t-max 100

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Does anyone have exstensive experience with T-MAX 100. Recently I was forced by circumstances to shoot a 120 roll, and I was surprised with the results. I've been using Ilford FP4 Plus; I'm satisfied with the results of the Ilford, but now I'm wondering if the newer kind of B&W film is better. Can anyone give me the pros and cons of these two different film types for zone-system use. Thanks.

-- david clark (doc@ellensburg.com), October 25, 1998


In addition to the above, while I'm on the subject of film, can anyone tell me if there is a noticeable difference in the range of tone obtained by say a ASA 100 B&W over a ASA 400. I've been told that the slower ASA produces more contrast but less grain and the higher ASA produces a longer range of tones but is grainer. Does anyone have any experience in this? When you use a ASA 400 at EI 200 do you get better tone qualites from the film? Thanks.

-- david clark (doc@ellensburg.com), October 26, 1998.

I have been using TMax100 for a number of years. I use it because for what I shoot, how I shoot & process, it is the best film on the market for my 4x5 & 5x7 work. Reciprocity characteristics are excellent. The film is easily used with zone system controls. It is sharp, clean working and gives me very good separation in shadow as well as highlight details. I also shoot TMax 400, but not nearly as much, while friends who are excellent photographers use it almost exclusively. They love it and almost never shoot TMax100 because the 400 fits their shooting style and requirements much better. TMax 400 allows you to get so much detail in the negative you can't get it on paper. The curve keeps going up & up & up, like the energizer bunny. If you work carefully & learn to control it you will probably love it.

As to whether the newer generation films are "better" or not is a matter of taste. If your theory of Photography is "If Ansel didn't use it it can't be any good", then you probably won't use either the TMax or Ilford Delta films anyway, no matter how they look to you. But if you are looking for films to express what you see you won't worry what Ansel used or even what Bill Clinton may like. You will experiment a bit based on your initial experience and see if the newer film holds up to what you believe is most important in your images.

Any film on the market will produce good images if you work with it, massage it and fine tune it as you go along. Even with a fine film I like I get the urge to try others. I have continually come back to the TMax 100. It "just feels better" with my images in comparison to the other films I try. So shoot some more & see how it does for you. Some still shoot with TriX, others use Delta and still others use Agfa. If it works, use it. Good luck.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), October 26, 1998.

Tmax films have excellent reciprocity characteristics and fine grain. They are very sensitive to time/temperature variations in processing, not that this is a problem if you use good technique. One fatal flaw I have discovered, however, is that they produce horrendous newton rings when used with glass negative carriers. This can ordinarily be eliminated by using anti newton glass on the top (base) side, but Tmax, unlike other films, also produces newton rings on the emulsion side. Agfa apx 100 produces no rings, even without AN glass. If you use a glassless carrier, all this is irrelevant. I use 5x7 and 8x10 mostly, and my Saltzman 10x10 enlarger uses a glass carrier. Nearly all 8x10 enlargers have glass carriers, as film flatness becomes a problem for negatives this large.

Harold Clark

-- Harold Clark (ashwood@eagle.ca), November 09, 1998.

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