Somewhat Analog Things About Photography

Trying Kodak T-MAX 400 For The First Time - Here Is The First Roll

Kodak T-MAX 400 packaging.

Kodak T-MAX 400 packaging tin and cardboard. It's a nice tin. Worth getting the film only for the tin.

The only Kodak black and white film that I've shot is Tri-X. And I really like that film. Sadly it's more expensive than HP5 so I tend to use Ilford HP5+ more. Kodak is just too expensive these days...unless you find expired film on Ebay! Whole 30.5 meters of it!

Yeah, so I got 30.5 meters ( or 100 feet - depends on your feet size though ) of a film that I've never shot - Kodak T-MAX 400. All I know is that it's a more modern film. More similar to Ilford Delta because of the grain structure.

Is it crazy to bulk buy film that I've never shot? Maybe...but not for me. I like all film. If I can find love for Svema Foto 250 then I can definitely find love for this film. I like Ilford Delta. And who doesn't like cheap film ( relatively - you could also get Fomapan 400 in bulk for the same price that I paid for this but T-MAX should be better right? ).

Only way it can go wrong is if the film has gone very wrong because of expiry date ( which is 08/2006 ) but it was noted on the Ebay listing that it was stored in a consistent temperature so my hopes are high!

Nothing left to do but to roll the first test film. It might be smarter to roll 24 or less frames to get an idea of the correct EI because of expiry date but I say "Go big or go home" ( although I'm already home ) so I rolled the full 36 frames. In used Ilford Delta 400 cartridge. Seemed fitting.

Although it can likely handle ISO 400 as it was meant to do - I decided to rate it for ISO 200. Overexposure hasn't really killed any film right?

For development my choice for unknown films is Rodinal 1:100 semi-stand development for 1 hour. 10 inversions at start and 4 at the 30 minute mark. Can't go wrong with this. It might grow more grain this way but for the first test it should be fine.

Camera of choice was the usual ( for my film consumption ) Leica M3 with Summicron-M 90mm f2 pre-asph. And a surprise lens at the end ( might find the answer for it if you read all the captions! ).

The occasion? I had to spend about an hour with my < 1 year old son in the local city whilst my wife and daughter were busy with something else. It was a nice day. Some clouds but also sun came out from time to time. I decided to focus on just city documenting - houses and stuff as I was sure that they would be there and it's difficult to do pure street photography with a < 1 year old.

Here's more than half of the first roll. Why not all? Well there were some duplicates and some pictures that were just of nothing really so I didn't include them here.

The Pictures

House from the side with some leaves growing on the side.

First shot from the short walk. Pretty good dynamic range at display as the leaves where in a shade.

I call this: Robot House

Photo of a building where electricity related things are sold.

The sign roughly translates as "Electro-Shop" Basically a place where they sell electricity related things ( but probably not electricity itself ).

First I wanted to take a photo of the building that can be seen on the left here ( which is a toilet ) but thought that this looks better ( probably a wise choice ).

I call it: Near Toilet Call

Photo of a building that has a sign "Foto" on it.

I don't think you need a translation for this - use your wild imagination!

I like that it's the first house ( as you can see ) on a very nice looking street. It's very fitting as it's probably the most photo-ready ( meaning you can take nice photos there ) street in the city.

I call it: Foto

Photo of an old looking street.

This is the same "Foto" house that was in the previous picture but now you can see further into the street. It looks quite old and black and white definitely fits here.

Not the biggest fan of the image itself though - seems a bit too midtone focussed.

I call it: Dark Door

Photo of a house lit by sun.

Moving along the street. I also have this exact same shot with leaves in focus but I think this it better. Both are not great though. Maybe to randomly sunlit.

I call it: The Sun Bleacher

Photo of a house with 4 windows.

I like this for some reason but I wish that the "give way" sign was more in focus. Rangefinder life I guess.

I call it: Nobody Is Looking

Photo of an old looking street.

Still the same exact street. At the end it's the house with the dark door.

Again - dynamic range is very well handled as it was a very contrasty scene. If anything - the original had even more dynamic range as I added a bit of contrast and darkened shadows more to make it more menacing.

I call it: The Curve

Photo of a street corner.

Also like this one even though it's a bit simple. I like how the text "Ziedi" ( which means "Flowers" if you're interested ) curves around the street sign - the meaning of which I have forgotten but please don't take away my license!

