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Thread: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

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    About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    Great read - Thanks for sharing that Jorgen.
    "There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer." - Ansel Adams

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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    Many thanks for sharing this Jorgen. I always preferred fine grained B&W films myself (Panatomic-X was my favorite), but I can certainly appreciate the special attraction Tri-X had (and has) for many people.

    Gary

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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    Yes Gary, Panatomic-X not only had a great name but was a stunning film, I pity anybody who has never seen the tonality and resolution available from it (even in 35mm) and I pity myself that I haven't got a fridge full.

    As for Tri-X, the article was a bit gushing, and now I have a scanner instead of an enlarger HP5 gets the nod purely on the basis that it lays flat and doesn't try to curl into a ball (perhaps a slight exaggeration).

    Steve

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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    I haven't used Tri-X in a long time simply because it's difficult to find in this part of the world. However, HP5 is an excellent alternative, a film with real character also. My other favourite is Pan F Plus 50. It's fine grain and great contrast is exactly what I'm looking for in a good b&w photo. Lately, I have also been experimenting with "modern" films like Delta 100 and Acros. While I think they look a bit "dull" out of the camera, they have great potential when post processed properly. I'm tempted to buy a Jobo processor and experiment with processing, so that I get the maximum out of all these films.

    What is very clear is that I'm taking much more film than I've done in a decade. For me, film is replacing digital for much of my personal photography.
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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    I really like the one of the single firefighter....well done.

    Gary

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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    Quote Originally Posted by bensonga View Post
    I really like the one of the single firefighter....well done.

    Gary
    +1... and +1 for the love of film also. I've given up trying to explain or even understand why. It's simply a fantastic medium that we will hopefully be able to enjoy for decades to come.
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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    Thank you! I uploaded to the "Other than Leica M", thread, so not to go OT.

    I agree, film has this tangible quality that can't be found with digital.
    Last edited by johnnygoesdigital; 21st March 2014 at 06:19.

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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    Just waiting for my 15 rolls of 35 mm Scala to arrive. They are somewhere in the States in the DHL system. Now that Neopan 1600 is no longer available I prefer the Scala for iso 200 - 800 and HP5 for 1600 - 3200. Tri X is fine in a pinch and reverse processes extremely well.

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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    Interesting article, but I am glad that he acknowledged there is some "magical thinking" in his article. Personally, I think most of the people who praise Tri-X to the heavens do so because they have never shot anything else, or at least never really gotten the best out of another film. As a lab owner, I get that people like Tri-X...it is especially good for journalists, event photographers, reportage and beginners -- it is very forgiving. That said, otherwise it is nothing special. I always preferred Neopan 400 for that range...finer grain and sharper, but still a nice classic look. But now the new Tmax 400 is king...probably the best black and white film ever made, yet everyone still brings me TriX!
    Also, I call B.S. on these statements: "'Film is honest,' says Sheila Rock, summarising the views of them all, 'Tri-X is honest.'"
    “Film has more depth,” Sheila Rock says, “it’s the depth of going into a picture which I don’t find with digital. It’s much flatter. Some say it’s getting much better and I do see some things that have impressed me.”

    Film is no more inherently honest than digital. They are both methods of transforming light into an image, and while digital does use interpolation, that technical quirk is not what she is talking about here. Digital work can be just as honest as film work, it is about the work methods of the photographer, not about the medium. Digital is easier to manipulate, but that does not mean people have to do so.
    As for the stuff about being "flatter" and film having more "depth". It's grasping at straws to justify not liking it. There ARE differences and it is ok to prefer one or the other, but to just make these kinds of statements is pretty weak. I get it, you have decades of experience working in one medium, and then all of a sudden everything changes to a new medium. Just criticizing it is a lot easier than relearning everything you have been working on for years and years.
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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    Stuart,
    While finest grain isn't always what I'm looking for, you do have a few points. So I'll try out Tmax 400 just to see if it suits my taste

