Delta vs. T-Max : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Would be interested to hear reports on which of these two is better. I'm more interested in the 100ASA version. I read a highly complimentary review of Delta, but I have a feeling T-Max is more popular. Many thanks in advance.

-- Yaakov Asher Sinclair (, June 26, 2000


Yaakov having used both only in 120 format (at present I only use Delta100 in 45), I do prefer Delta finding it a sharper finer grained film with very smooth high values.Of course it does depend on how you process the film and I'm sure there are those who get more out of T-Max then I ever did. None the less T-Max is an excellent film and I believe John Sexton still uses it so it can't be bad. Also folk speak well of FP4 plus, which I've yet to try. Regards, Trevor.

-- Trevor Crone (, June 26, 2000.

I too used both films in 120 format and do NOT find the Delta to be sharper or finer grained, in fact TMX developed in XTOL is unbelievably fine grained! For some reason I prefer the "look" of Delta 100, that's why I use it and not the TMX! I guess with lots of experimentation in the dark room I could make the curves of TMX similar to Delta but I'd rather be out in the field taking pictures (maybe it's just me, but I feel like I already wasted too many hours doing "test shots"....)

-- Andreas Carl (, June 26, 2000.

Yaakov, Having tried TMax 100 and the Ilford alternatives I now solely use FP4 Plus and Delta 100. For me both films offer amazing sharpness and gradation/tonality in a variety of developers. I would agree that TMax is a sharp film, especially in XTOL, but it does not seem to compare with the sharpness I can get from both of the Ilford films. For the record I use both films in 120 and 5x4 sheet. Regards Paul

-- paul owen (, June 26, 2000.

I don't know about about anyone else, but I've found TMax to be too finnicky for my taste. I know you didn't ask about it, but I get much more consistent results with Plus-X. I use 5x7 and 8x10.

-- Chad Jarvis (, June 26, 2000.

Now, how many of you are from England? The USA? British Commonwealth? Some sordid place no one's heard of? James

-- james (, June 26, 2000.

One issue that I usually don't see discussed in the Ilford - Kodak question is surface flaws. I can't think of any of my favorite photographers that use Ilford film. When you discuss this with them, they all have horror stories about the photography trip and the best image being ruined by surfaces flaws in the film. Most will say that they will not use Ilford films for this reason. My experience with Ilford is with their papers, a few years ago, it was not uncommon to find entire batches with flaws in the surface. On the advice of photographers whose work I respect is why I usually use Kodak film.

-- Jeff White (, June 26, 2000.

I've tried Delta 100, TMax 100 & 400, and FP4+ in 4x5 and have since settled on FP4+ developed in either HC-110 or Rodinol. The modern t- grain films are indeed quite sharp, but I don't like their tonality nearly as much as traditional emulsions. Also, I find that FP4+ is much more compatible with my darkroom processes and zone system practices than either Delta or TMax films. As for surface defects, I've exposed more than 200 sheets of FP4+ in the last 6 months and have yet to see anything but a perfect sheet of film. However, the first batch of film I ever shot in LF, TMax 100, was thoroughly messed up. On contrary to Jeff White's comment about none of his favorite photographers shooting Ilford, my favorite photog, Clyde Butcher, shoots quite a bit of stuff on Delta films. And I'm sure if you've seen any of his photographs, you can agree that his results are nothing short of phenomenal. Finally, to answer James' question, I'm here in northeast Ohio near Cleveland, AKA "the mistake on the lake."

Just a thought...

-- Dave Munson (, June 26, 2000.

Yaakov, I too use T-Max,Delta 100, and FP4 Plus, in 120 and 4 x 5. I use these for simple high volume documentation work(25-35exposures in a day) for recording Job site progress. These are not works of Art and really are just for the record. For me Andreas and Chad hit it on the head. If all works out even in the processing, I cant explain it but the Ilford Products seem to make a far more appealing finished print(regardless of method and materials used to print). Chads comment is the real selling point for me---The Ilford products are far more forgiving during processing (especially if processed in Ilford Materials), and for me the cost of using all Ilford (film and chemicals) is very very economical and just plain easy(OK so Im just lazy). For my Good Stuff, 5X7, and 8X10 I use Plus-X in HC110. But sometimes Im wondering about that when I look at the results with the Ilford Products. Another film that I use is Agfa APX but I have the same problem with consistency, but I have to admit that the price versus the application can make it work out just fine.As to surface flaws, having made 100's of exposures on all of the above films I have yet to see any film suface flaws(and I'm always looking for excuses)to justify the those that are filed in the round file.

And for James Im from the USA.

-- R.(Mac)McDonald (, June 26, 2000.

