Tri-X or HP5+ ? : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Film & Processing : One Thread

I recently tested both HP5+ and Tri-X (35mm), shooting several rolls of each on the same (or similar) subjects. After some testing I ended up rating them both at EI 200 and developing both in HC-110 (for slightly different times) to what I though was the correct density. I'm mainly interested in scanning the negatives rather than conventional printing at this point.

My conclusion was that I really can't tell much, if any, difference. I certainly couldn't pick out a shot as being taken on one or the other. Maybe (just maybe) the HP5+ has slight;y smoother grain, but it's subtle. I couldn't really say one has more highlight or shadow detail than the other, or that the "tonality" is noticably different when averaged over the whole set of images.

So my question is whether anyone has noticed any conditions under which either HP5+ or Tri-X (35mm) is noticably "better" (or even different) than the other, or whether they are pretty much clones of each other under just about any conditions as my testing so far seems to suggest.

-- Bob Atkins (, September 14, 2000


I haven't seen much difference between the two in roll film formats. Its quite a different matter in sheet film though. TriX in sheet film is actually a different film. I believe it was designed for use in controlled light situations such as studio portraits. The characteristic curve shape certainly looked different. (Caveat: I just ran one quick test). For natural light stuff in sheet film size work, I tend to prefer HP5 as both being more flexible as well as giving me a gradation that I like more. In roll film size, I have no particular preference. As you say, I find they provide pretty much the same speed, gradation, tonality, grain etc - at least, I'm unable to find any difference but maybe I haven't been 'looking hard enough'. Cheers. DJ

-- N Dhananjay (, September 14, 2000.

Tri-X comes in two flavors for roll film. TXP ISO 320 and TX ISO 400. I have graphed the TXP and found it has a longer toe than HP5+. Sheet film comes in the TXT varity that .. according to Kodak's graphs has a very long toe (at least as long as TXP).


-- Ken Heflinger (, September 14, 2000.

That's why I explicitly said I was working in 35mm. I know there are 2 versions of Tri-X. It does seem the "other" version may show larger differences when compared to HP5+ (which I think is the same in all formats).

What's a little confusing are all the "web reviews" I read where people swear either HP5+ or Tri-X is the best thing since sliced bread and that they would never consider using anything else. Since I find them so similar it's hard to understand why anyone would swear loyalty to either one - unless it's because they haven't really tested the other. I'm just wondering if I haven't hit the right conditions yet to show up their differences - or if there really aren't any to speak of.

-- Bob Atkins (, September 14, 2000.

Historically speaking the Ilford fast films have had a bit straighter curve shape than TX on the high end or iow, more highlight contrast, but it's been so long since I've used any TX I have no idea if that's valid today. Ilford renames its films (HP3, HP4, HP5, HP5+) while Kodak just keeps calling its film Tri-X no matter what changes have occured over the years.

Personally I suspect anyone who sees any radical differences between TX and HP5+ is engaging in wishful seeing.

-- John Hicks (, September 14, 2000.

I last tested the two films, 35mm, a long time ago. For printing to 10x8 or 12x16, I preferred HP5+, chiefly for the grain pattern. It was a personal preference, not an absolute 'better'. I don't think I've ever done densitometry on these films.

Scanning is a different ballgame to printing, and could easily lead to different preferences.

-- Alan Gibson (, September 14, 2000.

My first experiments with HP5+ were conducted using Kodak's TX times (35mm) in HC-110 (B). Overdevelopment city. I was lucky they were low-scale subjects.

My second run of experiments began when I had decided to switch to Rodinal. Not a good match. Rodinal proves that with HP5+, an ugly thing is not a joy forever.

Speedwise these films seem to be the same in HC110 and TMax. My experience is that they're the same damn film that just reacts to developers differently. I couldn't pick a TX print from an HP5+ print -- except for the fact that I only used TX in my Fischer Price camera, so that I know that prints with terrible quality in the lower right corner are TX...

-- John O'Connell (, September 14, 2000.

I use D76 1+1 (Sprint) and XTOL 1+2 (still experimenting) I seem to see differences in these two films with the developers mentioned. HP5+ seems to need longer development times that TRI-X and TRI-X seems to be better looking and eaiser for me to print when pushed two stops. I really haven't tried to quantify the difference but TRI-X seems to have a distinct mid tone look and may shoulder off more quickly than HP5+. HP5+ tends to look more linear and have more edge shapness esp. in XTOL 1+2 or higher. Just my two cents.