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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    You should, it's lovely! Quite a different look than Tri-X, but it has an extremely long tonal range, very fine grain and extremely high sharpness. The tonal range is so large that you actually don't need to push it to shoot it at 800. Kodak recommends the same developing time for ISO 800 as they do for ISO 400...it is essentially a multi-iso film. ISO 800 is just a bit more contrasty. At ISO 800 it has the same amount of grain as a traditional medium/low ISO film like FP4 or Plus X...
    Finally, it is really a quite forgiving film as well...at least in terms of exposure. I have not found developing to be too hard either. I just use Xtol 1:1 and follow Kodak's recommendations and everything comes out quite well. On the downside, it is quite expensive, and if you are looking for a grainy look, it's not your best option!! Still, it is hard to mistake it for digital, despite it having a very fine grain.
    Here are a few shots from it on 6x7: In a Narrow Fjord - Stuart Richardson Photography
    These are just 35mm:

    Last edited by Stuart Richardson; 26th March 2014 at 15:45.
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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    I have fond memories of building a darkroom at the age of fifteen and teaching myself photography. I had a full time job as a grocery clerk and cashed my checks at the photo store every week, and learning something new every week. Panatomic and Tri-X were the center of my life, and I played with pushing the ISO to get more contrast. It was tons of fun.

    A few years later I went to work for the NPS in Yosemite and shared a refrigerator loaded with Kodachrome with three other shooters for a few years. But the love of processing film stayed with me for a long time. I have to confess in the seventies we started paying attention what we were pouring down the drains.

    For that reason alone I love digital. (But I still miss film...)

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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    5 rolls of Tmax 400 ordered
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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    Stuart, would you kindly comment on the difference b/w Tmax 400 and Delta 400, if you are able? I'm thinking of adding some 400 speed film to my small stock of Delta 3200 (which I shoot at 1600 and like a lot).
    --Mike

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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    Hi Mike,
    I don't have an enormous experience with Delta 400, but it never really impressed me. I have not been a fan of the Delta films in general. Nothing about them ever made me take much notice of them. I used to use Delta 100 until I found Fuji Acros, which I prefer for its finer grain and more appealing tonal range (to me). The Delta films always felt a bit "dead" to me. I cannot emphasize enough, however, that this is personal and subjective. I think pretty much any modern film with good quality control (i.e. from Fuji, Kodak or Ilford) is going to perform well once it is dialed in with a well-chosen developer. I simply found those results more easily with Acros and TMY-2. Those are the main black and white films I shoot for myself. I process a decent amount of Delta 400 for a good friend of mine, and while he likes it there are a few things that spring to mind -- Delta 400 does not seem to be as fine grained nor have as long a tonal range as TMY2. The film base on TMY2 is also clearer (as is Acros). I believe this was to make them easier to scan. My sense is that TMY2 is more of a "digital look" black and white film, though it is hard to mistake for digital. What I mean by that is that it is very smooth and sharp, with a long tonal range. The grain is generally subtle, and the default contrast is sometimes low since it has such a long tonal range. The Delta films seem to have an older school film look -- more grain, grayer highlights, grainier shadows. Again, others might have a different experience -- developer, technique, enlarger or scanner, exposure style...it all can have a large transformative effect. One thing is clear, however...both will take excellent photos if treated well.
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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    Thank you Jorgen - great article - my (mostly unused) M6 is twitching in the cabinet!

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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    With you there Jono. Just dusted off the M6 and pulled a few rolls of XP-2 from the 'fridge.
    "There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer." - Ansel Adams

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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    Thanks very much, Stewart - very helpful and more than I expected
    --Mike

