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Kodak Tri-X 400 at 6400

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Here's a page of photos that were made with Kodak Professional Tri-X that was pushed-- well, some of them were-- to EI 6400.  Sometimes I call this "ISO" which is a habit picked up from using digital cameras, but it's really "E.I.".  Actually, digital camera "ISO" settings are in fact E.I. settings....

The first couple of photos on this page were metered wrong, developed wrong, or both, so they're not really 6400.  If you want to see a proper 6400, scroll down to about the fourth picture where I got it right.

One of the challenges with extreme film pushes is to figure out what you're doing.  You have to get the metering right, first of all, which is not easy because many scenes are very low-light, and most film cameras don't meter that too well.  Then when you figure all this out, you have to get the developing process right.  And this is not as easy as it sounds. 

This will explain what happened, but briefly, the supposed "6400" dev time of 26 minutes was wrong.  With Kodak Tri-X, 26 minutes would be about right for 3200, not 6400.  And because I was basing the 12800 dev time on the 6400 time-- which was really the 3200 time-- the 12800 time was wrong, too!

So, the real dev time for 6400:  that was in Kodak HC-110 at Dilution B, semi-stand for 44 minutes at 68 to 70 Fahrenheit.  Gentle agitation for first minute, followed by 10 seconds gentle swirl every 5 minutes. 

Based on the last two pictures on this page, I may increase that dev time to fifty or sixty minutes.  They're pretty OK as they are, but I'd like denser negatives.

See also How To Develop B&W Film.

Notice with a couple of these that I left the darkest shadows somewhat elevated.  It would be easy enough to blacken the shadows with some software adjustments, if you want.  When the pictures at shot at one stop higher E.I. than they're developed, you get elevated base fog and grain, blocked-up shadows, or both.  So, one of my projects is to shoot a roll of Tri-X 35mm at a definite E.I. 6400, then develop it for at least 50-60 minutes in HC-110 B.

If you really want to see what film can do at "high ISO" (actually, high E.I.), see this gallery.

Garage Door

March 2016
Kodak 400TX at 12800 / 6400

f/4 at 1/30th

This is already a high-contrast scene;  the highly-pushed film compresses the tonal range even more.  The scene is also not as brightly-lit as it first appears.  There's only one lamp to illuminate the whole wall.  Much of the lamp's output is actually shining away from that wall. 

I metered the scene as 12800 (or higher) but the film developing time was correct for 6400, not 12800.  Actually it wasn't even correct for 6400;  the develop time was probably more correct for EI 4000 or something.  This kind of thing you don't really find in a book, and not many people know this by experience, because they don't think it's even worthwhile to shoot film at these high ratings. 

Basically, this one was metered as if it were 12800 but developed as if 6400.  (The N6006 was set at ISO 6400 and -1EV.)  I also think the meter was a bit off, because in-camera meters are generally not that reliable at night. 

What's useful about a scene like this, even with a stop of underexposure, is that now I can use it as a guide for next time.  I'd like to see more detail in the sidewalk, etc.  So, I'd try 1/30th at f/2.8 and develop the film for 45 minutes, or maybe sixty.

Had this been Velvia 100 film, I'd try f/11 at thirty seconds, and maybe another one at twenty seconds.  On 400TX at box speed, I'd try f/11 at 8 seconds, or the equivalent.  As you might have guessed, though, the point of using highly-pushed films is to be able to shoot handheld, no tripod.  It's also fun.

Mini Mart

March 2016
Kodak 400TX at 12800 / 6400
f/4 at 1/125th sec.

This is from the same roll;  again the camera was set at ISO 6400 and -1 stop, so it was trying to meter at EI 12800 here.  According to my updated dev times, this roll was not even developed as EI 3200, but instead somewhere about EI 2400. 

What we really have here (again) is a photo that was taken at EI 12800 but developed at least two stops under that.  All considered, the amount of grain should actually be worse than this.

To double-check, I have to read this scene with a good light meter

A scene just like this one metered LV 4.5 to 5 at the pavement, out where you'd want there to be medium-gray tones in the photo.  So, at 6400, a good combination would be f/4 and 1/60th (EV 4), or f/4.8 and 1/60th (EV 4.5).  f/4 at 1/125th is probably half- to one-stop underexposed at 6400.

Here's what I thought (er, wrote) about this scene before I started incident-metering a bunch of these:  "In this scene, it really helps that the canopy has a fair amount of tonal range.  One stop brighter would have helped fill in the pavement and other details, I think.  There again, that's why I'd say this scene should be EV 4."

So, that was a pretty good guess.  f/4 and 1/60th is about right for this.


March 2016
Kodak 400TX at 6400

f/4 at 1/15th second (braced the camera)


Here again, this was not developed as 6400 but instead more like 2400 according to my Dev Times Mk II graph.

Most of the 35mm "6400" was like this.  The 26 minutes should have been more like 45 to 60 minutes.

Next, the metering.

f/4 at 1/15 would be EV2 for 6400.  That's "typical street scene at night", while EV 1 is "distant skyline at night".

Next time I would try f/2 and 1/30th (EV1) or f/2 and 1/15th (EV0).  As you go farther away from a light source, it appears dimmer.  Light intensity relates inversely to the square of distance.  At five times the distance, light intensity is 1/25th, and at ten times, the light intensity is 1/100th.

