T-Max 400 has an odd place in my film workflow, as although I rate what it offers aesthetically very highly, I find myself choosing not to shoot it that often, opting instead for Ilford’s Delta range. I think this is because T-Max is almost too reliable in what it delivers; exceptional cleanliness, beautiful rendering across the tonal spectrum, and stellar sharpness. The closest equivalent I’ve been able to find to T-Max is in the digital Leica M9 Monochrom, which allows similarly deep blacks, bright bright highlights which look wonderful when burned out, and wonderful detail in between. Delta offers almost the same, but with a “classic” feeling which is difficult to describe, but definitely what I prefer when reviewing examples side by side.
I shoot a roll of T-Max whenever I feel I’ll be going through a few days of mixed light, as the high contrast really excels in almost any situation. I especially enjoy shooting with it in low light scenes, where I may need to underexpose slightly. These two frames were shot on the New York Subway, on the same roll of film.
When underexposure reaches levels I’m unhappy with I’ve had good results with T-Max pushed to 6400, although I’ll be experimenting with it pushed further in the future. I don’t see much point though, as T-Max 3200 is wonderful in it’s own right, and would probably fare much better when pushed that much further.
Pushed to 1600 on an overcast day in London.I really enjoy the contrast of this film, the distinction between light and dark is so clean and sudden. I’m always looking for scenes to exploit this in, and find my best results when shooting indoors but exposing for the light outside.
Although diffused light offers just as wonderful results, if a little less contrasty overall – not the fault of the film, but of the conditions.
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