Legendary black and white film by Kodak
Kodak Tri-x is known to be one of the most popular Black and White films in the market. Many famous photographers have used this film to create their own work. HCB, Josef Koudelka, Robert Frank…etc. As an amateur who wants to pick a film to try, this is my second black and white film I got (Kodak BW200CN was my first one, though it is C41 not truly a BW negative film). I do not intend to share much technical details below. Same as always, I just wanted to give you a general idea and whether you should try this film whether you are an amateur or a professional who is looking for a reliable medium that is suitable for you.
Not everyone likes Tri-X look in the first use
Not sure if anyone encountered the same situation that I didn’t like the look of the film when I developed it in the first time. It was grainy and gray-ish, I quickly turned my head to Rollei 400S and Kodak Double-X after that. Which they gave me punchy look in terms of contrast and distinct highlight. I prefer film with more contrast and less grey scale during that time.
How our taste of black and white film change over time
I guess only after 5-6 years of extensive film shooting experience, learned more about lighting and situation for BW film. I started to look for a film to give me a consistent look. At first, Kodak Double-X was the most ideal film for me but the lack of highlight details blew me off. So I tried to look at different black and white photographs from various photographers and soon I discovered Jason Eskenazi’s work (Wonderland) which impressed me with its marvellous wide tonal range and I decided to try it again. I start to appreciate more on the details from Tri-X and try to pair different leica lenses with Tri-x and developers just like how people try to pair food with different wines (not a wine expert btw).
Revisit and found my Perfect Combo – D76 with Tri-X
To be honest, sometimes I am too lazy to develop on my own (I still try to develop 80% of my BW film) my Tri-x shots are always developed in TMAX developer in local lab or HC-110 at home. There was a time that I was so curious to figure out what’s the magic behind the legendary Kodak D76 powder. The result was absolutely fantastic, I would describe the photos are similar to those documentary photographs. And now constantly revisiting different films with different developers became my motivation. I highly recommend you to try Tri-X with D76 if you haven’t, they just like the perfect match for each other.
Price of Tri-x is getting more and more expensive
Thanks to Kodak’s pricing strategy and huge demand from supporters. Think positively that it is actually a good news to film lover that the film is still in production. However, there are many alternatives that we can look into if you are shooting 135 format, such as HP5, Kodak Double-X, Kentmere or Arista EDU.