Tri-X pan, plus-x pan or T-max??? : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Film & Processing : One Thread

Hi - I know it's a question of `try them out and decide for yourself' but what do you lot prefer - what are main differences, apart from the price. why use t-max 400 instead of tri-x-pan 400 or why use plus-x-pan 100 instead of t-max 100???

-- Greg Brosnan (, April 20, 1999


I can't address TMY vs. TX, because my first roll ever of TMY is still in the camera. But I'll take a whack at TMX vs. PX... (Please note, these are MY subjective observations given MY chemistry and camera/darkroom techniques. Vast amounts of variation are possible, so I'm not pontificating for the entire world here, just ME.)

People keep asking why Kodak still makes PX when they have TMX: doesn't the higher resolution and finer grain in TMX render PX obsolete? My answer to that is, yes, if ALL you care about is resolution and grain. But - and it's a big but - while TMX and PX occupy the same position in Kodak's b/w offerings in terms of film speed, they both have unique desirable qualities.

What's not to like about TMX? Let's see: much less exposure latitude, even less tolerance of processing "errors", generally higher contrast (depending on developer), "staggered" gradation (that is, it seems to have 200 distinct levels of gray as opposed to older films' smoother transitions [it's like digital vs. analog!]), and a kind of flat, almost clinical (vs. impressionistic) spectral rendering. For some subjects, with some cameras and lighting, many of these qualities are good. But not always.

PX has wide exposure latitude and processing-variation tolerance. It has more than acceptable sharpness and grain for most applications (e.g., half-frame 35mm negatives make beautiful 5x7s indistinguishable from from full-frame results), and in most developers has comfortably medium contrast. It has that old-school smooth gradation, and something about it (perhaps the funky bluish cast to the negatives?) causes it to render light differently from most other films... and very beautifully, I might add. PX has a unique look that's somehow a bit more abastracted from reality than TMX.

I use both films, in different cameras for different uses. In my 35mm work with Nikon and OM SLRs and my Pen half-frame, PX is the film of choice. I hardly ever enlarge beyond 5x7, but I know 8x10s from the full-frame negatives will be grain-free if and when I need to make them. For both informal portraiture and found-on-the-trail landscapes, PX is a great film. Very nice skintones, excellent cloudscapes. A beautiful old-fashioned look.

In my Minox, where less grain is the big concern, I use TMX. The high resolution of the TMX is great for the Minox, where a 5x7 blowup is roughly equivalent to a 16x20 from 35mm. I get 5x7s that show only a little grain - they look 8x10s from 35mm Tri-X. (I've used PX in the Minox too, and while it still has all its good qualities, it IS grainier. Most 5x7s are distractingly grainy, although 4x5s are perfectly acceptible. [FYI, Agfapan APX 100 is a better old-tech film for the Minox, and a wonderful emulsion for 35mm too.]) Sure, the lack of exposure latitude, finicky contrast, etc., sometimes give me results that aren't quite what I want, but there are always tradeoffs... And if I ever wanted to get near-medium format results from my 35mm work (e.g., if I planned on making 11x14s or larger prints), there's no question that I'd put the camera on a tripod and use TMX.

Both films are excellent performers, but they have distinct, unique personalities and differing strengths and weaknesses. I use 'em both all the time. (And as I said above, APX 100 is another favorite b/w film in the same speed range. And for faster speed, good old Tri-X is an eternal fave too.) Both give great results in D-76 1:1, although I'm in the process of experimenting with XTOL, hoping it will improve the grain in the old-tech films and tame the contrast in the T-grain films.

So anyway, that's my take on the PX vs. TMX story...

-- Michael Goldfarb (, April 21, 1999.

Tx is still the one. I use it at normal rating with Acufine and get good eezults. I cant stand Tmax because their developer (Kodak's) is so terrible. see my TX work . But ypu gotta use the Acufine when fresh for best results.

-- Rodney Barnett (, June 22, 1999.

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