First, you title, one vs. the other might better be changed to Delta OR TMax, as this isn't a fight. Then, if you try one and like it better than the other, for you it is better. Other than that, there is no 'better' between most of the comparable films. If you think it works for you, use it. I and a number of other photographers shoot Ilford films in large format work, 8x10 and up. Arista in 8x10 is inexpensive and excellent in both the 125 and 400 versions. "as good as Ilford FP4+ and HP5+", is how many put it. The Ilford films work well and in many large sizes give results that show well in the finest galleries in the world. A lot of the worry you may have about the 'best' film can be solved by picking one---any one---of the good films on the market today & working with it for a year with any one of the basic developers on the market. Get to know the film and get to know how to print from your film developer combination. Whether TMax or Delta coupled with Xtol, or the old 'tri-x & HC110, if you like the results, it is a good combination for you. Look at the work across the world and you will find everything from secret formulas to sacrificing a mother in law as the magic answer to excellent results. You will even find printers who do nothing but follow the basics, using off the shelf film, chemistry and paper. And other than a few of us who wonder at someones excellent results & ask about the film or whatever, no one else gives a darn about the process-they look because they like the picture. If it works for you, use it, no matter what anyone else is doing, just as long as your quality is top notch and you don't fall into the rut of mediocre work with the old 'I am my own standard' BS. Quality if quality, and once you learn to produce it you won't be satisfied with 'good enough' any longer and the questions of 'best' will also fade away---as you produce excellent work with almost any combination that works for you but someone out there will carp, piss & moan about.

-- Dan Smith (, June 27, 2000.

I use TMax 100 and I like the results that I get. I develop in the original, non-replenishable, TMax developer. In using this film, you mist have consistent temperature, agitation, etc., or you're not going to get good results. I took the time to do my calibration tests for ASA and development times, and have been rewarded with some excellent photographs.

-- neil poulsen (, June 27, 2000.

Neil, are you using the T-Max (not RS) developer on TMX sheets? If so, what processing methods do you use, i.e. tray, tank, Jobo, etc., and have you ever suffered the dreaded dichroic fog? Thanks for any experiences you can share. I also very much like TMX in T-Max, but have only used it with 120 so far, and it will be a while before the opportunity presents itself to try sheets in that developer.

-- Sal Santamaura (, June 27, 2000.

Hmmm, interesting discussion. I think that Dan Smith hit the nail on the head. Use any given film/developer combo for a year and learn to produce fine prints with it.

My film/developer combo of choice today in 4x5 is T-max 100 and pyro. Yes, I get sufficient stain with T-max and I find consistent results and not the finiky results with other developers. For 120 I use Delta 100 and pyro. My enlargements glow and have a wonderful tonal range.

I use T-Max 100 because I don't have to load film holders. Lazy?, yes but with pyro I have made this excellent film work for me.

ecently I have played around with Ilford's new Ifotec DD. With T-Max the results are outstanding and processing is a breeze compared to the on again off again results of XTOL.


-- Mike Kravit (, June 27, 2000.

Plus-X in Microdol @ EI80.

-- Bill Mitchell (, June 27, 2000.

Try TMAX in Photographer's Formulary BW2. It does take a lot of the problems out of development of TMAX, especially its nasty habit of blocking-up in the highlights. I also have had great images in both 4X5 and 120 with APX 100 in Rodinal 1:50.

All being said though, ready loads are reallllly nice!


-- Ken Grunzweig (, June 28, 2000.

I use both of these films on a consistant basis, mostly in 4x5. Either could be determined better mostly deppending on the DEVELOPER that is used to develop the negs. The big difference being that you CANNOT USE REGULAR T-MAX DEVELOPER for 4x5 t-max film. You have to use the replenishing developer. My lab uses t-max replenishing devo. so when I know that I am going to have them develop the film I use t-max...but they double thier price if I push or pull. If I push or pull my film I will develop the film myself and use Delta 100, which works better with the cheaper edwal FG7.


Responding to Sal's question above . . . (Sorry not to have responded earlier, but I've been on vacation.)

Let me offer what I know on this, since I took some time to look into it. To answer the question, I've never experienced the dichroic fog, and I use 2 1/4 film developed in a standard stainless steel tank with a 120 (not a 220) reel.

As to what I found out from Kodak (after finding the right person), TMax 4x5 film has the exact same emulsion as TMax 2 1/4 roll film. Their recommendation against the TMax original, non-replenishable developer has more to do with physics than chemistry. Since 4x5 film is larger, and since Kodak recommends less agitation for sheet film, there's a greater propensity for the dichroic fog causing contaminate to collect in concentrations that can cause the fogging. I spoke to the person who drove development of the RS developer w/in Kodak. It's chemical composition limits the how much of the contaminate that can be formed. But, the RS developer also does not have as nice a film development curve as the original developer.

I did all my original testing with the original developer (a large investment of time and expense), so I plan to continue its use. While I haven't used it yet, I purchased a nikon tank for 4x5 sheet development that agitates and works much the same as the reel that I use for 120. I'm hoping that this will prevent the dichroic fogging from occurring on sheet film.

