Tmax thin negatives normal?
Old 03-20-2016   #1
Aaron Hellman
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Tmax thin negatives normal?

I normally use Tri-x, and am familiar with normally developed negatives when using various developers. However, whenever I use tmax 400 developed in D76, the negatives look markedly thinner. I thought I read somewhere that thin negatives are normal with tmax, but I am not sure. Any tmax experts out there to help? Thanks.
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Old 03-20-2016   #2
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T-Max negatives must look like any other ones. I wonder who could assert that they shouldn't... (well, this is the Internet).

Developing time for T-Max 400 with D-76 is the same as for Tri-X (if exposed at the same speed). What is slightly different with T-Max is the fixing time (which must be a bit longer).
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Old 03-20-2016   #3
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They should look thinner than old school thick-emulsion films, and the original product literature mentions that. But the same goes for just about every modern film - it is not really meaningful for people that have never shot anything bigger than 35mm and started processing after 1970. Few people still have a individual "perfect negative" reference based upon what a properly developed Verichrome sheet looked like...
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Old 03-20-2016   #4
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I've never processed TMY-2 in D76. In Rodinal or Rodinal+Xtol the negatives have full density and range at the standard processing time. For Rodinal 1:50 I use 11 minutes with minimal agitation.

I'm assuming your T-Max is the current emulsion (TMY-2) and is not outdated or was subject to poor storage.

If by "thin" you mean insufficient shadow detail, then you may need more exposure or adjust your metering.
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Old 03-20-2016   #5
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Well, I wish I was thinner!

My T-Max negatives have the same density as other films I use. Maybe a few little nits here and there but mostly the same. Unless, of course, I goof with exposure, soup temp., timing, a little too much wine, then it can vary. D-76 works fine for me. But I will use other stuff, Mic-X has been a current favorite and I have used other developers like Pyro. I find that's fun for me, taking the photo stage, the process stage and the viewing (print usually with film) stage and trying out different things with each stage.
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Old 03-20-2016   #6
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Normally that would indicate underexposure, assuming that the developing went as it should. However, there's a fair amount of info on the web that makes it look like the newer Tmax film are markedly thinner than the older formula, and none of it is ever going to look like the old school Tri-X films (which I love, but Kodak has just about priced that out of my budget, so I switched to Arista Ultra EDU 100 in straight Mic-X). Like any film that you haven't used regularly, it will probably take a roll or two to get it dialed in to suit your way of working.

The Mic-X is good stuff Bill. I love it full strength w/ the Shanghai pan 100 in 120, and as I mentioned, it gives really sharp shots w/ the Arista film.

I suspect that once the op gets things dialed in he'll like the T-max. Being a Tri-X guy all the way I never got the hand of it, but those who know what they're doing get great results from it.
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Old 03-20-2016   #7
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I am a long time fan of the T-max films. They have a longer tonal scale than TriX so the images are richer in tones. Also the grain is finer. But the choice of film is a question of taste.

With TMY-2 I get the best results with the Perceptol developer from Ilford when I expose at 200 ISO. I use two parts of water and one part Perceptol @ 23 degrees C. Developing time is 11 minutes. Agitation every 30 seconds. Simply trow away the solution after use. You will develope 10 films from 1 package, about EUR 1 for each film. Keep the solution in a (glass) wine bottle of 1 litre. Close the bottle with a Vacu-vin kork and pump the air out with a Vacu-vin pump.

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Old 03-20-2016   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
(...) and none of it is ever going to look like the old school Tri-X films (...)
Looks like the Tri-X we can buy from new now is very different from the "old school" Tri-X we had got used to in the 1980s.

I'd say it's closer to what the first TMY looked like...

Also - there seems that, for some reason due to the quantity of active chemicals in the working solution, the developing times now told by Kodak and "The massive dev. chart" are too short if you use stainless steel tanks (which contain less working solution than Paterson plastic tanks).

With any Kodak film available today, that is, Tri-X, T-Max 400 and T-Max 100 exposed at box speed, 12'30" with D76 1+1 @20C and agitation every minute (plus continuous agitation during the first minute) works very well for me with stainless steel tanks.

Like Erik said, if you expose lower than box speed, Perceptol will work particularly well.

