Up this week is the iconic Kodak TRI-X film. Rated at 400 ASA, it’s a fast enough film to capture moving things so that’s probably why it was used so much in photojournalism. Kodak introduced the 35mm film in 1954 and word is that they introduced TRI-X sheet film in the 1940’s. Since I dug a little for Ilford’s history, I’ll do the same for Kodak.
When you think of Kodak, if the name George Eastman and Rochester, New York don’t ring a bell, then you don’t know film. Eastman started making dry plates in 1878. Dry plates were a lot more convenient than the wet plates of the time and he was able to mass produce the dry plates. In 1885 he introduced the first transparent film as we know today. In 1888 the name Kodak was born. I checked good old Wikipedia about the name and this is what I found –
“The letter k was a favorite of Eastman’s; he is quoted as saying, “it seems a strong, incisive sort of letter.”
He and his mother devised the name Kodak with an Anagrams set. Eastman said that there were three principal concepts he used in creating the name: it should be short, easy to pronounce, and not resemble any other name or be associated with anything else.
It has also been suggested that Kodak originated from the suggestion of David Houston, a fellow photographic inventor who held the patents to several roll film camera concepts that he later sold to Eastman. Houston, who started receiving patents in 1881, was said to have chosen Nodak as a nickname of his home state, North Dakota (NoDak). This is contested by other historians, however, who cite that Kodak was trademarked before Eastman bought Houston’s patents.”
OK, that makes perfect sense. Kodak has such a rich history that it’s really unfortunate that they declared bankruptcy in 2012. Kodak Alaris is now distributing the film but I think the future for their film production might be a little shaky. Let’s hope not!
Anyway, on to the film itself. Did I like it? Absolutely! The wonderful grainy structure was there and the blacks were gorgeous and the mid tones were perfect. I developed the film with Ilford Ilfotec DDX, mainly because that’s what I had and Ilford had times for developing TRI-X. 8 minutes at 68℉ with the DDX diluted at 1:4. Stop bath was 30 seconds and fixer was for 5 minutes followed by a 10 minute wash then about 30 seconds using Kodak PhotoFlo. I used Ilford stop and fixer. I know there are lots of people who swear by developing TRI-X in Kodak D-76 and it’s something I might try down the road. Here is a PDF from Kodak for the technical data of the film.
I’ve read how some people like to call TRI-X a dirty film in reference to the grain. It is kind of gritty but you can control the grain to some extent with the developer you choose to use. I rather like the graininess of it. Check it out below. It’s about a 100% crop on the first image.
I really do like this film and I can see why it has such a cult following. Hell, if you spend $25,000 or so for the 100 Anniversary Leica camera package, they even throw in some TRI-X. Would I use the film exclusively? Probably not, mainly because there are some other films I like a little bit better but if Kodak were to completely close up shop and not produce anymore film, I would definitely buy as much of the TRI-X that I could afford. It stores really well in the freezer. It’s a wonderful film and paired with my little Leica MP and the Voigtlander 35mm lens, it’s a combination that I could eventually get used to. I guess I was on a nature theme while shooting the roll but I hope you enjoy the slideshow below with some of my favorite images shot with TRI-X.