This week's Friday Featured Film Spotlight is about Kodak Tri-X 400 black & white film.
Kodak Tri-X high speed panochromatic black and white film used to be widely available in both 320 and 400 ISO. The 320TXP is becoming more and more difficult to find however. That being said, Kodak 400TX is still extremely popular! This is because the 400TX, like Ilford's HP5, has a wide exposure latitude making it perfect for push or pull processing or simply a forgiving film for someone to learn on. You are almost always guaranteed an image with Tri-X. If you are a bit under or over in your exposure, you can usually quite easily still pull a great image when developing or printing with Tri-X. A lot of schools give their students this film to learn on for that reason, but it's also great if you are doing journalistic style photography or street photography where you are constantly moving into ever changing situations. This was how Tri-X got to be so popular and was a favorite of journalists and professionals, especially in the 60s & 70s. With the gritty results Tri-X provided, it really changed the tone and look of that era of photography. In more recent years, the film was redesigned and has a more fine grain quality to it, but still remains one of the most versatile black and white films available today. All of these factors have contributed to Tri-X becoming the best selling black and white film.
Tri-X can appear grainy and contrasty, depending a bit on how it is shot and developed, but it still has a unique depth to it and allows for a lot of detail in the shadows and highlights. The cubic grain shape helps render clear, sharp detail in those areas. However even if you’re not the photo journalist type this film works wonders in all lighting types and for other categories of photography. Photographing animals is great with Tri-X as well, as they tend to move and the lighting situations can change quickly. The versatility of this film really helps compensate for any misstep in exposure you might make in such situations. It's also great in Dianas, Holgas or any of the Lomography or plastic cameras! These cameras tend to play fast and loose with exposure and sometimes you're not sure what you'll get. Tri-X works really well to compensate for this uncertainty.
Here are a few shots we've done with Tri-X.
Nicole's images: shot on a Pentacon Six, developed in Ilfotec DD-X.
Meghan's shots done on a Diana F+, developed in Blazinal.