You could almost figure out the EV for a scene at a certain distance.  Let's say your scene is EV 8 at twenty feet away.  And let's say you want to photograph it from 100 feet away.  That's five times the distance.  So, the light intensity would be 1/25.  Every stop dimmer is 1/2 the light intensity, so how many stops is 1/25 the light intensity?  The question becomes "2 to the what power is 25?" That would be roughly 4 1/2 stops.  If the scene was EV 8 at twenty feet, it's about EV 3.5 at a hundred feet.

If the scene was only EV 4 at twenty feet, it would be about EV -0.5 at a hundred feet.  Let's just say EV 0. 

I don't know if these calculations would really apply to a scene, because it's not a point-source of light, but it's probably a good rough guide.  Figure this scene might be be EV 4 if you were standing right there;  a couple hundred feet away, maybe start around EV 0.  Many night scenes are EV 4 ("floodlighted buildings") when you're up close, so that's often the baseline from which I make guesstimates. 

By the way, these should really say "LV" not "EV", because they are light values.  EV is for the camera, not the scene. 

I tried here to get as much sharpness and depth-of-field as practical without a tripod, but next time, I'd try f/2 at 1/15th sec. 

Like a Forties Diner In The Desert Night

April 2016
120 film (6x6 cm)
Yashica MAT 124G
Kodak 400TX at EI 6400
1/60th sec., handheld
This photo may look familiar;  that link has the Ilford HP5 Plus version.

Even with contrasty lighting and the compressed tonal range due to pushing, this has good tones and definitely looks like film.  f/8 and 1/60th at EI 6400 would make this EV 6 ("Fairs, Amusement Parks").  This is another one I'll have to check with a good light meter.  (Update:  Yup, it's EV 6, or actually LV 6 because we're talking about amount of light, not camera settings.)  The 45-minute dev time is probably good for 6400, though, because a couple of the scenes were definitely anchored to a known EV (they were photographed with a digital camera as well).  So, we can say that Tri-X at 6400 looks pretty good on 120 film.  There might even be ways to improve it, but this is not bad for a single-product developer.

This was the third photo but only the second frame on the roll, because the Yashica decided to start having difficulties with the film transport mechanism.  Unwanted doubling is a common problem with these cameras;  I know, because I've had two of 'em that had this happen.  Time for some camera maintenance, or disassembly perhaps. 

It's getting tough to find old-style architecture and signs;  hence, the desert reference.  This building, with its curved metal and glass, has an early Mid-Century feel. 

Ice Cream Sold Here

April 2016
120 film (6x6 cm)
Yashica MAT 124G
Kodak 400TX at EI 6400
1/60th sec., handheld

The Yashica MAT 124G has an 80mm lens and a maximum aperture of f/3.5.  Maybe it's not the kind of camera you'd expect to use for hand-held night photography, but I think this result is very good.  If you hold the camera very still you could probably use 1/30th without a tripod.

f/5.6 and 1/60th would be EV 5 for 6400.  I still want to say that scenes like this one are EV 4, but the wall near the light fixtures is washing out quite a bit.  The same thing is happening to the brightly-lit interior.  What's important is the detail on the walls and pavement away from the brightest light.  For now, I'm going to say LV 4 until I meter this scene carefully with a good meter.

Update:  Another time, I metered this scene with an incident meter, and arrived at LV 4.5 to LV 5.  Go here to see this scene at a carefully-metered EV 5 at EI 12800.  (Go there and scroll down;  third photo from the top).

Rustic Building, View 1

April 2016
6x6 cm, cropped
Yashica MAT 124G
Kodak 400TX at 6400
1/250th sec.

On a day like this with dark cloudy skies and 400 film, f/8 at 1/60th would be about right.  Actually, no;  now that I think of it, I use f/8 @ 1/125th.  A few days later, I did actually see clouds dark enough to call for f/8 @ 1/60th.  However, when the sky is a uniform gray, it's usually f/8 @ 125th for 400 film.

f/22 and 1/250th at EI 6400 places this scene at EV 11, which is probably correct.  This is a good solid 6400, even if it's not 12800. 

Rustic Building, View 2

April 2016
6x6 cm
Yashica MAT 124G
Kodak 400TX at 6400
1/250th sec.

Again this was EV 11 for 6400.  

Next roll, I may extend the dev time to 50 or 60 minutes.  The negative was still not quite dense enough, compared to where it should be.  However, this is a definite 6400 push, even if it's not 12800.  It tells me that the develop time of 44 minutes is either right for 6400, or it could even be extended to an hour.

If you listen to some people, you could never possibly get results like these trying to push Tri-X to 6400.  Well, as you can see here, the results are actually very good.  If the caption didn't say 6400, this could almost pass for Tri-X at normal speed.  It also depends on the developing technique and choice of developer.

The best kinds of test photos are the pictures that you would want to take anyway.  This is one that I happen to like quite a bit.

I hope you've enjoyed this page.  I did my best to provide you with knowledge that you might not even find in a book, or if you did, it would take a lot of searching.  If you found this page to be helpful or even just entertaining, please help keep this site on-line by purchasing your stuff through these links.  Film, cameras (even digital ones), clothing, cookware, anything.  (This link will take you to a selection of medium format cameras.)  Your support is greatly appreciated.

Thanks again for visiting this site!

Gallery:  Kodak Tri-X At 6400, Page 2

How-To:  Pushing Tri-X To 6400 And Beyond

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