Kodak Tri-X Film
Matthew Osborne Photography
For anyone who has followed my work for a while will know, for black and white film photography I normally use Kodak T-Max 100, especially for 35mm film. I have tried various black and white films and will continue to experiment but I am finding I am now completely hooked on Kodak Tri-X 400 film. The modern T grain T-Max films have very little visible grain so can look a little too much like my Leica M9 black and white JPEGs which have a slight filmic look despite being digital. I was an easy convert to medium format 120 Tri-X as grain is less apparent with the larger negative size. For 35mm Tri-X I was a little worried the the classic grain structure might result in too much visible grain for my film wedding photography and portraiture. I shot a roll of 35mm Tri-X when I was out in Florida covering a wedding and was pleasantly surprised. Samples below.
What do I like about Tri-X and what is it that made me convert?
Broad lattitude – I can (and do) shoot Tri-X at anything from ISo 200 (-1 stop) to ISO 1600 (+2 stops). It can do it all and will even go to ISo 3200 and beyond (not yet tried this but others have with success). This means that for available light photography it is perfect for my needs.
Contrasty – Other than the grain structure, the biggest difference I notice when comparing Tri-X to T-Max is the beautifully contrasty mid tones. The deep shadows are rich blacks, the highlights retain their detail and the mid tones are what makes it for me.
Price – I am now starting to use quite a lot of film, both 35mm film in my Leica cameras (M3 and M2) and 120 Tri-X in my medium format Mamiya 645 Super, Rolleiflex SL66E and in my 6×7 Horseman 120 roll film back for my 4×5 large format cameras. I need a film that I enjoy using yet is also affordable. 120 Kodak Tri-X 400 5 packs can be bought in the UK for £20 a box if you shop around. £4 a roll is competitive at today’s film prices. Calumet are currently offering 120 Tri-X 400 for £20 a box and free postage so I stocked up!
Calumet UK, Film – http://www.calphoto.co.uk/category/film-darkroom/film/
Developing – I develop my own black and white film at home and favour the R09 Rodinal stand developing / semi-stand developing method. I am still fine tuning my times and temperatures to develop Tri-X at box speed but also pulled 1 stop to ISO 200 and pushed 1 stop or 2 stops to ISO 800 and ISO 1600. Depending on the lighting conditions I shot in I can then adjust my times accordingly.
Sample Images (various)
Kodak Tri-X 400@200 (135 & 120)
Kodak Tri-X 400@400 (120)
Kodak Tri-X 400@800 (120)
Kodak Tri-X 400@1600 (120)