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Kodak 400TX - controlling grain

Mark Bauch , Apr 13, 2010; 03:27 p.m.

Can anyone give me some tips for how to better control the grain with this film? I love the grain, and it frustrates me when certain images come out incredibly smooth, with almost no visible grain.
Any advice would be hugely appreciated!


Robert Lee , Apr 13, 2010; 04:46 p.m.

  1. Use Ilford HP-5
  2. Develop with Rodinal
  3. If you're scanning, use a scanner that can actually resolve the grain, e.g., Nikons. Apply a high pass filter in post.

Mark Bauch , Apr 13, 2010; 05:08 p.m.

Thanks for the response Robert, although I'm fairly sure that the problem lies with my technique rather than my equipment.

Wondering if there are certain pit-falls to avoid such as certain f-stops in bright or dark conditions which effect the grain?

Lex Jenkins , Apr 13, 2010; 05:31 p.m.

Mark, it's not clear to me whether you're wanting more visible grain, or less. I'm interpreting your post as wanting more grain.

Generally speaking, expose closer to the rated box speed or slightly above, up to EI 800. Use an acutance developer like Rodinal, Neofin Blue (or Red, if you can find it), Beutler types, etc. Or dilute ID-11 or D-76 to 1+3.

Extended development will also enhance the visibility of grain, but at the cost of more contrast. You may not want that, especially if scanning rather than printing on a diffusion head enlarger.

And you may consider another film. A few years ago when Kodak revised the emulsion, Tri-X appeared closer to T-Max 400 overall in terms of grain, and also appears to have more use of sensitizing dyes than the old formulation. As Robert suggested, HP5+ may deliver more visible grain without resorting to excessive development. In fact, I found HP5+ exposed at EI 500 and developed in Microphen 1+1 delivered noticeable but aesthetically pleasant grain in skies even at modest 8"x8" enlargements from my 6x6 negatives.

Mark Bauch , Apr 13, 2010; 05:55 p.m.

Thanks Lex. Although I often have pictures with lots of visible grain and pictures with almost no visible grain within the same roll of film..., which makes me think it's to do with my settings, or under/over exposing the particular shot.

ps- Yes, I want more visible grain.

Kelly Flanigan , Apr 13, 2010; 06:00 p.m.

Try Dektol or D8 or Dk50 and one gets more grain too!

Jeff Adler , Apr 13, 2010; 08:44 p.m.

This is a funny posting. I started using Tri-X in 1971. The Tri-X we have today is much better in every way. You can save yourself a lot of trouble by just buying Ilford HP5+ instead. HP5+ has a nice look of its own but is much grainier than Tri-X in just about every developer. Not long after the current version of Tri-X came out I bought a 35/2 Canon FD SSC lens. I shot a roll of Tri-X and was surprised at how much the film had been improved and how sharp the lens was.

Mark Bauch , Apr 13, 2010; 09:23 p.m.

Thanks Jeff! I will definitely try it out.

Scott Frindel Cole , Apr 14, 2010; 01:05 a.m.

Simple: increase speed, increase development time. For this photo, I rated Tri-X at 1000, and left in D-76 an extra couple of minutes.

Canon F-1/135/Tri-X@1000

Conrad Hoffman , Apr 16, 2010; 09:23 p.m.

So much effort has been expended in reducing grain I'd suggest researching that, then doing the opposite. Another simple way to get more grain- crop.

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