Early 2018 I was going through some rough time and Kodak’s, out of the blue, announcement of the resurrection of TMax P3200 was just what I needed to cheer me up.
I’ve more of less settled on Tri-X for most situations and rate Tri-X at 400 and shoot it with a yellow-green filter. Effectively that make it a 250 ISO film for me. Sometimes, 250 iso just doesn’t cut it and that’s when I used Delta 3200. An interesting film with lots of grain. A little too flat for my taste but I had to work with it. I figured out how to make it work for me but never really liked it as much as Tri-X. Delta 3200 is an extremely flat film. Super low contrast and HUGE grain. Some people prefer pushing Tri-X instead but pushing film makes for difficult to print negatives. If you only scan your film this will not be a drawback for you. For me it is, hence I opted for a faster film when I needed speed.
Ilford recommends Delta 3200 at EI 3200 to be developed in Microphen Stock 1:1 for 9:00 minutes. I’ve tried that and got incredibly flat and boring results. I kept on increasing development time until I got to a contrast level that I liked. At 20:00 minutes, more than twice the recommended time, I was semi-satisfied. The grain however was horrifying. I like grain but this film is really grainy.
When Kodak announces the return of TMax P3200 I was pleasantly surprised. I got back into film in 2013, one year after Kodak discontinued P3200. Since I never had a chance to compare the two films I jumped on it.
I ordered 20 rolls from B&H and shot test rolls in T-Max and xtol developers. I didn’t like it in TMax developer but that wasn’t a surprise. I’ve tried that developer before with Tri-X and Delta 3200 and never liked it. It blows out highlights too fast and makes for weird grain to my eyes. In Xtol 1:1 I got results I really liked. The grain is pronounced as you would expect from a film this fast. However, the grain structure was very pleasing and unobtrusive. The tones looked better than Delta 3200, too. In terms of speed I think Delta wins. I know neither one of these films is a true 3200 ISO film but I can get great results at 2000ISO or maybe 2500ISO with P3200. The Delta film I have to shoot at 3200 and massively over develop to get some contrast into the negs.
As I shoot 35mm almost exclusively TMax P3200 is the clear winner. It’s a dollar cheaper per roll, Xtol is a fraction of any of the Ilford Developers and the film is sharper and less grainy than Delta. Hands down, TMax wins.