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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    Hi Mike,
    I don't have an enormous experience with Delta 400, but it never really impressed me. I have not been a fan of the Delta films in general. Nothing about them ever made me take much notice of them. I used to use Delta 100 until I found Fuji Acros, which I prefer for its finer grain and more appealing tonal range (to me). The Delta films always felt a bit "dead" to me. I cannot emphasize enough, however, that this is personal and subjective. I think pretty much any modern film with good quality control (i.e. from Fuji, Kodak or Ilford) is going to perform well once it is dialed in with a well-chosen developer. I simply found those results more easily with Acros and TMY-2. Those are the main black and white films I shoot for myself. I process a decent amount of Delta 400 for a good friend of mine, and while he likes it there are a few things that spring to mind -- Delta 400 does not seem to be as fine grained nor have as long a tonal range as TMY2. The film base on TMY2 is also clearer (as is Acros). I believe this was to make them easier to scan. My sense is that TMY2 is more of a "digital look" black and white film, though it is hard to mistake for digital. What I mean by that is that it is very smooth and sharp, with a long tonal range. The grain is generally subtle, and the default contrast is sometimes low since it has such a long tonal range. The Delta films seem to have an older school film look -- more grain, grayer highlights, grainier shadows. Again, others might have a different experience -- developer, technique, enlarger or scanner, exposure style...it all can have a large transformative effect. One thing is clear, however...both will take excellent photos if treated well.
    Well written about Delta and the other "modern" b&w films. I mostly share your opinions. I did however shoot a couple of Delta 100 rolls recently, and found that a lot can be done to improve the results after scanning. It does tend to get more grainy when contrast is increased though, but I don't really mind that. Here's an example taken with a Contax RX with Zeiss 85mm f/1.4:

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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    Hi Mike,
    I don't have an enormous experience with Delta 400, but it never really impressed me. I have not been a fan of the Delta films in general. Nothing about them ever made me take much notice of them. I used to use Delta 100 until I found Fuji Acros, which I prefer for its finer grain and more appealing tonal range (to me). The Delta films always felt a bit "dead" to me. I cannot emphasize enough, however, that this is personal and subjective. I think pretty much any modern film with good quality control (i.e. from Fuji, Kodak or Ilford) is going to perform well once it is dialed in with a well-chosen developer. I simply found those results more easily with Acros and TMY-2. Those are the main black and white films I shoot for myself. I process a decent amount of Delta 400 for a good friend of mine, and while he likes it there are a few things that spring to mind -- Delta 400 does not seem to be as fine grained nor have as long a tonal range as TMY2. The film base on TMY2 is also clearer (as is Acros). I believe this was to make them easier to scan. My sense is that TMY2 is more of a "digital look" black and white film, though it is hard to mistake for digital. What I mean by that is that it is very smooth and sharp, with a long tonal range. The grain is generally subtle, and the default contrast is sometimes low since it has such a long tonal range. The Delta films seem to have an older school film look -- more grain, grayer highlights, grainier shadows. Again, others might have a different experience -- developer, technique, enlarger or scanner, exposure style...it all can have a large transformative effect. One thing is clear, however...both will take excellent photos if treated well.
    Stuart
    Your comment about "easier to scan" begs a couple follow-on questions, for me anyway. First, are there films that were created long before digital that might have been great in a wet darkroom environment but not so great when digitized? And are there films created since scanning and digital printing that are more suitable for that process?

    And second, would the development times (i.e. neg contrast) be any different for a downstream wet process vs a scan process? Less contrasty for scan perhaps?

    Since you do both in your lab, it seems like you might be a good source for this kind of info.

    Thanks

    Jim

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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    Hi Jim,
    Yes, I think that is definitely the case. Some films scan better than others, and development can have an influence as well. In the darkroom, one tends to want negatives that are, if anything, a bit on the denser side (that is generously exposed and developed). This helps keep the contrast in a more easily controllable range and keeps your exposure times long enough so that you can use standard lens apertures, development times and so on. You have enough time to dodge and burn effectively and so on.

    In the digital darkroom, things are a bit different...you can basically add as much contrast as you need, but it is much harder to flatten things out without losing information. A slightly flatter negative is easier for a scanner to deal with as well, as the highlights and shadows fit fully within the dynamic range of the scanner.

    In general, I try to develop right down the middle and make a full scale negative, but since most of my clients (and myself as well) tend to scan more than wet-print, I think my development is a bit less than what a traditional printer might favor.

    In terms of films, I would say that the best for scanning are probably the chromogenic black and white films like XP2...the lack of grain and silver seem to mesh well with the light sources of most scanners, and if your scanner has digital ICE, it will work most effectively on a film with little or no silver. After that, I think modern films with fairly clear emulsions tend to scan the best -- Fuji Acros, Tmax, Neopan 400 (well...it did), Delta 100 and 400 etc. After that, finer grained films tend to do better than grainy films. Most scanners have non-diffused light sources that behave like condensor enlargers in their propensity to accentuate grain. A few like the 949, X5 and Minolta Scan Multi Pro with the Scanhancer mod use a diffusor that cuts it back a bit. Additionally, films with a lot of silver will not work with Digital ICE, which works really well with color films or chromogenic black and white.

