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Kodak T-Max 400 [120]

Kodak T-Max 400

There are two types of people (well, in the very specific group of people who shoots medium speed Kodak BW film in 2022) – those who likes Tri-X and those who grab T-Max 400. Generally speaking, Tri-X is grainy and made famous by past analog street photographers. Picture a scene shot in the 60s in NYC, chances are that’s Tri-X. T-Max, on the other hand, is smooth, and supposed to be for landscape, where graininess doesn’t bring as much to the table (the harsh grains could give some mood to desolated places, but usually landscapes are supposed to be dreamy!) I shoot mostly landscapes and cityscapes, but rarely delved in the monochrome realm of black and white film. Unfortunately, color film looks dreadful during the colder months in the Pacific Northwest – constant rain, thick clouds and short days made BW essential for photography. With that, I grabbed some T-Max 400 just before Kodak initiated their third annual price increase on all their film.

I shot a lot in the supermarket, ever since the beginning of the 2019 coronavirus pandemic (which technically affected all of us in early 2020). In the beginning, supermarkets were the only places we go; later on, I came up with the idea of creating a photo book for this time period, focuses on supermarkets. (Maybe someday?) I took a roll of T-Max 400 and shot some scenes in the local “Asian” grocery shop.  Ironically, the concept of a ethnic Asian supermarket only exist in the West. The one unique spin of Asian Supermarkets in the Pacific Northwest, is a free service to prepare one’s fresh seafood, which is borrowed from “Western-American” supermarkets. The attendants would sliced up the fish whichever way you would like, or deep fry them. As a result, the area around the seafood counter usually smells amazing.

[Plaubel Makina 67 | Nikon Nikkor 80/2.8 | Kodak T-Max 400]
So much goods and there are no customers. Such is a normal, taken for granted sight in the United States. The rest of the world don’t operate this way, at least not at this scale. Anyway, back to the subject of the day. Kodak T-Max 400 performs well indoors, able to capture the light in supermarkets. Nothing too contrasty (unlike Tri-X), very smooth as grains aren’t visible. In other words, not great film for street/people photography, in my opinion. Feels a bit flat and dull.

Was it all worth it?
[Plaubel Makina 67 | Nikon Nikkor 80/2.8 | Kodak T-Max 400]
A few days later, we took the ferry across from Bainbridge Island to Seattle. A significant part of the state of Washington are islands, or at least, separated by large bodies of water. Ferries are a common transportation in this area. There were few passengers when we were onboard, and it was raining (surprise) outside. Kind of moody with this shot, the smoothness of the seat and the sea balances each other.

Bainbridge Ferry
[Plaubel Makina 67 | Nikon Nikkor 80/2.8 | Kodak T-Max 400]
Grand Forest is a popular park on Bainbridge Island. We came here after some rain, resulting in mirror like reflection in the ponds. My copy of the Makina 67 has somewhat of a weak rangefinder patch, and you can clearly see I misfocus here. (and I shot wide open because it was dark) I still like the shot, very painterly.

Reflection of a pond.
[Plaubel Makina 67 | Nikon Nikkor 80/2.8 | Kodak T-Max 400]
One final, true landscape shot on the T-Max. This was by the beach on Fay Bainbridge Park, overlooking Elliot Bay. And looming in the background – Mt. Rainier. I chose to focus at infinity rather than closeup, which now looks like the wrong decision. Either case, film managed to capture the scene I was envisioning, but the trees on the right is a little too dark for my taste. You could see the grains in the bottom right corner, where it is underexposed. Hard to get a good shot because sun has set (behind us) and soon it would be only illuminated by the city of Seattle.

Mt. Rainier from a beach.
[Plaubel Makina 67 | Nikon Nikkor 80/2.8 | Kodak T-Max 400]
Overall, I’m not as impressed by T-Max 400. It worked well, shots are so smooth you wouldn’t be able to tell this is film, but it is also rather flat. I might be too critical on this, because these aren’t ideal sunny-16 conditions for a landscape shots; but that also mean T-Max isn’t as versatile as some other BW film. My main criticism is nothing to do with the result here, but that this stock, Tri-X, Acros II all look similar. And I don’t find them interesting, unlike either Rollei IR, Kodak XX or Lomography Potsdam, which I love love love. With the price increase, it is hard for me to justify buying these just to support Kodak. So, I’ll back off from the supply chain so everyone else can have at it :D





Kodak T-Max 100 Overview

Kodak’s Professional T-Max 100 is a medium-speed panchromatic black and white negative film characterized by an extremely fine grain structure along with high sharpness and resolving power. By utilizing a T-GRAIN emulsion, the grain pattern resembles a patterned, tabular form that maintains effective film speed while reducing the appearance of grain during enlarging or scanning. This film has a nominal sensitivity of ISO 100/21° and also features a wide exposure latitude, broad tonal range, and responds well to push development and zone system development changes.

In addition to processing as a negative in standard black and white chemistry, T-Max 100 is also suitable for reversal processing using the T-Max 100 Direct Positive Film Developing Outfit for creating copy and duplicate work.

Film Base Acetate
Layer Thickness 119.4 µm

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