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Kodak Tri-X is, I think, the oldest stager on the market: it was around years before I started taking pictures in the late Sixties. Of course, like all the other standard films, it has been modified and improved over the years, but the essential character is unchanged.
Resilience is the watchword here. There are sharper films. There are less grainy films. None of them will produce good results in any developer, and none are so tolerant of ill-treatment. There are rumours that you can develop good Tri-X negatives in Brown Windsor soup – and they might well be true!
Tri-X was the standard film from the Sixties onwards for press photography because of this tolerance of extreme abuse. The fact that it gave reasonable grain and very good sharpness for a fast film certainly helped: but the ability to survive in the Vietnam jungle and the Gobi desert made it a winner.
The current version is still as good, even though it’s overshadowed by Kodak’s T-Max emulsions. T-Max 400 has less grain, and is sharper, as well as being inherently slightly faster (Tri-X is happiest around half the rated speed). However, T-Max films are rather high-strung, and only work at their best in Kodak’s own (very expensive) T-Max developer. Ultimately, extending development to increase film speed is easier with Tri-X (another reason why photojournalists favour it).
So if you fancy using a tried and trusted professional film, you could do a lot worse than buying a few rolls of TX. I suspect that you’ll come back for more of this ultimate survivor.
The Kodak Professional TRI-X 400/400TX Black-and-White Film is a high-speed panchromatic ... more
film that is a good choice for photographing dimly lit subjects or fast action. It is also an excellent choice for photographing subjects that require good depth of field and fast shutter speeds, as well as for extending the distance range for flash pictures. This roll of TRI-X 400 film (400TX) is a 35-millimeter roll and is recommended for push-processing applications. TRI-X 400 black-and-white film delivers fine grain that is good for producing high-quality images; wide exposure latitude for rich tonality maintained with overexposure and underexposure; high sharpness that is good for applications that require a moderate degree of enlargement; and a high resolving power for a good rendition of detail. All of these features makes the TRI-X 400 film an excellent choice for professional black-and-white photographers.