficult to achieve past N+1 without increasing developer temperature. Ironically, when I need strong expanded development, I use TRI-X. I did test TMAX100 in several developers when it first came out and I still have that data and the plotted curves. I will run new tests when I run out of the old emulsions and test the new stuff.

That said, TMAX100 is my first choice in sheet film. I rate it at E.I. 64 based on the standard Zone I density of .10 du over b+f. I find it to be very easy to work with and capable of producing outstanding results. For contracted development I often dilute HC110 or use SLIMT presoaks (David Kachel).

I actually wish that TMAX100 was MORE responsive to development times - at least in my standard developer, HC110. I actually find it amusing when I read all the warnings about how touchy this film is. The darn stuff is downright stubborn in HC110-B!

Another thing that I really like about it is it's reciprocity characteristics. As you know, at some point in exposure times, TMAX100 becomes faster than TRI-X. This makes life easier. And this is a very real benefit and not something that comes into play only rarely. On the other hand, when I really do need a faster shutter speed (subject movement, etc.), I turn to TRI-X or HP5+. I would say that I use TMAX100 for approximately 90-95% of my work and TRI-X or HP5+ for the rest. My only complaint is that it is NON-responsive in my standard developer.

I would not be intimidated by the reports that TMAX100 is touchy. Give it a try and judge for yourself. Of course, it may very well be touchy in other developers but I occasionally develop 35 and roll film TMAX100 in D76, TMAX developer, Rodinol, etc., and I have not had any problems at all. It's my favorite b&w film. I'm going to dig out my test results tomorrow and see how the film responded in the various developers that I tested it in when it first came out. Luckily, I saved all that data.

I believe that John Sexton developed TMAX100 in HC110-B when the film was first introduced and his results speak for themselves.

I do not remember why I did not like TMAX400 when it first came out but I was not impressed by it. However, I have known other photographers who swear by it and, to be fair, I only tested in in 35mm and roll film formats. I like the traditional films in this speed class better.