tri-x '74 (spicy tri-x)

tri-x '74 is the colloquial name i've given to a batch of three tins of kodak tri-x 400 which expired in 1974. 

It is a black and white negative film, but development may require more care than you think. the film is extremely heavily fogged due to age, so negatives appear rather dense and "flat", lacking contrast. Technically, DMax was good but DMin was poor.

according to the "add one stop per decade of expiry" rule of thumb, this 48-year-expired film should perform best when rated at iso (technically ei, exposure index) 12.

i shot a ten-exposure test roll, bracketing my shutter speed to rate the film at a different ei for every shot. starting at 800, i moved one stop at a time down to ei 1.5. the roll was developed for ei 400 (details below).

honestly, i am amazed that there is an image at all.

To see the images from my various test rolls, check this flickr album

2022-06-28 TriX74 exponential test_ei100.jpg

EI 100, HC-110 (1+100, 60:00, 20 °C,

Exponential Agitation)

image quality 


honestly, giving the film more light doesn't change things too much. the negatives have slightly more contrast when rated at ei 12-100, but despite ei 12 being the expected "right" way to shoot the film, the shots taken at ei 12, ei 6, ei 3, and ei 1.5 are extremely flat by comparison, becoming progressively harder to extract an image from due to their extreme density. i personally like a high-sharpness aesthetic for grainy film, but you may not.

Here is an unedited shot at EI 12 with no editing beyond inverting it to a positive, for reference.


EI 12, HC-110 (B, 6:30, 20 °C)

development Tests

for my initial test roll the development conditions were as follows:

developer: kodak hc-110 (chosen for its anti-fog agent/restrainer)

dilution: 1+31 (dilution b)

temperature: 20 °C

time: 6:30

agitation method: continuous inversion for first minute followed by four inversions for the first ten seconds of each subsequent minute.

this method yielded the Radox soap image shown above. Images show even and complete development, but the grain pattern is unappealing and the fog is pronounced.

i have tried a range of methods since. in summary:

- HC-110 Dilution F, 15:00, 20 °C

- HC-110 1+100 stand development, 60:00, 20 °C

- HC-110 1+100 semi-stand development, 60:00, 20 °C

- HC-110 1+100 stand development, 60:00, 20 °C, 3 drops of 1% w/v benzotriazole

- HC-110 Dilution F semi-stand development, 60:00, 20 °C

In carrying out these tests I was able to discern that the fog and overall grain structure improve with longer development times and more dilute developer. This is likely due to the competitive nature of the restrainer contained within HC-110 with respect to the actual developer.

A major problem I had was that while the stand-developed methods looked pretty good in terms of fog and grain, they suffered from tremendous levels of bromide drag. however, there was a usable image at ei 400.

2022-02-27 XPanII TriX74 4.jpg

EI 400, HC-110 (1+100, 60:00, 20 °C, Stand Developed)

i carried out one final test using my friend golf's "exponential agitation" method, and it worked both perfectly and reproducibly!

Final development conditions

developer: kodak hc-110

dilution: 1+100

Total volume: 500 ml

temperature: 20 °C

time: 60:00

Agitation: "Exponential agitation"

The "exponential agitation" method is as follows. Note that inversions are required, not simple swizzle stick agitations.

- Invert the tank continuously and slowly for the first 30 seconds

- Invert the tank once at 1:00

- Carry out one further inversion each at 2:00, 4:00, 8:00, 16:00, and 32:00

It is likely that further modification to omit certain agitations from the method would improve image quality further, but honestly, I've used a full tin for testing already and I'm happy with the results that I'm getting. ei 100 is absolutely usable, and overexposing further to ei 50 or 25 doesn't improve the image quite enough to justify the loss in (effective) film speed, to me.


Thanks again to Golf for the help with this. check out his flickr for similar experiments:

2022-06-28 TriX74 exponential test_ei100.jpg

EI 100, HC-110 (1+100, 60:00, 20 °C, Exponential Agitation)