T-Max 100 & Plus-X 125 characteristics

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by fgphotog, Oct 23, 2003.

  1. fgphotog

    fgphotog Guest

    Please tell me the difference in the "look" of these 2 similar speed films.
    What are the comparitive characteristics?

    fgphotog, Oct 23, 2003
    1. Advertisements

  2. Plus-X is one of the best films ever made. If you were to take the repsonse
    curve of the late lamented Panatomic-X and glue it onto the response curve
    of Tri-X, you get Plus-X. In plain English, this is a film with an incredibly
    long tonal range.

    With the proper developer, it can easily produce negatives that are
    almost impossible to print because the tonal range of the film is so
    great that there is no way to transfer most of it to paper. I'm not
    saying that you cannot get good prints from it, quite the opposite. What
    I'm saying is that if you look at the negative, and look at the print
    you will see a disapointing lack of shadow and highlight detail on

    To the inexperienced printer, it means that with almost any reasonable
    exposure you will get a "good" print and with a great deal of effort and
    care you will get outstanding prints. You just have to accept the fact
    that what you see on the negative will NEVER be what you get on paper.

    Note that printing techniques such as dodging and burning or contrast
    masks, digital manipulation etc, compress the tonal range to allow you
    to see details that cannot be transfered to the print paper, but they DO
    NOT extent the tonal range of the paper.

    There are "better" films than Plus-X, depending upon your definition of
    better (faster, finer grain, more resolution), but IMHO if you were told
    that you can have all the film you would want, but you could only get
    one film, it would be it.

    Now, T-Max is a completely different story. T-Max is closer in performance
    to a single layer of a modern color print film. It has a relatively small
    tonal range, responds well to overexposure and has better grain/resolution
    per speed.

    T-Max has a closer tonal range to paper than film. So if exposed and
    developed properly, what you see on the negative will be what you get
    on the paper.

    For many uses and users this is desireable, especially commercial
    photography. Since it fits paper well, you can control the results
    of the final print in the camera with a great deal of accuracy.

    Whether you use the zone system, spot meter reading, or just plain guesswork,
    you can look at a scene and judge how you want it to look, and set your
    exposure properly.

    Let's take an example:

    You are in a valley. it's noon and the sun is almost overhead, slightly
    behind you, so you are facing north. What do you see? Grass, trees, shadows,
    and hills off in the distance. With a little planing, you could get a
    negative on Plus-X that would have detail in the grass, detail in the
    trees, details in the deep shadows of the trees, and various details in
    the hills up to the resolution of your lens (or close to it).

    What do you get on T-Max? You can make a choice. You can get detail in
    the sunny part, or detail in the shadows, but not both. The same result
    is what you would get on paper. If you depend upon results for a living
    and don't do your own developing, or want to print for fun with out
    a lot of work and skill, you can pick you results at the time of

    If you know or want to learn tonal range compression technique, or
    choose which part of the picture you want the detail in later, then
    Plus-X is the way to go.

    Like everything else in life, it's a tradeoff. You have to choose what
    you want and what you don't.

    Geoffrey S. Mendelson, Oct 23, 2003
    1. Advertisements

  3. In comparing Plus-X and FP4, I have found the latter superior.
    Michael Scarpitti, Oct 23, 2003
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.