Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Kodak T-Max 3200

When doing the test for this film I had to make a couple of decisions, mainly because I use this film quite often for low light situations, but rarely at the box speed and also because  its one of the few films I don't care for developed in Rodinal due to its grain structure.
I personally feel rated at 1600 and developed in T-Max developer gives the best results overall with respect to shadow detail and grain.


   Above image TMZ rated at EI 1600 processed in T-Max developer

In fact Kodak state in their datasheet that TMZ can be rated between EI400 and EI 25,000 with their developers XTOL and T-Max. I can't imagine what it looks like at 25,000 but rated between 800-1600 it is good enough especially with the T-max developer, which tends to smooth grain and gives the best tonal range.

I decided to rate this film at 3200 ISO (box speed) and process in Rodinal 1:25 for 8 mins.

Below is a shot taken on a very dull day after a storm had brought down a tree:


There was very little light, I can't remember the exposure but I metered for the shadows in the tree on the left and closed down two stops from that reading.
The image below is a 100% crop of the shadow detail on the right hand side, and clearly shows
the cygnet riding on the mother swans back. Grain although quite visible is certainly unobtrusive considering the rated speed and developer choice.


Which brings me to what I feel is the films main weakness – its tonal range.
If I had rated it at a lower EI say 800 I'm pretty sure that both shadow detail and overall tonal graduation would have been a whole lot better, thats not to say that it performs poorly just I feel that unless you really need the extra stop you'll benefit from rating at EI 1600 or even lower, then developing accordingly.
If you need to rate this film higher then use the Kodak developers, rather than Agfa Rodinal which probably isn't the best developer for fast film.


But for those situations where you need speed or the light is low, P3200 (T-Max developer) are a pretty useful combination, although the films real speed is 1250-1600 in my opinion.
© Images and text Mark Antony Smith

10 comments:

ChuckEye said...

I was always more attracted to the grain of Ilford's Delta 3200 when I have to shoot low-light...generally processed in DD-X. Feels smoother than T-MAX, IMHO.

Photo–Smith said...

Yes, on the whole I'd agree Delta has better tone at the expense of slightly higher grain. the Delta tests are in the pipe as are about 4-5 other films.

Charlie Wood said...

slightly off topic but 7dayshop.com have started stoking Plus-X in 136/36 the price is very good to £1.85 a roll.

Charlie

Photo–Smith said...

Not really off topic Charlie, I like Plus-X especially in Rodinal 1:100 15 mins, it has probably better grain than APX with just a little less tonal range.
have fun
Mark

M said...

Hi! Thanks for the comment on my blog. Yes i will try to find soda crystals, we couldnt find anything like that in Australia, strangely enough. Your blog is very interesting, keep it up! /martin rinman

matt~ said...

"Delta has better tone at the expense of slightly higher grain."

I'd agree with that. You might be interested in this post detailing my experience with Delta 3200 in Ilfosol S. At 800 the tonality is pretty smooth, with decent shadow detail, but the stuff is grainy.

Photo–Smith said...

Thanks Matt
Spookily enough my Rollei 35 has a roll of 3200 Delta in right now and normally it is my fast film of choice for 120.
Ilfosol was the first dev I ever used (in 1981), my general purpose dev Rodinal is not the choice for this film or any fast film, I'll probably try Studional.
I'll be sure to check out your blog.
Thanks for your comments
Mark

collinp2 said...

Great article... I linked to this from:

http://livemusicphotography.info

Thanks,
Collin

Photo–Smith said...

Thanks Colllin
Its a nice film in the right developer gives very good results.
Have you seem my Delta 3200 review?
That film is good also, especially if you use medium format.

zootman said...

Photorapher's Formulary in Montana (World's biggest small chemical company) has some great products for processing this film. Their BW-2 Developer for T-max is a 2 part Dev. that can be mixed in different proportions for varying contrast control. They offer copious amounts of info on photo chemistry.
http://www.photoformulary.com