Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Roll of 35mm Tri-X 400

I had some free time while waiting around a few days ago to shoot a roll of Tri-X 400 film in 35mm size. I have generally shot Tri-X in extreme low-light situations and pushed it to an ISO of 1600, but for this roll I shot it at the box speed of 400 and was very pleasantly surprised at the extremely smooth grain structure and tonality.

I have for a while been stuck on 100-speed film on 35mm for the finest grain but if I want fine grain these days I prefer to shoot digital. Nothing beats film for b&w, but while my favorite film in 4x5 is T-Max 100 I find it to be limiting in 35mm rolls. After this roll of Tri-X I think I will be buying a lot more.

Here are a couple snaps from around the Valdosta State campus. The images showcase the lovely tonality and excellent acuity of Tri-X. I developed it in Kodak Xtol undiluted. Kodak D-76 is a standard developer for Tri-X in all varieties but I've found that I really like the way Xtol handles the grain with Tri-X.

This first image was shot at the Internet Cafe with a 50mm f/1.4 lens on the Nikon SP at f/2. The quality of this lens at such a large aperture is quite exceptional for a 60-year-old design:

This one was shot in the 3rd-floor stacks, wide-open at f/1.4. The lens is not quite up to modern designs at 1.4 but it still performs admirably:

These next two images were taken on the 28mm f/3.5 lens. This tiny lens is definitely not up to par with modern lenses but with some careful use it is capable of making fine images. At f/3.5 through about 5.6, it is soft, especially in the corners. f/8-11 are definitely an improvement, with f/11 being optimal. I have not shot it at f/16 to test it, but diffraction might limit the performance. This first image was at f/5.6 handheld at a very slow shutter speed with a double stack of an orange filter and CPL to take the sky (which would be totally blown out otherwise). This caused some vignetting that I kind of liked:

This one was at f/11 handheld with no filters right before sunset:

There is a little bit of a dust problem on some of these images. One serious downside with shooting film, especially b&w, is dust when scanning. I recently discovered that reusing film fixer after using it for fiber paper is a bad idea, as small fibers end up on the film and become almost ingrained in the finished negatives. Newer scanners have dust removal features ("Digital ICE") using infrared dust-detection, but this system does not work with b&w, and regardless I do not have a scanner that utilizes it so I must be especially careful. This roll was especially affected, and I have stopped using paper fixer for film.

Speaking of scanning, for 35mm I am currently using a Minolta Dimage Scan Dual IV to scan negatives. I had an amazing Nikon Coolscan LS-8000 for 35mm and medium format 120/220 film, but after ditching MF it was too expensive of a scanner to keep. The Minolta does an admirable job but I do miss the Nikon on occasion! I have not tried the Minolta with slides.

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