Kodak T-MAX 100 B&W Film Profile/Review
This tech page is for Kodak Professional T-MAX 100 Film, or 100TMX, which is it’s film code. This is a is a continuous-tone panchromatic black-and-white negative film for general outdoor and indoor photography. It is available in 35mm roll, 120 roll, and 4×5 sheet form. This film features medium speed (ISO 100/21° in most developers), extremely high sharpness, extremely fine grain, and very high resolving power. In 2002 Kodak released a new version of this film with much improved resolution, finer grain, and a shorter recommended development time.
There are many ways to develop 100TMX. Following Kodak’s recommended development in their tech pub (F-4016, published Feb. 2016) is a good place to start if you’ve not developed this film before. If you send your film in to us here at Simple Film Lab, we develop 100TMX with replenished Kodak XTOL with constant rotary agitation as standard practice. The standard development time is 6:00 at 75 degrees Fahrenheit. We use a 1:4 water:vinegar stop bath between development and fixing. We fix all BW films in Kodak Fixer.
There are many ways to meter and expose 100TMX. If sending 100TMX in to Simple Film Lab to process and scan, we recommend taking an incident light reading of the darkest part of the scene you want to retain details in and subtracting 2 stops of exposure from that reading. For example, if the darkest part of the scene that you want to retain detail in reads 1/125 shutter, f/4.0 at ISO 100, either set the shutter to 1/500 or close down the aperture to f/8.0, or a combination of the two to reduce the exposure by two stops.
If you don’t have a light meter, then set your camera exposure compensation to +1 stop, and that will generally result in an acceptable exposure for most situations once scanned in and density corrected.
Using Simple Film Lab, here’s the characteristic curve for 100TMX overlaid with the standard 0.56 Contrast Index that is scanned in with:
The scale along the bottom is exposure EVs, the scale along the left is the measured density as seen by the film scanner, meaning raw ADC values. The EV 0 mark is an 18% exposure card exposed correctly via an incident light reading with a Sekonic light meter through a T-Stop rated lens. Every dot along the curve is a full stop of light. The black curve is Contrast Index that the emulsion is digitized and linearized with, the green curve is the actual measured density values of the emulsion using the development described above.
Dynamic Range/Exposure Latitude
100TMX has excellent dynamic range. Following the development practice described above and scanned in with the standard CI 0.56, the film base plus fog starts to happen well into EV -5 and is fully clear film base well before we hit the end of EV -6. On the highlight side, with replenished XTOL it pretty much hits maximum density at +9 EV.
With the above information, in Adobe Lightroom, the visible dynamic range of an exposure is +7 EV to -6 EV. 100TMX provides about 1 stop of under exposure and 2 full stops of over exposure protection while still maintaining acceptable black levels and full highlight retention for the full visible dynamic range in Adobe Lightroom. These over-under limits can be exceeded if you are OK with reduced performance at the extremes of the exposure scale. This equates to an exposure index range of EI 25 to 200, which is excellent.
100TMX has loads of resolution. Looking at it’s tech sheet over at Kodak Alaris shows that it’s in the 200 line pairs per mm of film territory at 1000:1 contrast ratio. In short, even in the smallest 135 format frame size, it can capture more resolution than any reasonably available/affordable camera lens can project onto it.
In terms of grain, it’s pretty much nonexistent. Kodak shows an RMS granularity of 8 in Kodak D-76, which is extremely fine grained. You can just start to see grain at crazy high scanning resolutions, but for all intents and purposes, you can consider 100TMX to be grain free at every frame size it’s available in for any sane print size.
Here is a Flickr image album of images taken with 100TMX. It’s updated with new images whenever I shoot 100TMX.
Downloadable Sample DNG Files
As part of this tech sheet/film review I’m making a ZIP file available that contains some Adobe DNG files that are a sample of what you would receive if you sent your film into Simple Film Lab to process and scan. It’s relatively large, but if you want to see what you can get, worth a look. Click Here