I may switch to T-Max 400 once I am done with my current Tri-X stock. As written above, Tri-X has now lost most of its magic.
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Old 03-20-2016   #9
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I always found TMax in D-76 to produce thinner negs at recommended development times. I almost exclusively use HC110 now, but I don't shoot a lot of TMax. What TMax I have developed in HC110 has always come out looking "normal" as far as density/shadow detail is concerned.
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Old 03-20-2016   #10
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With proper fixing, my TMY negatives have a clearer base, which may give a mis-impression that the negative is thinner.
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Old 03-20-2016   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rolfe View Post
With proper fixing, my TMY negatives have a clearer base, which may give a mis-impression that the negative is thinner.
+1, this is the "source" for the Kodak statements that T-Max films may appear slightly "thinner" that older style films.

@OP:
If you negatives are actually "thin" you need to look at the shadow detail (thinnest part of the image on a negative) very carefully. If there is adequate shadow detail then the film was under developed. If the shadow detail is severely missing then the film was underexposed.
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Old 03-20-2016   #12
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I've been shooting Tri-X and TMax400, both, lately, and running them at the same time in D76. What I'm getting is less shadow density and detail in TMax, to the tune of about half a stop. That might drive me back to Tri-X after I run through this 100' roll: I'm not ready to shoot TMax at 125, since I already shoot Tri-X at around 200.
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Old 03-20-2016   #13
Erik van Straten
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdarnton View Post
I've been shooting Tri-X and TMax400, both, lately, and running them at the same time in D76. What I'm getting is less shadow density and detail in TMax, to the tune of about half a stop. That might drive me back to Tri-X after I run through this 100' roll: I'm not ready to shoot TMax at 125, since I already shoot Tri-X at around 200.
This is remarkable, as TriX in D76 is a classic combination and should result in ISO 400 when developed at correct time and temperature. ISO 200 is what you will get with "true" fine grain developers such as Microdol, Microphen and Perceptol, because the silver grains in the film will be partly resolved. Tmax400 exposed @ ISO125 in D76 should result in too dark and too contrasty negatives. Maybe you have to check your lightmeter.

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Old 03-20-2016   #14
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I shoot Tmax 400 at 400, and develop in HC110 (H), 13m at 20c,
  1. Pre-Rinse 3m in filtered water
  2. 30s agitation, then 5s every 1.5m
  3. 4m filtered water stop/rinse
  4. 5m fixer, 30s agitation, then 5s every 1.5m
  5. 15m filtered water rinse
  6. 1.5m Photo-Flo agitate every 20s, (5-6 drops of concentrate in 600ml filtered water)
  7. Hang dry in a Humid bathroom for 1hr, then hairdryer on low/hot changing sides every minute or so, about 2 feet away

Produces great density and great shadows and highlights!
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Old 03-20-2016   #15
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I haven't used TMX or TMY in years. When it first came out, I started using it right away, and my negatives always looked thinner than most other emulsions. I was using D-76, T-Max developer, and one or two others. (Back then, for a time, we used to think that T-Max developer was specially for T-Max films. It isn't; it's a push developer.)

I quit using T-Max because it never seemed contrasty enough. Increasing the developing time to increase contrast gave me blocked highlights. Though I did get some keepers when the subject contrast was high enough.
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Old 03-20-2016   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob-F View Post
I haven't used TMX or TMY in years.
I started with Tmax100 back in the 1980's. I used it for single frame (Olympus Pen FT). People still marvel when they see the results. I exposed it at 50 ISO and developed it in Microdol X. See the Olympus Pen FT thread.

The Tmax developer caused many people to quit the Tmax films. It was a horrible stuff. I never understood why it existed. It was expensive and only good to throw away.

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Old 03-20-2016   #17
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OP: Yes. A properly exposed and processed T-Max neg is less dense than a Tri-X or HP5 neg.
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Old 03-20-2016   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post

The Tmax developer caused many people to quit the Tmax films. It was a horrible stuff. I never understood why it existed. It was expensive and only good to throw away.
This is all true...
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Old 03-20-2016   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
snip
The Tmax developer caused many people to quit the Tmax films. It was a horrible stuff. I never understood why it existed. It was expensive and only good to throw away.

