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Monday, 08 February 2010


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Nearly had a heart attack there, seeing the words "Tri-X" and "Discontinued" in the title, even though I know TX400 is still alive and kicking.

"So, in a way, the current announcement simply means no more confusion. Tri-X 400 is the Kodachrome of black-and-white, in my humble opinion, and by far my preference of the two Tri-X's."

No question, this is not a great loss. TX 400 was always the preferred film for me. My primary work for years was with a Pentax 6x7 and Tri-X 400 was always the first choice (still have some in the feezer). I did some 4x5 work during those years and had to put up with the 320, but would have used 400 if it was available.


Info on black and white digital printing at
I-Trak 2.1 http://www.cjcom.net/itrak.htm

I've smiled at the recent mentions of Ralph Gibson on TOP. Ralph's film (from the beginning, AFAIK) has been TX400. I'm sure it's what Cartier-Bresson (aka Hank Carter) used, at least in the later years of his career, and likewise for Robert Frank. I've read that TX400 sells more than all other Kodak B&W films combined. I've loved it for many year, for everything from portraits in Grand Central to gritty portraits of poets and people on the edge of culture in New York's East Village. I'd love to shoot RAW and be able to make a print that looks just like it came from Tri-X, but I'm not there yet. Maybe it's supposed to be hard.

TXP 120 has for many years been my favorite B&W medium format film. I guess I should go to B&H (via TOP) and stock up.
I am open to suggestions for an alternative.
My principal use for TXP has been for landscapes as I really like the way it handles mid tones.
Not surprised but a little sad.

The discontinuance of Tri-x 320 in medium format is really bad news. The 320 version has a very "zonal" tonal scale with with a beautiful range from black to white and everything in between. As opposed, say, to tri-x 400, which basically produced tonal scales in shades of muddy gray. 320 develops particularly well in a pyro based developer, which help you pile on the shadow detail (overexpose) while controlling the highlights.

Having Tri-x in 320 allows you to shoot both medium and large format and get an identical tonal scale.

Tri-x is also the only B&W film available in 220 format, giving twice the number of exposrues per roll of film.

This announcement means a lot more to a good number of photographers than "simply means no more confusion."

Take care,

"TX 120 and 220 will continue to be available."

I believe this is a typo, as TX has not been available in 220 for quite some time. One reason the discontinuation of TXP in 220 is so devastating is that it has lately been Kodak's only traditional black and white film in size 220.

It's still quite a pity to see TXP go, it's a wonderful film for studio and landscape use, especially when combined with HC-110.

"'TX 120 and 220 will continue to be available.' I believe this is a typo, as TX has not been available in 220 for quite some time."

That's right. Fixed now. Thanks.


One small correction: TX 120 will continue to be available, but TXP was the last B&W film available in 220, and there is no word on whether TX will be made available in 220. Kodak and Fuji continue to offer color films in 220.

Simon Galley from Ilford/Harman says that Ilford has looked into various options for offering B&W film in 220, but the demand is too small to justify the expense.

Now most cameras that can shoot 220 can also use 120, so this isn't the end of the world for B&W medium format users, though it is pushing 220-only backs for modular cameras another step closer to the film pack holder.

If more films were available in 220, I'd certainly shoot more of it. Aside from not having to load film as often, it saves time to be able to process twice as many exposures in half the time and half the space that would be required with 120 without any kludges like trying to load two 120 rolls on a 220 reel. It's also convenient to be able to travel with twice as much film in the same space. Zeiss has also claimed that 220 usually provides better film flatness than 120.

Is TMX3200 in 135 also cancelled? That would be a pity.

"As opposed, say, to tri-x 400, which basically produced tonal scales in shades of muddy gray."

You can be forgiven for this, in the spirit of modern liberal permissiveness, but just be aware than in previous eras such heresy could have resulted in you getting burned at the stake.



Thank you for this information Mike and Oren but...I have questions:

In 220, which are the B&W films which remain???
Your post is awful because, pity me...I'm using 220 TXP.

Are we forced to use 120 films in B&W if we want "fast" films?
We can't find 220 Tri-X 400 here (in Belgium). Is it not the case in US?It must be a mistake.

Probably It's the time for a new BUZZ on Medium Format. Your last post on "Print Size" was excellent! (6X6 and 6X7 to enlarge and reach 11"X14" print size)
Next time could be on film choices for example...Do you think it's worthless?

