black and white

TMax P3200 vs Delta 3200

TMax P3200 scanned negative  

TMax P3200 scanned negative  

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.

Delta3200 scanned image.  

Delta3200 scanned image.  

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. 

Delta 3200 scanned image

Delta 3200 scanned image

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.  

TMax P3200 printed on MCC110 paper.  

TMax P3200 printed on MCC110 paper.  

Fujifilm Acros 100 in D76 1+1

Been wanting to shoot more B&W film this summer. I recently gave Silvermax a try but somehow that didn't work for me. I'm sure it would've if I gave it a bit more thought or tried their dedicated developer. But! Silvermax is not readily available in Japan. There's only one online retailer in Japan that sells this film and it's out of stock right now. It's summer and I wanna shoot. So this didn't work for me and I decided to give Acros a try. 

Acros is readily available in Japan and it's cheap (585 yen/roll) . I know Fuji recently announced the discontinuation of Acros but it is still available now. 

I decided to just stick to D-76 1+1 for my developer. I expect to shoot this film only in harsh contrast on sunny days anyways.  

Basic Test: 

  1.  Find rough developing time
  2. Shoot test shoots at different EI
  3. enlarge test shoots onto paper and pick best one.  

 

bracketed test roll exposed at different EI settings for N, +3, -4. We are looking for a set of the frames where the -4 exposure barely starts producing density on the film. The +3 exposure should be nearly black. Anything greyish here would mean underdevelopment and probably a low contrast final photo. 

bracketed test roll exposed at different EI settings for N, +3, -4. We are looking for a set of the frames where the -4 exposure barely starts producing density on the film. The +3 exposure should be nearly black. Anything greyish here would mean underdevelopment and probably a low contrast final photo. 

blank piece of film enlarged onto paper to determine min time for max blacks. 2s, 4s, 6s, 8s, 12s etc. Around 12 seconds we're reached max black. Longer exposure will not give deeper blacks. This means that exposing my negatives onto this paper for 12 seconds should be enough to give nice deep blacks.  

blank piece of film enlarged onto paper to determine min time for max blacks. 2s, 4s, 6s, 8s, 12s etc. Around 12 seconds we're reached max black. Longer exposure will not give deeper blacks. This means that exposing my negatives onto this paper for 12 seconds should be enough to give nice deep blacks.  

meter at 100 ISO, +3 stops over exposed frame enlarged onto paper to determine dev time. top: 11'15", center: 10'30", bottom 12'30". Here we are exposing the near black super dense negative onto paper. Right half is covered up completely and hence purest white the paper will produce. The left side is the dense negative at 12 seconds. This should be dense enough to barely produce any tone onto the paper. Just a shade away from white is what we are looking for. Anything darker here would mean low contrast final results. 

meter at 100 ISO, +3 stops over exposed frame enlarged onto paper to determine dev time. top: 11'15", center: 10'30", bottom 12'30". Here we are exposing the near black super dense negative onto paper. Right half is covered up completely and hence purest white the paper will produce. The left side is the dense negative at 12 seconds. This should be dense enough to barely produce any tone onto the paper. Just a shade away from white is what we are looking for. Anything darker here would mean low contrast final results. 

bracketed shots at 150ISO, 100, 75, 50, 32, 25 top to bottom, left to right. All exposed at min time for max blacks (12 sec here) with grade 2 filter. These pictures prove the theory. Too dark means underexposed. Too dense highlights mean too much development. 

bracketed shots at 150ISO, 100, 75, 50, 32, 25 top to bottom, left to right. All exposed at min time for max blacks (12 sec here) with grade 2 filter. These pictures prove the theory. Too dark means underexposed. Too dense highlights mean too much development. 

As you can see from the above tests, this film works best at an exposure beteeen 75-100 ISO.  At 100 the final print is too dark. At 75 I get prints that don’t look dark anymore and at 12:30 mins developing time I get nice contrasty highlights without the need to burn anything in. 

This film is very fine grained in D76 1+1. Maybe a little too fine grained for my taste. I usually only print on 5x7 and at this size the film just looks too clean. For bigger enlargements it is probably a nice choice. If that works for you I highly recommend this film. Get it while you can. Fuji stopped making B&W films and it’s only a matter of time until the current stock runs out. This is the end of a long era. Fuji Neopan films were superb!

Tri-X, I'll never betray you again

Yeah I didn't like he purple-pinkish tint of my Tri-X negatives. You know that from my last rant.  So I shot through all of my old Neopan Presto stock and then started buying HP5+. While both, Neopan and HP5+ had a noticeable stain, too, it easily washed out every single time. The purple/magenta negatives supposedly don't affect anything. That's what Kodak and other wise people on the internet claim. I actually believed that until I started printing some negatives that were 2-3 years old. I noticed that the purple stain fades unevenly. I am pretty certain that uneven patches like these will have an effect on my prints or scans. 

I started printing more of my negatives on the new Adox MCC110 fiber paper and Tri-X just looked better every single time. HP5+ and Neopan can be nice, too, but Tri-X just had that extra little something. I don't know what it is, but I like it. I since stopped shooting the other two films and went back to Tri-X.

Kodak Tri-X two years after developing the film.

Kodak Tri-X two years after developing the film.

Very, clear and neutral negatives.

Very, clear and neutral negatives.

Update: Solution to pink, purple and magenta Tri-X

So after searching forums online and asking friends how to get rid of the tint on Kodak's Tri-X I finally decided to actually ask Kodak itself. 

If you follow Kodak on Instagram and/or Twitter you may have noticed their recent enthusiasm for film. What can I say? I like it! So I thought if they are so pro-film now maybe they actually care and will answer if I ask them. So I went to Kodak's website and clicked somewhere on "contact me" and sent them an email.

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