Kodak T-Max 400

9

In May of this year Lomography requested reviews for Kodak T-Max black and white 35mm film. As it happens not that long ago I used this film for my first ever B&W analogue experience. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity therefore to let everyone know what I found out about this popular film.

Of all the reviews I’ve read on this site each and every one has painted the reviewed item in a positive light. Maybe this is because we like to write positively about the cameras, film and accessories we own or simply that it’s easier to the positive than negative. Because of this I deliberately intended on approaching this review as objectively as possibly and not draw a positive conclusion from the outset.

But I failed. I failed because Kodak T-Max 400 turned out to be one of the finest films I’ve ever put in a camera.

Using T-Max was actually my first experience with black and white film (although I’ve done plenty of black and white work digitally) so I was a little apprehensive how it would perform, especially in my Vivitar UWS. With that said the ASA400 rated speed seems perfect for the Vivi’s fixed shutter speed and aperture, even on a bright day. Bear in mind too that T-Max 400 is rated as pushable to 1600 and 100 and 3200 film speeds are also available.

Camera: Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim
Settings: Fixed 22mm, 1/125th, f/11 (best estimates)
Film: Kodak T-Max ASA400
Location: Church Cemetery, Nottingham, UK
Date/Time: November 2010, midday

With a full roll used it was promptly sent for developing using my usual mail order lab. Scans were taken from the negatives at a resolution of 3600 × 2400 and delivered via CD. These were then transferred to my PC with no editing involved.

Looking over the results I was amazed. The expected amount of grain was nicely controlled and the contrast was both punchy and a pleasant surprise. Looking further into the photos the tonality was impressive with deep blacks in the shadows through to nice bright highlights. Even on this snow covered and low winter’s sun day the midtones came through nicely with shades of grey throughout the images.

Given the low quality nature of the camera I used I was also surprised at the sharpness present and would expect that on a better quality camera/lens the results would be as sharp as you could desire. It would be fair to say that the sharpness of the T-Max exceeded that of any colour film I have so far used in the Vivi.

In the balance of fairness I feel I need to be more critical but it’s difficult to pick faults with the film after having it perform so admirably on the day. If I had to identify a downside I would say on the day’s evidence it might not be very suited (in the Vivi at least) to portraiture where I would prefer to sacrifice the deep shadows for more mids and highlights to help soften the skin. That’s not to say in the right camera it wouldn’t be up to the task though and with that combination of striking sharpness, contrast and grain it’s something I’d be more than willing to try.

This does feel like nit-picking though and when using my wide 22mm Vivi for landscapes, scenic’s, candid’s, architecture and street photography I’d reach for the T-Max every time.

More info: ’http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/products/films/bw/tMax400.jhtml":http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/products/films/bw/tMax400.jhtml

written by veato on 2011-05-10 #gear #review #user-review #vivitar-uws-t-max-kodak-b-w-graveyard-winter-veato-snow

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9 Comments

  1. gborin
    gborin ·

    I loved picture 9. Nice gallery!

  2. willyboy
    willyboy ·

    Does Mr T know a film with his name performs as well as him?

  3. life_on_mars
    life_on_mars ·

    dark beauty

  4. awesomesther
    awesomesther ·

    wow... u know what? just 1 hour ago, before realizing you wrote this article.. I just loaded a roll of Tmax 400 into my Vivitar UWS... This is really awesome.. I can't wait to shoot and see what I get from it :D

  5. veato
    veato ·

    It's great, you'll love it!

  6. niko_fuzzy
    niko_fuzzy ·

    next film to try from kodak black and white : 400 TX(tri-x)

  7. phantomphoenixphotos
    phantomphoenixphotos ·

    Powerful gallery!

  8. phantomphoenixphotos
    phantomphoenixphotos ·

    Powerful gallery!

  9. ihave2pillows
    ihave2pillows ·

    Great pictures! So much atmosphere captured on the grey scale.

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