It's a pleasure to read you everyday.
I wish you all the best.


I originally tried the sentence as, "tonal scales in shades of gray." but I thought the reaction would be, "well, duh...aren't all tones shades of gray?" I felt I need a more descriptive adjective such as "muddy", to make my point clear. As always, I did so anticipating your tolerance and patience with us, the great unwashed who have not yet seen the (grayish) light. :)

For 35mm B&W I've settled on Ilford Delta 400. In combination with Ilford warm tone paper, it produces a more pleasing print than Tri-X 400. For me, anyway. Question: Are there any papers left that do a particularly good job with TX 400? Seems to me that they are all gone.

I anticipated the demise of 220 format and have about 40 rolls of TXP 320 in my freezer. After that, I'll probably shoot Delta 400 in medium format, as well.

Take care,
Tom, the heretic

It's always sad to see a film/format disappear, especially when they have outstanding characteristics. Tri-X 320 was renowned for its highlight contrast, making it a favorite of portrait photographers for that particular look it gave to high-key shots.

I've found Plus-X in HC-110 to be a close equivalent (brilliant highlights), but haven't had the chance yet to know Tri-X 320 inside out. Now I'll never know! :(

Oh crap. I just discovered TXP120 and totally fell in love with it. I just purchased 20 rolls, and now I guess I should plonk down for a bunch more, unless I find something else with a similar range. Sigh.

Pretty darn sad :/ It seems that 220 MF backs are going the way of Polaroid backs (and film) :/

HCB: I have an article from an American photography magazine somewhere where they claimed that at that time (must have been the end of the 60s) he was using Ilford HP5. I also recall that early in his career he used Agfa film. But I'm sure he used Tri-X as well.

Robert Frank: "The Americans" were shot using Tri-X, but also Plus-X and some rolls of Ilford HP3.

But, yes, Tri-X has probably been used by more famous photographers than any other film. I think Daido Moriyama once said he'd shoot film as long as Tri-X was available... :)

Yeah, the development is going the wrong way ... more and more people are going for this new, electronic stuff ... Maybe because they think 4000 iso in a professional digital Nikon is better than a 400 iso film ... But they are sooo wrong!

Back in my film shooting days I ran hundreds of rolls of Ilford HP5 plus 220 through a much loved Mamiya 6. It was nice not having to change rolls as frequently in the field (with the accompanying efficiency of having to pack half the number of rolls in the bag), and it was easier to process three 220 rolls at a time in a large tank. It was wonderful film (probably still is...though no longer available in 220), but I did often wish I could get TX in 220. TXP was always a very frustrating film for me so there will be no grieving at it's demise. There are many images from HP5 plus negatives here: http://williamstickney.smugmug.com/Fine-Art-Photography/Black-and-White/10536625_9tBZF#737543769_PaPgC

There is a "film database" on flickr which allows for easy comparison of TX and TXP:



Must have used TXP 320 since the 60's. It had a smoothness and softness that printed beautiful on Grade 3 silver bromide with punchy contrast and detail in the highlights. (See Tom's comments for the technical description). With Digital it scanned beautifully though I haven't come close with Inkjet to match those silver papers.
As George said, "All things must pass" ....but darkroom memories can be a burden.

I went from terrified to slightly disappointed over the course of this post.

We can't lose Tri-X for christ's sake!

I frankly don't see 220 disappearing as a major loss. As has been pointed out, any camera that can shoot 220 can do 120 as well - though often not the other way around. 220 doesn't save you any money - it costs a little more per exposure than 120 - and while it does let you rapidly take more shots before reloading, you're frankly using the wrong format if speed is of the essence. Use digital or 35mm for the fast stuff, and leave MF for the slower workflow that fits it so much better.

"Question: Are there any papers left that do a particularly good job with TX 400? Seems to me that they are all gone."

A fair question, a fair question. Certainly there are a lot of papers out there that DON'T do a good job with it.


It's a bummer, but really, film is now an 'Alternative Process', albeit one that many of us have lots of knowledge of...

My sad film day was when Fortepan 200 was gone. Yes, it's was an oddball eastern-bloc film, but it had both a gentile shoulder and a long toe. It was ridiculously silver-rich, and wasn't all that fussy with processing. I talked to an Engineer with HP about it, and she basically said it was a copy of Super Double X.

I liked it a lot.