-- Robert W Boyer (, September 14, 2000.

I have used both these films quite recently at different speeds. I like HP5+ at 640 in DD-X (thanks, John Hicks). It's nice and smooth. However, at 1600, I really like the look of Tri-X in Xtol 1+1. I am a musician and take quite a few pictures of musicians at work. I recently shot several rolls side-by-side of Tri-X pushed and Delta 3200 at 1600. With careful printing, I preferred the appearance of the Tr-X. I found that I could handle the contrast, but not reduce the grain of the Delta.

So... the last time I got a bunch of film, I just got Tri-X and FP4+, which I really like in D-76/ID-11. Fewer choices, less to worry about, easier to visualize what I'll get. I'll save the Delta for 3200 and up.

Very subjective comparison: at conservative ratings, Tri-X seems "grittier", HP5+ smoother. When I push them beyond one stop, I prefer the look of the Tri-X. However, out of the last 100 rolls that I have shot, at least 50 have been Tri-X, Maybe 20 or so FP4+, and the others a mixture. So more practice _should_ yield better results with it.

Various expert comments to further clarify (confuse?) the issue can be found in the Anchell and Troop _The Film Development Cookbook_, and just about everywhere else.

I have tested speed ratings of some of these following (and speed2.html)

Maybe time for another go-round here, too.

It's nice to have the choices.

-- Paul Harris (, September 14, 2000.

This is the year of PMK experimentation for me, so I've tried both in pyro. Times are shorter for HP5+ in PMK and grain seems less, even though Tri-X stains better. (I believe the Kodak specs show TX and TMZ both at a 17 in graininess.) The HP5+ also seems to have slightly greater acutance. And--even though it ought to be a small thing--the Ilford cassettes are definitely easier for me to break into. Sometimes the Kodak tops really put up a fight. Overall I give the nod to Ilford.

-- Brian Hinther (, September 19, 2000.

I just recently finished testing most major films and plotting HD curves when developed in PMK. I've also investigated the claim that you can get more speed using D-76 or Xtol. Here's the skinny on these two films (35 mm): TX-135 has a real speed of 250, and no more. HP-5+ has a real speed of 400. Actually, really 400! The curve of Tri-X has a long toe and shoulders off rapidly; this is what gives the perception of 'exposure latitued,' a bogus concept. Such a film will allow a 'useable image' under nearly all situations, but will not produce a negative that will make a stunning print without LOTS of work. HP-5+, not only meets its claimed speed of 400, but had a curve that is ruler flat from Zone II to Zone IX! (Developed in PMK for 14 1/2 minutes @68F.) The base fog is almost non-existant in 120 and sheet formats, and only 0.36 in 35mm. Grain is quite good for a 400 speed film. Those seeking better grain with Tri-X should consider Delta 400. TXP (the 'pro' version) has a speed of 320 and is quite a nice film, but HP-5+ is still better, and 2/3 stop faster. Regarding 'increased' film speed with D-76: BUNK! Sure you can get the Zone I point at the rated speed, but the negative must be printed down to show detail in the highlight areas and this causes the shadows to 'dump.' I measured the shadow area (Zone III in the negative) as a Zone I in the print when Zone VIII was printed as Zone VIII! Hardly a useful speed increase!

-- Michael D Fraser (, September 20, 2000.

Michael Fraser's results in terms of speed (and development time) for both films in PMK match my results, as do his findings on the straight line behavior of HP5+. After 43 years of using Tri-X, I suspect my current few remaining rolls of 120 TX will be my last.

-- John Lehman (, September 22, 2000.

Hp5 is much smoother, and great in strong sunlight (greece, egypt) however i now use tri-x, it's grainier, harsher, but the overall visual appearance is crisper, better in the more miserable weather i find myself in the u.k. Hp5 pushed to EI 3200 in fotospeed fd30 is very impressive though, i'd only go to EI 1600 with tri-x. If you want finer grain try neopan 400. You really can't tell the difference? My tri-x shots stand out like a sore thumb, rated as per kodak's instuction's in hc-110.

-- Chris calvert (, October 22, 2000.

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