TMAX is one of Kodak's two flagship monochrome films (the other being TRI-X but that's another story). It comes in 100, 400, and 3200 ISO. For this analysis, we'll be looking at the 400 speed version. I live in Scotland so 400 is the perfect film speed for general use here.
Kodak boasts this film has the finest grain structure and is the SHARPEST black and white film in the world. Now I really like shooting Ilford films. They’re a British company and I’ve found their black and white chemistry and all the information they provide about their products to be excellent, however; I have to say I absolutly love shooting TMAX. When I think of a film photograph this film has all the key components: ultra-sharp reproduction and a beautiful clearly-visible grain.
There’s definitly a charm about this film. I think I would disagree that the film has particularly fine grain because I think it’s quite visible. Although it doesn’t detract from the images, especially since this is a black and white emulsion, I feel it adds depth to the image.
I would suggest shooting people with TMAX. It’s been very flattering to my subjects. There’s a softness to it that I feel like the Ilford emuslions don’t have (maybe that’s the difference between British and American film). It’s also great for capturing interesting light. So there are maybe some landscape/archetechtural applications as well.
One thing that I noticed and particularly like is the way light leaks burn out this film. It looks really hazy and dreamlike. Here are some shots when I think I opened the back of my Golden Half by mistake:
It is worth noting Kodak say the film can be pushed rather successfuly, although I’ve not tried this myself yet. In development this film is a doddle to deal with. I really liked processing it. I’ve also shot a roll of TMAX 3200 and it was very pleasing too. A lot more solid and a far more substantial grain. Gritty. I don’t really do gig photography but if I did I’d certainly try out both 400 pushed and 3200 as well.
Visit Kodak’s TMAX page to learn more about the film!