T-max Headed For Trash Can

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Not counting testing I have shot about 100 4x5 sheets of T-max 100. I have shot more Tri-x. I use a Jobo drum and develope no more than 4 sheets at a time in T-max RS. I am very careful to agitate consistantly and the developer is at 68 F when developement starts. My normal developement time for T-max is 5 minutes and 30 seconds at asa 80. So whats the problem ? The T-max that I have shot under low light/long exposure conditions looks good to me. Just as nice as my Tri-x. However, the photos from brightly lit scenes look muddy and those in flat light look flat even at n+1. I have similar results with and without readyloads. I know T-max is a sensitive film and I know it can produce negatives as beautiful as Tri-x. I want to stick with it, but am about out of patients. Has anyone had similar problems that can offer me some suggestions ?

-- Paul Mongillo (pmongillo@thurston.com), October 22, 1999


I should check this, but I thought the Kodak recommendation for Tmax in Tmax RS was at 75F, at least for the kind of time you indicate. Which probably is why your negs show low contrast. As far as the long exposure is concerned, I know that once you correct for reciprocity, Kodak again recommends anywhere from 10-30% less development, depending on how much reciprocity was suffered. So if you developed for the usual time (overdeveloped) at a lower than recommended temperature (underdeveloped), the errors may have cancelled each other out to give you reasonable negs. Hope this helps. DJ

-- N Dhananjay (ndhanu@umich.edu), October 22, 1999.

Your development time seems kind of short for T-max, even at ASA 80. At ASA 100, the time should be more like 12 minutes at 68 F, if memory serves me. You may want to consult the charts again.

-- Robert A. Zeichner (razeichner@ameritech.net), October 22, 1999.

You may want to check your exposures as well as your development for this one. it sounds like reciprocity is kicking in for your longer exposures giving you the better contrast. but, when you expose with faster shutters (in your brighter scenes) your exposure (for shadows) might be too much giving you flat images.

with regards to your time, even if it was correct at a 5 minute development time, it is too short (for zone system). consider switching developers to something with a longer dev time. this will give you better control, especially in the minus situations.

t-max is excellent film...once you get it. good luck!

-- Dave Anton (daveanton@home.com), October 22, 1999.

forget what Kodak says, its only a guide for "average negatives", is that what you really want? test test test I use hc110 with mine and can make it do anything. enjoy.

-- mark lindsey (lindseygraves@msn.com), October 23, 1999.

First, TMax should(I emphasize should) work just fine. It was initially tested for market with D-76, and I like it a lot better developed in Ilfords ID11(D-76 equivalent that doesn't gain in activity sitting on the shelf for a week) than I ever did in the RS developer. It was also set up for 75 degree processing and with the developers you will be using works great at 1:1, 1:2 or 1:3. I currently process with Xtol & prefer it to the previous developers, but it ins't consistent with tap water so I use Culligan or purified water. Whatever developer I have used though, in LF I have gotten good results. No matter what you do and no matter what results others get, TMax and you just might not be compatible. It happens. John Sexton and other excellent photographers use Tmax films & get great results. Others use other TMax and go back to Tri-x, or whatever. Personal choice & working habits give different results even with the same film. So, if you can't get your TMax to behave, use whatever works. But, check the TMax out a bit more before giving up. Do less testing & go out & shoot. Try 3 or 4 shots of each scene and process the first at whatever is "normal" for you, the second more and the third less. Try the forth a touch more or less than the best one as needed & you will zero in quickly on a close approximation of where you need to be for the negs you want to print from. T Max works well if you give it a chance. Try it that way & then, if you don't like it even if you can get good results, change to whatever combination gives you what you like, no matter what anyone else uses.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), October 23, 1999.

I agree with Dan. Go out and shoot some film. I hate T-Max 100. It sucks big time but that is just because we don't get along. My working methods are different than others as well. But boy do I like T-Max 400 shot at 300. The real reason I don't like the 100 emulsion is that I'm not as exact as I should be with my exposure/processing routine. And dump that T-Max RS junk. It was made for machine processing. Use HC110 or ID11, D76 or Xtol. Much more forgiving. I have found the 100 emulsion to be thin no matter what. But I have seen superb negs made with it. Don't give up on it until you exhaust all possibilities. You might finally hit on the correct combo for your working routine. You probably are not giving enough exposure to your normal neg at 80. Try 64 or 50 and see what comes out. James

-- james (james_mickelson@hotmail.com), October 23, 1999.

