About Kodak TMAX 400 & why it really is better than any other Black & White film. This review is for the 120 version of the film.
The name, the texture of the paper and that lovely coloured yellow wrapper these Silver Halide rich beauties come in. Everything makes me excited about this film, why? because I love film – honestly it’s ridiculous – I just love holding film and I love tearing the wrapper, gives me such a lovely feeling; whilst it’s open I may as well shoot a roll. Yes? But what makes this film so nice? why is this rather expensive black + white, yellow and grey roll so flipping gorgeous compared to say a lovely cheap roll of Shanghai GP3? Read on dear readers, read on!
The TMAX 400 (120) boasts the sharpest grain on the planet! it really does. It blows the socks off of the Ilford films for sharpness and the Shanghai doesn’t even come close – even though the Shanghai is rated 100 which should mean sharper results, in theory. Because of it’s superhuman sharpness (if films were human of course) and very impressive film speed it makes this film the most IDEAL film to use in a Holga or Diana, or any plastic lens camera with fixed shutter speeds, it can cope with a lot of shooting conditions superbly well and responds excellently to push/pull processing which together, clearly means less disappointment when you get your photo’s back from the lab or when you unravel your hard-work from your Patterson (or Jobo, or even AP) reels out to dry.
As you may well know, it’s not all about the sharpness, why would I shoot with a plastic lens if I was so obsessed with sharpness? TMAX 400 has an outstanding tonal range with such deep and rich blacks you can get perfectly contrasty shots straight out of the camera with less work to do when printing (assuming you have a darkroom). What about scanning? Loading it into your holder it seems to want to go in, it’s comfortable; it’s ready to be scanned and it seems to know what your about to do with it; It was almost made for scanning. The tonal range is rich and full with really sumptuous blacks and brilliant whites; why would you need to use anything else?
TMAX 400 (120) is one of the best developments in Black & White photography, it’s perfect in the darkroom for printing and it’s faultless when scanning; it’s almost as good as Edweard Muybridge proving that all four hooves do leave the ground whilst galloping, but not quite.