Erik.
It still exists and it's an excellent developer, not just for T-MAX films. IMO.
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Old 03-20-2016   #20
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It still exists and it's an excellent developer, not just for T-MAX films. IMO.
Looks like the developer formula has changed over years. When it first came out you had to dilute it a lot to minimize grain to a level you were getting with conventional developers. As a result the contrast was gone. And you had to apply very long developing times. Which wasn't the goal.

Nowadays both the T-Max films and the T-Max Dev are different stuff from what they were when Kodak released them first in the early 1980s.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankS View Post
OP: Yes. A properly exposed and processed T-Max neg is less dense than a Tri-X or HP5 neg.
Less dense with same lighting conditions and same exposure means less informations on the negative. Something is a bit illogical there isn't it.
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Old 03-20-2016   #21
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This was much discussed when T-Max was introduced, IIRC. Tabular/flat silver grains in the new film, less silver per square inch, increased tonal range. Just needed less exposure during enlarging.
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Old 03-20-2016   #22
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No scientific proof from me but my observations are that the density are similar for both T-max and Tri-X. The film base of T-Max 400 seems clearer compared to Tri-X.
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Old 03-20-2016   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
This is remarkable, as TriX in D76 is a classic combination and should result in ISO 400 when developed at correct time and temperature. ISO 200 is what you will get with "true" fine grain developers such as Microdol, Microphen and Perceptol, because the silver grains in the film will be partly resolved. Tmax400 exposed @ ISO125 in D76 should result in too dark and too contrasty negatives. Maybe you have to check your lightmeter.

Erik.
It's not remarkable at all. Quite some time ago I took a workshop with David Vestal, and he recommended using the process he outlines in his book for deriving a personal EI.

I followed the procedure and arrived at 250, and have honed my exposures and development over the years around a certain look I like for my negs and prints. I absolutely abhor empty black shadows, and this opens them up.

Vestal's work was similarly open in the dark areas, and I liked that look, so there was no reason not to trust the process. He pointed out, and he was right, that the Zone System is faulty in that it throws away a considerable portion of a film's response to adhere to an unnecessary convenience of unthinking consistency; you mostly never run out of headroom (highlights) on film and use little of the film's possibility, but what never was there can't be printed.

I quite often use up to around 16 stops of subject brightness, including way down into the dark, since taking Vestal's workshop.

And it's a problem with this kind of shadow detail that probably will chase me away from TMax. In the past I used to use a lot of it, but that was at a specific job, for subjects that lacked contrast and shadow detail--for them it was great--but it's not proving good for my fun work.

By the way, at the time, for that work, I was using TMax developer and it was working perfectly for me. The thing that bothered me at the time, which may not be the case now, was that TMax in TMax was too twitchy. It was like running E6--if it didn't keep careful temp and time much more than with D76/Tri-X the result was all over the map and useless. The thing I did like was that at the time TMax400 in TMax looked about like PlusX in D76 in terms of grain and sharpness.
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Old 03-20-2016   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highway 61 View Post
Looks like the developer formula has changed over years. When it first came out you had to dilute it a lot to minimize grain to a level you were getting with conventional developers. As a result the contrast was gone. And you had to apply very long developing times. Which wasn't the goal.

Nowadays both the T-Max films and the T-Max Dev are different stuff from what they were when Kodak released them first in the early 1980s.


Less dense with same lighting conditions and same exposure means less informations on the negative. Something is a bit illogical there isn't it.
I did pre release field testing on both TMax films for Kodak. Kodak was coating very small batches of film (120 that I tested) and spooled it with unmarked black backing paper and unmarked foil wrappers. They would send a couple hundred rolls at a time through my field rep.

I can't remember if I tested 100 or 400 first. Anyway it was up to me to determine my true ISO and development time. I don't remember Kodak even providing a starting point for developer and time. I tried a number of developers including D76, HC110 and Rodinal. I wound up settling on HC110 B.

I think at that time I had settled on TX 400 ( the good old formulation) and Agfa 100. I loaded both my normal film in magazines and TMax along with it and would shoot my assignments as normal but boy led up with the TMax. I processed both and did evaluations visually on both negs no paring them and then printed both. I wrote reports to Kodak and included prints from both films and negs.

