developing

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.  

Why you should not develop color film at home.

Developing B&W film is like making a pasta sauce or salad dressing. Developing color film at home is like cookie cutting. It’s a repetitive and standardized process. 

No doubt, if there’s no lab around, by all means develop your color film at home. Other than that I don’t understand why people do this at home. Developing color film is boring. It’s always the same procedure. If you deviate you get bad results. You can’t try new things like in B&W. You just have to follow the procedure. The process is meant to be done by machines. It’s simply not fun. Even if it works out and trust me, most of the time it won’t.

With color film you cannot easily change contrast for example. I think there’s a way with masks etc but it’s an advanced concept hardly ever used  nowadays. With B&W film you can tweak so many variables by altering the way you process your film. If you deviate with color film you get color shifts. Color shifts are ugly. They are so ugly that it’s almost gag reflex inducing. My advice is: leave color film processing to the labs and enjoy B&W at home. It’s a much more rewarding process. 


 

Adox Silvermax in D76 1+1

We're in the middle of the raining season here in Tokyo, which means summer is around the corner. I was thinking I'll shoot some more b&w film this summer and wanted to test a few 100 ISO rated films for those really bright days. I almost always shoot with a yellow or orange filter, but even with that my usual Tri-X is just too fast for a day in the sun. So I tried out a few 100 speed films that I had lying around still. Fomapan 100, Ilford Delta 100 and Adox Silvermax.

I am going to review the Silvermax here and the other two in a follow up post. I didn't want to mess with too many developers, so I decided to soup them all in D-76 1+1, same formula I use for Tri-X. Since I print a lot of my negatives in the darkroom I do appreciate an easy to print negative. For people who only scan their film this may not be worth reading at all. 

I shot a test (half-roll) setting my cameras meter to an ISO, then shot one normal exposure, one +3 stops over, one -4 stops under.

Daylight scene: (100, +3, -4), (200, +3, -4), (50, +3, -4)

Grey surface: (100, +3, -4), (200, +3, -4), (50, +3, -4)

The film was developed in D-76 1+1 at 20 degrees for 11:00. 

I judge my personal film speed from the shots of the grey surface. At -4 stops I should see some density starting to build up. The first set, shot at 100, +3, -4 has basically no density at the -4 bracket (frame 29). Over to the 200, +3, -4 set. Frame 35 above is basically clear film base, so this is not it either. Over to the 50iso set.  The -4 frame has a decent amount of density showing up. Maybe even a bit too much for my taste. I like my shadows! So I am guessing that for my developing technique with my tanks and my water and my agitation and my room temperature etc. this film's speed for my taste is somewhere between 50- 100 ISO. Let's say 64ISO.

To confirm, I expose the corresponding frame of the daylight scene (frame 17) onto paper. I do this using minimum time to get maximum blacks. If the print is to dark that means I was wrong and the frame is underexposed. If it's too bright I was wrong and the frame was either overexposed or over developed. In my case frame 17 actually prints OK, but with very low contrast. I can increase the development time to get denser highlights and increase the contrast. (or mess with the contrast setting on the enlarger, but the goal is to get an easy to print negative) Increasing dev time unfortunately does almost nothing to the shadows, hence no change in film speed here. I could keep trying to change the dev time until I get the contrast I want or just use the Silvermax developer they offer, but I decided not to. 64ISO is a little bit on the slow side for my taste. I was looking for true 100ISO and actually found that in Delta 100. I'll review that in a future post.

Adox Silvermax is still a fine film. In D-76 1+1 it exhibits extremely fine grain. By increasing the development time by 20% it will probably have good contrast too. The film has a very clear base, no tint whatsoever, which makes it easy to print or maybe even reverse develop into slides. The only thing that slightly bothered me is that Adox seems to use a half frame perforator to print the edge marking. Not a big deal, but I am used to the proper 36 exposure codes of Ilford and Kodak. Foma also uses half frame markings. Interesting choice, considering there's very few people shooting half frames.

 

** So reading Kodak's D-76 tech sheet it seems that you need at least 237ml of stock D-76 for each 135-36 roll of film. At 1+1 in 300ml I only have 150ml. According to Kodak I either increase the development time or the tank size. That explains the underexposed negatives above.  

Pushing Black & White Film

I have recently gone through some re-organization of my film archive and noticed that one of my first few rolls of film, in fact number 2, was Tmax 400. I shot it in my Ricoh GR1v and had it developed at a local lab. I was new to film and new to the GR1v, which is now broken beyond repair. The GR1v reads the Dx code on the film canister and sets the ISO speed automatically. I thought I had no choice but shoot it at that speed. I now understand that you can just set the exposure compensation to -2 stops for example. 

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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.