I have the same photo with slightly different framing where you can read the text or see the sign but this works better as there's contrast and some more interesting things to see.

I call it: Flowers

Photo of an old looking street.

You might soon ask why is nobody in these pictures. Is the city dead? Well maybe but also it's relatively early and I had to wait a bit on some of the shots.

And I didn't wait enough in this one as you can see some cars. If they weren't there you could sell this as an 1960s picture or something.

I call it: More Road - More Curves

Photo of a tree branch with sunlit leaves.

I think this would've looked better in color although I kind of like the light play in the leaves. It's a bit too chaotic for me though. Maybe it could've been framed better and also with wider aperture to nuke the busy background but that wasn't possible without some ND filter.

I call it: The Leaf Family

Picture of a street where at the end two ladies are talking.

I'm not sure where the random line came from. I guess a scratch on the negative cause by my lack of sensitivity.

There's probably a bit too much of "nothing" here. The main focus is the two ladies talking but they are maybe a bit too small. Also wish the car wasn't there.

Still like how the trees frame the shot a bit.

I call it: Important Morning Talk

Picture of a cat looking at me.

I like the simplicity of this picture. And also the cat obviously.

It could've used smaller aperture or less exposure time as it's leaning towards being blown at the top but still usable.

Had to take two pictures as in one the cat wasn't looking at me :(

I call it: Two Pipes

Photo of a street crossing.

It's really a photo of nothing but at the time I liked how the light interacted with the road here. Sadly I don't think it converted to a good photo. It's still not unpleasant to look at.

Maybe more contrasty film with some capped blacks would've worked better.

I call it: Zebra

Photo of a house with some windows and flowers.

I took two photos here. First straight after we went here and then I waited for a while for cloud to uncover the sun and unleash its light. Funnily enough I like the first picture better so here it is. ( other photo is too chaotic with all the sunlight )

I call it: 20 Windows Maybe

Photo of a church related house.

Not much to say about this one. It's a house next to church ( or even connected to it - I don't remember ). Simple but some documentary value.

I call it: Rock Fence

Photo of church roof.

In my brain I wanted more bokefication of the branch leaves but I couldn't open the aperture any wider for the risk of blown highlights. Somewhat pleasing still.

I call it: The Failed Blur

Photo of a man walking on street.

I wish the street signs on the right and left weren't there. Otherwise it's OK. I find the shadow on the man quite interesting.

I took two photos - the other one was when the man was further back but this works better I think.

I call it: Incoming Shadow Hole

Photo of a church cock with clouds in the background.

This is partly a dynamic range test. And partly just because I like clouds and things in front of clouds.

Dynamic range is good once again. It might not look like it but the sky was very bright ( even though there are clouds ).

Sadly had to take two pictures as I was in a rush and forgot to change aperture to a correct setting so clouds got blown a bit ( it was still very well handled though ).

I call it: Cock

Photo of a young girl holding something that looks like a gun.

This was after I got the package I was partly in the city for and already went home. In that package was a lens. 7Artisans 35mm f2. Something new ( but used at the same time ) to play around with. More on it once I've shot it more.

Cool photo of my daughter holding the most dangerous gun in the world!

I call it: Protector

Photo of a woman in car.

My wife still in the car. Luckily I am not visible in the reflection!

Taken mostly to use up the film and also play around with the new lens.

I call it: Locked Inside Car

Small boy trying to look outside window.

My son who went ( or rolled ) with me on this photo walk ( roll ). Thanks for the company!

Really trying to get the roll to finish to allow me to develop it at the evening.

I call it: Too Short

Final Words

I'm pleased with the results. Both that I was able to shoot something interesting ( for me at least ) in an hour and also of what the film can deliver.

I'm pretty sure that film can easily handle ISO 400 so that's what I'll use next time as some shots were a bit too overexposed because of my EI200.

Grain can probably be reduced if I use a different developer which I'll also do next time.

Sharpness and dynamic range are both great as well.

I prefer the "special something" of Tri-X personally for now but it might change. This is an easy film to like - similar to Ilford Delta.

I have since rolled about 10 canisters of this film with 36 frames each and have got more film in "the tank" ( or bulk loader if you will ). Why not more? I don't have any more free canisters. So the rest goes in the freezer ( together with rolled canisters ).

I also got another film together with this one. Also bulk. But it will be some time until I have the chance to use it as I have only one bulk loader. That day will come though! And when it does - you shall learn what this film is as well! ( it's nothing exotic )


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