Tri-X – The Ultimate B&W

The Tri-X Mystique

When I first was writing this, I thought, “oh, cool, I’ll use a bunch of Helmut Newton or maybe Avedon images”. But then I realized I have no idea which images of theirs are attributed to Kodak Tri-X film. Maybe they used Ilford, or Agfa. Except for the quote, “Marc Picot [Hemut Newton’s printer] also suggested that the Tri-X might be overexposed for those skin tones.”  But, it’s the internet, so take most of what you read with a grain of salt. 😉


Kodak Tri-X film
© Federico Mastrianni


However, with the exception of a couple I knew personally, such as the lighting director for Herb Ritts, or the few assistants I’ve known, I actually have no first hand knowledge. I suppose I can make educated guesses looking at the toe and contrast. But by the time it has been scanned so it’s digitally viewable, I have no idea. I knew this was going to be the most difficult category!


Minolta X-370
You can be clueless and still get an image out of Tri-X.


So, you’re stuck with images I actually took. As many are quite old, it is in no way self promotion. It’s just to show what’s typical in the ‘people realm’. I must confess that yellow and red filters were used in many. But, either way, it’s one of the films I’m happy are still available.

Kodak Tri-X Film – Very Malleable

The girl putting on make-up is on camera flash shot at 400 iso. (putting on lipstick) Nikon F5, 50mm lens. The image below is 120 Tri-X shot in natural light. (no flash, no fill) Rolleiflex 6008, 80mm Zeiss. As you can see, it responds well in just about every condition. Although I use HC-110 now, these were just developed normally with Kodak D-76.


Kodak Tri-X film
© Federico Mastrianni – Cameron Diaz look-a-like from Click Models, NYC. Rollei 6008, 80mm lens.


Again, no filter was used, and only daylight. I guess you can say this is a typical Kodak Tri-X film output in terms of contrast when shot at it’s native 400 iso. Probably 1999.


Always Nice Contrast – High or Low

Almost an infinite dynamic range! Ok, maybe “infinite” is a bit much. And nice contrast even when pushed or pulled. Although I prefer controlling contrast in the darkroom. But I suppose you can see a typical Tri-X output in all lighting situations. But lenses used, filters used and the ambient scene will attribute to that contrast on the negative itself to some degree. All in all, Kodak Tri-X film has always come through in a pinch. Push it, pull it,…it always seems to behave well. I call it the “taffy of films”. Buying in bulk can save a lot of money. However, I’ve also used expired and have had no problems. But with that,…”you pays your money, and you takes your chances”.  Find Kodak Tri-X


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