Field notes – Kodak Tri-X 400
Another quick reference guide for you all. This time it’s Kodak Tri-X 400. As this article proved, Tri-X 400 is is the best film black and white film in the world…if you want a certain look. It’s been with us for decades and due to it’s flexibility and ease of manipulation in the darkroom, it’s been responsible for capturing some of the most iconic images in living memory.
Here’s what Kodak have to say about this film:
KODAK PROFESSIONAL TRI-X 320 and 400 Films are high-speed panchromatic films that are a good choice for photographing dimly lighted subjects or fast action, for photographing subjects that require good depth of field and fast shutter speeds, and for extending the distance range for flash pictures. TRI-X 400 Film (400TX) is available in 120 and 135 sizes and 35 and 70 mm long rolls. You can retouch the 120-size film on the emulsion side. TRI-X 400 Film is recommended for push-processing applications. TRI-X 320 Films (320TXP) feature excellent tone gradation and brilliant highlights. They are especially well suited to low-flare interior lighting or flash illumination. They are also useful for portraiture with low-contrast backlighting outdoors. One TRI-X 320 Film (320TXP) is available in 120 and 220 sizes on a 3.9-mil acetate base, the other is available in sheets on a 7-mil ESTAR Thick Base. You can retouch these films on the emulsion or base side.
|Type||Black and white|
|Exposure latitude||±3 stops|
|Push processing||3 stops|
What’s it like (the quick version)?
Truth be told, Kodak Tri-X is legendary and for good reason. TRI-X captures images in a way that could be described as utilitarian, dirty and sometimes other worldly. It has a feeling that’s altogether unique and being somewhat of a chameleon, it’s a film stock that can be hard to capture with words. Sometimes, the best way is just to see for yourself.
There are many, many wonderful black and white films in existence today, Ilford’s HP5 and FP4, Fuji’s Across 100 and Rollei’s Superpan 200. For me, TRI-X brings something extra to the game; it’s not fuzzy but it’s not super, super sharp. It’s a film that can go from showing amazing shadow detail in one shot, to giving nothing but sweeping, almost obsidian blacks in another.
You can read more about this wonderful emulsion in our Kodak Tri-X 400 review, or for the brave amongst you, our Kodak Kodak Tri-X 400 experimentation guide, where we take this film up to ISO12800 (yes, ISO twelve thousand eight hundred).