I would also concur with everyone else. My development times, and I usually develop 6 to 8 sheets at a time in open trays, are usually in the 10 to 12 minute range with the temperature of the developer ranging from 70 to 80 degrees, depending on the degree of development I'm looking for. Not to mention that full development coupled with the use of hypo clearing agent is the only way to eliminate that damned pink stain from the anti-halation coating.

-- Chad Jarvis (cjarvis@nas.edu), October 23, 1999.

I suggest using kodak t-max 100 ready load 4x5 film. Rate the 1st. sheet at 100, then the 2nd. sheet at 80 a third sheet at 60 and 4th sheet at 40. Develop in ID11 straight 69' between 6 and 7 minutes at rotation #4 in a jobo 3000 series tank. Make sure you have given the film a pre-soak for at least 5 minutes. Make a proof and enjoy the beauty of this film.

-- rich silha (turix001@gold.tc.umn.edu), October 23, 1999.

Paul, try Rodinal 1+50. You won't believe the sharpness! I expose at EI125. Grain is about equal to TMax development. I haven't tried XTol(The local WOLF chain stores don't carry it). Mitch

-- Bill Mitchell (bmitch@home.com), October 23, 1999.

"Just as nice as my Tri-x"? "...negatives as beautiful as Tri-x"? Uh, why not stick with Tri-X? I dabbled with T-Max films for a while, ended up hating them--soft, easily scratched emulsion; difficult to develop and fix, etc. Why bother. Now I use Tri-X in Rodinal for LF and Ilford Delta films in PMK for MF.

If you're determined to stick with T-Max, try Xtol.

BTW, if you're out of patients, maybe you should give up your medical practice. :)


-- Peter Hughes (leonine@redshift.com), October 24, 1999.

You mention that you develop no more than four sheets at a time in a Jobo drum. I don't use Jobo equipment but when I attended a John Sexton workshop at Anderson Ranch I remember being told something to the effect that Jobo drums (at least the models we were using) should always be filled to capacity with film and that one unexposed sheet of film was equal to two exposed sheets. So, for example, if the capacity of the drum was ten sheets, and we had six negatives to develop, we would add two unexposed sheets to the drum. My memory is a little vague since it's been several years since I attended the workshop and I haven't used Jobo equipment since that time so I may be wrong on the details but I do remember adding unexposed film to the drums to fill them to their film capacity. Maybe someone who uses Jobo equipment could comment, elaborate, or correct me on this. Brian

-- Brian Ellis (beellis@gte.net), October 27, 1999.

One of the studios I worked in processed all their film, chromes, B&W and C-41 with Jobos, the ATL and on down. It was standard practice to shoot a single chrome of the set up, unless a hosemaster etc. was used, and process that single sheet solo in the JOBO. Then we'd expose the rest. SOmetimes, but not always, the shooter would braket in thirds and we'd process the three. I never asked if there was a reason for that, I had always assumed it just worked out that way. Similarly they did their process testing with the usual little color test strip, (someone help me out here, I can't recall the term) solo.

Hopefully this hasn't gone too far afield.

-- Sean yates (yatescats@yahoo.com), October 28, 1999.

Paul, Before you give up on the Tmax try the following: Tmax RS Dilution 1:9, temperature at 75 degrees, development time of 11 minutes with constant agitation. You didn't state your dilution ratio but it sounds like you have been underdeveloping with your time, temperature, & possible dilution.

-- Pat Kearns (pat.kearns@coopertsmith.com), October 28, 1999.

Continuous/vigerous agitation = bad. Intermittant/gentle agitation = good

-- Bill Mitchell (bmitch@home.com), October 28, 1999.

If your conclusion is that T-max should be able to produce just as nice pictures as Tri-X, just stop with it. It should at least be different, but rather better for you. T-max is just more difficult to develop than Tri-X. Try to discover the right developer for T-max or stop with it. I've seen astounding results with T-max400 in D23.

-- Lot (lotw@wxs.nl), October 30, 1999.

Thank you all for your suggestions. I recently shot four or five t-max negatives of the same subject. I compared my 5.5 minutes at 68 F in t-max RS to 6.5 minutes at 75 F in t-max RS to 7.5 minutes at 68 F in Xtol to 6.75 minutes at 68 F in HC 110. I attempted to print them all as close as possible by using the first test strip to help select sugsequent print exposures for each negative. Although the 75 F RS was better than 68 F the Xtol was better yet and the HC 100 was a clear winner. I have shot a few more t-max negatives in HC 110 and am very pleased.

-- Paul Mongillo (pmongillo@thurston.com), November 23, 1999.

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