Three rolls 400TX, Xtol 1+1 9 mins — three rolls Delta 400, Xtol 1+1 11 minutes. Got lazy: switched from coffee filters to a Brita.

Tri-X, oh Tri-X. Photo Techniques ran an article on the latest "reformulated" version of Tri-X, now known as "Professional 400TX." They claimed that it was sharper than TMax 400 (and didn't test against Fuji or Ilford) so I thought I'd buy a few rolls and compare the old to the new. Besides, if it was good, I could get it at half the price of Delta 400.

Even processed and hanging to dry, I could see what the scanner would soon verify: Tri-X looks like Tri-X. It doesn't look like Delta, and Delta doesn't look like Tri-X. Tri-X has a very particular, familiar, look.

But I don't think I'll switch as a general thing. The sharpness, while real enough, seems to come from the jumbled grain pattern — TMax and Delta's grains are laid more flatly, and give a smoother, slightly less-crispy appearance — but the Tri-X has a lot of apparent grain.

Between the two, Tri-X has the richer, deeper blacks — but there's grain apparent most everywhere else, all the way up into the highlights. Delta's blacks are less-solid, but the image is smoother and the tonal range greater. I expect almost the exact opposite in grain from the Delta — a little grain in the deep shadows, flecks of light that aren't seen by the Tri-X, but smooth elsewhere. Comparing the two, Tri-X's grainy midtones feel like a nostalgic gimmick. YMMV.

August 05, 2003





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