    In general, any properly exposed and developed negative should scan well with a good scanner, but certain films seem to do it better, and the more recent the film, the better they tend to do. I know that Kodak played up the fact that the new Tmax 400, the new Portra films and Ektar 100 were optimized for scanning...based on my experience, I believe them. Still, pretty much anything fresh, well exposed and properly developed will do just fine. The only film I had which never seemed to do well digitally is Bergger 200. That film is like dumping a bunch of salt and pepper on your film! It's the same on analog though, so it's just how it is.
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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    Hi Mike,
    I don't have an enormous experience with Delta 400, but it never really impressed me. I have not been a fan of the Delta films in general. Nothing about them ever made me take much notice of them. I used to use Delta 100 until I found Fuji Acros, which I prefer for its finer grain and more appealing tonal range (to me). The Delta films always felt a bit "dead" to me. I cannot emphasize enough, however, that this is personal and subjective. I think pretty much any modern film with good quality control (i.e. from Fuji, Kodak or Ilford) is going to perform well once it is dialed in with a well-chosen developer. I simply found those results more easily with Acros and TMY-2. Those are the main black and white films I shoot for myself. I process a decent amount of Delta 400 for a good friend of mine, and while he likes it there are a few things that spring to mind -- Delta 400 does not seem to be as fine grained nor have as long a tonal range as TMY2. The film base on TMY2 is also clearer (as is Acros). I believe this was to make them easier to scan. My sense is that TMY2 is more of a "digital look" black and white film, though it is hard to mistake for digital. What I mean by that is that it is very smooth and sharp, with a long tonal range. The grain is generally subtle, and the default contrast is sometimes low since it has such a long tonal range. The Delta films seem to have an older school film look -- more grain, grayer highlights, grainier shadows. Again, others might have a different experience -- developer, technique, enlarger or scanner, exposure style...it all can have a large transformative effect. One thing is clear, however...both will take excellent photos if treated well.
    Thank you. Kind of what I expected.

    So, do you get the thinner (scanning) neg with Kodak's (or massive dev chart) suggested development times? Or do you cut the times a certain specific percentage? Your TMax 400 and Acros in Xtol for example?

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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    I process in a Jobo CPP-2 and Kodak's times suit me pretty well. TMY2 does pretty well at 9:15 seconds 1+1 at 20 degrees as long as you have sufficient undiluted developer per roll (about 100-150mL). 9:30 is sometimes better if you are working indoors or at night (even with proper exposure). Acros is not listed on Kodak's chart, but I found that the Massive dev chart's time was quite low. I think it was around 7 minutes or 7:30. I process it for 8:45 or 9:00 (or even 9:15 if I am doing TMY2 at the same time). In general, Kodak's Xtol data sheet is excellent, at least from what I have been able to tell. Kodak's data sheets are full of great information. Ilford too...though more for their own developers. In general it is really not possible to just cut by a certain percentage. It really is best to shoot a roll as you normally would and then photograph a chart or high contrast scene using a trustworthy incident meter. Develop according to the standard times and see what the negs are like in your workflow. There are more scientific methods with densomiters etc, but that will be more than enough for most people with black and white films.
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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    Thank you once again. Good advice.

    JIm

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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    Quote Originally Posted by 250swb View Post
    As for Tri-X, the article was a bit gushing, and now I have a scanner instead of an enlarger HP5 gets the nod purely on the basis that it lays flat and doesn't try to curl into a ball (perhaps a slight exaggeration).

    Steve
    Thanks for saying this I thought it was just me and the way I processed Tri-X that caused the horrible curling...

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    Re: About Tri-X and other flimsy stuff

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Thank you Jorgen - great article - my (mostly unused) M6 is twitching in the cabinet!
    Maybe what it needs it to be lent out to someone who can give it some exercise!
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