Film Review : KODAK T-MAX 100 vs TX400 – 120

Aug 14, 2016
3 min read

I recently did a portrait session with the amazing Scarlett Minx and tried two types of black and white films : KODAK T-MAX 100 and KODAK TRI-X 400.

The idea was to compare the grain and contrast of those films under similar conditions. For this shooting, I used the Mamiya M645 and the SEKOR 80mm f1.9. The TRI-X was shot at box speed however the light condition didn’t allow me to shoot the T-MAX at 100. I had to pull it by two stops and the lab developed it accordingly.

How does the T-MAX looks pushed by two stops? Let’s check it out!

As we can see bellow, the grain is very fine and the sharpness excellent (when you nail the focus and don’t have camera shake!). I also like how the dark tones look like and it managed to give a decent amount of details in her hairs for a film that have been underexposed by 2 stops.

Film Review KODAK T-MAX 100 vs TRI-X 400 – 120 Medium Format - Mamiya M645 80mm SEKOR f1.9 Samples
Film Review KODAK T-MAX 100 vs TRI-X 400 – 120 Medium Format - Mamiya M645 80mm SEKOR f1.9 Samples
Film Review KODAK T-MAX 100 vs TRI-X 400 – 120 Medium Format - Mamiya M645 80mm SEKOR f1.9 Samples

Now I’d like to share an interesting point. We often hear that film is forgiving and it doesn’t really matter if you over exposed a bit as it won’t burn as easily as a digital sensor would. The two pictures below were taken seconds apart with the exact same settings however we can clearly see that the one overexposed almost lost all the details in the highlights.

If you look at her shoulders and the white wall you can’t even see a separation. It was an overcast day but it seems that the sun found it’s way through the thick layer of Irish clouds for a second. This lets me think that its exposure latitude may not be enough to handle exposure mistakes but we’ll put that onto my almost inexistent film photographer skills…

I’m overall very pleased with the quality of this roll of KODAK T-MAX 100and I would recommend it to anyone looking for fine grain and a sharp film but is it the type of black and white that I’m looking for? Not really.

We are now going to look at KODAK TRI-X 400shot at 400. It doesn’t take long to see that it’s much more contrast compared to T-MAX. Dark tones are much darker and even if the highlights are bright, there is still detail and it doesn’t look as burn as T-MAX.

The sharpness is also very good if not better and the grain very fine for a 400 film but this must have something to do with the size of the negative. I haven’t tried yet on 35mm but it’s known that 120 films are always less grainy.

I prefer the TRI-X over the T-MAX as it makes images look more contrasty and get a little more impact but that’s just a personal taste. Those two films are very capable and will not fail to deliver high-quality negatives.

Will I use those film again? Certainly for the TRI-X and why not for the T-MAX if I’m looking for a lower contrast film to achieve a specific look.

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One Reply to “Film Review : KODAK T-MAX 100 vs TX400 – 120”

  1. I am really happy shooting TX400 in any of my medium format cameras however I find it to be overly grainy in 35mm, I am currently trying TMax 100 in my Leica IIIf hoping for a little cleaner images. Thanks for the article.

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