Oh great, I have 3 backs for my Hasselblad. An A70 an A24 , and a Polaroid. Who would have thought all three would become useless so soon.

One of the nice things about 220 is it was flatter than 120.

I'd get more excited about personally being able to buy some 70mm film than 220 though.

"Question: Are there any papers left that do a particularly good job with TX 400? Seems to me that they are all gone."

Try the revived Adox MCP.

Mike, please share your knowledge and wisdom about film with us! Yes, digital is great, but still many use the old technology. When should one use film? And what films?

Looks like I'll be shooting Tri-x (400) in 120 from now on.

Mike, I'd appreciate a modern article on film developers if you ever had the time. The desirable features have shifted nowdays:

I used to process anything up to 15 rolls of film at a time in a Jobo, and often do it once a week. My Jobo died, and has never been replaced. My enlarger is also long gone, and I don't miss printing in the darkroom - very happy scanning and printing on a big Epson (4800).

I need a developer which will give me negs suited to scanning.

I'm likely to develop a few films at once - say 3 rolls of 120 - once every few months.

What I need is a developer which keeps well in opened packs.

I used to like XTOL, but it seems a bit unreliable for occasional use.

ID-11 / D76 were good, but I didn't like the change in activity with age.

Ilford Perceptol is nice, and comes in small packs, but there's a loss in film speed. I no longer need fine grain as there's digital for that. Grain is now good if it's 35mm, and it's never been a problem on 67.

I'm wondering about trying HC110 again, or one of the Ilford concentrates.

Any suggestions?

I would caution folks from blaming digital capture for this latest product decision by Kodak if only because of the Pan-X to T-Max transition. It is still Kodak we're discussing here.

For what it's worth I have been going back to old TXP negatives exposed at 160 done in HC-110 Dilution B for 7 minutes at 68F.
They were done with wet printing in mind but my scanner (an Epson flatbed like yours) pulls lovely files from them.
I store my stock solution in cubetainers and it keeps just fine.
I agitate for thirty seconds at the beginning of development and then for five seconds at the top of each minute.
This gives the developer time to expend itself on the highlights and work into the shadows more giving better mid tone separation.
This is I believe standard practice for landscape shooters and TXP.
Now I will have to find another film that responds about the same way to this approach.
I am open to suggestions from the TOP community.
Given that TXP120/220 is on the way out I am not sure how helpful this post is going to be.

After looking at the flickr links provided by Stefan, I'm reminded why it was always hard to tell the difference between the two stocks in the first place - the subject matter is different enough that it's hard to tell where the film is effecting the image and where the photog takes over. TX is supposed to be grainy and punchy, and TXP smooth and sedate, so that's what you grab when you have a shot in mind, right?

"TX is supposed to be grainy and punchy, and TXP smooth and sedate, so that's what you grab when you have a shot in mind, right?"

I thought it was the opposite...

It's not easy to generalize when looking at things like those flickr pages. You aren't dealing with one person's work so the processing could be all over the place, some people have more skill than others, people have different tastes and different ideas of what a photograph is supposed to look like, and then you've got the digitize-and-upload filter obscuring whatever's going on...were the negs scanned? Were the scans manipulated in Curves? Are the scans of prints? Did the person know what paper to use? The static just overwhelms the signal.

That, plus the fact that TXP work is medium format and most TX work is 35mm.


Wait a second , didn't Kodak stop making TXP in 2001 or was that one of those "reformulations" I remember a portrait photographer friend freaking out about not getting the skin texture she wanted.
I remember Kodak said that TXP was designed for "male portraiture" but I always took that with whatever grains of salt were left over from all the stuff Kodak was always printing about "ice shows"
going off topic for a moment:
Was there someone at Kodak that was obsessed with ice shows? I have never seen an amateur photo of an ice show after going through box after box of flea market snapshots, but there was always an exposure recommendation for "ice shows" on the film insert.

I am MOST unhappy about this. Tri-X 320 was the ONLY film I use, and has been for the last eight years. The announcement was made the day I received a "new" 220 back. Just my luck!

For those of us who photograph young children, having to shoot 120 means reloading every fifteen (ish) frames. And processing twice as much film, which is a much bigger investment in terms of both time and money.

There's no choice but to adapt, so I will, but I don't have to like it. I just need to be a little salty for awhile before I paste the smile back on my face and move on.

- CJ

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