See a "future" post for John Sexton's approach to removing this fogging. The Kodak person to whom I spoke said one can also "finger" squeegee the film with water, and that this will remove the fog. However, once the film has dried, the fog becomes permanent and can't be removed.

-- neil poulsen (, July 10, 2000.

I finally got around to testing 4x5 TMX on a CPE-2+ (2509n reel in 2523 tank) using T-Max developer. Both the film and developer were very fresh; emulsion expiration was late 2002, and the chemistry manufacture date code indicated early 2000 (March, if I recall correctly).

Results: no trace of dichroic fog. Negative characteristics were the same as I've become accustomed to with this combination in 120, except for base fog. Using the developer diluted 1:7 for 6 1/2 minutes at 75 degrees, rolls exhibit 0.10 fb-f, while for sheets it was 0.04.

On to even tones. I filled all six slots of the Jobo, placing two sheets that had been uniformly exposed to Zone VI in one each of the innermost and outermost positions. Along both short (4 inch) edges of both sheets, there were areas of reduced density approximately 3/8 inch wide. These strips are about 0.04 - 0.05 lighter than the rest of the negative. Remainder of the sheets were very even, save for a rather small area in the center which was around a 0.01 more dense than average. There were no other defects, such as surge marks or mottle. I've not yet made prints, but expect that the short edges would appear visibly darker. Perhaps one might trade off using a smaller area of the negative (masking the camera's focusing screen and not printing the edges) in return for all other rotary processing advantages. This would preclude needing to pay - - or have room - - for a larger CPP/CPA-2 processor.

-- Sal Santamaura (, September 22, 2000.

Out of personal preference I'd go for one of Ilfords' older emulsions in Ilfospeed at 1-100 for a bit. Otherwise try Delta in FX-39.

And to answet James' question I'm Scottish.

-- David Kirk (, September 22, 2000.

Yaakov, you still there? One other thing to consider, at least it's a factor here in Michigan, USA, is that reciprocity corrections are much milder for T-Max films. I find this important when doing multi-minute exposures as is often the case in my work. Also, there isn't the nasty build-up of contrast one usually gets when making this compensation with other emulsions. I've used both and still prefer T-Max. I, too have run into flaws with Delta, however, I've never had a bad piece of Ilford paper and I have experienced problems with EKC paper a number of times! They're very good about replacing it, I might add.

-- Robert A. Zeichner (, September 23, 2000.

Sacrificing the mother-in-law. That's good Dan. I like it. As can be discerned from this discussion, all films are about the same given their proper care and use. Different films were developed for different purposes and need to be used accordingly. People from the Continent seem to prefer Ilford's products as well as point and shooters here in the US. LF enthusiasts seem to like the TX or TMX emulsions. I've talked to 100's of LF photographers and many, many more roll film shooters and asked them their film and developer preferences. I've tried them all, believe me, and they all behave up to the promises of the manufacturers and their followers. It is never a question of one being better than the other (unless you are paranoid and need assurance that your choice is valid) but in the use of the material. TP does increadible things but not for fast action or contrasty situations. TMX is wonderful for landscapes in the 5 stop range and for the ability to be pushed and pulled with predictable results, as are the Ilford mid speed materials. It depends solely on what you want and how you go about it. James

-- james (, September 24, 2000.

As I was re-reading some of these & catching up on newly posted answers I realized I didn't answer James question. I am from one of the gosh awful places no one has ever heard of. Utah, Polygamy capitol of the western world. Yep, we have about 80,000 of them here. And the county I live in has the infamous one who beat his daughter when she tried to run away from her husband...his brother! Now he is in jail & the brother is being prosecuted for incest. Then we have the polyg from Juab County being prosecuted by the Governors Brother (DA in the county) for sex with a minor. Seems he got pregnant & married a 13 year old. If he had waited a few months he would have been free & are fair game for marriage here at 14. Then, we have Panguitch, Utah, where they declared a holiday to celebrate the cloning of Dolly the Sheep. That means now every boy in town can have the prettiest girlfriend. We also have MagCorp, the No. 1 Polluter in the whole USA, right on the South Shore of Great Salt Lake, and on the edge of Skull Valley where the Goshute Indian Tribe is trying to put a Nuclear Waste storage site in place. Can't wait, tons of pure chlorine gas being released over Great Salt Lake from Magcorp, and you will be able to see it 24 hours a day from the glow from Skull Valley. (site of a nice hawaiian graveyard as well) But, on the other hand, we have the Olympics coming, the best show money can bribe(oops, not supposed to mention that here), Delicate Arch, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce and the Great Salt Lake. So it isn't all bad. And, the Great Salt Lake only turns red a few times a year when the blood sacrifices in the Temple in Salt Lake drain off too fast to be diluted.

So, when you mention wierd, out of the way places, bring you cameras here. Photograph our wilderness & red rock country before that idiot Jim Hansen paves it.(and ride the shuttle busses in Zion National Park, just don't whach the driver on the head with your tripod legs- they get touchy about that)

-- Dan Smith (, September 24, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