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Developing Kodak T-Max 100

Oliver Racz , Jul 09, 2003; 11:41 a.m.

I'd like to develop a few rolls of Kodak T-max 100 films, but a friend of mine says I won't be able to do it with the usual chemistry, but will need special chemicals for it. What is the difference between developing Kodak T-max and other black and white films? What chemicals do I need, and do they also apply for the printing process? Also, what will I get if I develop the Kodak T-max 100 in the ordinary developer? Thanks.

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Mark Farnsworth , Jul 09, 2003; 11:54 a.m.

You do not need any special developer or chemicals. But it would help if you used rapid fixer (any brand) because TMAX films need a lot of fixing compared to more conventional films. But regardless which fixer you use, make sure it is reasonably fresh and that you agitate vigorously during the fixing.

Ricardo J. Méndez Castro , Jul 09, 2003; 12:11 p.m.

As an addendum to the question (which also interests me since I'm going to be developing T-Max for the first time soon): does anybody have any special mixes of developer/fixer they use for T-Max, like for development speed or ultra fine grain?

Mark Farnsworth , Jul 09, 2003; 12:22 p.m.

TMAX already has very fine grain, so I would not worry about that. Any good quality developer would work fine, such as D-76/ID-11 1:1 or 1:3 dilution. TMAX 100 is not the greatest film to use for push processing because the contrast can out of control pretty fast if you extend the development time. But if the scene contrast is very low, than a little extra development time (and a little extra speed) should be OK.

Beau . , Jul 09, 2003; 12:29 p.m.

Here is all you need to know: expose at ISO 64, develop in Agfa Rodinal diluted 1:50 for 10 minutes at 68/20 degrees.

Joe Symchyshyn , Jul 09, 2003; 12:35 p.m.

Your friend is indeed wrong...

TMX is like any other black and white film (Could it be that your friend was thinking of Tmax 400CN? That one's a colour neg...)

Every developer responds a bit differently and gives a different tonal range or film speed etc... It's like cooking, some people like a little bit of this, or a little bit of that... Even though there are a kinds of wine out there, they're all still drinks.

If you're just starting out, pick a film, pick a developer and see what it does... Shoot a bunch of film and see if you like the results. If not, change 1 variable (the developer) and see if you like the new results... It might be the film that's not what you like. Either way, many people start out playing film-of-the-month and keep switching before they really know what anything does. Stay consistant and you'll get there quicker.

Jim MacKenzie , Jul 09, 2003; 02:21 p.m.

T-Max was designed to be developed in Kodak D-76, the most ubiquitous developer on Earth.

Yes, there are special developers for these films (like T-Max Developer) but they are good for traditional films, too, and are not exactly required.

I happen to prefer Kodak XTOL diluted 1:1 for T-Max and Ilford Delta films. Not the most popular developer, but hardly exotic.

Ed Skibeki , Jul 09, 2003; 02:34 p.m.

I've used T-max 100 in T-max developer for a while now, so my 2 cents...

Rated at 100 iso the recommended 6.15 minutes in t-max developer at 75 degrees will give you greater contrast than is ideal in full scale subjects. (ie. outdoors in sun) The film tends to easily block up on the high values and the shadow details are thin. This is a film that absolutely does not tolerate under exposure.

I've found it better behaved & better lookin results from rating at 50 (or 64 as per the above poster) and giving slightly less development time, on the order of 5.5 minutes.

I think a lot of the reputation this film has vis. its tendency to block up is a result of rating it too fast and effectively overdeveloping it to get satisfactory mid range values, thus screwing up the high values.

Robert Hout , Jul 09, 2003; 02:47 p.m.

They could have been thinking about the Tmax 100 positive film developing kit. That would certianly be different from any of the other normal methods.

Lex Jenkins , Jul 09, 2003; 05:08 p.m.

TMX seems absolutely indifferent to the type of developer, at least the common developers I've used: ID-11, Rodinal, Ilfosol-S, Diafine. The main differences you'll see will be either very slightly enhanced grain or practically no grain at all. Folks who prefer a little "bite" in their negs tend toward Rodinal. Folks, like me, who like the mirror-smooth tonality for certain subject matter, prefer something like ID-11 to preserve that effect and keep grain down to virtually nonexistent.

It's exposure and development-to-contrast that matters. TMX has a very narrow exposure latitude and must be developed carefully to match the exposure conditions to deliver best results. With rollfilm I have never, not once, gotten every frame quite right. If I develop to match the general exposure conditions for the majority of the roll, inevitably and invariably a few of the minority frames will suffer. Kinda like life. That's what TMX is: a microcosm of society.

Anyway, just use whatever developer you have on hand. But since this is your first roll you should approach it methodically, otherwise you won't know why some frames worked and some did not. My suggestion is to expose as for the nominal speed, 100, but duplicate every shot at least three times, bracketing up and down 1/3 to 1/2 EV, taking careful notes to document what you're doing. Develop at the normal times for EI 100.

When the negatives are ready look only at the shadow areas - it'll immediately be apparent whether you'll need to adjust your exposure technique. Remember, development will not significantly alter shadow detail - that must be done during the exposure. So even if your negs appear too contrasty from overdevelopment, they're still valid for evaluating shadow detail and determining whether to adjust your exposure technique.

Lots of folks get great results "pulling" the film slightly, with appropriately shortened development. When I shoot with an orange filter, which is often, I tend to meter as for EI 100 but often lean very slightly toward more exposure, which probably puts my actual exposures closer to EI 80. That delivers excellent results in ID-11 at normal development times.

In Diafine, the developer manufacturer's recommended EI of 160 seems about right. I've tried it at speeds ranging from 80-400 and even in Diafine TMX does not tolerate over- or underexposure well, especially in contrasty lighting.

Also, at some point during your experiments with TMX, you should try to shoot a roll of nothing but low contrast subjects or those within a very narrow range, no more than 3-4 stops surrounding middle gray. Cut the roll in half, develop one half normally and give the other half additional development time to boost contrast. Very revealing.


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