Initially the base was so thick it created problems with my SL66 magazines as well as Hasselblad backs. The base was so thick and stiff it a tually caused gears in the back to prematurely wear. Kodak reported problems in 35mm as well with motor drives.

Kodak was trying to produce a film that was completely flat and wouldn't bow in a glassles negative carrier. My and a couple other reports were responsible for Kodak thinning the base by 50%. Kodak reduced the thickness again after starting production.

I agree the first film was pretty bad. When you exposed for the shadows and developed for the highlights the negs were terribly flat. It was very sensitive to slight process variations even when mechanically processed. I was running my film in a Merz rotary machine. I have to admit my evaluation of both TMax films in the early davs of development wasn't very favorable.

Since then ghe film and developer has gone through a major evolution. Both films are superb and TMax developer do an excellent job. I don't use TMax but have tried it from time to time and really like it.

I also did the same type of testing for Ilford witj both Delta 100 and 400 which I fell in love with. The Ilford test caused me to change over to Ilford.

The last TMax 400 I shot in 120 a coupe of years ago and developed in HC110 B looked much like any other film developed normally. Density IMO was very normal.
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Old 03-21-2016   #25
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I did pre release field testing on both TMax films for Kodak. (...) Density IMO was very normal.
Thank you very much for this long post, full of very interesting informations, and which confirms what people having tried out the first T-Max films and dev. batches had discovered on the field.

I have posted this photo already but for me it's a perfect example of what T-Max can achieve now :



(Tuscany, May 2013)

Inspite of no particular way to expose (routine "sunny f/16" rule with a meterless RF camera and no filter of any kind) the negative has normal density and normal contrast, highlights aren't blown out, shadows aren't blocked, enlarging it on FB paper was very easy with no difficult masking tasks to perform and the prints are superb.
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Old 03-21-2016   #26
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It matters not what the negs look like, it is how they behave.

Exposure places shadow detail. If blacks are without detail, expose more.

Development time controls highlight density. If they are blown and without detail. film was developed too long. If they print grey rather than white, they need more time in developer.

Scanning and real printing may or may not yield same results. The goal being to print a normal scene with full shadow detail and detailed whites without burning and dodging.
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Old 03-21-2016   #27
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It matters not what the negs look like, it is how they behave
True. Yet a "thin" negative usually means underexposure or insufficient developing. Or both.
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Thanks!
Old 03-21-2016   #28
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Thanks!

Wow, lots of good information here. Thank you to everyone who responded. It's why I love RFF!
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Old 03-23-2016   #29
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Looks like the Tri-X we can buy from new now is very different from the "old school" Tri-X we had got used to in the 1980s.

I'd say it's closer to what the first TMY looked like...
"New" Tri-X came about when Kodak consolidated its Tri-X film coating line with the newer coating facility they had running for T-Max films. It was supposed to be the same Tri-X emulsion, but the switch had an effect on the film. I think Kodak even put out revised development times for Tri-X in some developers. Quite a few people complained - I heard Jim Marshall say that Tri-X had lost its balls.

My T-Max negatives have always been thinner (densities) than Tri-X or HP5+ negatives. Early on, I tried a little overexposure/underdevelopment to put some more density in the shadows, and wound up with blown highlights.

But print yours, and see how the prints look. That's really the only thing that matters.
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Old 03-24-2016   #30
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I never had much of a problem with TMY-2 as opposed to 400TX, both in XTOL 1:1, pretty much according to the directions in the box. TMY-2 did look a little thinner to the eye but always scanned and printed just fine for me. Could be the base, could be finer grain, I don't know.
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Old 03-25-2016   #31
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"New" Tri-X came about when Kodak consolidated its Tri-X film coating line with the newer coating facility they had running for T-Max films. It was supposed to be the same Tri-X emulsion, but the switch had an effect on the film. I think Kodak even put out revised development times for Tri-X in some developers. Quite a few people complained - I heard Jim Marshall say that Tri-X had lost its balls.
That was when I started using HP4. I preferred it to HP5/HP5+, though the latter are good emulsions. Just different.

I feel (not through empirical testing) that the current version of Tri-X is very good.

I agree that what matters is the final result, be it print or scanned final image.
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