5 frames with...

5 Frames with Kodak T-Max 400 – by Simon King

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.

Above ground, metered for the window light.

Below ground, slightly underexposed, and shot at 1/30ths(ish)

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.

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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.

Simultaneously overcast but bright – classic London conditions.

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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10 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Nick
    October 6, 2019 at 4:55 pm

    Wonderful shots (and fantastic work on your IG, turns out I’ve been following you for a while!).

    I love Tmax400, and like Tmax100 even more when the light allows for it.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Simon
      October 6, 2019 at 4:58 pm

      Thank you Nick, really appreciate it!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Stephan Brandauer
    October 6, 2019 at 7:47 pm

    Really nice shots, especially the woman standing in the door.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Eric
    October 6, 2019 at 7:58 pm

    Simon,
    Sorry 😉 I will have to tell you again that your photographs are great 😉
    When I look at them this what I think about :
    – There are stories,
    – Whaouuu Film is better than digital, because :
    1. The texture
    2. The BW rendering
    3. The natural BW contrast
    4. The grain whaouuu, I do not find that with any digital camera also Monochrom Leica (for me this is a big joke and a marketing talent)
    5. The composition of the image because you have film, you can not miss it, so you care more.
    I have seen a new HCB.
    BRAVO!

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Simon
      October 6, 2019 at 8:21 pm

      That’s incredibly kind of you to say, thank you so much Eric! 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Federico
    October 6, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    may I ask what’s that black patch on your Leica?

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Simon
      October 6, 2019 at 9:19 pm

      I put tape over all of my logos – to the point where it’s become a bit of a joke, I even have the branding blacked out on my water bottle!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Jacob Christiansen
    October 7, 2019 at 7:17 am

    Wonderful pics.
    Did you shoot this with your M6J?

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Simon
      October 7, 2019 at 7:25 am

      Yes – it’s just an M6 though!

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