My cousin Elen twice | Tri-X 400 vs T-Max 400

400TX (120)

Like so many others, I’m sure, I’ve been comparing photos from these two films to figure out if I prefer one of them over the other. But its not so easy to tell when its different motives under different circumstances.  I’ve also been reading other peoples opinions on those films, but figured the easiest way to find out if I find one of them “better” than the other was comparing them side by side myself.

Now, the science of this test is in all honesty not that strict. But, I used a Hasselblad 500C/M and two magazines, one with 400TX and the other with TMY2. I shot each photo once with each magazine. Same exposure, same aperture, same shutter speed, same distance to object, under the same circumstances… and so on. I scanned them as positives with no color correction in Epson Scan and flipped the colors in flipped the colors in Capture One. I suppose its the adjustments made in Capture One that makes this test “less scientific”, however, all I did was adjusting the histogram and the black point, and some minor adjustments for the exposure, contrast and brightness (the same for both photos here).

Sadly most of the pictures from the two rolls were not that great, suffering motion blur or bad focusing… or just boring compositions or motives. Hence I can’t be bothered to presented them here. But I like these two of my cousin (besides, I think they represent the results quite well – as I find the film characteristics of these two photos to be similar with the others on the respective rolls). The one above is shot on 400TX and the one below is shot on TMY2. I’ve known my cousin all my life so its not that intimidating photographing her, besides, she doesn’t mind either, and that helps. It was an overcast day, almost foggy, so the light was completely flat, which also makes it easier to photograph I find.

TMY2 (120)

But I do find it very difficult to tell the difference of these two films. Its said that 400TX is more forgiving than TMY2, but all of the exposures on both films are just fine. I meter incident light and I don’t find TMY2 any more particular than 400TX. Sure, if you exposure wrong on purpose maybe you would get more usable photos from 400TX than TMY2. I’ve never tried this and while there might be incidents when thats useful I don’t really see the point. Besides, TMY2 is forgiving enough for me.

The main difference I find is that I prefer TMY2’s tonality and range. There is more of it and its better. That said, some people probably can, but I could not necessarily tell them apart beforehand, and I don’t think the quality of these two films are that different. And thats pretty much all I’ve got to say… except… Out of these two pictures of my cousin I  prefer the one shot on Tri-X even though I prefer T-max as a film. TMY2 is only marginally better, and as a I said, I can barely notice the difference, and the “better” quality of the film will never compensate for a better photo on 400TX. And out of these two photos I prefer my cousins more natural, bolder and more intense look on the photo shot with 400TX. So if I had to pick one of these two photos thats the one I’d pick.

3 thoughts on “My cousin Elen twice | Tri-X 400 vs T-Max 400

  1. Svein Tore Ulset February 24, 2017 / 10:24

    Gode portrett. Eg har ei Tri-X picture control file på Nikonen, slik at eg får ut .jpg som liknar på Tri-X men eg ser at originalane dine utvilsomt er best. Lurer på om Tri-X er blitt mjukare i kontrasten eller finare i korna, om filmen/oppskriften har forandra seg på 30 år.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Peter Risholm February 24, 2017 / 12:50

    Mange takk du :-) Jeg tror Kodak har gjort de filmene likere iløpet av årene. Og de vi har i dag er nok ikke sånn de var for tredve år siden. Den nyeste T-Max’en tror jeg er under ti år.


  3. Massimo de Cristofaro August 3, 2018 / 10:48

    Hi, jumped in here with a search on the film and developers for my study for well balanced films. There is here a very strong difference, that of course could be important for aestethics: while the gray of Elen’s coat is the same, you can see that the shadow area between her neck and hair (on the left for us looking) is much richier with TMY2. So the first image can easily be more contrasty.
    Another think to watch – if you like to be careful – are the red light captures: pan films all have red sensitivity, but KODAK usually have more extensive reds response. That means that Kodak b/w film, especially the old TriX, have a much better rendering of skin tones in portraits.


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