TMAX vs. PlusX & TriX films : LUSENET : Black_and_White_Photography : One Thread

There seems to be much debate and strong feeling about the relative strengths and weaknesses of the PlusX and TriX films vs. the TMAX films. I've heard much maligning of the TMAXs especially from photographers who have used PlusX or TriX for years, with the complaints ranging from the general ("I just couldn't work with it (TMAX)") to the specific ("TMAX can't be pushed and pulled in development"). But I've also read of others who adore TMAX. I've used TMAX 100 a lot (and some 400) and love the fine grain and the "sharpness" of the prints. In contrast, I dislike the larger grain of TriX, and while PlusX is ok grain-wise I don't feel somehow that my prints are as "sharp", e.g., the fine detail and edges don't seem as clean to me. I should note I use 35 mm; it seems that film format could be an important variable in the comparisons...

Does anyone care to comment? Is there something inherently "wrong" with TMAX that I just haven't come to appreciate, or, as I suspect, is this really a personal taste/practice thing with many opinions and no one right answer? Why do you favor PlusX or TriX or TMAX 100 or 400 over the others? (Specifics if possible, please.) Comparisons to non-Kodak films would be great, too.

-- Anonymous, March 30, 1997


TMAX vs. Plus-X & Tri-X films

This is an interesting topic and my opinion is that it all gets down to habit.

Back in the early 1970s I established Tri-X with HC-110 (B) as my standard combination. Before that I had been using a basic mixture of Plus-X, Panatomic-X, and Verichrome Pan with Microdol-X and D-76 as my standard developers. Back then Tri-X gave beautiful results and it was very versital.

When Tmax came out I ignored it until last year. When I finally tried it I found it was an excellent film but I was having trouble getting used to it and establishing my exposure and development combinations. At that point I deceided the best thing to do was go cold turkey. I stocked up on Tmax film (bascially TMY400) and I haven't looked back. I did have trouble at first because I couldn't decide between HC-110 (B) and Tmax developer. Tmax won. But then I found Xtol and now that's all I use for all my films (with a few exceptions). I am very happy with all the Tmax films and Xtol and I am just about finished establishing my development times.

I've also noticed an added advantage. Along with a real darkroom I also use a digital darkroom. I never liked b&w scans, even with Tmax film and Tmax developer. However, with Tmax film and Xtol I am pleased with the quality of the scans. They have excellent detail, good contrast, and don't need a lot of adjusting. Although, I still don't scan them in grayscale but scan in color and level out the color to look like b&w.

As far as pushing and pulling goes I don't bother in b&w, only color. If I want something faster than TMY400 I use TMZ3200, or TMX100 if I want to be slower.

So, as I said in the beginning, I think it's habit, along with a lot of personal likes and dislikes.


-- Anonymous, March 31, 1997

I have been using T-Max 400 for the last 5-6 years. I've found that it is very fine grained, and you can control contrast through downrating or increasing development times. I develop it in T-Max developer, HC-110, or even Rodinal. I have produced 20x24 exhibit prints from 2 1/4 negatives with no trouble. The stuff is very sharp and remain grainless even at great enlargement. Personally, I think it is a very great improvement over that old grainy and contrasty Tri-X. I have never regretted using T-Max, even though, like others, I resisted it for a long time.

-- Anonymous, April 01, 1997

Most of the complaints I've heard about TMax result from not being consistent enough with agitation. TMax is much more sensitive to agitation than TriX. With a Jobo processor and XTol developer, I love the results I get with TMax. Tina

-- Anonymous, April 01, 1997

TMax is capable of manipulation and excellent results. But as one other respondant said-it takes care. If you aren't consistent you will be disappointed. If you realize they are pro films and process within tight tolerances you will get excellent and repeatable results. I have used them for news, NFL football, and all kinds of sports. Pushing TMax 400 to 3200 yields good results and the type of available light images that you can sell and be proud of. So why do I use HP5+ for the sports work I do now? I just like the 'look' I get from it. To get the best from your TMax, use a jobo processor as the film loves agitation. But as to how good it really is-look at John Sextons work. Yes, it is large format-but that is TMax at its best. As for 35mm-I have printed 20x24 regularly from TMax 400 and they look good. As for push/pull-it is a lot more responsive than TriX or HP5+ or any older emulsions. It is its ability to really be manipulated that makes it so good, that and its ability to render sharpness & shadow detail. Like anything else, use it and get to know it. It will do what you need, and then if you want to use something else, you will know why you are doing it as your experience will enable you to recognize the creative need in change.

-- Anonymous, April 09, 1997


Hi Cindy,

I haven't compared TMAX films to the other Kodak films because I primarily use Ilford. Although I haven't made a technical comparison myself I understand that Ilford Delta 100 is the equal of TMAX 100 for sharpness, since it is also a T-grain film, but it is far more forgiving during development. I'm surprised that I never see it being discussed. I think it might be more popular here in Canada where Kodak is not as prominent.

-- Anonymous, April 10, 1997

I have to agree with Andy Laylock, Ilford Delta 100 at E.I. 50 is almost identical to TMX while being much less sensitive to processing. If you don't have a rotary processor I think that Delta 100 should be the film of choice. Only problem is that Ilford Delta 100 is sometimes hard to find locally. This is strange because I have no problems finding Delta 400. I also think that Delta 400 is a much superior film when compared to TMY.

-- Anonymous, April 11, 1997

On the Delta 100 Pro as an option to TMax 100. I use both, and Delta 400 for some 4x5 as well. The Delta 100 I use for 35mm, mainly due to its easy manner-less touchy than TMax 100 for me. But, in 4x5, I use TMax 100 90 percent of the time, with Delta 400 making up most of the rest. The TMax 100 for 4x5 is due to its reciprocity characteristics. After 15-30 seconds of exposure, it becomes 'faster' than most 400 speed films out there. No matter what you use, work with it to get the results you want. Some films friends use, I won't touch because for me and my personal way of doing things, they don't speak to me in my language. No doubt I could make them work and do OK, but they don't "do it" for me as what I have found does work well. I don't really know why, it just happens that way. For my 35mm sports work, it is 99% Ilford HP5+, and I have shot all the others, but come back to the 5+ because it 'does it' for me. I keep hoping to find the 'magic answer', but learning to really use what I have works. Good luck.

-- Anonymous, April 14, 1997

I don't like TMax films because you can't develop by inspection, which is what I do all the time.

-- Anonymous, August 01, 1997

Response to TMAX vs PlusX and TriX

After years of shooting TriX as my primary film, I began using Tmax last year. What caused me to change at that time was The availability of 45 readyload sheets. I've gotten good results with the film using Photography Formulary's BW-2 developer. I get good N+1 and N-1 and grain from this combination. I still have not given up TriX.

-- Anonymous, August 10, 1997

Response to TMAX vs PlusX and TriX

Sorry I didn't post all of my E-mail address.

-- Anonymous, August 10, 1997

I have used Tmax 400 and pushed it to 1600 with great results. Tmax film is very versitle. I do not like the purple die that The Great Yellow Father (Kodak) puts in their film. It does wash out with Hypo Clearing Agent. T-Max film is one of the few things that Kodak has done right as of late..I have used Ilford HP5 and Fuji Neopan.. Fuji should stick to color which is what they know best. I did not like the results I got with the other films. I will stick with Tmax. The only exception would be Agfa Pan.

-- Anonymous, August 11, 1997

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